Chick-fil-A Biblical Family of the Day

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy: “We support biblical families.”

Today’s Chick-fil-A Biblical Family Rule of the Day: Leviticus 19:20.

If a man has sexual relations with a woman who is a slave, designated for another man but not ransomed or given her freedom, an inquiry shall be held. They shall not be put to death, since she has not been freed.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • ohiolibrarian

    Nice that she doesn’t get put to death … for being raped! Of course, the rapist is not punished in any way. So … glass half full.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Ok, the guy is punished. He has to sacrifice a ram (probably not cheap). God gets his burnt offering. The girl gets nada after being raped. That’s OT justice for you.

  • Deborah Moore

    I think it is a mistake to automatically assume that all illicit sex they refer to is automatically rape.  Presumably at least some illicit sex was consensual on the part of the woman.

    What is really significant here, I think, is that these Bible passages really aren’t interested in the distinction.  Illicit sex is illicit sex, consent is unimportant. 

  • The Ridger

    I’m not sure sex between a free man and a slave woman can truly be consensual; the power imbalance is too strong. That said, it’s certainly not necessary that it be overtly nonconsensual.

  • banancat

    If a woman can’t say no, then it’s not possible for her to give consent in any meaningful way.

  • vsm

    What if she initiates it? If I’m reading this correctly, the man is not necessarily her owner.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Never heard of a woman sleeping with her boss for a promotion, or her professor for a better grade? Who thought it up is irrelevant with that level of power imbalance.

  • I think this is a more complex thing than we give it credit for. As much as I agree that a  slave (of any gender) is not in a position to consent to sex with the person who legally owns them in the same way a free person is, I’m not tremendously comfortable with the conclusion from that being “Suppose we asked the slave how she felt about it. If she said that she were okay with it and had consented, we should dismiss that because she is wrong, and did not consent.”  There’s a kind of tension when we talk about certain classes of people not being *able* to meaningfully consent that feels like it’s straddling the line from being descriptivist to being prescriptivist, and that’s sort of icky to me — the implication that a third party can come around after the fact and say “Your opinion doesn’t count; you *were* raped” is (almost) as uncomfortable for me as the (more common) case of “Your opinion doesn’t count; you weren’t raped.”

    I wish we had some other way of talking about the dynamic of power and consent that didn’t put us in the position of saying “How she felt about this does not matter,” and also did not constitute rape apologia.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I think this would be a real-life application of the fannish warning ‘dubious consent’. That warning’s usually used on sex-pollen fics (some outside influence makes the participants more desirous of sex than they would otherwise be) and the like, but it can certainly apply to power-differential situations.

    The usual rule is that real life doesn’t get a dub-con warning, either it’s consensual or it’s not, which is a good rule to live by. But this seems like a gray area where ‘dub-con’ is in fact appropriate.


    I wish we had some other way of talking about the dynamic of power
    and consent that didn’t put us in the position of saying “How she felt
    about this does not matter,” and also did not constitute rape apologia.

    There are several different questions here, and I find it helps me to keep them distinct.
    One is whether the owner is likely to rape someone else. I endorse forming our own conclusions about that. If we think the owner is a threat to others, we take steps to prevent that threat. How the slave feels about that does not in fact matter; our doing so neither invalidates nor depends on the slave’s opinions.

    Another is whether the slave was raped. I endorse deferring that question until we’ve done what we can do to help the slave move out of their position of relative powerlessness and repair whatever damage was done to them. Once that’s done, we are now in a position where we can form our own conclusions about that as well, and if the former slave disagrees with us, well, that’s an unproblematic disagreement among equals.

    Another is whether the owner is likely to have questionably-consensual sex with the slave again before that second process is complete. That one is more problematic, and your original dilemma applies in full force. I don’t know any way to reconcile it; as you say, we either end up rejecting the slave’s agency or we end up engaging in rape apologia. Given that choice I choose the former, but I’m not happy about the choice.

    There are others.

  • vsm

    In your examples, the man holds direct power over the woman. What if a slave woman met a free man completely unrelated to her owners, found him appealing and suggested they give it a go? There’s still a huge difference in their social positions, but he doesn’t hold direct power over her.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I think I need to know rather more about how slavery worked in the place and time under discussion before I can answer that.