A Bible Lesson: Stoning, Abominations and Marrying Rapists (Deuteronomy 22)

An atheist site I sometimes follow posted the following Bible passage as a cartoon under the title  “Bible Lessons.”  They’ve posted other similar lessons containing words that nobody would want to follow today.  This is the first time I’ve looked at the passage quoted and wanted to say something about it or at least about the way that some conservative Christians treat the chapter that’s being quoted.  They want to live by part of the chapter but not the rest of it and they’ve never been able to express any good reason for that.  I used to do the same thing.  I couldn’t give any good reason either.  Thankfully since drawing away from such versions of Christianity I’ve met many Christians who believe that such conservatism in religion is a long way from the message of Jesus.  This is not an anti-Jesus or anti-God post.

The Bible:
If a man takes a wife and, after sleeping with her, dislikes her and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, “I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,” then the young woman’s father and mother shall bring to the town elders at the gate proof that she was a virgin. Her father will say to the elders, “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her. Now he has slandered her and said, ‘I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.’ But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, and the elders shall take the man and punish him. They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the young woman’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.
If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the young woman’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done an outrageous thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.
~ Deuteronomy 22:13-21


Normally I don’t post Old Testament lessons. I know things like this are utterly irrelevant to modern life (or should be) and were written by ancient people with a very different society to ours and a very different way of understanding human beings and the world. We know words like these were not written by some kind of God.

Posting things like this is pointless because nobody these days would be silly enough to follow teaching like this or to place their trust in a book that teaches such a thing. Would they?

However. This lesson – a direct quote from the Bible – happens to be from Deuteronomy chapter 22. Deuteronomy 22 has some meaning for my life history and for my experiences in Christian churches. Deuteronomy 22 contributed to damaging me and my life and the lives of those around me. Belief in Deuteronomy 22 is alive and well in many churches in Britain. I’ve been involved with several.

Because that’s the chapter – although from an earlier verse – that the pastor of the church I was going to at the time, used to justify himself when he called me an abomination for being transgender. It’s a chapter I used as extra evidence for me being some kind of monster and for denying myself for so much of my adult life. It says, (King James Version) “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” And I seeking to follow the God of Bible, had to believe it. God said it. I believe it. And that settles it. [And we asked, “Shouldn’t we trust in Deuteronomy?” It’s what Jesus is alleged to have quoted to the devil when he was tempted in those contradictory temptation passages we believed happened just as written – without questioning the impossibility of that.]

Yes. People ARE silly enough to follow the teachings of this book. Even this chapter. I was very silly indeed, to my cost and to the cost of others. Christianity doesn’t turn everyone into an idiot. But it turned me into an idiot. I look at what I believed and wonder quite how a woman with a genius level IQ could ever have come to such conclusions. (Seth Andrews has an excellent talk about such things)

People believe such Bible passages. But only when they can do it in a way to bolster their own opinions – and in this case horrible prejudice. They can explain away the rest and come up with reasons/excuses to not follow the parts they don’t like so much. From the outside I can see that the way conservative “God’s word” believers play with the text is often a total cognitive mindfuck.

Note. At the end of the chapter we learn that if a man rapes an unmarried virgin he must pay her dad some cash and marry her. No mention is made of the corrolary to this that the raped virgin is forced to marry the bastard who raped her.

Yes, the marry the rapist chapter is the same one that is used to condemn transgender people by people.

Nobody in the world would ever believe such a horrible teaching that a woman should marry a person who rapes her. Would they? Well … things are changing, but:


No Christian pastor in Britain (I hope) would go along with those verses and want to apply them to our society. Thankfully it is (probably) a majority of them now who wouldn’t call anyone an abomination, least of all for being transgender. But I’m still an abomination to some of them – including some in Newcastle.

It’s about time teaching like that ceased to exist anywhere on our planet.

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