What’s going on with this punishment? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
An atheist in a Facebook group I’m a part of shared this passage from Deuteronomy 25:11-12.
11 If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, 12 you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.
Well, that seems a bit excessive doesn’t it? Isn’t this a woman just trying to defend her husband? Why would you give such a strong punishment for that? I was also told that defending this is like defending acid being thrown in womens’ faces in Muslim countries.
The good thing about being an internet atheist is when you’re in a discussion, you don’t have to actually interact. You can just have righteous indignation. If you find it offensive, well that’s enough. You don’t need to bother to understand another culture.
However, when we want to study a culture, we need to try to see what was going on and why that law was made.
Let’s start with something first off that’s not in the text explicitly, but is part of the cultural context. The ancient laws were didactic. That means that they were not hard and fast rules but general guidelines. A judge would take into consideration all facets and hopefully, make a wise judgment. If this were not the case, why would they even need judges?
Second, this is not really about defending her husband. A swift kick would be a lot better. This woman is wanting to do a lot more than that. She’s wanting to do long-term permanent damage not just to him, but to his future. He’s destroying his ability to reproduce and thus cutting off his entire family line possibly.
Besides this, generally, if you were wanting to repel someone, bending down and grabbing a man by his testicles is not the best route. You are putting yourself in a vulnerable position after all if you miss. and possibly making it be that you are a barrier to your husband’s attempts to engage with the interlocutor.
Also, something we have to remember about stiff penalties, is that they were meant to be a deterrent to crime. In many cases, they’re successful. Remember a few years ago when that kid went to Singapore and vandalized a car and got caned multiple times as a result? I understand he assaulted his father when he got back to America. I guarantee you he won’t try anything if he returns to Singapore one day.
So what about acid throwing? Well, from my reading into Muslim cultures, and I tried to find pro-Muslim material, it really looks like many times, a woman could get acid thrown in her face for anything, be it going to school or even refusing sex with her husband. These are hardly parallels.
Let’s also remember the Law was never meant to give us a key to a perfect society. It was meant to help curtail a wicked society at the time. It was a schoolmaster until the better law of Christ came along.
You can be offended at this passage. You cannot like it. Neither one counts as an argument though.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)