Gary Cass Hasn’t Read His Own Bible

Gary Cass, the halfwit behind the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, has an easy solution to the problem of rape exceptions for abortion. If we just executed rapists like they did in the Bible, he says, there wouldn’t be any rape and we wouldn’t need such exceptions.

Cass countered that the real issue with rape exceptions is that “we’ve abandoned a Christian worldview as it relates to law.”

“In biblical times, rape was a capital offense,” he said. “So because we don’t treat rape the way God would have us to treat rape, now we have a woman, many women who are suffering because we aren’t doing our job as men protecting our wives and our daughters with the right kinds of law and right kind of enforcement, putting them in a very bad situation.”

He added that “as wrong as the act of rape is,” abortion is an equal or greater “moral catastrophe.”

“It is so devastating that, as tragic as the rape was, to add then the guilt of infanticide and abortion and murder to it is not going to be helpful.”

But it simply isn’t true that rape was a capital offense in the Bible. It was only a capital offense if the woman was married. This is all commanded in Deuteronomy 22: 23-29:

If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; 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.

But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die. … For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.

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.

So if a married woman is raped but she doesn’t cry out loud enough for someone to hear her, both the rapist and his victim are put to death. If a married woman does cry out, the rapist is put to death but not the victim. But if an unmarried woman is raped, the rapist not only is not put to death, the victim has to marry him. The reason why a rapist is put to death for raping a married woman but not an unmarried one is because the Bible treats the real crime as one against property. A married woman is the property of her husband so if she is raped, it’s a crime against him. An unmarried woman is fair game. She can be raped and the rapist just has to buy her from her father, i.e. her current property owner, then he can go on raping her forever.

And just like the Bible forces a woman to marry her rapist, Cass wants to force women to raise a rapist’s child.

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  • tubi

    Also, if you wait until after the rape has been committed to execute the rapist, there’s still the potential for the victim to have to make a decision regarding a resulting pregnancy. So maybe the solution is to look for traits that all rapists have in common, something like “7 Habits of Highly Effective Sexual Predators”, and then just preemptively execute them.

    Or, you know, God could just unharden their hearts and make it not happen in the first place.

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    Of course he hasn’t read it. God has spoken directly to his heart. He’s discerned the truth from God’s still small voice.

  • Lady Mondegreen

    many women who are suffering because we aren’t doing our job as men protecting our wives and our daughters with the right kinds of law

    I get the decided impression that he thinks legislation is a job exclusively for men. (That would be properly Biblical, Deborah notwithstanding.)

  • Sastra

    If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband …

    Does “betrothed” mean “married” or does it mean “engaged?”

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    @4: Sastra, Old Testament Lawyer!

    “Your Honor, YES, my client laid with the damsel, and yes she cried out, but no, she was not married, she was merely engaged. Therefore, his damage to the damsel’s fiance was none, it was damage to her father’s property. As such, he should pay his fine and leave with his freedom. And his new wife.”

  • cptdoom

    Cass wants to force women to raise a rapist’s child

    Now Ed don’t be histrionic. I’m sure Cass would be fine with the woman putting the child up for adoption to a good Christian couple. In fact he’d likely prefer that, because she’s probably lying about the rape to cover up being a little slut. All Cass wants to do is force her to suffer the emotional, physical and psychological stress of carrying her rapist’s child to term, with no consideration of the long-term risks to her health or life. Because he’s a Christian.

  • U Frood

    No mention of what the punishment is for raping a woman who is not a virgin, whether married, betrothed, or single.

    And that lovely lovely death sentence for the victim, if she was too afraid of her attacker to yell for help (or if, even in the city, no one was there to help her)

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    An unmarried woman is fair game. She can be raped and the rapist just has to buy her from her father, i.e. her current property owner, then he can go on raping her forever.

    That’s one way to look at it. And I do not claim to understand Old Testament morality–often I am very disturbed by it. But in the context of the times I’d suggest it is slightly more nuanced than you indicate. The underlying cultural aspect that has to be recognized is that, for the most part, women had no way to support themselves other than by obtaining a husband. So if a married woman was raped then you could dispatch the rapist because (hopefully) the husband will continue providing. However an virgin who was raped–in the era under discussion, it made it unlikely (or difficult) that she could marry, especially a man of means, which could then result in a life of poverty in the streets. To some in that time it may have seemed that a kinder lesser-of-two-evils outcome for the woman was to force the man to marry her and provide for her. As for “continue raping her forever” I won’t argue that that is not a fair characterization. However, the same characterization could be applied, easily, to an unwelcome arranged marriage.

    Of course you can just always look back with modern ethics and context and make simple pronouncements.

    I would agree 100% that applying the rule today is grossly immoral, given that the woman’s economic well-being, married or not, is not going to depend on the rapist providing. (Even so, I’d be all for forfeiture of all his assets to be paid to the woman. And in a perfect world where there was no possibility of false conviction, I’d be in favor of putting a bullet in his head.)

  • MikeMa

    You would think reading this stupid shit out of the babble would turn a lot more people off.

  • U Frood

    The problem is when you assert that the Bible is the source of all morals, and then you try to explain away the bad things in the Bible as just a sign of the times. If God is a perfect being, he could have set up moral laws from the beginning. But the Bible doesn’t.

  • Michael Heath

    Again heddle, your context works just dandy; but only if we consider the Bible written by men of that time to other men of that time.

    If we instead assert that the Bible is the inerrant word of God with super powers asserted in the Bible; then we’re left with a demonstrably evil entity. So evil the sum of all evil humanity has wreaked is infinitely less than what this supposed god unequivocally promises in the Bible to even one individual. And this is the god you celebrate and call savior, in spite of what the Bible promises is in store for some. How is that position anything but evil?

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    Michael Heath,

    Again heddle, your context works just dandy; but only if we consider the Bible written by men of that time to other men of that time.

    As I’ve before I don’t need what The Deity Michael Heath would provide. Take the story of Lot offering his daughters up for rape, or his daughters later raping him, or Jepthath practicing human sacrifice on his daughter. In the Deity Michael Heath Holy Book, which would be written for dummies, there would many footnotes assuring the reader than the Deity Michael Heath was not endorsing offering one’s daughters up to be raped, or raping one’s father, or sacrificing one’s daughter, and that these were simply accounts of what happened from which we can learn. In the bible, rather than the editorializing and proliferating captian-obvious explanations that Michael Heath demands, there is, in my opinion, often an implied “Duh.” The bible is meant to be read intelligently. I understand your bible would be different, it would close all loopholes and leave nothing that required human thought. It would be an airtight list of rules, like an IKEA assembly manual. Really, I get it–you’ve said it like a million times.

  • U Frood

    Since God was in the habit of directly speaking with his followers at the time, I would expect him to interject commentary along with all these stories. “Hey, Lot, you know I like you a lot better than all those people in Sodom I just killed, but what you did back there was not cool.”

    “Hey, Jacob. Sorry, you already have a wife. If you want to marry Rachel you’ll need to divorce Leah first. I’ll let you do that since your father-in-law is a dishonest jerk (But, seriously you didn’t even look at her face all night? Dude, not cool”)

    And there’s no excusing the little Game God played with Abraham were he asked him to sacrifice his son (Just kidding!). Or his decision to murder all the firstborn in Egypt rather than deal with Pharaoh directly.

  • U Frood

    “Lot I like you a lot.! HAH! I kill myself”

    –God

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    U Frood,

    Since God was in the habit of directly speaking with his followers at the time, I would expect him to interject commentary along with all these stories.

    Oh, well, alrighty then. Given that you expect him to. Geez Louise, what possible rebuttal could there be to that? Uncle!

  • tomh

    heddle wrote:

    “In the bible, rather than the editorializing and proliferating captian-obvious explanations that Michael Heath demands, there is, in my opinion, often an implied “Duh.” The bible is meant to be read intelligently.”

    This makes even less sense than heddle’s usual comments, no mean feat.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    @4:

    Does “betrothed” mean “married” or does it mean “engaged?”

    The English word typically means “engaged”, but it could have been translated from a word that did not make any distinction between being married and planning to get married.

    In any case, it doesn’t change the meaning much. When a woman became engaged to a man, she became his “property” and he assumed future responsibility over her, so that was pretty much that.

  • MikeMa

    heddle: “The bible is meant to be read intelligently.”

    This explains a lot.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    @8:

    Of course you can just always look back with modern ethics and context and make simple pronouncements.

    You know, I think you’re understanding of the passage as reflecting the cultural mores of an ancient pastoral society, which are not necessarily relevant to today’s world, is spot-on. But do you realize that this is what people like Gary Cass refuse to do, that they believe the Bible to be perfect and timeless and that its moral pronouncements are always without error or expiration date? Applying modern ethics to the OT is necessary precisely because there are lots of people in our society who believe that we should be ruled by this book, or at least whatever they think it says, and they can’t even get the particulars right. So if this strikes you as a seemingly pointless exercise, please blame them.

  • dingojack

    The Westminster Codex has:

    כִּ֤י יִהְיֶה֙ בְתוּלָ֔ה מְאֹרָשָׂ֖ה לְאִ֑ישׁ וּמְצָאָ֥הּ אִ֛ישׁ בָּעִ֖יר וְשָׁכַ֥ב עִמָּֽהּ׃

    24 וְהֹוצֵאתֶ֨ם אֶת־שְׁנֵיהֶ֜ם אֶל־שַׁ֣עַר ׀ הָעִ֣יר הַהִ֗וא וּסְקַלְתֶּ֨ם אֹתָ֥ם בָּאֲבָנִים֮ וָמֵתוּ֒ אֶת־ עַל־דְּבַר֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹא־צָעֲקָ֣ה בָעִ֔יר וְאֶ֨ת־הָאִ֔ישׁ עַל־דְּבַ֥ר אֲשֶׁר־עִנָּ֖ה אֶת־אֵ֣שֶׁת רֵעֵ֑הוּ וּבִֽעַרְתָּ֥ הָרָ֖ע מִקִּרְבֶּֽךָ׃

    25 וְֽאִם־בַּשָּׂדֶ֞ה יִמְצָ֣א הָאִ֗ישׁ אֶת־ הַמְאֹ֣רָשָׂ֔ה וְהֶחֱזִֽיק־בָּ֥הּ הָאִ֖ישׁ וְשָׁכַ֣ב עִמָּ֑הּ וּמֵ֗ת הָאִ֛ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־שָׁכַ֥ב עִמָּ֖הּ לְבַדֹּֽו׃

    26 לֹא־תַעֲשֶׂ֣ה דָבָ֔ר אֵ֥ין חֵ֣טְא מָ֑וֶת כִּ֡י כַּאֲשֶׁר֩ יָק֨וּם אִ֤ישׁ עַל־רֵעֵ֙הוּ֙ וּרְצָחֹ֣ו נֶ֔פֶשׁ כֵּ֖ן הַדָּבָ֥ר הַזֶּֽה׃

    27 כִּ֥י בַשָּׂדֶ֖ה מְצָאָ֑הּ צָעֲקָ֗ה הַמְאֹ֣רָשָׂ֔ה וְאֵ֥ין מֹושִׁ֖יעַ לָֽהּ׃

    28 כִּֽי־יִמְצָ֣א אִ֗ישׁ בְתוּלָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹא־אֹרָ֔שָׂה וּתְפָשָׂ֖הּ וְשָׁכַ֣ב עִמָּ֑הּ וְנִמְצָֽאוּ׃

    29 וְ֠נָתַן הָאִ֨ישׁ הַשֹּׁכֵ֥ב עִמָּ֛הּ לַאֲבִ֥י חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים כָּ֑סֶף וְלֹֽו־תִהְיֶ֣ה לְאִשָּׁ֗ה תַּ֚חַת אֲשֶׁ֣ר עִנָּ֔הּ לֹא־יוּכַ֥ל שַׁלְּחָ֖הּ כָּל־יָמָֽיו

    Dingo

  • grendelsfather

    Oh, well, alrighty then. Given that you expect him to.

    Doesn’t it seem strange that both Michael Heath and U Frood would make a better deity than the Abrahamic god, and they are hardly trying?

  • U Frood

    Wouldn’t a god laying out his rules want to be as clear as possible? Wouldn’t he want to tell his followers when they did wrong?

    Isn’t it strange that despite the whole one man/one woman thing being SO important to modern Christians, God never bothered to tell Abraham, Jacob or Solomon that their multiple wives were a problem?

  • Nick Gotts

    The bible is meant to be read intelligently. – heddle

    That’s a good idea. You should try it sometime. God could have said: “You know what folks, if a woman’s raped, it’s not her fault. So don’t refuse to marry her because of that. What’s more, she’s not her father’s property, so if the rapist has resources that can be used for compensationb, give it to her, not him.” But he didn’t; he said “Make her marry the scumbag, and compensate her father”. What a shitbag.

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    Area Man,

    So if this strikes you as a seemingly pointless exercise, please blame them.

    I do. Frequently. People like this are total jackasses.

  • theguy

    @heddle

    “However an virgin who was raped–in the era under discussion, it made it unlikely (or difficult) that she could marry, especially a man of means, which could then result in a life of poverty in the streets”

    Then there should have been a command that went something like “Thou shalt not consider a rape victim damaged goods.”

    It seems clear to me that many of these rules were written for a specific culture in a specific time, and our modern understanding of morality has improved beyond them.

  • tomh

    U Frood wrote:

    “Wouldn’t a god laying out his rules want to be as clear as possible? Wouldn’t he want to tell his followers when they did wrong?”

    You’re obviously not reading the Bible as it was meant to be read. Just ask heddle, he can tell you how it was meant to be read, as in, “The bible is meant to be read intelligently.” Just how he knows the Bible is meant to be read a certain way, he never bothers to explain.

  • timberwoof

    I’m confused here. The halfwit says that the reason we have rape is that we don’t execute rapists the way they did in Biblical times. So the halfwit is telling us that in Biblical times they executed rapists which is why they didn’t have any rapists. So if they didn’t have any rapists, how can they have executed them?

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    tomh,

    Just how he knows the Bible is meant to be read a certain way, he never bothers to explain.

    But I have said so, many times on this blog. You must not have been paying attention, so instead you pull assertions out of your ass. On many occasions I have stated (perhaps variations of):

    1) You must allow for context

    2) You must allow for genre: some books are poetic, some historic, some apocalyptic, etc.

    3) You must see how the words in the original language are used elsewhere in the bible.

    4) You must allow for tenses that are in, say, Greek but not in English, for they can alter meaning appreciably.

    5) You must allow the biblical writers the full range of figures of speech. They are, for example, permitted to use metaphors.

    6) You must ask how words were used in contemporary literature.

    7) You must allow for differences in writing styles–eastern vs. western. For example, numbers in ancient eastern writings were not precise the we use them, 5000 cattle did not mean 5000.0 cattle. Also, quoting was treated more lightly, and a paraphrase was considered quoting–while we are more precise.

    8) You must allow for translation errors and biases. Biblical Hebrew had far fewer words than modern English, so there are many 1-to-N choices–these can reflect the bias of the translators.

    9) You must examine alternate, viable translations.

    10) Older translations, even if done in a scholarly manner (like the King James) use anachronistic English. Unicorn meant something different to the KJ translators than it does to us.

    11) You should strive for self-consistency over supporting what you might want the bible to say.

    In short, you should read the bible intelligently, just like you would any ancient book.

  • tfkreference

    Lot was not commanded by God to offer his daughters. God just endorsed his action by allowing him to escape the destruction. That’s biblical morality for you.

    @25 theguy – yes, and also, thou shalt not own other people.

  • MikeMa

    @heddle:

    So the very common version, King James translation, in wide use throughout the world, requires intelligence to tease out the meanings of things or interpret the nuances represented there. (1-11 as noted above) And we have barely literate folks all over this country who couldn’t tease out the meaning in a pretzel preaching crap to morons.

    Its no wonder there are so many Christian sects who cannot agree on almost anything but that they hate stuff the others love or tolerate. This is not divinely inspired, it is a religious clown car with no one driving.

  • U Frood

    Is sentencing a rape victim to death for not screaming loud enough a mistranslation? or a metaphor? or poetic?

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    MikeMa,

    And we have barely literate folks all over this country who couldn’t tease out the meaning in a pretzel preaching crap to morons.

    What’s your point? That basic education is failing in the US? I totally agree.

    Its no wonder there are so many Christian sects who cannot agree on almost anything

    *Yawn*. That’s not true. Many of them agree on many things. If you take, for example, the Nicene Creed:

    I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

    Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

    And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

    And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

    The majority (perhaps even an overwhelming majority) of Catholic and Protestant sects would affirm this. There you have agreement on a basic description of Christianity. “Cannot agree on almost anything” is total bullshit. (It does sound nice, though, doesn’t it? So let’s repeat it!) In fact many of the sects that go into claims of 20,000 (or whatever even-more-inflated number Raven will quote) different sects have absolutely indistinguishable statements of doctrine.

  • MikeMa

    Heddle, I am sure that many of the basic tenets are common and agreed on but, if the book was a holy bible rather than a poorly organized book of confusing parables and allegories and poems, not easily understood by the mass of supposed devotees, what good is it other than to sow dissension? That doesn’t even address the inerrant word of god crowd. Those folks are lost.

  • Lady Mondegreen

    I’m waiting for @heddle’s answer to U Frood’s question at #31:

    Is sentencing a rape victim to death for not screaming loud enough a mistranslation? or a metaphor? or poetic?

  • heddle

    Lady Mondegreen,

    I’m waiting for @heddle’s answer to U Frood’s question at #31:

    I can’t answer it, because in no translation I’m aware of does it read “for not screaming loud enough.”

    I can give the benefit of the doubt, I suppose, that this is a disingenuous translation of Deut 22:24.

    The common reasonable translation is that she did not cry for help. The Hebrew word translated as cry is tsaaq (Strong’s 6817). It is translated in various placed as cry, cried, appeal, appealed. The connotation of appeal as opposed to a literal vocalization is potentially important. For example. in Genesis 4:10 we read, regarding Cain’s murdering his brother:

    And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. (Gen 4:10, ESV)

    Here the same word is used not for a vocalization, but as a call or appeal for justice–an appeal that an innocent has been victimized. So, leaving aside the dishonest interpretation “did not scream loud enough” that you are so anxious to have explained, I would say that a plausible paraphrase is that in this case the woman made no appeal for justice. In any event the meaning in my mind is clear (if you read the bible intelligently and allow for figures of speech and see how the word is used elsewhere), namely that if the women was betrothed and consented then they both receive the capital punishment associated with adultery. You can certainly argue that that is in and of itself barbaric–but to claim that she was killed because she didn’t scream at a decibel threshold is just an outright distortion.

  • tomh

    heddle:

    ” On many occasions I have stated (perhaps variations of):”

    Of course you have, but in all that lovely word salad, you never explain how you know which ways the Bible is meant to be read. What is meant to be metaphor, what is meant to be literal, what is meant to be poetic. It seems as though you have a direct line to the authors, and can tell us how various parts are meant to be understood. But you don’t tell us how you do it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002686842900 ChristineRose

    Seriously if you want an intelligent Bible reading, talk to an atheist ex-Christian. Some of us are obsessive about the damn thing.

    The basis of this passage is obviously the idea that women are property. But it’s also important to note that this passage was intended as a law code for an ideal restored state of Israel that never existed. No country ever followed these laws. In reality some local kingling would make a ruling, or the community would work it out for themselves. And Exodus actually contradicts this passage, saying that the girl doesn’t have to marry if her father “cannot in good conscience” order the victim to marry the rapist.

    The Bible pretty much supports the idea that the superior people can and should rape the women of the conquered and enslaved and powerless. It’s an ugly idea, but it was pretty standard in the ancient world, and it extended beyond rape. In this passage though we’ve got a context where the Jews are living in their happy segregated religious paradise, and a girl gets raped, and she marries a nice Jewish boy who happens to have raped her.

    My conclusion? You can’t use this passage to conclude much of anything. It’s clearly not a guide to life or morality in any way and really wasn’t intended to be. It’s arrogant, short-sighted, and stupid, and I’m fairly sure the author would have reacted differently had it been his daughter.

  • U Frood

    Yes, heddle Deuteronomy says the woman raped in the city did not cry out. But it’s easy to imagine situations where a woman raped in the city could have cried out and not been heard. Or she was too afraid of her attacker to cry out.

    In any case, it’s a despicable and indefensible passage to suggest that a woman should be put to death for being raped.

  • John Pieret

    heddle:

    Here the same word is used not for a vocalization, but as a call or appeal for justice–an appeal that an innocent has been victimized … a plausible paraphrase is that in this case the woman made no appeal for justice.

    I have always tried to give you the benefit of the doubt but please tell me that, after your “intelligent reading” of the Bible, God was not endorsing the concept of “legitimate rape”!

  • militantagnostic

    U Frood

    In any case, it’s a despicable and indefensible passage to suggest that a woman should be put to death for being raped.

    Unless of course it is “poetic” whatever the hell that means. Or it maybe is a metaphor for your car being written off in a crash.

    I have been listening to the My Book of Mormon Podcast* and surprisingly, it sounds exactly what an uneducated 19th century conman would have written if he had read a crackpot book about how the North American First Nations were descended from Jews.** The bible reads exactly like what an “honor culture” of bronze age herders would have made up if they lived in a region where the various per-existing mythologies that we know about existed.

    *Do not play along with the drinking game if you value your liver

    **This book is mentioned in Naked Mormonism podcast which covers the history of the LDS church.

  • Chelydra

    If cry isn’t meant to be a literal vocalization, why distinguish between the damsel in the city and the damsel in the field? Why would the damsel in the field be exempted from having to “appeal for justice”?

  • M’thew

    theguy, #25:

    It seems clear to me that many of these rules were written for a specific culture in a specific time, and our modern understanding of morality has improved beyond them.

    heddle, #8:

    And in a perfect world where there was no possibility of false conviction, I’d be in favor of putting a bullet in his head.

    Clearly, for some the understanding of morality has not improved enough.

    I would still be curious to know how heddle thinks to square a necessary intelligent reading of the bible with the fact that, as a perceived holy (and thus “perfect”) book, many people will refuse to read it in heddle’s intelligent way, nay even taking obviously imperfect translations of the original texts as the eternal and unchanging word of their deity. Seeing the way other “holy” books (I would even reckon “Das Kapital” to be among those) are treated by humans, I don’t have much hope that we humans will let go of our tendency to put the products of our own minds beyond doubt and questioning.

  • heddle

    tomh #36 ,

    Of course you have, but in all that lovely word salad, you never explain how you know which ways the Bible is meant to be read.

    It (#28) is not word salad you dip shit. Is that what you fall back on when you don’t have an answer? It (#28) is an uncontroversial list of recognized methods for digging into any ancient book. What is metaphor? Are you fucking kidding? Is that the approach you took in school? “Teacher, I know you said there are metaphors in the book, but please–I don’t want to find them myself, it’s too hard, please point them out to me!” Use your fucking brain. If a passage is ambiguous, see if a metaphoric interpretation is consistent with other usage, and leads to an overall more self-consistent interpretation. Really, you’re comfortable admitting in public that this is too hard?

    John Pieret,

    I have always tried to give you the benefit of the doubt

    Don’t do me any favors

    but please tell me that, after your “intelligent reading” of the Bible, God was not endorsing the concept of “legitimate rape”!

    He is not. You didn’t have to say “please”.

    U Frood

    Yes, heddle Deuteronomy says the woman raped in the city did not cry out.

    And yes, U Frood, you dishonestly distorted the passage.

    In any case, it’s a despicable and indefensible passage to suggest that a woman should be put to death for being raped.

    Except it doesn’t. There is no legitimate interpretation of the passage that says: “Put this woman to death for being raped.” It suggests she should be put to death for adultery which extended to betrothed. Now I agree that this in and of itself is despicable. The difference is I am being honest about what the passage is probably saying, which boils down to this:

    1) A man who rapes a married woman should be put to death.

    2) A man who rapes a virgin should live and have to provide for her (never put her out)

    3) A betrothed woman who has consensual sex should, along with the man, be put to death for adultery

    So be honest (if you have it in you, which I see no evidence of) and argue that what it actually is teaching is despicable. You can make a good argument. Instead you do the the usual fucking bullshit method of exaggerating/distorting what it says, even going beyond taking the most legitimate interpretation that suits your purpose–and end up sounding like an idiot.

    ChristineRose,

    Seriously if you want an intelligent Bible reading, talk to an atheist ex-Christian. Some of us are obsessive about the damn thing.

    Oh well, educate me. I’m an ex atheist, then a Christian, and now, in recent months, I don’t know what I am. But I’ve been (I thought) fairly studious myself. But I guess not as much as you. So please, grant to me the benefits of your insight.

    militantagnostic,

    Unless of course it is “poetic” whatever the hell that means.

    really, you don’t know what poetic means? And you freely admit it? Amazing.

    Chelydra #14,

    And if there is no distinction, then why when talking about the two different instances is a (very) different Hebrew word used for the verb referring to the man’s action? I.e., for the woman in the field the verb is chazaq (H2388) which means force, prevails, etc. When combined with “to lie down” it becomes raped. Regardless of what we make of the vocalization and lack thereof the woman in the field is unambiguously described as being raped. For the women in the city, the one who is betrothed, the verb is shakab (H7901) which is usually translated as sleeps. She slept with him. If (as some chowderheads want to claim) she was killed for being raped, why didn’t the writer use the verb for rape?

    Did anyone even look at the NIV, the most highly regarded and respected paraphrase:

    23 If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her…

    25 But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her…

    28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her

  • Anri

    heddle @ 12:

    The bible is meant to be read intelligently.

    I’m sorry, but could you let me know where it says that?

    I’m asking quite seriously here: where in the bible does it say we should approach what it says as adults, intelligently, questioningly, with an assumption that what’s inside will be flawed?

    Granted that I haven’t read the whole thing, but the bits I recall tended to emphasize approaching the Word Of God with childlike faith and complete trust, that doubting and questioning were bad, and that god’s law didn’t change for mankind’s preferences.

    Did I only read the Wrong Bits?

  • U Frood

    “So the part about being in the city or being in the field is irrelevant? If (as some chowderheads want to claim) she was killed for being raped, why didn’t the writer use the verb for rape?”

    If the fact that she was in the city and didn’t cry out was irrelevant, why did they mention it and then compare it with a different rule for if she was in the field?

  • heddle

    U Frood,

    why did they mention it and then compare it with a different rule for if she was in the field?

    A fair question. You could call it a different rule, but to be complete you should also call it different circumstances. One is for a woman who was raped (in the field) and the other for a betrothed woman who is portrayed as having consensual sex (in the city). The primary distinction is one is described as being raped and the other isn’t. I don’t know why the business of “in the field” or “in the city” and “crying” was added–add that to a long list of things I don’t understand in the bible. If I had to guess I would say it reinforced what the verb selection already made manifest. Maybe the writer wanted to symbolically emphasize the helplessness of the woman being raped so he placed her in a field. Maybe he wanted to emphasize the complicity of the betrothed woman by placing her in the city, implying a predetermined assignation and a lack of excuse for obtaining help. I don’t know. But what I do know is one is described as rape and the other is not. That is the most relevant distinction.

    Anri,

    I’m asking quite seriously here: where in the bible does it say we should approach what it says as adults, intelligently, questioningly, with an assumption that what’s inside will be flawed?

    I would say it comes pretty close when we read the praising of the intellectual Bereans:

    Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)

    If that is not sufficient, then I’d be willing to cop that it is my presupposition, and it is the same one I’d bring to any book I was studying.

  • dingojack

    Heddle can you find a decent Yiddish to English translator? The passage is quoted in full at mine #20.

    Dingo

  • heddle

    DJ #47,

    I just tried a couple (By googling for translators) but what they spit out was mostly impenetrable.

  • dingojack

    Same here. I am going to try Vulgate.

    Dingo

  • dingojack

    I think we’ve all overlooked:

    26 puella nihil patietur nec est rea mortis quoniam sicut latro consurgit contra fratrem suum et occidit animam eius ita et puella perpessa est

    27 sola erat in agro clamavit et nullus adfuit qui liberaret eam”

    “The damsel shall suffer nothing, neither is she guilty of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbor, and slayeth him, even so is this matter; For he found her in the field: she cried, and there was none to save her”

    That is, it is assumed she could not have been raped in a city (therefore any sex would be consensual) because she would have cried out and been saved. Not something that is usually assumed nowdays.

    Dingo

  • heddle

    DJ #50,

    Maybe it was assumed that she could not possibly have been raped in the city (obviously such a bad assumption that my gut tells me this borders on a “the ancients were idiots” fallacy.) Or maybe, as I speculated, it was a picture painted (remember, this is ancient eastern writing, not modern western writing) to emphasize her complicity, which may have been a more meaningful picture to the ancient Hebrews. Nevertheless, the bottom line: the premise is that the woman in the town was not raped. You might argue that their jurisprudence for determining what constituted a rape was flawed, but it remains that they never stated anything close, under any circumstances, to “She was raped. Execute her.”

  • John Pieret

    heddle @ 43:

    [quoting JP] I have always tried to give you the benefit of the doubt

    [heddle] Don’t do me any favors

    OK, from now on I will assume you are a just a contentious pedant making ad hoc justifications for a faith you may now be losing.

    [quoting JP] but please tell me that, after your “intelligent reading” of the Bible, God was not endorsing the concept of “legitimate rape”!

    [heddle] He is not. You didn’t have to say “please”.

    Well, thanks for the mindless assertion. I had quoted your own previous words (@ 35):

    Here the same word is used not for a vocalization, but as a call or appeal for justice–an appeal that an innocent has been victimized … a plausible paraphrase is that in this case the woman made no appeal for justice.

    That certainly sounds like the “legitimate rape” some wingnuts like to talk about as a reason to punish “sluts” who have sex outside of what they consider “marriage.” I suppose we should be grateful that today they only want to force such women to bear the the child of a rapist instead of dragging her to the city gates and stoning her to death. But you are right that I should not have attributed anything in the Bible to God. But then why is it important to microparse the Bible for its “true” meaning when, in fact, what we are discussing is how contemporary Christians interpret it and try to force that interpretation into civil law? If they are arguing an ‘unintelligent reading’ of the Bible, is it necessary for us to tie ourselves into knots (as you have done here) to say: “Hey, give us a sola scriptura explanation for this”?

    I see now that your ad hoc has migrated to a microparse of the words for rape and consensual sex. Asked why there would still be that call/”appeal for justice” in the case of consensual sex, you at least candidly admit (@ 46) that we should “add that to a long list of things I don’t understand in the bible.”

    Maybe, then, given your own inability to understand the Bible, despite your “intelligent reading” of it, you can, in the future, spare us your laborious lectures on the methodology of failure.

  • heddle

    John Pieret,

    OK, from now on I will assume you are a just a contentious pedant making ad hoc justifications for a faith you may now be losing.

    Assume whatever you want. Who gives a rat’s ass?

    That certainly sounds like the “legitimate rape” some wingnuts like to talk about as a reason to punish “sluts” who have sex outside of what they consider “marriage.”

    Well then. It sounds like that to you. That’s compelling. Perhaps this text written millennia ago should subjected to proper speech requirements established by the self-appointed star chamber of idiots on Pharyngula who make a binary assessments of all speech: a) it is acceptable (at least for the moment) or b) it contributes, significantly, to the rape culture. It “sounds” like that sort of thinking is right up your alley.

    Maybe, then, given your own inability to understand the Bible, despite your “intelligent reading” of it, you can, in the future, spare us your laborious lectures on the methodology of failure.

    And maybe you can go fuck yourself. Nobody is requiring you to read my comments.

  • heddle

    John Pieret

    I see now that your ad hoc has migrated to a microparse of the words for rape and consensual sex.

    Wow. I looked up the words in Hebrew. One meant sleep, the other force which in a compound sense becomes rape. Just like the NIV translated. This you characterize as microparse. The most straightforward first step that anyone should take, looking up the original language, this is a microparse. You’re pathetic.

  • Kermit Sansoo

    Heddle, when folks here ask “What is poetic” or “What is a metaphor” they are clearly implying that it is used in unpredictable ways at various times, perhaps even by you, and how should it be used? Etc.

    .

    But yes, the “not cried out in the city” image is clearly a stand-in for “reasonably sure she committed adultery rather than being raped”. I note that in circumstances where the judges are dim-wits (probably at least as common then as now) the law when followed literally is more likely to correspond to the reality of what happened. Personally, though, I cut to the chase: I don’t think the possibility of committing adultery should be a capital offense. It is for that, and a dozen other reasons, why I condemn this god for immorality. Were he the omnipotent God that he grew into over time, then he could have told the Hebrews (and indirectly, modern Christians) that no, women aren’t property. Also, free your slaves, wash your hands before eating, and be nice to children.

    .

    As for reading the bible intelligently. I note that I was raised a Southern Baptist, and was taught that Noah’s flood and the Tower of Babel were real, concrete, and true history. But when Jesus said that we should sell everything we have and give the money to the poor, he was just kidding. Or parablizing, or something. Even though “we bible believers believe what the bible says is truth, not ‘just a saying'”. Which kind of statement demonstrates clearly that many Christians do not understand what metaphors, allegories, and poetry are. Southern Baptists think those are less than true. They are more than 5% of the US population; throw in Pentecostals and such and we’re talking about at least 10%.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002686842900 ChristineRose

    You said you wanted an intelligent critique of the passage; I did my best to give it to you. If you want the short version: It’s a mistake to look to the Bible for moral guidance. There’s a fair amount of moral guidance in there but there’s a fair amount of moral guidance in Sesame Street as well and we have to sort through what’s useful and what’s not. The Bible does not even attempt to be a comprehensive guide to life. It was written over a long period by people who would have hated each other if they’d met (and occasionally people who did meet and did hate on each other). You can accept all this and still be a Christian, but very few people manage to pull this one off. The more you look the shallower the text gets, and eventually you realize that there’s nothing Christian about your morals after all.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Of course you can just always look back with modern ethics and context and make simple pronouncements.

    The simple pronouncement in this case, is that such ancient primitive tribal laws are so obsolete and so inappropriate for this day and age, that they should be scrapped altogether; and anyone who still seeks to apply primitive laws in modern society (nuance or no damn nuance) should be kicked to the curb and ignored in public policy debates. (Which is what Jesus himself often did, back when so many of his people were trying to cling to obsolete tribal laws while the surrounding world was advancing under Greek and then Roman leadership.)

  • oualawouzou

    For all this parsing about wether the original word meant “sleep”, “have consensual sex”, or “rape”, and all those discussions about what is implied by the words “city” and “field”, and all the rambling about poetic vs literal meaning… I can’t find a single way to interpret this passage that doesn’t result in its message being utterly despicable.

  • heddle

    Kermit Sansoo ,

    I don’t think the possibility of committing adultery should be a capital offense.

    Neither do I. But I don’t think what we have here is the legal test for adultery (literally, sex in the city == adultery) but an illustration of the principle (consensual sex with a betrothed woman == adultery). After all, elsewhere in the OT it demands corroborating witnesses to convict. This passage in no way implies that the mere fact that you had sex in the city means that a judge is obligated to rule it adultery.

    Which kind of statement demonstrates clearly that many Christians do not understand what metaphors, allegories, and poetry are

    As I said to another commenter, if your point is that we are a nation of idiots (for this criticism applies to non Christians as well), I agree.

    ChristineRose,

    If you want the short version: It’s a mistake to look to the Bible for moral guidance.

    I more or less agree. (I would say: the bible is not the source of morality.) However there is not much substance to your summary. I expected more, given your boast in #37.

  • heddle

    oualawouzou

    I can’t find a single way to interpret this passage that doesn’t result in its message being utterly despicable.

    That is a fair and honest criticism, far superior (and more effective) than the distortion “the woman is to be executed if she is raped but doesn’t scream loudly enough.”

  • heddle

    RB,

    and anyone who still seeks to apply primitive laws in modern society (nuance or no damn nuance) should be kicked to the curb and ignored in public policy debates.

    Agreed. Spot-on.

  • John Pieret

    heddle @ 53:

    Well then. It sounds like that [“legitimate rape”] to you. That’s compelling. Perhaps this text written millennia ago should subjected to proper speech requirements established by the self-appointed star chamber of idiots on Pharyngula who make a binary assessments of all speech

    But I wasn’t talking about the text written millennia ago, I was talking about your “intelligent reading” of it. I was assuming that you knew what you were talking about. Are you saying that an “intelligent reading” of the Bible misleads us as to the intent of the authors? If not, and if the intent of the Bible authors is the same as contemporary believers, are we somehow barred from commenting on that? Please make up your mind as to what it is you are arguing here, if you are not just arguing for argument’s sake.

    And maybe you can go fuck yourself. Nobody is requiring you to read my comments.

    [Shrug] And you are not required to read mine … so go take your own unsolicited advice!

    The most straightforward first step that anyone should take, looking up the original language

    Then you should have done that before you went into your tapdance about the meaning of “she cried not,” which even you admit doesn’t make sense.

    You’re pathetic.

    The neat thing about the internet is that this whole discussion is here for everyone to read and judge just who is being “pathetic.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002686842900 ChristineRose

    Most Bible scholars are religious and would give you a long discussion about how we need to read between the lines to get at what God really meant. The fascinating thing about secular Bible scholarship is that it’s absurdly simple. This passage was part of someone’s fantasy about how the ideal world would work after YHWH kicked Babylonian butt. There’s no insight there but that. Intelligent doesn’t always mean complicated. Look elsewhere for the best way to deal with modern social problems.

  • U Frood

    I think Cass should suggest the Biblical punishments for adultery be implemented. It would be fun to see how fast lawmakers try to shut him up.

  • heddle

    ChristineRose,

    The fascinating thing about secular Bible scholarship is that it’s absurdly simple.

    Really? Would Richard Carrier, Bart Ehrman, Hector Avalos, etc. agree that their biblical scholarship was “absurdly simple”? I have my doubts.

  • Michael Heath

    Raging Bee writes:

    and anyone who still seeks to apply primitive laws in modern society (nuance or no damn nuance) should be kicked to the curb and ignored in public policy debates.

    Heddle responds:

    Agreed. Spot-on.

    But let’s keep slavishly, childishly, and blindly submitting and celebrating the supposed god of the Old Testament. The same supposed god as the god of the New Testament who supposedly promises infinitely more suffering than what’s described in the Old Testament. Yeah, that’s a moral reasonable position.

    heddle, read your post @ 28 regarding how the Bible should be read intelligently. Here you fail to acknowledge that you also read the Bible as the inerrant word of God that also describes the nature of God.

    We all know how you want to us read the Bible intelligently, which most commenters in this forum already do so your argument comes across as projection given your demonstrated inability to do the same.

    You conveniently read the Bible’s worst aspects like liberal theologians, just fallible people communicating in a primitive culture. That of course is an intelligent reading if you don’t buy into the Bible as the word of God. No one has much of a beef with this sort of reading in this forum because that’s the most reasonable reading of what was going on back then.

    Instead your unintelligible reading of the Bible that’s most challenged here is one which you continually avoid. That’s to consider your own premise that the Bible the is the infallible word of God and his nature is revealed when we confront the evil described in the Bible that’s mandated or promised by this same God.

    If there is no Christian god, there’s no real debate between you and this forum. The debate instead occurs when you avoid dealing with the most distinguishing aspect of how you read the Bible, as the infallible word of God.

    I understand why you avoid confronting your reading of the Bible; it’s an indefensible position. There’s no way to avoid being evil oneself while celebrating the infinitely evil god described in the Bible, where you believe that same god is real and described accurately in the Bible. And who wants to be evil? I certainly don’t think you want to be evil. Yet here we observe someone who celebrates a god who promises unimaginable suffering to some for all eternity, in spite of this god’s complete inability to even validate his existence, his nature, and his demands on us.

  • U Frood

    Looking back at that Nicene Creed, it doesn’t really say that much, just some basic ideas on the nature of God and the Jesus narrative. Of course a large number of Christian churches can agree to that. When it comes to practicalities, the differences are many.

    How can we be forgiven? Christians agree that only Jesus’s grace can save us, but Catholics believe we must also do good deeds to earn that grace. Most Protestants believe the deeds do nothing and the only thing man can do is ask for Jesus’s forgiveness. Some groups of Protestants think that still leaves man as too much in charge of his own destiny and they believe that we don’t even have the will to seek God’s grace ourselves and He decides who will seek forgiveness and be saved.

    What of specific rules we should follow? Celebrate the sabbath on Saturday or Sunday? Is birth control ok? Is homosexuality ok? Blood transfusions? Alcohol? Somehow the Bible has inspired all sorts of different rules that nobody can agree on. Are most Christian denominations incapable of intelligently reading the Bible? Or is it possible that it’s just not very clear?

    Should we ignore modern science and accept Genesis as literal truth? Or do we accept it as an allegory and use science to discover how the world around us works?

    Then there’s the nature of the Last Supper and the Communion service some Christians perform commemorating is. Does the bread physically turn to Christ’s flesh? Is it some sort of spiritual change? Is it just symbolic? Is Communion necessary at all? Different denominations will tell you different things.

    Do we need one on one confession with a priest? Or is a generic mass confession enough?