There are any number of things that this question might rightly asked about: violence of any kind against a wife, cheating on her, etc., etc. However, they aren’t the subject of this post about “puzzling or ‘problem’ passages.” This question is about two Bible verses recently mentioned by an atheist as reasons why we should reject Christianity.
I will admit that these verses are very hard to understand, especially in the loose and promiscuous times in which we live. However, as I’ve thought about them, I’ve decided they might have something to say to our degenerate society, even though I may be lighting a fire.
These verses are found in Deuteronomy 25:11, 12:
If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; your eye shall not pity her.
What in the world is that all about? …cutting off her hand??
The question that heads this post was asked by an atheist who was using this and other verses as reasons why we shouldn’t follow Christianity. The action in these verses wasn’t to be done by the husband, lest some take that as an excuse.
I don’t normally do this when writing a post, but I checked some commentaries and study Bibles about what others might have said. MacArthur pointed out that this is the only case of mutilation in the Bible. It certainly gives no excuse for the wholesale mutilations we hear about from ISIS. Some thought it might have something to do with harming the reproductive process. Some commented that it follows the section on Levirate Marriage. This was an arrangement in which a brother was to marry his brother’s widow if there had been no children. This was in order to insure that the dead brother’s line would continue in the first child that would be born of this second union. The Pharisees challenged Jesus with this practice in Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-39.
Because it follows the section on Levirate Marriage, some thought that perhaps these verses were intended to prevent women from thinking they have a disproportionate amount of freedom. I really don’t see that at all. The Geneva Bible (1599) taught that it was to reinforce the idea of “shamefastness” in women. This word means that the “shame” of doing something would hold women “fast” against doing it. Kind of like “stand fast” against evil. Some have suggested that that’s actually the word that should be used in 1 Timothy 2:9 (KJV), In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness [shamefastness] and sobriety,… Newer translations translate it as “godly fear” or “propriety.”
“Modest apparel”. At the risk of “chasing rabbits,” let me say that women have nothing to be ashamed of. God made them as they are. At the same time, I wish they would read the words at the beginning of this paragraph. And follow them, in church and everywhere. Short skirts, tight clothing, cleavage. I think you know what I mean. And we men aren’t exactly champions of coverup, either, especially this time of year.
Even at the beginning, after the Fall, God clothed Adam and Eve with coats [tunics] of skin. I doubt very much “showed.” And they were married! No longer did they have the liberty to run around naked.
Feminism has convinced women that they have the right to be as vile as men think they have the right to be. The point is that God set some boundaries around intimacy. There are many, many things said about who and who may not be intimate with each other.
And Paul has something to say about this, as well. In the chapter on marital rights and responsibilities he wrote, [before or outside marriage]it is good for a man not to touch a woman, 1 Corinthians 7:20. He followed this up in v. 4, The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
What this basically means is that there is only one person in the whole world who has the right to satisfy a person sexually, or to be intimate. For the man, it is his wife[female]; for the wife, it is her husband[male]. Not any other person, period.
That may not be popular with our society, but I think it’s part of the message of our verses. Even for such a good reason as defending or protecting her husband, a woman could not stray over the line of propriety.