Biblical Sexism and Modern Rape Culture

Biblical Sexism and Modern Rape Culture September 19, 2018

From the Genesis of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, sexual exploitation of women, rape and patriarchy are stitched into the fabric of the world’s religions.

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Abram’s sexual exploitation of both his female slave and his wife, is just the first example of bigamy, sexual servitude, rape and the denigration of women that is the foundation of multiple faith traditions.

A significant segment of Christian society believe scripture tells them wives should submit to their husbands, women should have no authority over men, and that women are responsible for original sin entering humanity through Eve and Adam. These cultural Christians are the core constituency of the Evangelical GOP.

For example, the Vice President of the Unites States of America doesn’t meet one-on-one with women, because his faith dictates that women and men aren’t equal and aren’t to be treated equitably. Millions and millions of Christians around the world share some of his views, from conservative Protestants to liberal Catholics — the faith traditions of these Christians provide men opportunities not extended to women.

Patriarchal, male-dominated theology is a venomous poison as common as scripture studies in a church or a mosque. There is no place in modern society for monarchies, slavery, stoning, and other Biblical but archaic and oppressive philosophies. Despite this, faith-based discrimination against women flourishes and feeds a culture that denies women equal treatment in churches, hospitals, courtrooms and in Congress.

Faith-based sexism and gender inequality help feed a sexually charged culture where men objectify and infantilize women while controlling their reproduction and sexually exploiting and assaulting them.

If you’re a man who doesn’t personally know a woman who has been sexually assaulted, then you’re probably guilty of sexual assault. You create and contribute to an environment where the women around you don’t feel safe to tell you the truth of their assaults.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center:

  • One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives (a)
  • In the U.S., one in three women and one in six men experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime (o)
  • 91% of victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and nine percent are male (m)
  • In eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator (j)

Add in sexual assault and sexual harassment, and the number climbs to nearly 100 percent.

Men become co-conspirators when they create a climate that victimizes anew women who confront attackers.

“It didn’t happen.”

“She’s probably mistaken.”

“If it did happen, it probably wasn’t what she said it was.”

“It was a long time ago.”

“He was a teenager.”

“Who can we believe?”

Defending the male accused and denigrating the accuser is so ingrained in our society, that we immediately question the accuser.

The question isn’t, “what does she have to gain by coming forward with her allegation?”

The question should be, “why would I knowingly give a job or promotion to someone accused of sexual assault?” Or, “How often are high profile accusations of sexual assault proven to be untrue?”

As a culture in the United States, we blame victims.

Black men shouldn’t fight when attacked.

Women should fight harder when attacked.

Victims do, or say, or wear something to provoke the response in others.

This is unbiblical and unChristian. Throughout scripture, Jesus is with minorities attacked by the majority and with women rejected and exploited by men. Jesus sides with women against men, every time and calls on women to first tell the story of the resurrection. Jesus supports the equality of women, one of his many teachings ignored by much of mainstream Christianity.

Jesus represents equality, compassion, and empathy.

The Way of Christ is compassion for the exploited, not support for the exploiters.

Through the example of Jesus, we can learn to listen to victims, and not angry mobs or powerful politicians. We grow closer to God when we recognize the Divine in others. This is the Way of Christ, and the way Jesus calls each Christian to be.

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  • Etranger

    Let’s not forget that the very foundation of Christianity rests on a woman being impregnated against her will and forced to carry the baby to term. It is no wonder the 2000 years that followed that event would carry on the tradition.


    /confused Why attack the world’s religions and then appeal to Jesus (the central figure of the major world religion) at the end of the piece?
    This is laughable: “For example, the Vice President of the Unites States of America doesn’t meet one-on-one with women, because his faith dictates that women and men aren’t equal and aren’t to be treated equitably.” What? This is completely untrue. You can easily research his reasoning for this, and I promise you won’t find “it’s because women are not to be treated equitably.”

    And this: “If you’re a man who doesn’t personally know a woman who has been sexually assaulted, then you’re probably guilty of sexual assault. You create and contribute to an environment where the women around you don’t feel safe to tell you the truth of their assaults.” Wow. Just a lot of reaching here. The author states that 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime. So isn’t is possible I know 1 of those other 4 women? He also states that 1 in 3 will experience sexual violence. So again, couldn’t I know 1 of those other 2? No – it must be that I am sexually assaulting people. And because I might know 1 of those 4 or 1 of those other 2, then for some reason I’m oppressing women by not making it safe for them to talk to me? Come on.

    This is a great opinion piece. Facts are hard to come by, but I get that the author is passionate. Might I suggest a light skimming of the ever-popular website, Wikipedia: “Some atheists and Biblical critics have held up the notion that the Bible condones rape. Across the board, TheBlaze’s entire panel of faith experts reject that the criminal act of rape is upheld in any form in the holy book.”[15] In The Bible Now, Richard Elliott Friedman and Shawna Dolansky write “What should not be in doubt is the biblical view of rape: it is horrid. It is decried in the Bible’s stories. It is not tolerated in the Bible’s laws.”[16] Sunil Francis concurs in her book Violence Against Women: A Christian Ethical Analysis on Rape, writing “The Bible always sees rape as violence and sin.”[17]

    I won’t speak for other religions of the world, but it’s a reach to include Christianity on this list.


    This isn’t true. In Luke 1, the angel Gabriel visits Mary to tell her what the plan is. Mary responds by saying in 1:38 “And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’” Also, the foundation of Christianity rests on the need for a savior as a result of our indwelling sin. It’s no wonder that 2000 years later people still want to kill those who are weak and defenseless, given their sinful desires.

  • Etranger

    “I am the servant of the Lord, it it be done according to your will” From a teenage girl. Total submission. That’s just how men like their women! You are correct as well with your second sentence – Christians truly want to do harm to those they think (through their own imaginative process) are “sinners”. They don’t kill as much these days but they do kill “slowly” by making life miserable for those they don’t like.

  • Etranger

    “If you’re a man who doesn’t personally know a woman who has been sexually assaulted, then you’re probably guilty of sexual assault. You create and contribute to an environment where the women around you don’t feel safe to tell you the truth of their assaults.”

    I was re-reading the article this morning and I did find this paragraph a bit overstated. I think part of it might be a personality thing – that is, along the lines of your second part of your second sentence, what is it about you that people don’t see you as receptive to such information. That was how many of us Women’s Studies profs framed it (but that was a decade ago so maybe the approach has changed slightly).


    “Let it be to me according to your will” does not translate to “Forcibly impregnated against her will.” She was submissive, but to say that means she had a choice in the matter. You can’t say it both ways. And no, you’re wrong, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see that man’s default setting is self-interest and putting their desires over those of others, including unborn children in this example.

  • Etranger

    How can anyone honestly think she had a choice. That is quite literally an absurd statement. It takes a lot of imagination to think up what constitutes sin.


    Your statement was “against her will.” She’s clearly saying “I’m okay with it.” If she had a choice isn’t what you’re arguing. She had the ability to respond, and it wasn’t “against her will.”

  • Etranger

    Good point. She did submit. It was just not her choice. But fair point!

  • Etranger

    I have edited my initial comment. I think you will approve of it more now!


    Let’s talk now about “forced to carry to term.” Where does it say this?


    Thanks! I have this issue with non-factual statements in that I’m against them. Sorry to force my standards onto your belief habits.

  • Etranger

    Ha – well thanks for the gracious beginning of your comment…not sure the snark and lie was necessary at the end 🙁


    OOOH. The re-write is as full of factual errors as the first. Let’s see if we can remedy this.
    1- Coercion means you’re attempting to get a desired response out of someone by threatening them or forcing them to do something. Nowhere does it talk about the angel desiring any sort of response from Mary. How can you therefore judge if the coercion was successful given that it’s never stated what the desired response would be?
    2- How can Mary cheat on her fiancee when you’ve just stated that she was coerced into a false acceptance of the situation? Either she’s for it or against it. If she’s coerced, then she can’t have cheated.


    My fault. In my experience of reading your posts, they have regularly been filled with non-factual statements, so I didn’t want to come across as offensive in case those were the result of engrained habits rather than intentional. :/

  • Etranger

    You must defend all those child sexual abusers as well – the kids went along with it, it cannot be coercion!! LOL

    The point was Joseph was made a cuckold. You can argue about the word cheated…I don’t care about that.

  • Etranger

    You were correct once about my use of the word rape. I would hardly say I have comments that are “regularly filled with non-factual statements” LOL.


    That’s fair. Though it should be noted that was the crux of your post. So maybe I should say “in reading your key/leading posts, they have regularly….”

  • Etranger

    And it was corrected (I will drop to the ground and kiss it when I see a con correct their misleading statements!). Also, it is actually a minor correction. The main point is still valid…so…I guess you are a vocab policeman?


    No, I don’t go around “defending all those child abusers.” You stated that they were coerced, but if feels like you are using the definition of the word “forced” instead. So you changed your original statement to a new word but are using the original word’s definition. Coercion would mean “we want X but can’t force you, so we are just going to hurt you or threaten to hurt you so you say yes, so say yes.” And then that happens and the victim says yes. But there’s not evidence of coercion.


    Given that we’re communicating through written word here, vocabulary is all we have, and all the more important. You’ve already identified that “rape” wasn’t the right word. It was good that we corrected that or else you’d be saying something you didn’t mean to be saying.

  • Etranger

    Yes, coerced. Which actually has the word forced in its definition…lol. You should read what the Angel Gabriel says to Mary. There is no “opt out”. You will do this. She was supposed to say no?! Really? This is a funny discussion (if it were so sad that it is the basis of an entire religion and justifies the second class position of women by that religion).

  • Etranger

    Sounds good. We agreed on that.


    a) “Through the threat of force,” not simply “forced”
    b) Mary might still have been upset about it – she didn’t have to say “I’m okay with it.”
    c) ( I assume you mean *weren’t*)
    d) You might consider this whole discussion differently if you read what you’re actually writing about. An ANGEL as a messenger from GOD, appeared directly to Mary and spoke to her. Perhaps your view of normal decorum go out the window. So to your point, could she have said no? I don’t know if it were literally possible. Like could she have said no to her own birth? Or to the sun rising in the morning? Maybe you’re right, but it wouldn’t be due to coercion or rape or force. It would have happened simply because things happen when the creator of the world do them.
    e) I don’t know how this interaction would justify the second class position of women. “Oh you were chosen to carry the Savior of the World in your belly! You must really be trash!”

  • Jld33

    Everyone, and I mean *everyone* knows multiple women who have been raped. No question. The shame that our culture places on those women, and the utter lack of respect to these women when they do come forward, means unless you are a close female friend or relative or having sex with them (and maybe not then) you would never know. So, I find the conclusion that it makes you complicit incorrect, but if you think you don’t know a rape victim you are 100% wrong. Unless you live unabomber style on an isolated mountain.

  • The statement was as sick as the things he wants to eliminate.

  • Etranger

    a) to bring about through the use of force or other compulsion. Coercion: exercise of threat or force in gaining compliance.
    b) She didn’t simply said I’m okay with it. She said “I am a servant of the Lord” (after being told by the Lord’s messenger that she will be impregnated. Will. Will – you will become pregnant, so says the Lord.) Yeah a 14 year old girl who has been raised in an anti-woman religion will say “ah, I don’t think so” LOL
    c) Yes weren’t.
    d) Completely agree. An angel of the Lord telling Mary what will happen to her is a great illustration of coercion.
    e) You will do whatever men tell you to do. It has been a tradition of the Jewish and Christian religion for millennia.

  • Amen.


    The article sounds Christophobic.

  • Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick!

    Mary was privileged to carry the Christ child because she CONSENTED!

  • Etranger

    The only sick part is to think a 12-14 year old girl consented. Conservative Christians are the sick ones. As we see time and time again.

  • Etranger

    The statement is not “sick”. It gets a point across but I think it could be expressed better. It is certainly not “as sick as the things he wants to eliminate.” That is a very weird statement.

  • If you get to know a few real Conservative Christians it might cure you of your Christophobia.

  • Etranger

    I do not have “Christophobia”. I do have a phobia of child abusers and their defenders! Which, based on your two comments here, you seem to be one of other.


    “if you think you don’t know a rape victim you are 100% wrong.” is a much clearer statement, but if the author was intending to say that, it got lost in a run-on series of unrelated points.


    a) No, really: coercion is “we want X” from you. What was X in this case? Where does it state that “we want you to say you are okay with this?”
    b) She didn’t have to be okay with it. You’ve never heard a 14-year old complain about something they didn’t like? And tell me more about why you would say this is an “anti-woman religion?” I’d like to fact check that please.
    d) You still don’t know what coercion means. Truly. Coercion is doing something to bring about a desired conclusion that you can’t otherwise do on your own.
    e) “Whatever men tell you to do.” So had this been a female angel Mary wouldn’t have listened? But to my point, she has the SAVIOR OF THE WORLD in her belly… why is that a point of shame for her? That’s why people celebrate her (apparently in spite of being a woman!). As for the “for millenia” see b) above.

  • Susan Strouse

    Well said. We have got to change the language of our liturgies, prayers, hymns, etc. to reflect the inclusion of women. We also must read theology and the biblical witness through the lenses of those often silenced.

  • Marty Newman

    Thank you for this. I have long been angry about the story of Noah and his daughters and how it is repeatedly told. In my seminary class when the professor was covering this, I siad “This is not how incest ocurs.” The telling of this story is purely patriarcial nonsense. No one even spoke for one full minuets-i was told by one of the other women in the room, then the subject was changed and we moved on. No comment.

  • Now you are just being childish.

    Having ministered to many victims, I hate the sick deeds of child abusers and their defenders just as much as does any normal human being. Perhaps more so, having witnessed first hand the devastating effect of their sin.

  • Etranger

    Fascinating and enlightening comment. Please stay away from kids…please.

  • Your default position is, disagree with me and you are either a child abuser or a defender of child abusers.

    Wow. Real mature!

  • Etranger

    REally? Where did that come from? Do you think that a 12-14 year old girl can really give consent to “the Lord” to get impregnated? Do you think a 12-14 year old girl whose minister whom she respects greatly can give consent to him having sex with her? My default position is that a child cannot be considered to give consent to an adult wanting to take his/her virginity. What is your default position?

  • marijoy

    So like many good Christian men I know to criticize the delivery, demanding each detail perfect in order for him to pay attention, rather than listening and trying to absorb the message. You helped make her point.

  • Etranger

    You’ll also note that you are the only person I called a defender of or a child abuser. That is only because your comment suggested you might be.

  • NO, in our current day person of that age cannot give consent to a minister. But in ancient times once a child became a young woman she was able to get married. It was the custom and the culture. The majority of couples who married were what we would consider underage.

    “Do you think that a 12-14 year old girl can really give consent to “the Lord” to get impregnated?”

    100% absolutely YES, she was able to give consent to her Lord and Creator to have the sacred privilege of conceiving God’s Child, the Lord Jesus Christ. God would not have sent His angel to ask her if He did not already know she was mature enough to consent.

    Surely you are not accusing the Holy Spirit of being a rapist!?

  • Etranger

    “Surely you are not accusing the Holy Spirit of being a rapist!?” Mostly definitely!

    Yes the culture of the time had girls like Mary marrying at 12 or 14 years old to old farts like Joseph. I would think we can agree that “consent’ did not enter into the equation. A woman did what she was told; like Mary did when told “you will carry this child”. Her response was “yessir, whatever is your will”.

  • Actually, when the writer says, “Throughout scripture, Jesus is with minorities attacked by the majority and with women rejected and exploited by men. Jesus sides with women against men, every time and calls on women to first tell the story of the resurrection. Jesus supports the equality of women, one of his many teachings ignored by much of mainstream Christianity.” I not only hear her, I agree.

    On some of her other points, I think she is mistaken and misguided. I find the first two paragraphs scandalous!

  • Etranger

    Who is “she”?

  • The Holy Spirit of Almighty God, the creator of the Universe and all that is good and holy and pure in it . . . labeled by you . . . a rapist.

    That is blasphemy at a level beyond my comprehension.

  • Etranger

    Cannot think of any other way of viewing this sexual assault against a girl…

  • Etranger

    Many primitive myths incorporate rape into their stories…it is not that blasphemous to point out the obvious.

  • Hmmm . . . yours is an interesting position and practice.

    Either agree with me about accusing God of one of the most heinous crimes known to humanity, the abuse and rape of a child, or I will heap vile abuse on you by accusing you of the same thing.

  • There was no sex.

    This was a miraculous conception by the Spirit of God. A miracle that eventually resulted in the potential of your salvation through faith in what Jesus accomplished on the cross.

  • Etranger

    Hmmm….that seems to be a gross misrepresentation of most of my comments (granted, an accurate characterization of my comments to you in particular but that is about it). You said I was sick to think Mary had no choice but to be impregnated by the Lord. You said it was a privilege for her and that she consented…ignoring that she had no choice (when God tells you you “will” do something can you say no?!).

    Your M.O. is to call anyone who questions this story as problematic blasphemous.

  • Etranger

    Fair point – which actually is why i changed my initial rape comment to coercion – there was no physical sex. But the end result was the same – still a violation of her body as a woman.

  • pen44

    She was also able to consent to marry Joseph at 12-14 years of age, Etranger. Even our early colonists and settlers in America married very young. At the age of 74, I can remember some southern states with laws that stated that girls of 14 were legally able to marry back in the 50’s or 60’s…that law has later changed to 16, some to 18. But, in earlier times, the legal age of marriage was as young as 12. When a girl first menstruated, she could be considered “a woman” in many societies, even some southern states.

  • Etranger

    Yes – also in all of those eras women did not have much voice or choice. To suggest she consented is ahistorical.

  • In earlier times the young were not granted the luxury of a prolonged childhood and a long adolescence, a privilege reserved for our “enlightened” and prosperous times. They bore more responsibility and grew up fast. The young teen was often more mature than most teens 18+ today.

  • pres·ent·ism

    uncritical adherence to present-day attitudes, especially the tendency to interpret past events in terms of modern values and concepts.

  • Many Christians believe Abraham is in heaven. His conduct as a man was acceptable during the time period when he lived. He was referenced in the New Testament. So according to your judgment God made a mistake by using him an an example for us. I don’t think so.

  • Etranger

    Nice! What do you call the ignorance of women’s position in historical cultures?

  • I am quite sure you realize one can definitely understand the limitations women experienced in former times without falling into the error of presentism.

    Finding a balance between the two takes some finesse and a bit of wisdom, but it is possible.

  • Etranger

    Oh I agree- I am not guilty of presenting with regard to understanding women’s position in history. I was wondering what you call your ignorance of it?

  • Mr. James Parson

    Sounds like they were afraid to disagree.

  • The Mouse Avenger

    In my seminary class when the professor was covering this, I siad “This is not how incest ocurs.”

    Ummm…incest can occur in a lot of ways, so I’m not sure what you’re getting at here.

  • Marty Newman

    Young girls do not get there fathers drunk so they can have sex with them in order to have babies. This story promotes blaming the victim and excusing the perpetrator.

  • Widuran

    God is male

  • Widuran


  • Widuran

    It is hyperbole

  • Nick G

    The fact that a bunch of Christian apologists pretend the Bible doesn’t condone rape just demonstrates their dishonesty – or at best, self-deception.

    Numbers 31: 17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and every woman that hath known man by lying with him
    18: But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

    Deuteronomy 21:10 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God
    hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive,
    11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;
    12 Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;
    13 And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and
    she shall be thy wife.
    14 And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.

    Note: no mention at all of the captive woman having any choice in the matter.


    For being a religion “built on” rape and degradation of women, I was expecting a longer list of examples.

    Numbers 31:18 – how is this about rape? Is it “keep alive for yourselves?” It’s about women who were untouched and non-participatory in the events of the city being allowed to live amongst them and marry into them, which would not have been possible if they were unclean by having been with the Midianites. I think you’d have a better argument here if you were concerned about killing the young males in vs 17, but then again it wouldn’t make the argument that the Bible is anti-woman.

    Deut 21 – This passage is talking about how a man might bring a woman home and provide for her as a husband. How is this about rape? Women were trophies of war in that time, and here this passage is talking about how to treat a woman with dignity as if she were a full member of their society, not just lusting after her and raping her because she’s a spoil. This passage does the opposite of what you’re saying. Women in that time rarely turned down proposals because they needed support. If you want to take issue with the culture of the day, you’d be better served. But this passage is encouraging better treatment. And definitely not rape.

  • More childishness.

    Sad. And totally, nauseatingly disgusting.

    No wonder public discourse has sunk to such a low level.

    Disagree with you and get accused of the worse perversion known to humanity.

    Grow up! And learn how to disagree without being so perverted in your imagination and disgusting in your speech.

    You are a verbal abuser.

  • Etranger

    I believe we have already been through this. Now you’re just harassing. I think I hit a nerve…

  • Whoever you are . . . I apologize for not setting a more godly example of how to respond when you say such horrible things. I have returned in kind and I don’t think that helps you, and certainly does not edify the readers of these comments, or raise the standard of discourse. You may choose to leave your comments intact. I am going to delete my angry response. Just know, once and for all, no matter how strong the disagreement, it is not good to even hint that someone is a perverted child abuser, or defender of the same.

  • God forgive you for that inference. I certainly do.

  • Etranger

    I ageee that it is not good to be a child abuser or a defender on the same. I never make that accusation unless it is justified. I will change my comment to you when I see you have deleted your comment defending child abuse. I think we are on the same page now.

  • Although we will disagree on the heinous idea that God is a rapist, I do not defend child abuse. Since we disagree, I presume you will leave your accusation intact, inferring that I am, at present, an abuser or defender to the same. Just know, you may be trying to make a point you feel is legitimate, but in so doing you are inflicting great distress, unnecessarily. I would ask you to be kind and find another way to express your disagreement. But, do as you will.

    God bless you.

  • Etranger

    I have removed the direct comment. I would recommend thinking and praying very hard on the idea that a teenage girl in the Jewish tradition 2000 years ago had any option BUT to “agree” to the Lord’s will being imposed on her. Even Abraham had a hard time not following God’s orders. To call her actions consent if quite troubling.

    Have a good one.

  • Thank you.

  • Ursula L

    The Deut 21 ignores consent. The women in question are captives. Taken from their homes and families and friends, against their will.

    It’s a horror story, from the woman’s perspective. Kidnapped. Forcibly shaved, your clothing taken away. Held captive for a month. (Long enough to have a menstrual period, proving you are not already pregnant.) And then raped. By a foreign stranger.

    And no point does the man say “my I get to know you?” “do you want to stay here, or would you like to go home?” Etc.

    Yes means yes, and no means no, and the women are given no chance to say either yes or no. That’s rape.

    Was it typical of its time? Perhaps. But that doesn’t make it good, or something any woman would choose to go through. It just means that there were a lot of rapists then.

  • John Purssey

    Not so. Taking a metaphor literally is to misunderstand.

  • John Purssey

    Surely you don’t think the virgin conception and birth should be understood literally!
    Maybe that idea was current for Roman emperors and their contemporaries, but that sort of literal understanding is misleading today.

    A woman is no longer considered “fertile ground” for a man’s “seed” to grow in, but contributes a gamete that joins with a male gamete.

    Even if Joni Mitchell in Blue Boy sings
    “Sometimes in the evening
    He would read to her
    Roll her in his arms
    And give his seed to her”

    she knows and we know that “seed” is not to be taken literally.

  • Etranger

    I literally have no clue what your point is. Every Christian believes in the virgin birth.

  • John Purssey

    Not so.

    Paul and the other letters know nothing of a virgin birth.
    Mark has Jesus becoming God’s son at His baptism
    John is not interested in a virgin birth.

    Nor is belief in a virgin birth essential to Christian faith. It is not a “foundation of Christianity”. Many Christians do not think it is a historical fact.

    You might like to consider what believing in means. It is beyond thinking that it literally occurred.

  • Etranger

    Interesting – every year I hear about the virgin mary and jesus. I, personally, always considered it all a myth, since I knew that many cultures over time have had similar myths. But man, growing up around believing Christians, you certainly can’t say that! So I just figured they believed it literally. If not, they sure are wasting a lot of time of their life preaching about how everyone should or needs to believe it!

  • Etranger

    So, curious – who do you think carried Jesus? Mary? If she was not a virgin, who is the father? Joseph?

  • John Purssey

    Mary is likely. She fits in with the adult narratives of Jesus’ life in the Gospels which,btw, are not biographies. At least, they do not conform to the genre of contemporary biographies in the Hellenised world.
    The father is less clear.
    The story conforms to the narratives in Matthew’s genealogy which, out of character for a genealogy, goes out of its way to mention the women Ruth, Tamar, Bathsheba, Rahab, who all may be regarded as being morally suspect. So the Mary story can be seen as a midrash on the stories of those women. I.e Mary’s story reflects the stories of other women in the Jewish scriptures.

  • John Purssey

    I am sure that many Christians think and are taught that they should believe it literally, and by doing so claim to have a high view of the Bible. But a literal understanding means that the important truths are often overlooked and I would say that to read it literally, rather than literately, is actually to unwittingly take a low view of the Bible.

    The mythic dimension to human life is important. We participate in the myth of our culture. For example, a predominant myth is that only knowledge acquired by science is worth knowing, and any other knowledge is invalid. Before Galileo and Darwin this dichotomy did not exist, but then the creation myth was relegated to being a falsehood as it was unscientific. Central to the creation myth is that this is a good world and how humans should relate to God and to each other. It can be seen as demythologising a view that God dwells in rocks or trees etc and can be captured in human made idols. God is outside of nature. Anyone who thinks that evolution and cosmology are opposite to creation is confusing apples and oranges.

    Myth is not literally true, but uses metaphor to express truths that are not available to empirical observation and description.


    It’s about war and what to do with captives. They’re not taken from their homes and families because it’s assumed their homes are destroyed and same with their families. The woman mourns the dead and starts a new life. Other civilizations would rape them and kill them. This assimilates them into a new culture. That seems like an improvement in treatment of women, no? And the month of waiting is plenty of time to get to know her since he’s not having relations with her, which is the point.

  • Ursula L

    This does not “assimilate” the women. It is still rape.

    Is there consent? Are the women asked if they want to be assimilated? Can they freely say “no”? The answer to all of this is “no.”

    That makes it rape.

    The fact that the men are making excuses for their actions doesn’t stop it from being rape. The fact that the men want to use other words, do not want to admit that they are raping, does not stop it from being rape.

    The only thing that could stop it from being rape is if the women could freely say “yes” or “no”, and they then chose to say “yes.” No rule in a book can keep sex from being rape if people are not consenting.

    And the month of waiting – does a month with a jailer suddenly make a prisoner consent to sex with that jailer? Of course not. If someone kidnapped you and held you captive in their home for a month, would you be wanting to jump in their bed? I don’t think so.

    This passage actually has one of the most cynical expressions of sexual violence – the men are instructed to be sure to cut the woman’s finger nails. So she can’t even scratch to defend herself, if she didn’t want sex.

    This is rape. Premeditated, planned for, combined with the long-term psychological torture of captivity.

    The only thing that can keep sex from being rape is when everyone involved can freely say yes or no without any coercion or force involved.

  • DNetter

    This article doesn’t give context any value in comparing today’s culture to the culture of ancient times. The charge that today’s evangelism infantilizes women…Christianity actually elevates and protects women. Women in Jesus time were extremely vulnerable to peril without personal wealth and a husband to provide for her. No birth control and having children out of wedlock enslaved them. Religious laws and patriarchy protected women and children. Jesus came to save mankind from sin and defend the powerless. Scripture calls husbands and wives BOTH to submit themselves to each other. Read the Bible and pray for understanding!

  • Mary Hannah bates

    I thought the VP did not meet with women because he did not want one to say he hit on her. Has nothing to do with women being less than men.

  • Ursula L

    Another point about the Deuteronomy passage on kidnapping and raping foreign women. It ends with:

    . 14 If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.

    The men writing this passage and the men hearing this passage absolutely know that what they are doing is wrong. Because this admits that what they are doing “dishonors” the women they are doing it too.

    Yet they still make no provision for these women to avoid being dishonored, or for her to leave if she was not pleased with him, or for her to have even a penny in her pocket if he decided to send her away. Her only scant protection is that he can’t actually sell her as slave.

  • Ursula L

    False accusations of rape and harassment are vanishingly rare. All that he has to do to avoid accusations of such behavior is not engage in such behavior.
    If he imagines he can function effectively without any private business meetings with women, when he knows he needs private meetings with men, it can only be because he thinks that what women can contribute is so insignificant that he doesn’t even have to dedicate a meeting to working on it one on one.


    Do you think the main point of the passage is having sex with her? If so, what do you do with this: “and you desire to take her to be your wife…” The thesis is about taking a new wife, which we would all agree is beyond merely having sex with someone, yes? Again, as seen in opposition to the rule of the day regarding how to treat women who are taken away after a battle, this prescription is an improvement. Captured women would have had 0 rights as they had no husbands and nobody to provide for them. This instruction would allow her a small way out of the worst place to be. You can’t take this in a vacuum and ignore the setting of the day. It is implied that the woman would also want to marry the man because she would be in a position of having no future options otherwise. Critique that if you will, but it was a structure of culture in that time and place, not one that the Bible made up.

  • Ursula L

    Men use weasel words, all the time, to avoid admitting that what they are doing is rape. These weasel-words can include “marriage” and “wife.”

    If he is taking her from her home against her will, it is kidnapping, not marriage. That is what kidnapping means to be taken against your will.

    If he keeps her in his home against her will, it is imprisonment, not courting. That is what being imprisoned means, to be held against your will.

    If he has sex with her against her will, it is rape, not marriage. That is what rape means, to be made to have sex against your will.

    You seem to imagine that the intent of a man can mean that the consent of a woman no longer matters.

    If they wanted, these men could give these women better options. For example, if he wanted to ensure her financial safety, set her up with the equipment and starter capital for a small business, such as spinning or weaving cloth, where she could work and sell it and support herself. Any woman old enough to marry will have skills to do or make things that people will want.

    Heck, if they wanted to treat these women right, they could simply not take them captive but leave them alone in their own home communities, to find support from those whom they have known all their lives, to rebuild after the war. Just as many women have done throughout history, without being taken captive or forced into a sham-marriage of ongoing rape.

    The fact that this was normal for the time doesn’t make it not-rape. It just means that rape was normal, and known rapists could be seen as honorable men.

    You do realize that in trying to justify this situation, you are being an apologist, not for Christianity, but for rape?

    Many Christians can look at this passage, recognize that this is rape, and horribly wrong, and say that this is a part of the Bible that is wrong, reflecting a horrible historical culture and not instructions for modern life. The Bible is a complex book, filled with all kinds of literature, including anachronistic laws, poetry, mythology, political propaganda, and a few good ideas mixed in.


    Think about this: a woman who’s entire community and civilization has been destroyed has no prospect in life in that time and place. No friends to recoup with. No house to recoup in. No shop to set up a small business. Without being petty I would say your view of 7th century BC life is a bit too rose-colored. You might even consider that a woman would jump at the chance to have a new husband, given how it would be her only chance at survival where she could retain worth in her new society (unless you consider being sold as a slave preferable). These are small villages and cities being destroyed and wasted, not simply people moving out of a neighborhood on the west side of today’s cities where the world just absorbs the change and new people move in. These are isolated villages that once the men are gone, there is nothing left. And if you have issue with permissions, you have yet to take issue with the plight of the men, who were killed. Is it fair to kill the people in battle?

    And further, saying that “I will marry and provide for you” is different than “I will take you as a concubine and have sex with you whenever I want.” I don’t think you’re being intellectually honest when you attempt to sweep that away with “These weasel-words can include ‘marriage’ and ‘wife.'” It’s possible that men would want to marry women for reasons other than sex.

    Worth a read:

  • Ursula L

    You vastly underestimate the competence of women.

    The situation you describe, their homes destroyed by war, the men of the family either dead or captured, is exactly how my grandmother, my stepmother, my aunt, my step-grandmother and other women relatives I know found themselves as girls and women in Germany at the end of WWII.

    They did not need men of the occupying armies to “rescue” them, let alone forcibly remove them from Germany, hold them prisoner and rape them with the lie of calling it a marriage. That would only have made their lives much worse.

    Mostly what they needed was to have the occupying soldiers leave them alone. While they worked, and cared for their children if they had any, and rebuilt their lives from the horror they had lived through.

    An occupying soldier saying “I will marry and provide for you” would not have been something any of them would have wanted on 1945. And if an occupying soldier tried to bring them home, keep the there for a month, shave their head, steal their clothes, and them sleep with them claiming they were married, it would absolutely have been kidnapping and rape. And if the occupying soldiers were known to do such things, it would only have made their lives worse, as the task of rebuilding would be complicated by trying to avoid such “help”.

    Left alone to work, women can rebuild their lives, without men if necessary.

    This passage is just men lying to themselves, pretending they are being heroes while actually being monsters.

    And it even admits what they are doing is wrong, saying in the end that they have dishonored the women in question.

  • Widuran

    All societies were sexist those days. islam still persecutes women. Not many Liberals care.

  • Rick Brant

    Please tell me where the story of the incest of “Noah and his daughters” is to be found. Kindly cite chapter and verse.

  • Rick Brant

    Where does this story of “Noah and his daughters” come from? Never heard of it.

  • Rick Brant

    Where does this story of “Noah and his daughters” come from?

  • Ursula L

    I think that they’re referring to the story of Lot and his daughters. After Sodom was destroyed and mom turned to salt, they thought they were the only humans left, and the daughters got dad drunk to have sex with him, to get pregnant, to try to restart the human species.

  • Rick Brant

    Yes, I believe you are quite right about it being Lot and his daughters. I was wondering if anyone here would pick up on that.

    Although I tend to doubt they thought they were the only humans left. They had, after all, fled to the city of Zoar, which still existed, as a place of refuge.

  • Rick Brant

    You are projecting the views of 21st century women onto women of 2,000 BC, a form of cultural imperialism. What women may or may not feel today is not relevant to the views of women in a totally foreign culture 4,000 years ago.

  • Brandon Roberts

    some of this is fair enough.

  • fractal

    To “submit” is NOT the same as to “consent”.