Deuteronomy

Till Divorce Do We Part

imagesWhen a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house,  when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.” Deuteronomy 24:1-4

First of all, what the hell is wrong with this hypothetical woman if her first husband finds her to be unclean and her second ends up detesting her? Did they uncover some crazy spring break photos of her on the internet?

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Second of all, why would god find a need to specifically draw attention to such a rare instance of a woman’s second husband dying and her choosing to return to her first husband?

Strange.

Either way, it is there, clear as a summer day:  “and he writes her a certificate of divorce”. So divorce is OK, right? Wrong! This is just another one of those tricks that god likes to play on people to keep himself entertained. Or, at least that’s what Jesus says:

The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him. And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’;  so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter.  So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her.  And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” Mark 10:2-12

Well, which is it? Can we divorce or can’t we? If I want a divorce I can certainly find a verse that says it is OK, (I just can’t remarry my first husband if my second one dies, AND, since I am a mere woman, I can’t be the one to make that decision, it has to come from my husband) but if I don’t, I can certainly find a verse in the Bible that says it is not OK.

This is the problem with the Bible (among infinite other things). I can find any excuse in any verse in the Bible to justify why I said or did something and why I feel the way I do. In fact, I can change my mind from day-to-day  it’s OK! It’s in the Bible!

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Fun With Deuteronomy, Part 3 (Women’s Edition)

“When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God delivers them into your hand, and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and desire her and would take her for your wife, then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails. She shall put off the clothes of her captivity, remain in your house, and mourn her father and her mother a full month; after that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. And it shall be, if you have no delight in her, then you shall set her free, but you certainly shall not sell her for money; you shall not treat her brutally, because you have humbled her.” Deuteronomy 21:10-14

There are many verses in the Bible about war and how men must only kill men but are free to plunder and take all the women and children they desire for slaves. This one in particular really bothers me because it not only involves the kidnapping of a woman, but also forcing her to be your wife- if, after you have your way with her, you still desire her. The good news for the captured woman is that he has to wait a month to let her mourn before he can even think about touching her (a nice enough gesture for the Old Testament Bible) but after that, game on! The strangest contradiction in this passage is that the woman is taken and treated as an object (finders, keepers) and yet she is given time to grieve like a human. Well, which is it? Human or object? The passage contradicts itself again at the end stating basically that once you have had your way with her, you have two options: 1. You liked her and you would like to keep her for yourself (objectify-ing) or, 2. You decided that you don’t like her after all and you set her free (objectify-ing). BUT, don’t beat her or sell her because you are the one that ruined her after all (humanizing). Huh? The god of the Old Testament (aka a group of slimy dudes with a need to satiate their worldly, sexual desires and fantasies) seems to be constantly making it OK for a man to put a woman in the position he desires so that he can have his way with her while she sits back and enjoys and is grateful. Another example is this:

“If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days.” Deuteronomy 22:28-29

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So basically, you can rape any unmarried virgin (I am not sure how they always know who is a virgin and who is not… Word of mouth?) BUT, you will have to marry her and pay for her and you can never be divorced from her.

I imagine my father’s reaction in this instance:

Rapist knocks on my father’s door.

RAPIST “Hello, sir. I have recently raped your daughter. Here is the fifty shekels I owe you- she was great!”

MY FATHER “I’ll be right back…”

My father goes into his house and returns with a loaded shotgun pointed right at the rapist’s face. He shoots and keeps the money.

-End Scene-

First of all, what kind of father would ever be OK with this? and second, is the payment and requirement never to divorce the man’s only punishment for doing something so horrible to someone? Is it even supposed to be a punishment? To me, this is a more disturbing version of licking something as a child to call dibs; the idea being that no one will want it after you have licked it, so it’s yours! To me, this is yet another instance in which that group of slimy, perverted men (or the god of the Old Testament) are giving themselves permission to take anything or anyone they want and do what they please to them without consequences- in particular, women.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but it boggles my mind how women can accept this objectification and irrational hatred of and for women. Why can’t they see through all the god bullshit and see it for what it really is- a feeble (yet disgustingly successful) attempt by men to feel more powerful and to satisfy their desires and fantasies. Luckily for Christian women, there are laws in the US that trump religious law and prevent these sort of actions from actually playing out. Would women still be Christians if we allowed religious law to take over? I sure hope not.

Fun With Deuteronomy, Part 2

I HAD to post this passage next because I just think it is hilarious. It’s a little long, but stick it out- the best part is at the end.

5 “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. 6 And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. 7 But if the man does not want to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate to the elders, and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to raise up a name to his brother in Israel; he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.’ 8 Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him. But if he stands firm and says, ‘I do not want to take her,’ 9 then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the presence of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, spit in his face, and answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who will not build up his brother’s house.’ 10 And his name shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal removed.’ Deuteronomy 25:5-10

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“The house of him who had his sandal removed”?? Who comes up with this stuff?! I’m guessing, based on context alone, that this is a name you should be offended by. Call me crazy, but I just don’t see it! Ok, all hilarity aside, I have some huge issues with this passage.

The first one is with the overall basic premise (weird, huh?). It solidifies (for the umpteenth time) what the Bible so lovingly thinks of women- that we are objects. To say that a “woman shall not be married to a stranger outside the family” does not seem protective and endearing to me, it sounds more like this family has invested time and money into this woman and they aren’t going to let her go just because her husband is now dead. I say this taking into consideration the entire context of the book (something Atheists are commonly, and almost always mistakenly, accused of not doing.) On top of that, it assumes that the woman would want nothing more than to remain in the family to now sleep with her brother-in-law and hold him accountable if he does not wish to be with her. It seems to be a very distorted view of women, if you ask me.

My second issue is with the verse that says, “[…] her husband’s brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her”. What exactly is that duty? Ask anyone around and they would most likely offer suggestions like, “check in on her every once in a while”, “offer to help with any house or automobile repairs as needed”, or “invite her over for Thanksgiving dinner.” I bet you won’t get a single one that says, “Sleep with her and name your first child after your dead brother. Everyone knows that.” But that is exactly what this passage is telling you to do. I would like to point out that perhaps whoever holds the copyrights to the Bible should consider suing the writers of the movie Pearl Harbor for using their idea (though maybe a little tweaked) without permission.

It seems to me that standing up for yourself and declaring that you will not sleep and bear children with your dead brother’s wife should be commended, not condemned. Any good man should be proud to live in a house called, “The house of him who had his sandal removed”. I wonder where I can get a door mat that says that….

Fun With Deuteronomy, Part 1

If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city to the gate of his city. And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all of the men in his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.” Deuteronomy 21:18-21

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Many Christians argue that passages like these in Old Testament books like this one are irrelevant to modern-day Christianity and that, therefore, all arguments made referring to any of them are moot. I say that is a weak excuse to try to cover up the awful stories, advice and traditions that in today’s modern world seem harsh and unappealing. I say it is weak because it is not rational to base your entire life, your entire faith on one book just to then turn around and say that some of it doesn’t matter. If that is the case, then what’s to say that all of it doesn’t matter? And who determined which parts mattered and were relevant and which parts weren’t? I would say the above passage is irrelevant because murder is against the law and many faithful Christians would agree with me. But, there are plenty of passages in Deuteronomy that were declared law but are not considered to be against the law in our “real” world. For example, Deuteronomy 25:13-14 says, “You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small.” Neither of those things are against the law so why do you carry your cell phone and your iPad in your purse? Why haven’t you sworn off measuring cups in your house? I’ll tell you why: Because it’s STUPID. So, explain to me how the rest of the Bible isn’t stupid. Please. I would LOVE to hear it. And while you are at it, explain to me how one can, in clear conscience, live their life by a book in which they throw out more than half of it, cling to a few parts of it and claim that it is the guidebook to living as a decent human being on this earth?