I came across this post at Howard Friedman’s religion law blog and it got me to thinking. The post is about Pakistan amending their state law to allow for women convicted of premarital sex to be “rehabilitated” rather than put to death, as their law previously demanded. I was repulsed by the notion that anyone could possibly be so barbaric as to think it’s okay to kill a woman for not being a virgin. I’m sure most people agree with me. I’m sure most Christians, even most theologically conservative, inerrantist Christians (everyone but the reconstructionists, essentially) would agree that it’s difficult to imagine anything more barbaric and vile than women being stoned to death for not being virgins. But it seems to me that this is a problem for their beliefs.
Why? Because the Bible demands precisely that barbaric punishment for the same thing. Deuteronomy 22 specifies that if a man marries a woman and finds that she’s not a virgin on her wedding night – i.e. that she has engaged in premarital sex – he is to bring her to the city elders and, if her father cannot prove that she was a virgin, she is to be stoned to death by the men of the city. Surely it’s inconsistent to condemn Pakistan as barbaric for doing the very thing that they believe God himself declared to be the law.
The only answer I can think of from those of an inerrantist mindset would be to argue that the law no longer applies because Jesus fulfilled the law. But that really doesn’t resolve the problem. The question is not whether Pakistan should do that, but whether the act of stoning a woman for that crime is barbaric and unjustified or not. They cannot admit that God is or was barbaric in his commands, yet they surely would agree that those Muslims who engage in the same behavior today are barbaric. But they not only excuse God for ordering the same thing, they praise him for it.
Honestly, this is the primary reason why I am no longer a Christian. There’s a scene in the movie Rounders where the professor is explaining why he spurned his family’s desire for him to become a rabbi. “For all my knowledge of the Torah,” he said, “I never saw God there.” That line struck me because it’s the same reason I ultimately rejected the Bible’s authority – I can’t see God in it. I don’t see a loving God, I see a tribal war God whose commands reflect the primitive and barbaric morality that the human race has spent centuries slowly throwing off. And if we are going to reject the Muslim’s worship of a barbaric God, we must do the same for the God of the Bible.