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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Today's Theist Memory Verse, VII

"It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand." -- Mark Twain

The Setup

Deuteronomy 22 is, like most of the Bible, unconscionable. Before this passage, it speaks of killing women who can't prove their virginity, killing a married woman for getting raped, etc.

The Passage
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)
The "Moral" of the Passage"

It is another abominable sentiment about women. There's a number of things wrong with this passage; injustice too great to describe. If a man rapes an unmarried virgin and they are found, then the man must pay the father fifty shekels of silver (as much as God values a man at in Leviticus 27:3) and marry her. The woman gets raped and then has to marry him... the injustice is egregious. It also shows that women are very much considered property. The woman belongs to the father and thus the transgression is against him, not the woman. Since he has taken her virginity, she is of no value anymore (except perhaps if the father wishes to sell her into slavery, as the Bible explicitly permits).

And if they are not found... what then? She is no longer a virgin. If she then is married to another man, she will be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:13-21). Any way you slice it, if a woman is raped, it can only work out for her if she is married at the time and the rape occurs in a field (Deuteronomy 22:25).

Connection to Modernity

The virgin in question is most likely a young girl (as was the way then). So, a child rapist, according to the Bible, gets to rape as long as they aren't "found." If they are found, he has to pay a fee to the father and then marry her.

Until Kennedy v Louisiana, this got the death penalty in some places. Otherwise, it usually comes with life in prison (not to mention the torture incurred in prison due to the nature of the crime). Anyone who thinks that (1) child rape is a crime against the father, and (2) it merits nothing more than a fee paid to the father, is immoral.

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