Chick-fil-A Biblical Family of the Day

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Today’s Chick-fil-A Biblical Family Rule of the Day: Evidence of virginity (Deuteronomy 22:13-21).

Suppose a man marries a woman, but after going in to her, he dislikes her and makes up charges against her, slandering her by saying, “I married this woman; but when I lay with her, I did not find evidence of her virginity.”

The father of the young woman and her mother shall then submit the evidence of the young woman’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. The father of the young woman shall say to the elders: “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man but he dislikes her; now he has made up charges against her, saying, ‘I did not find evidence of your daughter’s virginity.’ But here is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.”

Then they shall spread out the cloth before the elders of the town. The elders of that town shall take the man and punish him; they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver (which they shall give to the young woman’s father) because he has slandered a virgin of Israel. She shall remain his wife; he shall not be permitted to divorce her as long as he lives.

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  • Yeah, that’s the best solution to an unhappy marriage.  I’m not even gonna touch the purity crap, but forcing a woman to stay with a man of low principles who is willing to slander her, yup, that’s cool. :^/ 

  • Carstonio

    What did they consider as evidence of virginity? The rupturing of the hymen doesn’t cause bleeding as often as commonly believed. Even today there are cultures where a new bride must present bloody sheets to her in-laws after the couple’s wedding night. “Chastity fraud” is common, although I abhor the term because it wrongly places the guilt on the bride, and not on the basic injustice of a culture treating a woman and her sexuality as property. I regard anyone who enables brides to practice that deception as engaging in civil disobedience.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Guess any woman who bleeds insufficiently is SOL.

  • Jurgan

    Sadly, it was probably the best solution to make sure she wasn’t abandoned, as she likely wouldn’t be able to remarry and thus would be left with no way to provide for herself.

  • Cathy W

    Yeah – a lesser of two evils, especially if the community (or at least the woman’s family) was able and willing to exert pressure on the husband to support her adequately once the slander charge was proven.

     I’d like to remind anyone, though, who thinks this is a good idea in the here and now: A divorced (or never-married, or childless) woman in our culture is not “left with no way to provide for herself”, regardless of her virginity or lack thereof!

  • Carstonio

    (nods) The real problem wasn’t a rule that forced a woman to stay with a man who would slander her, but an unjust social structure that required a woman to depend on a man to survive.

  • AnonymousSam

    As I have heard it: There were people whose duties included physical inspection of a woman’s anatomy to confirm the flesh was intact. The bride’s father would have her virginity confirmed at such a place and receive his or her mark, which could be presented as evidence if necessary.

    Chattel. Period.

  • That assumes that law in question had no part in shaping the society.  The levitican law could very well have enforced a more egalitarian society, rather than the mysogonistic one where being forced to remain married to the man who was ready to kill you with an accusation is the slightly less horrific option.

    Sure, for an individual in this society, perhaps making such a rule is a regretable necessity.  But, for the society in general, when judged against the moral perfection that the god of Abraham is claimed to have or when judged against the moral superiority that the worship of said god is claimed to engender, it is an example of the utter and complete failure.

  • SisterCoyote




  • There were people whose duties included physical inspection of a woman’s anatomy to confirm the flesh was intact.

    Actually, “are”. There was a case a couple of years ago that I used in a relevant class presentation in which such a professional was checking all the girls in a class, I think around age ten or so, some 70 or so of them, and he didn’t even bother with gloves or washing his hands in between. *squick*
    ETA: This was definitely in Africa, I’m pretty sure southern Africa, I think but not so certainly South Africa.

  • Makabit

    There’s a case recorded in the Talmud where a young man insists that his wife was not a virgin on their wedding night, and the rabbis he goes to order him flogged. Their grounds are that either a. he knows the difference, in which case how did he learn that, eh? or b. he’s criticizing his bride’s anatomy, which is God’s work, so he should get over himself (how tight is tight enough? Not your business to decide, boyo.) I believe there is an unspoken c. he’s lying to get out of the marriage.

  • Carstonio

    Now I wonder if any cultures have had customs for hymenotomies on female infants. It may be an interesting premise for speculative fiction, where virginity existing only as a concept for both sexes, and what that would mean for gender role development.

  • EllieMurasaki

    While that’s a fascinating premise, you’re relying too heavily on ‘hymen’ = ‘female virgin’. Some women never had one, or broke it while playing sports or something; other women still have an intact one after sex. And ‘male virgin’ is a thing, even if a harder-to-‘prove’ thing.

  • Carstonio

    What you describe is the point of my premise. Removing any physical evidence that could be assumed to represent sexual inexperience for a woman. There wouldn’t be a basis for assuming either experience or inexperience for both sexes.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Sorry, I thought you meant doing away with the concept, not doing away with a not-very-good reason to believe somebody is on one side or another of the concept.

  • ohiolibrarian

    We should remember that marriage has been largely a transaction between families. The people involved–female and male–were less important. The transaction was usually for land, money, and/or power/prestige/connection.

  • Carstonio

    I could appreciate the value of that if the societies treated the sexes as equals and the transactions did likewise. My perception of the Old Testament society was that marriages were transactions between father and groom, where the property being exchanged was the daughter and her womb. For the woman, all that changed was that her master was her husband and not her father.

    That’s the case in modern societies that practice arranged marriages. The only alternatives for the women are rape and prostitution, and this means all female roles in such societies involve domination by men. The system is gamed to preserve male entitlement.

    It’s possible that a society where the sexes were equals could find that arranged egalitarian marriages were important for the society’s survival. Offhand I don’t know how that would work. But I dread the alternative possibility that arranged marriages inevitably become transactions for women. Similar to how the norm for polygamous marriages has long been a patriarchal form of polygamy, where husbandly power involves the accumulation of wives.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Nitpick: I believe the word you were looking for is “hymenectomy”. -ectomy is the surgical removal of something; -otomy is merely an incision into the thing.