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Aug 14 2013

How the Bible Handles Premarital Sex and Rape

One of the more barbaric passages in the Bible is found in Deuteronomy 22, which comprises the Mosaic law on how to handle premarital sex and rape. It’s the chapter that says that a woman who is found not be a virgin on her wedding day is to be stoned to death.

13. “If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and then spurns her, 14. and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings an evil name upon her, saying, `I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her the tokens of virginity,’ 15. then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the tokens of her virginity to the elders of the city in the gate; 16. and the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, `I gave my daughter to this man to wife, and he spurns her; 17. and lo, he has made shameful charges against her, saying, “I did not find in your daughter the tokens of virginity.” And yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city. 18. Then the elders of that city shall take the man and whip him; 19. and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver, and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought an evil name upon a virgin of Israel; and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. 20. But if the thing is true, that the tokens of virginity were not found in the young woman, 21. then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has wrought folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father’s house; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you.

Even leaving aside the utter barbarism of killing a woman for having premarital sex, the test they propose for her virginity is ignorant. The “tokens of virginity” could only refer to, what, bloody sheets from the bleeding hymen? But hymens can break without any sex at all. It happens quite often. Such ignorance from the men who wrote the Bible is understandable, if still dangerous and vile, but remember that this command allegedly came directly from God. God surely knows that this law will result in women who are, in fact, still virgins being stoned to death. Does he not care? Or is this just a rule laid down by ignorant men seeking to control women?

Verses 28 and 29 deal with rape:

28. “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29. then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her; he may not put her away all his days.

Wait, the woman has to marry her rapist? Yep. How does anyone defend such a thing? Here’s an example of the argument I’ve heard many times:

The question that has been presented is this: Why would there be a law commanding a marriage to occur in this instance? The answer is cultural. In the Ancient Near East, virginity was highly prized. Widows and unmarried women who were not virgins and had no father, brother or son who was willing to provide for them were in a desperate situation [1][2]. Women in this situation often had to sell themselves into slavery or prostitution just to survive. It was not like modern times, where women can provide for themselves and live on their own.

Again, this would make sense if the Bible were written by ignorant men bound by the restrictions of their own culture. But this law was supposedly handed down by God himself. So this can only mean that God recognized how unfair it was that women who were raped were viewed by that culture as unclean and unworthy of marriage, but his solution to that is not to tell his followers to stop viewing them that way but to force the woman to marry her rapist instead. Did he just not think of that first option? Did he not care about how horrifying it would be to be forced to marry one’s rapist? Or does he actually think this is the right thing to do?

As is nearly always the case with the Old Testament and its many barbaric laws, it all makes sense if it is just the ignorant and repulsive views of fallible men operating in a brutal patriarchy. If one views it as the word of God, one is forced to invent fanciful and incoherent rationalizations for it.

46 comments

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  1. 1
    John Pieret

    Ed! Ed! You are trying to talk rationally about something that is not adopted on the basis of reason. It’s “true” because it is the Bible, the True Word of God, because God says so … no matter how many excuses the believers have to make as to why they don’t have to always believe it

  2. 2
    rjlangley

    Sorry, Ed, but you’ve got the complete ass-backwards wrong view of this one. It’s not that the victim had to marry her rapist, it’s that the rapist had to marry his victim. You know, as punishment. Ahem.

  3. 3
    eric

    The answer is cultural. In the Ancient Near East, virginity was highly prized. Widows and unmarried women who were not virgins and had no father, brother or son who was willing to provide for them were in a desperate situation [1][2]. Women in this situation often had to sell themselves into slavery or prostitution just to survive. It was not like modern times, where women can provide for themselves and live on their own.

    This is pure bulls**t. Let’s assume for sake of argument that these really were the only two options open to a raped woman. What should ancient law do if it’s really concerned for her fate? In that case the obvious solution is to giver her the option. Put the choice in her hands. And give those 50 shekels to her, if she decides not to go with the rapist.

    But the law does not given her any choice, and it rewards the fine to the father. Both of which demonstrate that the law is absolutely NOT concerned with ensuring the woman has the best future available to her given the circumstances – instead, its concerned with ensuring the father is compensated for his loss. This is very clearly the attitude of ‘you break it, you buy it’ applied to a woman’s life. The law is not for her, its very clearly for her father/owner.

  4. 4
    thascius

    Funny how the fundamentalists who insist every word in the Bible is literally true and homosexuality is evil cause Leviticus and Deuteronomy say so, never insist the chapter Ed cites is to be taken literally. Most of them probably have no idea it’s in the Bible at all.

  5. 5
    Don Williams

    1) Hmmm. I’m trying to figure out how this worked out in practice. Joe Blow shoots off his mouth and says nice girl is not a virgin.

    Nice girl can then

    (a) prick her finger with a needle, spill a few drops of blood on a sheet, get Father 100 silver shekels, get Joe Blow a really horrendous ass whipping, and then gain a life time meal ticket from Joe Blow with the opportunity to make his a life a hell on earth OR

    (b) let herself be stoned to death.

    Gee, tough call. Give her a moment to think. That will also give Joe Blow’s sniggering buddies a little time to reflect as well.

    2) I am not defending Deuteronomy 22 or God. I don’t recall Jesus saying to stone Mary. I do think that religion survives as an artifact of the time in which it developed as a response to a problem. As we see today, men often wonder off and abandon their children if society does not impose condign penalties for doing so.
    In more severe environments like the Middle East circa 1500 BC that was a death sentence for the children and probably for the wife.

    And every time society has developed a carefree attitude toward unrestrained sex, a pandemic of deadly sexual disease (syphilis, gonorrhea. AIDS) has risen and driven a return to “repressed Puritanism”.

    3) And without society enforcing monogamy, rich men get all the women — with a corresponding rise in genetic cripples and defects due to the inbreeding.

    4) And without the Bible — the threat of dire punishment from God — there was no rational reason for society to not become a tribe of vicious psychopaths,rapists, serial murderers and pedophiles. History — and today’s Congress — shows rational ethical arguments are pretty weak milk.

    I am definitely not arguing that today’s advanced civilizations should be ruled by the principles developed 3500 years ago in survival conditions. But to view the Bible with contempt — and not worthy of study — is a mistake.

    As Edward Gibbon said, the common Romans viewed all religions as equally true, the philosophers viewed them all as equally false, and the magistrates viewed them all as equally useful.

    Responding to a mob – threatening to not pay their taxes– by Nailing an innocent man up on a cross to die –slowly from suffocation because he can no longer stand up due to the pain of iron nails grating on bone and leg cramps– indicated that the society of rational philosophers was not very nice either.

    If you don’t believe me, ask Calgacus and Boadicea.

  6. 6
    Chiroptera

    But hymens can break without any sex at all. It happens quite often. Such ignorance from the men who wrote the Bible is understandable…

    …if you remember the contempt they had for women. I mean, cultures at this level were figuring out all kinds of not-so-obvious facts about the world. How hard could it have been to notice that hymens don’t always stay intact until the first sexual encounter?

  7. 7
    tyros

    @5 Don Williams:

    Uh, just how serious are you being there? I’m cutting back on coffee right now, so I’ve gotta ask..

  8. 8
    D. C. Sessions

    It’s not that the victim had to marry her rapist, it’s that the rapist had to marry his victim.

    No, he had to marry his victim’s daughter. The victim is her father — that is, after all, who the monetary damages were paid to.

  9. 9
    colnago80

    Re tyros @ #7

    Sometimes it’s hard to tell about Donaldo, whether he is serious or whether he’s just trying to stoke up controversy.

  10. 10
    D. C. Sessions

    And without the Bible — the threat of dire punishment from God — there was no rational reason for society to not become a tribe of vicious psychopaths,rapists, serial murderers and pedophiles. History — and today’s Congress — shows rational ethical arguments are pretty weak milk.

    As distinct from European Christian society from the fall of Rome until the Enlightenment, where the Church gave the nobility (read: vicious psychopaths, rapists, serial murderers and paedophiles) a pass on just about every sin in the canon in return for a cut of the action.

    For just one example: Canon law forbids first-cousin marriages. Now have a look at the loyally Catholic Habsburg family tree. All permitted by explicit (and routine) Papal exemption for every single marriage.

  11. 11
    Kook Buster

    for the mental case called “tim farley”

    yes, you have made “REAL ENEMIES”

    TAM 2013 APOSTASY

    all brains no balls

    homo = atheist?

    amazingmeeting.com/

    FIGHTING THE FAKERS

    youtube.com/watch?v=uWLr5zGBC48

    how we won the James Randi Million Dollar Paranormal Prize

    storify.com/deltoidmachine/how-we-won-the-james-randi-dollar-1-000-000-parano

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  12. 12
    Francisco Bacopa

    Funny how the fundamentalists who insist every word in the Bible is literally true and homosexuality is evil cause Leviticus and Deuteronomy say so, never insist the chapter Ed cites is to be taken literally. Most of them probably have no idea it’s in the Bible at all.

    They know it’s in there. They dream of the day they can enforce something similar, though they mostly stay quiet about it. Do not underestimate what we are up against.

  13. 13
    rjlangley

    D.C.Sessions – I stand corrected.

  14. 14
    wolfhound

    Oh, hell. Looks like Davey-Boy/Dennis has chewed though the straps on his straight jacket again. And is violating the conditions of his release.

  15. 15
    thascius

    @5- You do realize the Bible does not say anything about enforcing monogamy right? The Old Testament plainly allows polygamy. The only mention of polygamy in the New Testament is where Paul says men with multiple wives should not become elders-a restriction that only makes sense if there were men in good standing in the 1st century church who did have multiple wives.

  16. 16
    Kook Buster

    wolfhound this is called ARMAGEDDON PURGE

  17. 17
    Don Williams

    Re DC at 10:

    1) Well, what is the point of being Rich if you are subject to the same laws as the Rabble?

    2) Every ruling elite creates myths to keep the Herd in line — policemen and soldiers are expensive.

    3) The myth that cracks me up is the story that the USA is a democracy. Where 310 million people elect
    450 Philosopher Kings to look out for us.

    You know — people like Jesse Jackson Jr.

    4) Of course, as Mao pointed out , there’s always a gun somewhere behind all the bullshit. Or in our case, 500 nuclear armed ICBMs in Montana and Wyoming. The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

  18. 18
    unemployedphilosopher

    @Don Williams:

    In re: your #4, you really couldn’t be more incorrect. I’m happy to provide some reading suggestions, if you’d like. I’d start with Hume’s Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals and work backward, but most people I know would tell you to start with Kant’s Grundlegung (Best in the German, but hey, if you don’t speak the language, there are a great many pretty good translations) or Bentham.

    Fun fact: Bentham is still occasionally invited to faculty meetings at UCL. Perhaps unsurprisingly, whenever that happens, he’s listed as present, but not voting.

  19. 19
    colnago80

    Re Don
    Williams @ #17

    It appears that #17 is another Limey.

  20. 20
    colnago80

    Re Don Williams @ #17

    I believe that the exact quot from Chairman Mao is, “Political power grows out of the Barrel of a Gun“.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Mao_Zedong

  21. 21
    Don Williams

    Re unemployed at 18:

    Mike Tyson (interrupted in the process of raping Naomi Campbell):
    “Do you know who the fuck I am? I’m the heavyweight champion of the world,”

    AJ Ayer: “And I am the former Wykeham Professor of Logic.”

  22. 22
    Don Williams

    PS to unemployed at 18:

    1) Were the ruling elites of Britain at all influenced by –much less controlled by–
    Bentham’s philosophy when they decided to starve the Irish to death, ship the
    poor to Australia, and clear the Highlands?

    Although Bentham’s argument for the Panopticon does seem to have had a
    strong influence on the US Government if Snowden and Greenwald are to be
    believed.

    2) Did David Lloyd George consult Hume before starving 1.5 million Germans to
    death –and then claiming “world Jewry” helped him in exchange for his creation of
    Israel? An act cited by Paul Rosenberg during the spawning of the Nazi Party.

    3) Did the Nazis ask “What would Kant think?” at the Wannsee Conference? Did
    Curtis Lemay before napalming 40+ Japanese cities to ashes? Where is the
    citation to Grundlegung in the Targeting Committee for the atomic bomb?

  23. 23
    jaybee

    I’ve brought up some of these barbaric rules when arguing with a Catholic friend. He breezily dismissed them, saying Jesus changed everything so the old rules no longer apply (i’ve heard that stated elsewhere too), and anyway, the culture was so different then that different rules applied.

    Yet these same people will rail against moral relativism. This same Catholic friend insisted that I read “Mere Christianity,” where the foundational argument is that there is absolute right and absolute wrong, which somehow proves the existence God, and specifically the Christian God.

    Although this friend is incredibly smart, I was unable to make him recognize the disconnect between claiming God created morality which transcends human concerns, yet He also changes what that absolute morality is. Such is the power of rationalization.

  24. 24
    democommie

    “4) And without the Bible — the threat of dire punishment from God — there was no rational reason for society to not become a tribe of vicious psychopaths,rapists, serial murderers and pedophiles. History — and today’s Congress — shows rational ethical arguments are pretty weak milk.”

    That is so fucking stupid it can’t even be wrong.

    The Wholly Babble was the rulebook for maybe a couple of percent of the planet’s denizens during the late bronze and early iron age. Contrary to your assertions a number of societies had far more enlightened views on the status of women.

  25. 25
    Childermass

    This just appeared in my Facebook newsfeed in case anyone thought that Christianity outgrew sexist ideas of how a marriage is supposed to work: Natural Order of the Household.

    On the bright side, at least it does not mention marrying rapists…

  26. 26
    Don Williams

    Re demo at 24: “The Wholly Babble was the rulebook for maybe a couple of percent of the planet’s denizens during the late bronze and early iron age”

    1) And yet it became the ruling document of the most mighty empire on Earth at the time — the Roman Empire — and the ruling guide to morality for most of Western civilization — the entity that is currently conquering the entire planet. Although I should note it is the New Testament, not the Old Testament for which that holds true.

    2) I personally am more of an agnostic although influenced by the moral teachings of the New Testament. But I laugh at allegedly “rational” people who cite history’s forgotten losers instead of looking at who won the Darwinian struggle for society’s design. I am not particularly religious but I am not so stupid as to hold it’s power in contempt.

    3) The warlords of Northern Europe were impressed by people who would die and suffer horrible torture for their
    beliefs . Philosophers, in contrast, were pitiable , cowardly beggers who would sprout whatever sophistry most calculated to earn them a bowl of gruel.

    4) And if anyone thinks that has changed, I suggest they look at Academia’s moral influence in the current “war on terror”. With the exception of Mearshimer ,Walt and maybe
    Juan Cole Academia was rather quiet while Dick Cheney wiped his behind on the Bill of Rights. Ward Churchill was run over like a dog in heavy traffic and no one let out a peep. University of Colorado is still considered a university despite massive evidence to the contrary.

  27. 27
    Don Williams

    By the way, does anyone know the position of our government re the position toward women held by that puppet government we established in Saudi Arabia?

  28. 28
    colnago80

    Re Don Williams @ #26

    Ah gee, Ward Churchill, well known plagiarizer and phony Native American. Ole Donaldo certainly has some dubious heroes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ward_churchill

    And yet it became the ruling document of the most mighty empire on Earth at the time — the Roman Empire , referring to the Christian Scriptures.

    As a matter of fact, the adoption of Christianity was one of the reasons for the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. As Frankenberger put it in a conversation with Albert Speer, Christianity is an effete philosophy; adoption of a warlike philosophy like Shintoism would have been more appropriate for Germany and the Aryan race.

  29. 29
    Don Williams

    1) Well, like myself, Frankenberger was a dog lover. Whereas Immanuel Kant argued that animals are mere things to be used by us as means. From Unemployed’s cited “Grundlegung”

    “Thus the worth of any object which is to be acquired by our
    action is always conditional. Beings whose existence depends not on
    our will but on nature’s, have nevertheless, if they are irrational
    beings, only a relative value as means, and are therefore called
    things; rational beings, on the contrary, are called persons,
    because their very nature points them out as ends in themselves,
    that is as something which must not be used merely as means, and so
    far therefore restricts freedom of action (and is an object of
    respect).”

    2) Kant, therefore, would not have a problem with factory farming. Maybe not even a problem with
    the woman cited in the previous Brayton post as hanging a dog and setting it on fire to drive out the demons.
    He might quarrel with her logic but since she was trying to protect humans her use of mere things was
    not immoral.

    3) I kinda like the idea of Adolf feeding Immanuel to a pack of Dobermans.

  30. 30
    Don Williams

    “So when the pompous little fucker appears, you run down and bite him in the ass. I’ll tell him it was your Categorical Imperative. heh heh”

    http://www.wordforge.net/elwood/Blondi.jpg

  31. 31
    oranje

    #11 totally needs his own shortwave radio program.

  32. 32
    colnago80

    Re Don Williams @ #26

    University of Colorado is still considered a university despite massive evidence to the contrary.

    Gee, like Utterly Vacuous Assholes, home of climate change deniers Fred Singer and Pat Michaels.

  33. 33
    colnago80

    Re Don Williams @ #29

    Well, like myself, Frankenberger was a dog lover.

    So ole Donaldo opposed the signing of well known dog non-lover Michael Vick as his Beagle’s starting quarterback.

  34. 34
    Don Williams

    Well, since Vick’s pitbulls appear smarter than Vick himself, maybe the Eagles were just following Kant Rules.
    Means to an end,etc.

    Similar schtick actually — need something to jump into the pit and come up with blood on its teeth with the opposition lying on the ground.

  35. 35
    freehand

    Don Williams, of course: 4) Of course, as Mao pointed out , there’s always a gun somewhere behind all the bullshit. Or in our case, 500 nuclear armed ICBMs in Montana and Wyoming. The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

    Mao was talking about political power in one’s own country. Nukes are not generally considered to be good tools for controlling the rabble. That would be laws, surveillance, police with (mostly) small arms, and control of the press, that sort of thing.

  36. 36
    democommie

    “And yet it became the ruling document of the most mighty empire on Earth at the time — the Roman Empire — and the ruling guide to morality for most of Western civilization”

    The emperors of the Han Dynasty would have a nice laugh at that.

  37. 37
    freehand

    Don, again: 4) And without the Bible — the threat of dire punishment from God — there was no rational reason for society to not become a tribe of vicious psychopaths,rapists, serial murderers and pedophiles. History — and today’s Congress — shows rational ethical arguments are pretty weak milk.

    Because irrational arguments for moral behavior are so much more effective in controlling society’s sociopaths? I have seen no evidence that today’s congress has even a passing acquaintance with rational ethical arguments (with a handful of exceptions). You seem to have missed Ed’s point, BTW, which seems to be a rather simple one: A moral code founded on the laws of God(1) is a society of “vicious psychopaths, rapists, serial murderers and pedophiles”.

    (1) Imaginary Yahweh to be exact.

  38. 38
    colnago80

    Re freehand @ #35

    Nukes are not generally considered to be good tools for controlling the rabble

    If Bashar Assad had tactical nukes, he might well consider using them against his foes in Syria.

  39. 39
    Don Williams

    Re Freehand at 35:

    1) Nope. Look at James Madison’s argument in Federalist 46: An economy can support no more than about 1% of the population as soldiers — so the other 99% can not be subjugated if they also are armed.

    2) However, 81% of the US population now lives in urban areas and could be vaporized with the nukes if they rebelled. Actually, 15 ICBMs might be enough if you fired them at Putin and waited for his counterattack. heh heh

    3) Lacking nukes it would actually be very hard to kill large masses of hostile people if the sheep ever woke up — why do you think they have Fox News running 24/7?

  40. 40
    colnago80

    Re Don Williams @ #34

    Actually, the phrase, “The End Justifies the Means,” is apparently due to Machiavelli, not Kant or Marx.

    http://www.publicbookshelf.com/public_html/Outline_of_Great_Books_Volume_I/machiavell_bfa.html

    Re Don Williams @ #39

    In the closing days of the Civil War, the Union had some 525,000 men under arms, which was about 3% of the population.

  41. 41
    Don Williams

    Today’s urban population contrasts with the state of America during the Revolution. As studies at Fort Leavenworth have noted, one of the discouraging aspects of the British occupation of the shithole known as the American South was that Cornwallis had no Patriot “center of gravity” that he could attack — if he burned down the white trash shacks they simply built them up again.

    Some commentators have traced the Scotch Irish fondness for cheap trailer parks back to the tactical advantages of temp housing during the Border wars between Scotland and England several centuries ago.
    See Albion’s Seed by David Hackett Fischer.

    And , of course, King George bled in big fat globs trying to subdue the white trash –until the Dutch bankers sized up the situation and cut off his line of credit.

  42. 42
    Don Williams

    Re SLC at 40:

    And the Union went deeply into debt to do that –just as the US government today has gone $17 Trillion into debt to support a military of about 1.5 Million (all 5 branchs). That is 1/2 of 1% of the population.

    The NRA is full of crap. If the middle class ever wanted to subdue the Rich it would merely need to pull up railroad tracks, cut power lines, dig up and cut fiber optic lines, blow up petroleum pipelines ,etc. They would hear our Rich squealing in anguish all the way over in Europe.

    The RIchest 2% get 25% of the national income. That means they are the ones with the most to lose.

  43. 43
    colnago80

    RE Don Williams @ #41

    Actually, Conwallis’ problem was that his opponent, Nathanial Greene, chose to follow a Fabian strategy of avoiding confrontations and forcing the former to chase him all over South and North Carolina. Cornwallis’ cavalry commander, Tarleton, suffered a humiliating defeat at the Cowpens which led to Greene offering battle at Guildford Court House. The result was a tactical defeat for Greene who withdrew leaving Cornwallis in occupation of the battlefield (as Cornwallis was heard to remark, another such victory and we are undone). But, as sometimes is the case (e.g. Battle of Jutland), it was a strategic defeat for the victors as Cornwallis was forced to shitcan his strategy of attempting to bring Greene to battle and instead marched into Virginia where he proceeded to chase Lafayette all over that state with equal result. Of course, after failing that, he marched to the Virginia Capes where he suffered one of the worst defeats in British military history at the hands of Washington and Rochambeau.

  44. 44
    Don Williams

    SLC at 43:

    But Greene’s strategy was INTENTIONAL. As Greene noted “we get beaten, get up and fight again.” Meanwhile the British Government was bleeding money in big fat globs.

    Look at what Iraq did to the US economy — and that is a case where the military of a major superpower /world’s largest economy with a population of 310 million was trying to subdue a wrecked, third world economy with a population of 25 million.

    The Rich run wars for a profit — make it unprofitable and they throw in the towel.

  45. 45
    Don Williams

    Or at least cut a deal until they can get the upper hand. I think much of the prosperity the US middle class enjoyed in the 1960s was due to the Rosenberg and Cohen atomic spy rings scaring the shit out of the RIchest 2%.

    How much did the Cold War cost them — $13 Trillion in 1996 dollars? And that’s not counting opportunity costs.

  46. 46
    colnago80

    Re Don Williams @ #45

    Gee, instead of executing ole Julius, they should have given him a medal.

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