Atheist Chivalry

Over at the old blogger edition of my blog, I had a former Catholic now turned atheist leave some challenging remarks under my post that explored whether or not the Bible required women to marry their rapist.

My challenger rose to the occasion in defense of helpless women throughout history who have been the innocent victims of cruel, religious dogma found in the pages of a stone-aged book we call the Bible.  I responded a little bit and he claimed he wanted to continue the discussion, but he must have gotten busy or something, because he disappeared after my last long response.

At any rate, I thought I would bring my comments I left in response to his up to the front page for others to see. They began over in the comments of the old blog, and continued over here under the new one.  I’ve only slightly modified them for smoother reading and better clarity.

My interlocutor writes,

So far, I must say your reply is far more condescending than I usually appreciate but we’ll see how things go from here.

Condescension is in the eye of the reader.  I’ve been blogging going on 8 years now fairly consistently. If you read my archives, which contain about 1500 plus posts, a good many of them interact extensively with unbelief, skepticism, atheism, etc. I’ve personally interacted with dozens and dozens of unbelievers, skeptics, and atheists over the course of those 8 years.

I would further add that my interaction extends to the private realm as well, both with correspondence and in person, and further extends backward many years before I even began blogging. So you’ll have to excuse my “condescending tone” when someone comes along who knows nothing about me and tells me I’m ignorant of what “atheists” think and that what I write about them is absurd as if I am some amateur hack.

Moving along,

First of all, you never discuss the Hebrew texts. As it stands, nobody is an “expert in Hebrew” including you I might add, so if that’s your argument to me, then you have no business discussing this either.

I discussed the English translation of Hebrew texts, so yes, I was discussing the Hebrew text.

I specifically asked you, another alleged atheist expert in the original biblical languages who talked about the words “seizes” and “lies with” etc., where YOU learned the language of Hebrew.  Instead, you criticize my understanding of Hebrew.  If you must know, I have 2 years of Hebrew study from The Master’s Seminary. It’s not my favorite subject, nor would I ever claim to be an “expert” in the language.  But I do know it enough to utilize technical material and to actually understand the biblical text in the original language.

Now, if you, a guy who appears from his Facebook page to be just a recent college grad in a subject nowhere related to Hebrew studies, are going to pop by my blog and challenge my understanding of these texts and tell me what specific words really mean and the like, then it most certainly is my business to ask you from where you got your information and your ability to genuinely interact with the language.

Moving along,

The world knows, what, maybe 25 words of real ancient Hebrew? So I doubt either of us has the information to discuss what the Hebrews actually wrote.

Well, this is where you would be wrong. Embarrassingly so. Some sources you may want to consider on this matter would be written by, E. J. Young, who studied under Cyrus Gordon, Robert Dick Wilson, Donald J. Wiseman, R. K Harrison, Gleason Archer, J. J. Bimson, Daniel Block, John Currid, Leon Wood, John J. Davis, Richard Hess, Alfred Hoerth, James Hoffmeier, Kenneth Kitchen, Meredith Kline, Alan Millard, T. C. Mitchell, J. A. Thompson, John Whitcomb, Clifford Wilson, Walt Kaiser, Edwin Yamauchi, Charles Feinberg, Emmanuel Tov, Michael Grisanti, and David Livingston to name just a few. I trust you can search the names and their materials. They all go into extensive study on the reliability and accuracy of the OT texts. There may be disagreement with certain conclusions and the like, but all of them are in agreement that we know more than just “25 words of real ancient Hebrew.” The fact that you make such a ridiculous assertion demonstrates to me that you seriously don’t know what you are talking about.

In your article, you’re discussing the KJV version, which I’ve studied in its entirety along with the NIV, the NASB, the NLT, and the YLT versions. Not to mention years of Catholic upbringing and Bible studies throughout my time on this planet and even at one time, aspired to become a priest. So you might say I’m more than qualified to discuss on these matters.

Studying the translations is one thing, making claims about what the original says in another. Did you study the original languages when you were “aspiring” to be a priest?

You condescendingly mock that atheists are more knowledgeable on Christian theology than Christians, a fact I’ve found more often than not to be true and is a major contributing factor to our atheism.

Yes. I do mock, because in pretty much all of my interactions with “atheists,” they arrogantly think they know more than I do before they even engage me or any of the positions I lay out. They ignorantly repeat “buzz words” and phrases from the fundamentalist atheist apologists they admire. Of course, I’m afforded a great chuckle when I get to expose their error and show them that they are “full of it” when it comes to this subject.

Moving along, you write,

The historical period simply gave zero rights to women.

Really? And of course you are not reading modern day women libber definitions back into the text, right? This is seen in the next comment when you write, The bible itself even says that women are not allowed to teach or preach to men. They were not allowed to be information givers because they were perceived to be without the capacity for rational thought. Seriously? You truly believe this? And you claim to know the Bible?

On one hand, we are dealing with a text (Exodus/Deut) that was written, say 1400 BC. Then you reach across nearly a millennium and a half to something Paul wrote Timothy regarding the leadership of the church, again pouring into the text modern day misinformation regarding what men were supposed to have thought of women during the time period, and you claim it’s all related and from the same “historical period.” They are not from the same “historical period” and there are different contexts, different discussions.

But lets move along to your argument proper. You write:

Also, if you follow the context of the passages prior, these are all discussing the same thing. First it’s willful sex, then rape, within city limits and it switches back and forth between betrothed women and unbetrothed.

It would be helpful if you specified what passage and context. Seeing that you just jumped from the OT to the NT without warrant, It’s a might difficult to follow. I’m assuming you are speaking about Deut. 22 and if you note in my article, I explained the passage when I wrote, “Deuteronomy 22:13 ff., addresses laws pertaining to sexual morality and regulates a variety of scenarios that would potentially surface among the people of Israel. That includes situations involving premarital promiscuity, infidelity, affairs, and rape.” Did you catch that?

You continue, Both of whom are put to death by stoning, one for cheating, the other for not yelling loud enough. Did you read the passage carefully? The one cheating is stoned. For good reason: God’s people were to take sexual immorality seriously. The second girl, the one who is actually raped, is not stoned, see verse 26.

You further state, Even prior in Deut 22:13-21 it lays out how the man can marry a woman, decides he hates her, and claim she was not a virgin… etc

I’ve cut this down to save space.

You have many problems:

First, you conflate several scenarios, but don’t explain the conflation and why you think the betrothed woman wasn’t as I stated, engaged in promiscuous, premarital sex which I would say makes her deserving of death, her wishes being irrelevant. You seem to think there is some innocence with her that the situation doesn’t warrant.

Second, you seem to think rape is being described in every one of these situations. It’s not.

Third, you make a false dichotomy between a girl “raped” outside the city and inside the city. The text is clear as it lays out the situations. One girl who is betrothed is having sex with a guy and both her and the guy she is with are stoned. (In your zeal to find sexism, you conveniently left that part out). Both the guy and gal are guilty. The second situation involves an innocent girl who is raped and no one could help her. She isn’t stoned, because it isn’t her fault.

Fourth, you claim the term is interpolated from the text in both situations, but you don’t provide any grammatical reason to say this. Further you don’t allow the context to define use of terms.

Fifth, you suggest that the words (in the NKJV) “seize” in 22:28 and “forces” in 22:25 are the same, and they are not. One does mean to rape (forces= chazaq, to stregthen, be strong) where as the other, seize (seize= taphaz, to catch, to handle) can in context mean what I said it means, an unmarried/unbetrothed guy and gal engaging in teenage, premarital sex.

Sixth, and last, you claim my understanding of this passage is fuzzy, but again, that accusation is based upon false data being brought to the text by your presuppositions.

Deut. 22:13ff. quite simply lay out five situations:

1) Man marries woman thinking she is a virgin. He discovers she is not and accuses her of immorality.
– Parents prove she was, man is fined for his false accusation.
– Women is found to be lying and was not a virgin, she is stoned.

2) Man and woman have an affair, both are stoned.

3) Woman is engaged to be married (engagement was a big deal in the theocracy of Israel) but then steps out on her fiance’ with another man, both of them are stoned. She wasn’t raped because she “didn’t cry out” which means she was liking to the relationship.

4) Woman raped, man is caught and is executed.

5) Man has sex with a woman who is a) a virgin, and b) not betrothed, meaning she is living at home with her parents and is more than likely a teenager, and both are found out. Neither are stoned, but the man needs to do what all men should do and that is step up, take responsibility for his sin, and make the girl an honest woman.

As far as I can see, you haven’t dealt honestly with the biblical data, but instead have repeated much of the same lame, atheistic rhetoric that merely seeks to mock God.

As to my last point about atheism, it most certainly is a worldview. You believe there is no God, no supernatural. Everyone has a “worldview.” Your worldview also happens to believe there is no such things as worldviews, but the reality of the matter is that you are here, at my blog, advocating that I am wrong. Your insistence about your position, tells me you believe your opinion is correct, and that I should believe it.  However, that assumes I have the ability to change my opinion, but many atheists deny men have any legitimate metaphysical capacity to “change” a mind that is already programmed according to its determined evolutionary development.

But if morality is just a consensus of our evolutionary thinking, as you claim, why then am I bound to obey your particular consensus? Perhaps I evolved slightly differently. If truth and morality are determined by consensus, what happens when the consensus is changed? Do those things change as well? You claim the application of “logic” but is “logic” determined by consensus as well? Or is it something transcendent? Can “logic” change?

You’ve never really grappled with the inconsistency of what you advocate and how you think everyone should live. That’s why I find self-righteous, puffed up atheists to be so laughable at times.

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11 thoughts on “Atheist Chivalry

  1. I’m not sure who you spoke with before, but the scripture in Deuteronomy is very misogynistic. To address your numbered points:
    1) Why should virginity be valued so highly in women? Why do they not mention it being valued in men as well if it is so important? Why should a man be able to regard a woman as trash to be discarded if she had sex? She is still a thinking, feeling human being – how is it possibly just to sentence her to death for this? What about when her parents can’t prove she was – assuming they ‘prove’ this by examining the hymen, this structure in the body is easily broken in other ways than just sex, so if a girl happens to have ridden horses as a child she might be, for lack of better words, * out of luck.
    2) I assume this means outside the context of marriage (in this point, as I have read these passages). I am not condoning cheating on your spouse in any manner, but I still cannot see how death is a suitable, just punishment. This point has been seen by many as protecting the married man who was cheated on’s interest rather than actually punishing the adulterers, since women were seen as property in marriage and another man would have violated the married man’s property. You can’t deny that women were not seen as equals or even truly as real human beings for most of history because of how men chose to act.
    3) On the aspect of a woman having to call out/scream when being raped – this really screws over an unconscious woman, wouldn’t you think? This one, again, is easily argued that it is only protecting the interests of the engaged man who again, had his ‘property’ defiled – at least in the views of the time at which this was written. And again, death is not an equal punishment.
    4) Is the woman married or unmarried in this scenario? You didn’t exactly specify the lines to which you were referring. Either way, I’ve more than addressed this.
    5) You can assume that she’s a teenager, but there is still an equally good chance that she is not. Also, if this is the passage to which I think you are referring, the one in which a man who rapes a woman must marry her – then you left a very significant part out. If it’s just consensual sex and that’s the ‘punishment’ then it almost makes sense. BUT if the woman is raped, please point me to any sane woman in the world who would ever want to live with a man who raped her. Sure, she’ll be provided for, and sure – now she doesn’t have to worry about other men viewing her as trash since her virginity was forcibly taken from her (i.e. not her fault and shouldn’t be considered by another man when determining her worth as a person, but it’s not like they saw woman as equals anyways…), but she’ll also have to live with the emotional and physical trauma bestowed upon her for the rest of her life, having to live with a man she doesn’t trust or love.

  2. The first thing to admit is that there are many parts of the Bible that make us feel uncomfortable. Many (if not most) of these are because we are putting ancient laws into a contemporary setting, where the social and cultural norms are quite foreign to us. Others are because we are using our own (flawed) sense of morality to discern the “justice” involved in a particular command. Knowing this does not necessarily make it more palatable, but must be considered, at least. What is defined as “misogyny” in the Bible rarely is, but we must take the time to square our understanding with the facts, as well as we can find them. The following is a short segment of a recent post where this specific topic is also considered:

    ***************************************************************
    “An understanding of ancient civilizations is important here, an so I must provide some detail about the cultural milieu into which the law was inserted. First of all, there was no such thing as a ‘single adult.’ A family was the most important thing to all people at this time, and the only source of honor and production in society. An unmarried woman was, by definition, a harlot, since all women were not only married, but were betrothed early on in life, regardless of family station or situation. A young woman – girl, in fact – was expected to be a virgin upon marriage (as was a man, by obvious extrapolation), and if she was not, then she was not welcomed into marriage by any man; her only possible recourse was to become a harlot. (There was no concept of an independent or self-sufficient woman in the world at this time.) This is also evidenced in Joseph wanting to ‘put Mary away quietly’ upon realizing that she was pregnant with Jesus almost two thousand years after Moses. A girl who was raped was still no longer a virgin, and was unlikely to find a husband, which left her outside society, with her needs left unmet except by charitable alms.

    “The man who ‘humbled her’ was forced by law to tend to and care for her the rest of her days, as well as provide the standard dowry to her family for his “indiscretion.” Even were he to be stoned – a common punishment in that day – she would still be left to beg for the rest of her days, and would never gain the coveted family that was so important for survival. Although not perfect by God’s standards, this was the best way to ensure that the woman still had full availability of comfort and protection for the rest of her life. You have to remember that love was not the reason for marriage at this time (and possibly shouldn’t be today, either, but that is another topic), and so the marriage to an obviously horrid man wasn’t the death knell to happiness that we would imagine it to be today. This was an imperfect solution for an obviously wicked and imperfect culture.”
    ***************************************************************

    That said (or copied, I suppose), questioning passages such as these is extremely important, because we need to know that the God we place our faith in can be reconciled to the specific revelation He has given us in the Bible. I am continually impressed with the ways provided for me to do this. God welcomes the questions, and has made the answers available, if we are willing to look for them.

  3. Thanks for the input. Let me see if I can provide you some answers.

    I’m not sure who you spoke with before, but the scripture in Deuteronomy is very misogynistic.

    I can understand why you would say this portion of Deuteronomy is misogynistic because you are first a professed atheist, which means to say you have conditioned yourself to have a proctologist’s view of the Bible. Not knowing you, there could be a number of reasons for this. Be that as it may, you additionally read back into not only the Bible, but perhaps any number of religious texts, modern notions of what is the “feminist” idea of misogyny, so any religious text that doesn’t fit into the box of your presuppositions regarding feminism is “misogynistic.”

    However, rather than being “misogynistic” these biblical regulations protected women from abuse and mistreatment in this particular ANE world at this time. Notice that men involved with the immorality were equally judged and stoned. Notice further than men who falsely accused a woman of infidelity were fined and publicly rebuked for lying against the woman’s character. This is hardly “misogynistic.”

    Moving along, you ask,
    1) Why should virginity be valued so highly in women? Why do they not mention it being valued in men as well if it is so important?

    Ultimately it comes down to the fact that God is holy and He can demand holiness from His creatures. Moreover, God specifically calls His chosen people to be holy as well. Granted, perfect holiness is impossible, because no sinner can be perfectly holy, hence the reason for Jesus and the grace of salvation.

    But that aside, virginity and fidelity is not limited to just women. Men were also expected to pursue fidelity and sexual purity within Scripture. The Proverbs, for example, are all the time exhorting men to find a good wife, to stay faithful to her, love her, and raise a family with her. Young men were instructed to guard their hearts against the ungodly woman. The lady who was immoral was a warning sign, because men stupidly follow such a one into personal destruction.

    God puts such a high premium on the purity of women, not only due to His own character, but primarily because women are the gate keepers to the next generation. They have babies, as it were, and set the tone for the family. See Prov. 31.

    Moving along,
    Why should a man be able to regard a woman as trash to be discarded if she had sex?

    He doesn’t and he can’t. Notice he is fined for smearing her character and is stoned for participating in adultery with her. He is equally stoned if he is convicted as a rapist.

    What about when her parents can’t prove she was – assuming they ‘prove’ this by examining the hymen,

    That is probably one option. It’s the one that is highlighted here, but others could have been involved, like the testimony of witnesses who knew the girl and family. Your objection has a lot of modern day feminist gobbledygook attached to it. Such silly things as that women were thought of as trash during this time, that men were cruel, that the people were stupid not knowing a woman’s hymen could break in circumstances other than sex, etc, etc.

    2) I assume this means outside the context of marriage (in this point, as I have read these passages). I am not condoning cheating on your spouse in any manner, but I still cannot see how death is a suitable, just punishment.

    Again, that is because you do not have a high view of God’s holiness in a theocratic society. They knew the law and consequences. Those consequences were not hidden from them. If they cheat, they do so willingly, high-handedly, knowing the severity that could happen if caught.

    You can’t deny that women were not seen as equals or even truly as real human beings for most of history because of how men chose to act.

    The “equality” you note here is a modern day concept. It is false that women were never thought of as real human beings. Their value and worth are reiterated throughout the Bible. You need to get your self truly educated and put off the ridiculous atheist feminist literature you have allowed to muddle your thinking.

    3) On the aspect of a woman having to call out/scream when being raped – this really screws over an unconscious woman, wouldn’t you think? This one, again, is easily argued that it is only protecting the interests of the engaged man who again, had his ‘property’ defiled – at least in the views of the time at which this was written. And again, death is not an equal punishment.

    The idea of screaming out is that she is being attacked. Do you seriously not believe a woman beaten to unconsciousness would not be noted by those who investigate the crime? And did you read the passage carefully? The man who defiled her is stoned. In other words, he’s put to death.

    4) Is the woman married or unmarried in this scenario? You didn’t exactly specify the lines to which you were referring. Either way, I’ve more than addressed this.

    In this particular scenario she is betrothed, which means she is engaged to be married. Whether or not she is engaged is irrelevant. Other laws scattered through out the Torah would protect women from rape and deal severely with the rapist. And sorry, you have merely spouted to me more debunked atheist rhetoric.

    5) You can assume that she’s a teenager, but there is still an equally good chance that she is not.

    Yes. I do believe she is a teenager, because she is noted by the text as being a virgin and not betrothed. Meaning she is young and living at home. Certainly there can be some 20 something wall flower women that fall into this category, but the broader point is that she and her boyfriend are caught engaging in premarital sex. I crossed referenced this originally to Exodus 22:16, 17 which describes a similar situation.

    Now the passage I am referring to in Deuteronomy describes what I believe are 5 scenarios. Each one different involving different individuals and situations. The point, as I noted in the original article (linked above in the opening paragraph) is that the Bible does not in any fashion declare a woman must marry her rapist. She couldn’t, because her rapist would be dead from execution.

    BTW, the great problem for you as an atheist is why is rape wrong to begin with? We are all evolved gene replicating machines, so what is wrong with one particularly aggressive gene replicating machine wanting to pass along his genes to the next generation through the use of many other gene replicating machines?

  4. Pingback: Biblical and Theological Studies | hipandthigh

  5. Atheists say that religious people are like six year old girls who believe in santa claus.
    But if you believe that religious people are as silly and childish as six year old girls then why would you mock them? would not that make you as silly and childish as them and why would you mock God If you believe he does not exist? You would ONLY HATE things that exist you would only mock things that exist

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