For the past week, we have been looking at sexual love according to the Bible. We started in the beginning with God’s plan for creation – for man and woman. We read in Genesis 1:27-28 that God created man in his image. We went from creation to procreation, helpfulness, sexual needs, expressions of love, and mutual responsibility. Our next topic of discussion is adultery, according to what the Bible says.
Our verse of the day comes from Deuteronomy 22:22-29.
“If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.
If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help, there was no one to rescue her.
If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.”
Wow, that’s a lot to digest.
Let’s dig in.
These passages come under the heading “Marriage Violations” in the Old Testament.
We see four scenarios in the passages above.
A man is found sleeping with someone else’s wife. Now and days we call that cheating.
Adultery is the formal term, and according to the Bible, adultery is one of the Ten Commandments, – “Thou shall not commit adultery.”
The punishment for committing adultery with another man’s wife? Death by stoning. Is the man the only one stoned to death? No. The wife is too. It can be assumed based on Scripture, she willingly participated. Punishment applies to her as well because it is judged as consensual.
A man goes into town and meets a virgin who is pledged to someone else. The two of them have sexual relations together. Is that lawful? No. They both get stoned to death at the gate of the town. Why did the woman get stoned too? Because she didn’t scream for help.
A man goes into the country, and he meets a young woman pledged to be married. They sleep together. Do both of them get stoned to death? No. Why? Because the woman was out in the country and though she screamed for help, no one heard her.
If a man meets a virgin who is not pledged to be married and seizes her, and they are discovered, he shall pay shekels of silver to her father. He must also marry the woman because he has violated her.
This scenario needs further discussion, so I want to share the notes from my biblical commentary.
“Some object to a law forcing a woman to marry the man who raped her. However, for several reasons, it is more likely that the verb “seized” does not refer to rape but seduction leading to consensual premarital sex, rather than rape. Hence this law is dealing with a young man who seduces a young virgin with words of love so that she lies with him. Afterward, this “seducer of an unbetrothed virgin was obliged to take her as a wife, paying the customary bride and forfeiting the right of divorce.”
While marrying a seducer may be an affront to modern sensibilities, there is some rationale behind this legislation. It was a means of protecting a woman’s honor. Also, if a child were conceived from this illicit relationship, then the child would have a source of financial support.
The stability of the family unit and sexual purity were values held in high esteem over feelings in that culture.”
More insight from the passages
Note that an instruction is given each time – “You must purge the evil from among you.”
The Lord saw these acts as evil. The Ten Commandments speak of adultery, and Moses already shared the Ten Commandments with the people.
“The family unit was an important building block of the Israelite community, so it was important to maintain the highest sexual standards to maintain its purity.”
Next time we’re together, we’ll look at another topic – prostitution and what the Bible has to say.