Saturday, June 30, 2012

Unlawful Sexual Relations (Leviticus 18-21; Deuteronomy 22:13-30; Romans 1:18-32)

The following quotes are taken from

"Kill Homosexuals - "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives."  (Leviticus 20:13 NAB)

"Death For Adultery - "If a man commits adultery with another man's wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death."  (Leviticus 20:10 NLT)

"Death For Fornication - "A priest's daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death."  (Leviticus 21:9 NAB)

"Kill Women Who Are Not Virgins On Their Wedding Night - "But if this charge is true (that she wasn't a virgin on her wedding night), and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her father's house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father's house.  Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst."  (Deuteronomy  22:20-21 NAB)

"Infidels and Gays Should Die - Romans 1:24-32"

You can read the full Bible chapters concerning sexual laws here:

            Basically, all sexual laws were created for one purpose: to keep sex as God originally designed it, between a married man and woman (Genesis 2:18-24; Matthew 19:3-9).  The Bible forbids sex with close relatives, sex with in-laws, adultery, sex with someone of the same gender, sex with animals, sex between unmarried people, and prostitution.  Any and all sexual acts outside of marriage are prohibited, according to the Bible.   
            Why is this the case?  God takes the sexual relationship very seriously.  Jesus emphasized this when he discussed the topic of divorce with the Pharisees: “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ (Genesis 1:27) and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24)? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:4-6, see also Matthew 15:18-20). 
            When a man and woman come together to be "one flesh" in marriage, it is a sacred union, created and upheld by God (Hebrews 13:4).  Sex was created by God for this purpose.  It is a gift given by God to humanity for the marriage relationship, and should never be treated casually or flippantly.
            Again, it is important to note that capital punishment commands such as these were given specifically to the nation of Israel during the time period and culture of the Ancient Near East.  All of Scripture, both Old and New Testament, condemns sexual immorality; however, the capital punishments prescribed do not apply in our time period and culture (Romans 6:14; Galatians 3:24-26).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Occult Practices (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27)

The following quotes are taken from

"Kill Witches - "You should not let a sorceress live." (Exodus 22:18 NAB)

"Kill Fortunetellers - "A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortuneteller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death." (Leviticus 20:27 NAB)

You can read the full chapters containing these laws here:

            The question that has been presented is this: Why was capital punishment prescribed for those who practiced sorcery/witchcraft, mediums, fortunetellers, etc.?  Later in the Law (Torah), in Deuteronomy chapter 18, God gave the reason for the death penalty in this instance - it matched the severity of the crime. "When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.  Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.  Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you" (Deuteronomy 18:9-12, NIV).
            In this passage, we learn that the reason that God expelled the inhabitants of Canaan from the land that they were living in was because of the things that they did.  One of their practices that God referred to as "detestable" was sorcery, fortunetelling (divination), and consultation of the dead.  God forbid these occult practices on multiple occasions (Leviticus 19:26, 31; 20:6).
            The reason that God calls these practices "detestable" is because they encourage people to reject God, seeking answers and power apart from him. God is the only God, the Lord and creator of all the universe.  When anyone bows down and worships or pays tribute to a false god/idol, worships any created thing, or seeks to utilize powers of demonic nature that are not from God, they are taking credit away from God and giving it to something undeserving of that credit. 
            It is important to note that capital punishment commands such as these were given specifically to the nation of Israel during the time period and culture of the Ancient Near East.  All of Scripture, both Old and New Testament, condemns occult practices; however, the capital punishments prescribed do not apply in our time period and culture (Acts 19:13-20; Romans 6:14).

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Law Courts (Deuteronomy 17:8-13) labels the next section of their website "Murder in the Bible".  In that section, they give a list of verses in which the death penalty is the punishment for a crime committed, or instances in which God took the life of a person or people.
             The following quote is taken from
            "The act of murder is rampant in the Bible.  In much of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, there are laws that command that people be killed for absurd reasons such as working on the Sabbath, being gay, cursing your parents, or not being a virgin on your wedding night.  In addition to these crazy and immoral laws, there are plenty of examples of God's irrationality by his direct killing of many people for reasons that defy any rational explanation such as killing children who make fun of bald people, and the killing of a man who tried to keep the ark of God from falling during transport.  There are also countless examples of mass murders commanded by God, including the murder of women, infants, and children.
            The following passages are a very small percentage of the total passages approving of murder in the Bible.  They are divided here into three parts: 1) Capital Punishment Crimes, 2) God's Murders for Stupid Reasons, 3) Murdering Children, and 4) Miscellaneous Murders.  This list is long, but it barely scratches the surface of all the murders approved of in the Bible."

            First, we need to define our terms here.  "Murder" is defined as "the premeditated, deliberate, unlawful taking of a life with malice aforethought".  This is known as first-degree murder.  Second-degree murder is defined as "taking a life intentionally, but without deliberation or premeditation".  To "kill" is to deprive of life or cause the death of someone.  We can find a distinction between the two acts in Exodus 22:2, where a person who kills another person in self-defense is not guilty of murder.
            In the case of God, can it be said that he is a murderer because he takes life?  The truth is that God is the originator of all life.  Without him, there would be nothing.  He is the creator of all things, and all living creatures (Genesis 1-2; Deuteronomy 32:6; Job 33:4, 38; Isaiah 40:28, 42:5; Nehemiah 9:6; John 1:3; Romans 1:18-20).
            Therefore, God is sovereign over all life.  Only God alone can give life, and God alone has the right to take it when he chooses.  This is why a human being murdering another human being is such a serious crime.  When a human being murders another human being, they take a life that they do not have the right to take. 
   has listed a number of passages that describe instances of killing in the Bible.  I will address them in the order that the website has listed them, sometimes grouping similar verses together to avoid redundancy.

            The following quote is taken from

"Kill People Who Don't Listen To Priests - "Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death.  Such evil must be purged from Israel."  (Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT)

            What this chapter is describing is various laws concerning the rule and judgments of kings, judges and priests.  You can read Deuteronomy 17 here:

            For society to function, there must be laws to govern and keep people in check.  Otherwise, there would be anarchy and chaos.  Many of the law codes of ancient civilizations have survived, such as the Code of Hammurabi (written circa 1772 BCE).  The book of Deuteronomy contains the Law that God gave to Israel after rescuing them from slavery in Egypt.
            To uphold the Law, priests were anointed to serve God at the Tabernacle.  Judges were also appointed to settle disputes between people, as is the case today.  The issue being described here is concerning a blatant disregard of God's Law.  God had freed the Israelites from a lifetime of perpetual slavery in Egypt, where they had been enslaved for 400 years (Genesis 15:13).  In response to his covenant of love and protection, along with his promise to give them the land of Canaan as their own, the nation of Israel entered into a covenant with him, promising their allegiance and obedience to his Law.
            In light of these circumstances, every Israelite person was bound to keep the covenant and follow God and his Law.  To show contempt for God, his covenant, his appointed leaders and his Law was to break the covenant and act in an incredibly disrespectful and ungrateful manner to the one who had saved them from slavery and mistreatment. 
            What is being described here is a person who defied God's Law and showed contempt for those upholding it: " Go to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict.  You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place the Lord will choose. Be careful to do everything they instruct you to do.  Act according to whatever they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left.  Anyone who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the Lord your God is to be put to death" (Deuteronomy 17:9-12, NIV).  This wasn't just about not listening to a priest.  It was about open rebellion against God, his Law and his representatives.  As such, it had to be dealt with quickly and decisively, so the entire nation would not be adversely affected by the rebellious actions of one person.  "All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contemptuous again" (Deuteronomy 17:13, NIV).
[1] "Murder", "Kill",

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Prophecy About The Lord's Future Reign (Zechariah 14)

The following quote is taken from

"God Assists Rape and Plunder - "Lo, a day shall come for the Lord when the spoils shall be divided in your midst.  And I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for battle: the city shall be taken, houses plundered, women ravished; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be removed from the city."   (Zechariah 14:1-2 NAB)
            You can read Zechariah chapter 14 here:

            The book of Zechariah is one of the books of prophecy in the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament).  In chapter 14, the final chapter of the book, there is a prophecy concerning the great tribulation of Israel during the time near the end of the world.  During this tribulation, there will be great suffering.  The description is of a conquered Jerusalem, with houses plundered and women raped, and half of the people exiled.
            Keeping in mind that this is a description of future events, we must consider the question posed by Is God assisting nations to attack Jerusalem, or is he allowing these things to happen?  The reality is that God has given human beings free will, and human beings use their free will to commit acts of evil (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:23).  Sometimes God allows it, but he does not approve of it.
            This is evidenced in the verses that come directly after the passage that quoted above.  Shortly after the description of Jerusalem being conquered, God defeats those who conquered them: "Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle" (Zechariah 14:3, NIV).  The rest of the chapter goes on to describe the nations that plundered and raped being defeated, and stricken by plague.  The survivors of those nations will worship God, who will reign over the entire world, and Jerusalem will never be attacked or destroyed again (Zechariah 14:3-21).
            God does not ignore evil.  He responds to it, and a day will come when every person will have to give an account to him for the evil acts they have committed (Matthew 12:36; Romans 14:10-12; Hebrews 4:13; 1 Peter 4:5; Revelation 20:11-15).

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hebrew Servants (Exodus 21:1-11)

The following quote is taken from

"Sex Slaves - "When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are.  If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again.  But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her.  And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter.  If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife.  If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment."   (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)
            This quote is part of the larger chapter of Exodus 21, which deals with fair treatment of slaves and compensation for personal injuries.  You can read the whole chapter here:

            In the Ancient Near East, the class system was very different from most cultures today.  Many people, when becoming poor, destitute, or overly in debt, would have to sell themselves and their children into slavery in order to survive [1][2][3].  With this in mind, part of the Law concerned the fair treatment of slaves.  For example, a Hebrew who sold himself into slavery to another Hebrew could not be enslaved for more than 6 years (Exodus 21:2).
            This passage concerns a very specific instance in which a Hebrew man purchased the daughter of another Hebrew man.  The Hebrew word used for her is 'amah, which refers to a female servant who would eventually become a concubine or wife.  The price at which she was purchased included the bride price.  "The arrangement recognized her honor as an Israelite woman, one who could be a wife, even though she entered the household in service. The marriage was not automatic, as the conditions show, but her treatment was safeguarded come what may. The law was a way, then, for a poor man to provide a better life for a daughter" [4].
            Far from making her a "sex slave", this law protected the woman.  The man who bought her could not use her sexually without marrying her, nor could he sell her to anyone else.  If he broke the contract, that is, did not marry her as stipulated, she could only be bought back by her father.  If the man gave her to his son, she would have to marry the son and he would have to treat her as his daughter-in-law, not a slave.  If he married her and then took another wife, he could not neglect her or fail to provide for her needs.  If he did, she was to be set free.  This law prevented women from being trapped in a bad situation, and protected them from being used and abused by those who had more wealth and power. 
[1] Life and Society in the West: Antiquity and the Middle Ages, Constance Brittain Bouchard, 1988.  Pg. 33.
[2] A History of the Ancient World (Fourth Edition), Chester G. Starr, 1991.  Pg. 43.
[3] Life In The Ancient Near East, Daniel C. Snell, 1997.  Pg. 35-36.
[4] Footnote on, for Exodus 21:7.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

War Against The Canaanites (Judges 4-5)

The following quote is taken from

"Rape and the Spoils of War - "They must be dividing the spoils they took: there must be a damsel or two for each man, Spoils of dyed cloth as Sisera's spoil, an ornate shawl or two for me in the spoil."   (Judges 5:30 NAB)

This quote is taken far out of context.  It is part of the larger story and song of Deborah, and of the nation of Israel's victory against the Canaanites, who had oppressed them for 20 years.  You can read the entire story here:

            To summarize the story, the Israelites had been oppressed by King Jabin of Canaan for 20 years (Judges 4:1-3).  When they cried to the Lord for help, he commanded a man named Barak to lead the Israelite army to victory against Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army.  God sent this command through Deborah, a prophet and the only female judge of Israel.  Barak agreed to lead the army, but only if Deborah would accompany him.  She agreed, but prophesied that the honor of killing Sisera would be given to a woman.  God gave the Israelites victory over the Canaanites, and as Deborah had predicted, a woman named Jael killed Sisera (Judges 4:4-24).
            The quote from Judges chapter 5 is part of the larger Song of Deborah, which describes the Israelite victory over Sisera and the Canaanites.  In this portion of the song, they describe Sisera's mother, waiting for her son to return and bring back plunder from the war.  “Through the window peered Sisera’s mother; behind the lattice she cried out, ‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?  Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?’  The wisest of her ladies answer her; indeed, she keeps saying to herself, ‘Are they not finding and dividing the spoils: a woman or two for each man, colorful garments as plunder for Sisera, colorful garments embroidered, highly embroidered garments for my neck—all this as plunder?'" (Judges 5:28-30, NIV).  The Canaanites had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for 20 years.  Many ancient cultures did take women as plunder in times of war [1].  This is another example of an action that the Bible records, but God did not approve of.  As mentioned in previous articles, rape is a sin, and Israelite law forbid it (Deuteronomy 22:25-27).  Many other ancient cultures, however, did not have similar laws protecting women in times of war. 
            The writer of this passage (most likely Deborah) was envisioning Sisera's mother waiting for him to come home, and of one of her ladies assuming that he was bringing back gifts and women that he had overpowered.  The irony is that it was a woman who killed Sisera (Judges 5:24-27). 
            This passage does not promote rape.  It is describing a nation that treated others with oppression and cruelty, and was eventually defeated and overthrown.

[1] The Iliad, Homer, written circa 8th-7th century BCE, Book 1 v. 33-36, Book 6 v. 521-556, Book 9 v. 153-168

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Marrying A Captive Woman (Deuteronomy 21:10-14)

The following quote is taken from

"Rape of Female Captives - "When you go out to war against your enemies and the LORD, your God, delivers them into your hand, so that you take captives, if you see a comely woman among the captives and become so enamored of her that you wish to have her as wife, you may take her home to your house.  But before she may live there, she must shave her head and pare her nails and lay aside her captive's garb.  After she has mourned her father and mother for a full month, you may have relations with her, and you shall be her husband and she shall be your wife.  However, if later on you lose your liking for her, you shall give her her freedom, if she wishes it; but you shall not sell her or enslave her, since she was married to you under compulsion." (Deuteronomy 21:10-14, NAB)

Once again God approves of forcible rape."

Let's examine this passage in further detail.  You can read the entire chapter here:

            As mentioned in my previous article ("War Against Distant Cities"), slavery as a result of being taken prisoner in war was common in the Ancient Near East [1][2].  Another common practice was women marrying those whom had conquered their city or tribe.  In this instance, the Law set down the procedure for an Israelite man who decided to marry a woman from among those who had been captured as prisoners of war.
            Again, as in previous passages, this passage must be considered in a cultural and historical context.  We must consider the situation of the woman who was taken captive.  Her parents, or at least her father, were most likely dead as a result of being killed during the war.  It is likely that any brothers or other male family members that she had were also dead.  This left her in a desperate situation [3][4].  The only choice that she would have to survive would be slavery or prostitution.  However, there was another way that would slightly elevate her social status and give her a better future - marriage.
            There were clear regulations set down in this instance.  For example, the man could not have sex with the woman that he chose to take home as his wife immediately.  It is clear that this passage is not approving rape.  The situation was very specific - she was not a sex slave or a victim of rape; the man was to take her to his house with the intention of marrying her.  Before they could be married, she had to shave her head (an Eastern custom symbolizing the transfer from one nationality/religion to another, also used as a sign of purification and new status; see Leviticus 14:8 and Numbers 8:7), trim her fingernails, and put away the clothes she was wearing when she was captured, signifying the end of her old life and the beginning of her new life.  She was then to mourn for her parents for a month (verses 12-13), and then the man could marry her and they could have sex.  This gave the woman time to grieve her losses and adapt to her new situation.
            We must remember when reading this passage that people, especially women, who lived in the Ancient Near East had little to no choice who their spouse would be.  Parents arranged marriages for their children [5].  With this in mind, the woman taken captive would be in a similar situation, marrying a man that she had not chosen.  It may seem strange in our modern Western culture, but this was the situation in ancient times.
            Finally, there was a law in this passage that protected the woman.  If the man who had married her decided he no longer wanted her, he could not then enslave her or sell her as a slave to someone else.  He had to let her go free (verse 14).
            Far from being an approval of forcible rape, this passage set clear boundaries for men who wanted to take home captive women, detailing the proper procedures and providing protection for the woman involved.   

[1] Code of Hammurabi (written circa 1772 BCE), translated into English by L.W. King (1915) #27-29, 32, 133-135
[2] A History of the Ancient World (Fourth Edition), Chester G. Starr, 1991.  Pg. 43.
[3] Exploring the World of the Bible Lands, Roberta L. Harris, 1995.  Pg. 35.
[4] The Gospel of Ruth, Carolyn Custis James, 2008.  Pgs. 77-78.
[5] Life In The Ancient Near East, Daniel C. Snell, 1997.  Pgs. 52-54.