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.
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.
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.