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Letter to Ozair: Sex Slavery and Pedophilia in the Bible (2)

A long overdue posting of Claudine's response to Ozair on this subject


Dear Ozair,

My name is Claudine. A long time ago (3½ years!) Scott Cherry shared with me some of his correspondence with you about a few passages in the Old Testament books of Moses (and the Qur'an) that were stimulating intense discussion. Well, way back then I wrote this letter for you but Scott chose not to post it until now, especially focused on Deuteronomy 22:28-29.[1]

I understand your difficulty with those bible passages because like many, I share in some of your thoughts. I thought that you may like to hear from a Christian woman on the issue of what seemed to you as rape and pedophilia in the Old Testament.

Any bible passage should always be looked at in the light of the big picture of God’s plan for man on earth and eternally. So, please be patient with me as I will get to the passage on rape once I have established the context for it.

The God of the bible is a God of love and righteousness. The whole bible helps us understand the meaning of these two words. The love of God is not the mushy type of love that celebrities sing about.

Nothing can be understood if we don’t understand the beginning: in the beginning, God created the world including man. Man (man will stand for man and woman) is created in his image, which explains the need we have for love, for justice and for God. God’s creation was perfect, but a big problem happened: man disobeyed God. Man decided to listen and trust another voice than that of his creator even though God had warned him it would lead to death.

It is important to understand that true love necessitates the ability to make choices. God created man in his image with the intention to have a love relationship with man. This is why there are many passages that speak of God calling out to us, but ultimately he does not overpower us to force us to have a relationship with him, but allows us to acknowledge him in faith. He allows each individual to seek him and to have a relationship by faith; as he reveals himself to those who seek him with an honest and humble heart.

God called a people to be his own in the Old Testament and this people was to reflect something of the glory of God, reflect his love and his righteousness. Ultimately they were to reflect that God made a provision for the salvation for sinners who repent and to set people out of the bondage of sin including all people. This people was also free to live by faith or to turn to idolatry, which is the sin most offensive to God because God regards his people as his future ‘bride’ (a metaphor). This makes us like an adulterous bride when we turn to other ‘gods or idols’ for security and love. Man seems to be very little able to live in a spiritual vacuum: it seems that we either have faith in the true God or eventually fall into some type of idolatry [even those who claim to be atheists].

The people he formed and chose was a very insignificant and hard-hearted people. This is why many of the commandments addressed to them was a form of mitigation to the problem of sin. But the fullness of God's intent for man is revealed by Jesus: in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7) keeps repeating “You have heard that it was said to those of old…but I say to you”. Jesus goes through the law that was mostly an external law about the result of physical actions such as murder, adultery and so on, and takes it a step deeper, where it all originates: the heart. He tells us that if we hate or lust, it is a sin all the same. It was the right timing for this revelation, because Jesus came to die to free us from our sins and to give us his spirit that would transform our hearts to become more like him.

In all this, you can see that the love of God for man implies hatred of our sin that causes us so much pain and suffering. There is no easy road out of this: just as God warned that if man would disobey and eat from the forbidden fruit, he would bring death, sin has brought death and devastation to this world. Sin’s consequence is death: this is how God, being God, has established things: righteousness. But he was willing to die so that we may live and be free from the burden of sin—a supreme act of love. God died to cleanse us for this hideous sin that makes us unable and ashamed to appear in his presence. But there is also dying that happens on our part when we encounter God: let go of my pride, of my covering of my sins, of my own righteousness, of my own way to explain things to submit heart and soul to God. This is the only way to true freedom though and this is why it is the path that God has chosen for us. Now is the time of his patience, but God in his righteousness will judge those who have spurned him in wrath when he comes back.

So, in the case of the woman who gets raped, it is in the context of a society where the life of women was rather hard in general. A woman (as so often still happens now) was blamed for sexual immorality and considered unclean no matter how the sex act happened when outside of marriage. People lived in the context of societies where you could not easily move to escape a bad reputation. It also has to be understood that if this law applied to the man who raped her, it was because he was part of this same society and was under similar constraints of reputation to carry his part of the deal. By making the man marry the woman, it was at least sparing her from living all her life as an outcast, as an “unclean woman”, and restoring her dignity and giving her the security of a provider. If pregnancy resulted, the child would have a father and be provided for. There is no telling if, with time and forgiveness, some of these couples learned to love and respect each other; just as many couples who start with true love learn to hate each other over time. So even though it sounds far from ideal, it was most surely better than what typically was happening to these women before this law was given.

It is similar to the law: an eye for an eye. This law was given to mitigate problems of people taking revenge far beyond what was fair. Of course, Jesus calls us to something much higher: to forgive our enemies and pray for them.

Ultimately, being a woman, I find that this commandment reveals God’s intent to protect women from a life of shame and insecurity, even though I agree that in our society it sounds appalling. It must also be considered that women in many societies often did not have a choice in who they marry, which does not necessarily end up in worse marriages. What really makes a good marriage is willingness to forgive, patience, and faithfulness.

But this law, which in my understanding is meant to protect the women of the time, does not mention the eternal consequences of the sin committed by the man who rapes a woman.[2] The consequence of this man's sin is covered under many other texts in the bible that deal with sin in general: Either he truly repents and asks forgiveness to God and to the woman he raped and humbles himself before God for the rest of his life, which would lead to his eternal salvation; or he remains hard towards God and the woman which would bring on him the wrath of God.

It is important to know that many books cannot be well understood till read to the end. The bible is such a book. God, in Isaiah, invites us to: “come let us reason together!”.  Jesus in Matthew 7 states: “seek and you will find.”  James (chapter 4) tells us: "God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves to God then. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you, come near to God and he will come near to you."

I have entire confidence that Jesus will speak to you if you seek him.

May God bless you in your search, with much appreciation for your desire to understand the things of God.

 



[1] Deuteronomy 22:28-29



 

כִּֽי־יִמְצָ֣א אִ֗ישׁ נַעֲרָ֤ בְתוּלָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹא־אֹרָ֔שָׂה וּתְפָשָׂ֖הּ וְשָׁכַ֣ב עִמָּ֑הּ וְנִמְצָֽאוּ׃

וְ֠נָתַ֠ן הָאִ֨ישׁ הַשֹּׁכֵ֥ב עִמָּ֛הּ לַאֲבִ֥י הַֽנַּעֲרָ֖ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים כָּ֑סֶף וְלֽוֹ־תִהְיֶ֣ה לְאִשָּׁ֗ה תַּ֚חַת אֲשֶׁ֣ר עִנָּ֔הּ לֹא־יוּכַ֥ל שַׁלְּחָ֖הּ כׇּל־יָמָֽיו׃ {ס}        

 

If a man comes upon a virgin who is not engaged and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are discovered, the party who lay with her shall pay the girl’s father fifty [shekels of] silver, and she shall be his wife. Because he has violated her, he can never have the right to divorce her.

 



Related passages that were part of the discussion as well...



Numbers 31:17-18

וְעַתָּ֕ה הִרְג֥וּ כָל־זָכָ֖ר בַּטָּ֑ף וְכָל־אִשָּׁ֗ה יֹדַ֥עַת אִ֛ישׁ לְמִשְׁכַּ֥ב זָכָ֖ר הֲרֹֽגוּ׃ וְכֹל֙ הַטַּ֣ף בַּנָּשִׁ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹא־יָדְע֖וּ מִשְׁכַּ֣ב זָכָ֑ר הַחֲי֖וּ לָכֶֽם׃ 

 

Now, therefore, slay every male among the children, and slay also every woman who has known a man carnally; but spare every young woman who has not had carnal relations with a man.[2]



Deuteronomy 21:10-14


כִּֽי־תֵצֵ֥א לַמִּלְחָמָ֖ה עַל־אֹיְבֶ֑יךָ וּנְתָנ֞וֹ יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֶ֛יךָ בְּיָדֶ֖ךָ וְשָׁבִ֥יתָ שִׁבְיֽוֹ וְרָאִיתָ֙ בַּשִּׁבְיָ֔ה אֵ֖שֶׁת יְפַת־תֹּ֑אַר וְחָשַׁקְתָּ֣ בָ֔הּ וְלָקַחְתָּ֥ לְךָ֖ לְאִשָּֽׁה׃ וַהֲבֵאתָ֖הּ אֶל־תּ֣וֹךְ בֵּיתֶ֑ךָ וְגִלְּחָה֙ אֶת־רֹאשָׁ֔הּ וְעָשְׂתָ֖ה אֶת־צִפָּרְנֶֽיהָ׃ וְהֵסִ֩ירָה֩ אֶת־שִׂמְלַ֨ת שִׁבְיָ֜הּ מֵעָלֶ֗יהָ וְיָֽשְׁבָה֙ בְּבֵיתֶ֔ךָ וּבָֽכְתָ֛ה אֶת־אָבִ֥יהָ וְאֶת־אִמָּ֖הּ יֶ֣רַח יָמִ֑ים וְאַ֨חַר כֵּ֜ן תָּב֤וֹא אֵלֶ֙יהָ֙ וּבְעַלְתָּ֔הּ וְהָיְתָ֥ה לְךָ֖ לְאִשָּֽׁה וְהָיָ֞ה אִם־לֹ֧א חָפַ֣צְתָּ בָּ֗הּ וְשִׁלַּחְתָּהּ֙ לְנַפְשָׁ֔הּ וּמָכֹ֥ר לֹא־תִמְכְּרֶ֖נָּה בַּכָּ֑סֶף לֹא־תִתְעַמֵּ֣ר בָּ֔הּ תַּ֖חַת אֲשֶׁ֥ר עִנִּיתָֽהּ׃ (ס)

 

When you take the field against your enemies, and the LORD your God delivers them into your power and you take some of them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman and you desire her and would take her to wife, you shall bring her into your house, and she shall trim her hair, pare her nails, and discard her captive’s garb. She shall spend a month’s time in your house lamenting her father and mother; after that you may come to her and possess her, and she shall be your wife. Then, should you no longer want her, you must release her outright. You must not sell her for money: since you had your will  of her, you must not enslave her.

 

[2] As is exactly what happens when Muslim men are permitted in the Qur’an to take any woman “whom their right hand possesses” after a battle. They do not have to marry them; they may use and discard them.

  • 14 June 2024
  • Author: Guest Blogger
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