Friday, May 19, 2017

Rape, Pork, and God



Recently I saw a Facebook post with a meme that stated “Rape someone and pay 50 shekels of silver to her dad” and “eat pork and go to hell.”  Both of these statements were attributed to the God of the Old Testament.  Like Chad Gross, I am not a fan of memes, especially ones that are “ridiculing and take shots at the opposition.”  But my main reason for responding to this would be  to provide an understanding of these two laws that are described in the Old Testament.  Clearly we cannot get this from a few words on a meme. 

Rape Someone and Pay 50 Shekels

Deuteronomy 22: 28-29
28 If a man comes upon a young woman, a virgin who is not betrothed, seizes her and lies with her, and they are discovered, 29 the man who lay with her shall give the young woman’s father fifty silver shekels and she will be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her as long as he lives. 1

Critics attack these verses as the woman appears to be nothing more than her father’s property.  But a closer look will provide evidence that this law was actually meant to protect the woman.  Exodus 22: 15-16 helps to provide a backdrop for this scenario:

15 When a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall make her his wife by paying the bride price. 16 If her father refuses to give her to him, he must still pay him the bride price for virgins.2

In each case, the man is guilty. However, in verse 28, it does say that “they” (as opposed to he) are discovered.  This seems to imply the woman was complicit in the act, although the man clearly bears the burden of responsibility for initiation.

It is important to understand in this culture and time period that it would become very difficult for a woman to find a husband if she is no longer a virgin.  So this law is actually for women’s protection.
According to Paul Copan, these passages allow for two courses of action:

1.        If the father and daughter agree to it, the seducer must marry the woman and provide for her all of her life, without the possibility of divorce.  The father (in conjunction with the daughter) has the final say-so in the arrangement.  The girl isn’t required to marry the seducer.

2.       The girl’s father (the legal point person) has the right to refuse any such permanent arrangement as well as the right to demand the payment that would be given for a bride, even though the seducer doesn’t marry his daughter (since she has been sexually compromised, marriage to another man would be difficult if not impossible).  The girl has to agree with this arrangement, and she isn’t required to marry the seducer.  In this arrangement, she is still treated as a virgin. 

Again, we don’t see a lack of concern for the woman.  Her well-being is actually the underlying theme of this legislation.3 

Eat Pork and Go to Hell

Regarding this statement, I am not familiar with an OT passage that states this.  Deuteronomy 14:8 mentions even touching the carcass of a pig makes one unclean.  But this is not eternal condemnation. If an Israelite ate or even touched pork, they would then need to adhere to the process of being made clean.


There are various reasons given as to why the Israelites were called to refrain from pork in the Old Testament.  Some scholars point to the fact that other nations surrounding them sacrificed pigs to idols.  So refraining from eating this type of meat was a distinct reminder for them to refrain from mixing pagan practices with their worship of the one true God.  This command only applied during OT times.  It is made clear in the New Testament that all foods are made clean (Mark 7:19).  So this temporary restriction most likely served as a specific purpose to draw God’s chosen people closer to Him.

Footnotes:
1.  Taken from www.biblegateway.com and the NASB revised edition
2.  Ibid
3.  Is God a Moral Monster by Paul Copan pgs. 118-119

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