A Letter Part 3: Men are to Care for Women

Men are to care for women—to provide and protect—not exploit and dominate

When you say it like this it doesn’t sound so bad, but who exactly gets to decide what “caring for women” and “providing and protecting” look like? Because in Biblical times it looked a lot like exploitation and domination. Let’s go back to Exodus 21:7 where a father can sell his daughter to another man for money. That is the definition of exploitation. The father of course would argue that he was providing for and protecting his daughter by securing her a master-husband.

Verse 10 offers some protections for the woman should her master-husband decide to buy, capture, or otherwise take another slave-wife. Of course an alternative law could have been to forbid polygamy, thus no protections would be needed. Somehow in a book that despises adultery, homosexuality, and other sexual “sins,” polygamy didn’t make the cut of immoral behavior. I remain unconvinced that lust didn’t play a factor in that decision.

Even in the event of rape, Deuteronomy 22:28-29 tells us that if a man rapes an unbetrothed virgin, the rapist must pay her father 50 shekels of silver and the rapist must marry his victim. The father wins, the rapists wins, and the woman is exploited.

Deuteronomy 22:23-24 tells us that if a woman does not yell loud enough when she is being raped she should be stoned to death. Nobody wins here, the woman just loses more.

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