Back when I was a fundamentalist I carefully studied the bible quite a bit. You see, back then I took very seriously the command in 1 Peter 3:15 that states:
But sanctify the Lord God in you hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.
You see, I felt as if I needed to be able to offer justification for everything I believed. I was, for most of my time as a Christian, a literalist, that is to say I believed that the entire bible was scientifically, historical, and ethically accurate. This belief served to keep me well in the fold of Christianity during my high school days, but once I got to college and started taking my beliefs more seriously I began reading the bible every day. I began evangelizing to people, leading bible studies, etc.
I found passages that troubled me often but I usually could find ways of rationalizing them. However, now and then I found passages which seemed wrong in one of the three ways I mentioned with no good answer to them. My inability to mesh my faith with reality or morality was one of the primary things that lead me away from Christianity.
So with that in mind, for your viewing pleasure I would like to present one of the many passages I came across during that time of my life which I spent years in a vain attempt to find an explanation that didn’t make my skin crawl.
Deuteronomy: 22:23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;
22:24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.
So, to be clear about what is going on here, we have a women who is engaged and she and another man have sex. If she cries out the man gets stoned but if she doesn’t cry out the she gets stoned too. To be clear this is not the kind of stoned that leaves you with a desire for brownies, this is the getting your head bludgeoned in with large rocks until you die kind of stoned.
The explanation that is most often offered here is that the sex was consensual, otherwise she would have cried out. I see two problems with this, one I can easily see a circumstance where a woman is raped and stays silent, drugged, knocked out, threatened with a weapon, or just plain scared, yet there is no consideration for those things in this law.
The second, much larger problem, is that this apologetic is basically arguing that it is reasonable to make consensual sex a capital crime. Even when I was a Christian and thought premarital sex was wrong the notion that someone should be killed for it seemed incredibly offensive to me.
Just so no one can claim I am making up this apologetic I found a link to the section of the Matthew Henry Commentary that speaks about this. Here is the pertinent section from the page in question:
And it shall be presumed that she consented if it were done in the city, or in any place where, had she cried out, help might speedily have come in to prevent the injury offered her. Qui tacet, consentire videtur–Silence implies consent.
If you think that is the worst of it, there are some extremely twisted attempt to justify this particular passage It didn’t take me long to find this one out there on the net which was very similar to things some Christians said to me years ago.
This law exists to protect everyone involved, and it actually demonstrates a rather impressive knowledge of human behavior and human nature. The key words here are “because she did not cry out for help though she was in the city,” under the assumption that if she went along with it willingly, it wasn’t actually rape. First, it protects the man from false accusations–if a malicious woman makes an accusation like that, she’s on the hook too. And second, it protects the woman. If she knows that if she plays along, she’s guilty under the law, then he can’t use the best-known of intimidation tactics employed by rapists, “play along or I’ll kill you!” It gives her a strong incentive to struggle, fight him off, and scream for help, which makes it less likely that she will actually end up being raped. All in all, this demonstrates the brilliance of God’s law, not the cruelty and immorality of it.
First off, creating a situation where women are afraid to report rape does NOT qualify as brilliance, secondly setting up a situation where the woman has to fight back to have any chance of living no matter the circumstances of the assault is outright repugnant. Rape is about control, setting up a situation where the victim has even less control is the exact opposite of brilliant thinking. I have yet to hear an apologetic for this passage from a Christian that does not appeal to some kind of misogynistic or anti-sex nonsense.
In concussion this passage is pretty damn immoral in my book. I am always amazed at Christians who complain about the misogyny in the Koran and ignore all the stuff right in the middle of their own holy book.