My seventh post on topics ranging from holidays to the glory of a woman’s hair (and a man’s if it looks good!) to the pregnant girl who sat in front of me in senior English class.
(I realize this title is a little offbeat, but I couldn’t resist. For those of you born after 1970, it’s from a Bob Dylan song.)
I’ve been thinking about last Wednesday’s post and how I criticized the Pharisees for their adherence to the Law, or at least their dependence on it for their salvation. I considered the woman and her “many sins,” which we infer involved sexual sin. So, what does the Law say about sexual immorality? Here’s just a sampling of what the Torah says (specifically Deuteronomy 22)
- If a young woman is found not to have been a virgin on her wedding night, then it was required that the men of her city would stone her to death “because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house” (v. 21).
- Two consenting, though unmarried, partners would both be killed (v. 22).
- If a man rapes a “betrothed virgin” in the city, then both would be killed—him, because of his evil and her because she failed to “cry for help” (vv. 23-24).
- If a man rapes a “betrothed virgin” in the open country, then only he would be killed. Though the woman cried for help, there was no one to rescue her (vv. 25-27).
- If a man rapes a virgin who isn’t betrothed to another, then he is required to pay 50 shekels of silver and take her as his wife (v. 28).
So, here’s my question—which Old Testament laws do we keep and conversely which do we discard?
Pastors often refer to the 10% tithe as the basis for giving to the church, but what about the other tithes? And most people think it’s a good idea not to kill another person, though we’re more than fine with coveting. (Credit cards whisper seductively to our coveting hearts.)
What about these “betrothed virgins”? A young woman raped in the city would be stoned?! What if she were mute? What if he gagged her? And the young woman who isn’t promised to another, she’d be bought for 50 shekels on a sort of test-drive system? Ladies, could you imagine having to marry the man who raped you? This isn’t how Law & Order: SVU ever ends. Seems unjust to me.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” —Matthew 5:17 ESV
This woman who anointed Jesus’ feet likely fell into the first or second category, yet Jesus sent her away in peace, because he would be hung on a cross by the “men of her city,” fulfilling the law, as he would say. He didn’t merely pardon her, as some governor would do in his cushy office. He took her punishment.
Again, what laws do we keep? Where does law end and grace begin?
(Also, check out my post A Stone’s Throw about a Somali woman who was stoned.)
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