OLD TESTAMENT SEX ISSUES
THE OLD COVENANTS
There are many covenants in the old testament scriptures, that differ from the new covenant laws about sexuality, and the old covenant laws were also different from each other in the different covenants, such as Jacob having two wives and two concubine wives (permissably, and within the law of the Abrahamic covenant) but he married two sisters, forbidden under the Law of Moses. Anyone who understands the teachings of Jesus about divorce, and that they are very different from the teachings in the Law of Moses, will never fall for the lie that the true Faith now is to obey the Law of Moses, as some modern Judaising cults profess.
1) Abraham's 2 wives.
2) Jacobs two wives and two concubines.
3) Dinah & Tamar and Amnon
3) Adultery punishable by death (and divorce law attached to this)
4) A woman may never return once divorced
5) Polygamy under Moses' Law.
6) The Law of Obligation. Deuteronomy 22:28-29
"If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days." Deuteronomy 22:28-29
This is one of the most controversial scriptures in the bible, and the issues surrounding it. It is interpreted categorically as a rape scripture by modern bible versions, The NIV for instance translates it "If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives."
This has led to a lot of mockery by atheists. mockery of God, and of Jewish and Christian moral values. Christian because even though we preach that Jesus taught new law, we still proclaim the old law as to be obeyed in that time period between Moses and the advent of John the Baptist and then the Messiah. It seems to be saying that if a man wants to have sex with any unmarried virgin, all he has to do is rape her in order to marry her. Fifty shekels of silver is variously calculated, but seldom goes over $500 in modern money.
I suspect that the translation of this into a rape scripture, is because the idea of "a law of obligation" is something sinners across the globe want to immediately discount, as it would mean their life of fornication under the old law would be limited immediately to marriage, and no more sleping around. To complicate this, what is probably the true interpretation of "lay hold on her" is so hated by lesbian feminists like Virginia Mollenkott it would be immediately discounted, and made into the sweeping generalisation and arbitrary interpretation of "rape".
Because the scripture in question is a bit obscure and indefinite in its nature, I hav no absolute definite doctrine on it, but as someone researching divorce and similar morality issues for over 35 years I will say what I think it means.
Saying "lay hold on her" always means rape has been a stumbling block to many souls, and I think can be discounted as the meaning. There is a broader possible meaning. Men playing the masterful role, who take hold of a woman and force a kiss on her, and she being also tempted resists somewhat, but then decides to go along with it, and they both go too far, is not exactly an uncommon occurance. The fact is that hundreds of different things along these lines might happen, resulting in a woman losing her virginity. She might also be tempted afterwards to falsely say she was raped to protect her reputation. It might be very difficult to distinguish the difference (the Apocryphal Book of Susanna deals with this issue). This interpretation leads to three possible onclusions:
1) This was a "law of obligation". If a man humbles a virgin, taking away her virginity and good reputation, he simply must marry her, and can never divorce her.
a) the only way out is paying 50 shekels to the father, if he decides..... "what"? Who would marry her at that time in history having lost her virginity, especially if pregnant.
b) One startling possibility is this was an old testament law that applied to married men, as well as single men. Matthew Henry mentions in certain of his writings that adultery was so serious because if committed a man's children would be "spurious seed". For this cause if a married woman had sex with any man, married or single, she wasto be stoned, and the man with her. However as a man could marry more than one woman (polygamy - allowed) and a woman could not marry more than one man (polyandry - forbidden) if a married man had sex with a virgin, it is seems possible under such criteria that a married man who humbled a virgin was simply to be forced into a polygamous marriage, and not be stoned. Such possible interpretations of the law I would regard as being in the stratosphere of understanding the now old covenant law, and I have no absolute doctrine on it. One reason to understand the issues is in regard to John 8:1-11 and the woman taken in adultery. If a married man was simply forced into marrying a maiden he humbled, it would mean the stoning issue of John 8 was that the woman herself was married, not that she had had sex with a married man.
Another perfectly possible interpretation of "takes hold on her" might simply be that it means its most innocent sounding meaning, that of holding her to have premarital sex.
Having said this then, was there no law about the rape of a virgin? If a man battered and raped a woman who resisted him, was the law of Moses not wound for wound, and stripe for stripe? If a virgin was raped by a man, whose victim had 5 brothers, what might happen to him giving wound for wound? If the stories of Dinah (pre law of Moses) and Shechem, and Tamar and Amnon are to be taken into account, who knows? Simeon and Levi killed not only Shechem, and his father Hamor, but slew every male in the city with the sword. After the rape of Tamar (the daughter of David) Absolom her brother waited two years and then slew Amnon.
Could Deuteronomy 22:28-29 include rape, as well as these other possible interpretations of "lay hold on her"? The expression is similar to Genesis 34:2 (pre Moses Law) "And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her." but is translated again in the NIV as "he took her and raped her". Would Levi and Simeon have even spoken to them if it was a brutal out-and-out rape that was involved?
Is it possible that the law of Moses would be so complicated to enforce, if they had to do huge investigative judgements over whether an unmarried woman consented or not, God mad the decision to include the rape of a woman (who had not received a beating) in the Deuteronomy 22:28-29 criteria, to prevent the injustice of a woman who consented lying, and having an innocent man executed, who was guilty of only going too far by mutual consent, not of rape? You decide yourself. As I believe, as a Christian, this is past law, it is not as important to me as for those who seek to impose the now dead law of Moses upon everyone. But it is important to try to understand it as the discussion of wather there is a "law of obligation" in the new testament must be discussed, and also to understand the exact situation under discussion in John 8, where the new law "e that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." John 8:7 was given.
7) David's divorce from Michal.
A woman could not divorce a man - subject
8) The prophecy of Apostasy over divorce laws (Hosea 4:1-4)
9) Hosea's marriage to a spiritual harlot
10) The divorces in Ezra 10