The Old Testament: Deuteronomy III – Divorcing, Raping and Enslaving: Fun for Women in Deuteronomy

Last year’s heartwarming story about Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) who finally cleared up the issue of legitimate versus illegitimate rape for everyone understandably incensed a number of people.  But before people could right off the completely misguided opinions of this man, rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga) suggested that Akin was “partly right” about his ideas of rape.  (You could read more about this here:

These idiots must LOVE Deuteronomy.

First up—Divorce

Since women lacked a voice here, it appears that men were the only ones who might consider wanting to divorce a spouse.  But this was not so easily achieved. Such a man apparently had two avenues by which to dissolve his union.

The first way would be to accuse his wife of lying about being a virgin before their marriage. If this could be proven—her parents would need to produce “the cloth” (which is presumably from the marriage bed containing her blood?) (22:17)—she’d be fine.  If not, she’d be in trouble. But if this were deemed a scheme, the man would be stoned.

Second, if she becomes “displeasing” to him (24:1) he can write her a certificate of divorce and send her on her way.  The fun fine print is if she gets remarried, again gets divorced, the first husband cannot remarry her because she’s been “defiled” (24:4). No word on what happened if the wife was the unhappy one.  Still, men were supposed to be left alone during their first year of marriage so they could spend their time making their wife happy (24:5). So there was that.

Second up—spoils of war

Turns out, if the lord allows you to decimate a town, and within that town a woman among them catches your eye, you may take her, bring her home, shave her head, allow her to mourn her killed parents (for a month) and then marry her.  However, should a man not be pleased with her, he can turn her out; yet he can’t sell her, since, you know, he did defile her (21:10-14). Where’s she supposed to go?

Last but not least–Rape

If you think women today get shafted when it comes to rape, wait for this.

If a man approached a betrothed woman in a city and sleeps with her (presumably by force), they would BOTH be stoned.  Given that they were in a city, she clearly could have yelled or put up more of a fight.  Screams would have brought help.  And since she didn’t call for it, she must have wanted it (22:23-24).

So it appears to be lucky if you were a woman who was raped in the countryside, for there, few people would be able to hear you if you screamed, so then the man who raped you would only be stoned (22:27).

But perhaps the real prize comes if the rape involves an unpledged female and he is caught in the act.  If so, he had to pay her father fifty shekels of silver, was forced to marry her, and then—the true penalty!—never be able to divorce her (22:28-29).  Ah, that will teach him a lesson! Why care about divorcing her if he can just go out and rape more women?

Is it any wonder that some conservatives who use the Bible to justify their ideas exhibit such disrespect for women? Is it any accident that these same people are so anti-gay in general and against gay marriage in general? Why not, the Bible makes clear what is allowed and disallowed.

About virgowriter

Brad Windhauser has a Master's in English from Rutgers University (Camden campus) and an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte. He is an Associate Professor (Teaching/Instruction) in the English Department at Temple University. His short stories have appeared in The Baltimore Review, The Santa Fe Writer's Project Journal, Ray's Road Review, Philadelphia Review of Books, Northern Liberty Review, and Jonathan. His first novel, Regret (a gay-themed thriller set in Philadelphia) was published in 2007. You can read more about (and buy) it here: His second novel, The Intersection, is being published by Black Rose Writing September 2016. He is one of five regular contributors to On his solo blog, he is chronicling his experience as a gay writer reading the Bible for the first time: Follow his work at:
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