Board index Morality

How do we know what's right and what's wrong? how do we decide? What IS right and wrong?

God cannot be the standard of morality

Postby Joel Blazing Pants » Thu May 16, 2019 12:26 pm

God cannot be the standard of morality for Humans

In North Korea, the ultimate authority is worshipped.

In Iran, homosexuals are put to death.

In Saudi Arabia, apostasy is a capital offense.

In Kyrgyzstan, if a man kidnaps and rapes a woman, he can force her to marry her and refusal results in a woman considered to be unmarriable. Many victims commit suicide as their chance of happiness has been ripped away from them.

These are egregious human rights violations, things that the civilized world rightfully condemns. Yet, every, single, one, of these terrible laws existed in ancient Israel. Dictated directly by God.

But God is good....if he commanded these things, there must have been some context or another in which it was good?

But can anyone name a context outside of Christianity in which these actions are justified? Nonchristian societies that engage in these very immoral actions are rightfully seen as immoral.

But not God's people.

A standard is defined as "something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example.", God cannot be a general model if replicating his actions are immoral when humanity does it.

By the very definition of a standard, God isn't one.
Joel Blazing Pants
 

Re: God cannot be the standard of morality

Postby jimwalton » Thu May 16, 2019 12:33 pm

You posted a question (or thesis) almost identical to this in March, just two months ago. What gives?

It's odd that you address your question to Christians and then use 4 examples from Islam. You probably know that Christians neither agree with nor endorse Islamic teaching and practice.

Then you proceed to say that " Yet, every, single, one, of these terrible laws existed in ancient Israel." This is what is worthy of discussion. The question is, I guess, do you want to talk about God as the standard of morality, or proper understandings of authority, homosexuality, apostasy, and capital punishment? They are very different conversations.

> But God is good....if he commanded these things, there must have been some context or another in which it was good?

Here's another piece of misunderstanding. The OT is not legislation. "Legislation" is OUR worldview on law, but it was not the ancient worldview. This is yet another conversation.

Therefore your conclusion "By the very definition of a standard, God isn't one" is mistaken.

So which piece do you want to discuss—general (perhaps objective) morality, authority, homosexuality, apostasy, capital punishment, legislation, or God's morality? The forum doesn't allow us to pursue them all fully, since each warrants its own discussion. What would you like to talk about, again (since we had this conversation, and quite a lengthy exchange, in March)?
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Re: God cannot be the standard of morality

Postby Imama IQ » Thu May 16, 2019 1:07 pm

It's odd that you address your question to Christians and then use 4 examples from Islam. You probably know that Christians neither agree with nor endorse Islamic teaching and practice.

I'm not the original poster, but I think the point is that in present-day Kyrgyzstan a woman can be forced to marry her rapist, something that you and I and everyone reading this can agree is disgusting and vile.

And yet the same thing was a requirement of the OT law, i.e., things that Israel was told to do if they wanted to be blessed by God.
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Re: God cannot be the standard of morality

Postby jimwalton » Thu May 16, 2019 1:19 pm

Thanks for your comment, but it shows a serious misunderstanding of the biblical text. I'd love to discuss it with you.

Deuteronomy 22.28-29. First of all, the Torah is not legislation. It is a covenant agreement the point of which was to establish a reputation for YHWH as the patron of order. It addressed how the Israelite people should maintain their culture's concept of order in the relatively unique context of a vassal relationship with a deity. In other words, Deuteronomy 22.28-29 is neither legislation nor a command. We'll dispense with that misunderstanding first.

Second, this was written to protect the woman. As it would have been more difficult for a woman to find a husband had she been sexually involved with another before marriage, her bride-price—a kind of economic security for her future—would have been in jeopardy. Her wellbeing is the underlying theme. The passages suggest two courses of action:

1. If the father and daughter both agree to it, the rapist must marry the woman and provide for her all her life, without the possibility of divorce. The father (in conjunction with the daughter) has the final say-so in the arrangement. The girl isn’t required to marry the seducer.

2. The girl’s father (the legal point person) has the right to refuse any such permanent arrangement as well as the right to demand the payment that would be given for a bride, even though the rapist doesn’t marry his daughter (since she has been sexually compromised, marriage to another man would be difficult if not impossible). The girl has to agree with this arrangement, and she isn’t required to marry the seducer. In this arrangement she is still treated as a virgin.

You say the woman is "forced to marry her rapist." But a plain reading of the text shows that it is the man who is being pronounced guilty, and the man who is being forced to marry. Remember, they didn't marry for romance, but largely as a financial arrangement. So what's going on in Deut. 22:28-29 is that when the man rapes the woman, he will be required to take over that woman's upkeep for the rest of her life, with no possibility of divorce. This is not forced on the woman—it is forced on the man. It is his punishment. The entirely to the financial burden fell on the rapist. Of course, people fell in love with each other, and sometimes that could become the basis for an arranged marriage, but love and the feelings of individuals were not fundamental to the system. Marriage and the dowry was to provide financial security for the wife.

We can talk more, as you wish.
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Re: God cannot be the standard of morality

Postby Joel Blazing Pants » Thu May 16, 2019 2:17 pm

> It addressed how the Israelite people should maintain their culture's concept of order

That's what laws are.

> Second, this was written to protect the woman. As it would have been more difficult for a woman to find a husband had she been sexually involved with another before marriage, her bride-price—a kind of economic security for her future—would have been in jeopardy. Her wellbeing is the underlying theme. The passages suggest two courses of action

It's especially difficult when this same book (Dt. 22.13-21) says that if a woman is not a virgin when married, she is to be put to death. That is why this is specifically in the case of rape, because otherwise, the woman was to be executed, so being "fair" means that if the woman didn't have a choice...she just gets to marry her rapist for the rest of her life, or just has to be celibate from now one.

Real progressiveness right there.

> If the father and daughter both agree to it, the rapist must marry the woman and provide for her all her life, without the possibility of divorce. The father (in conjunction with the daughter) has the final say-so in the arrangement.

She just can't marry anyone else or biblical law will have her executed. That's quite the bit to leave out.

> The girl isn’t required to marry the seducer.

Rape is not seduction, to conflate the two is downright disgusting.

> The girl’s father (the legal point person) has the right to refuse any such permanent arrangement as well as the right to demand the payment that would be given for a bride, even though the rapist doesn’t marry his daughter (since she has been sexually compromised, marriage to another man would be difficult if not impossible). The girl has to agree with this arrangement, and she isn’t required to marry the seducer. In this arrangement she is still treated as a virgin

She is not, did we have this discussion before? I think we did, you brought up David's daughter, who was raped and wanted to marry her rapist because she wouldn't be able to marry anyone else. David said no, and she was alone for the rest of her life.

If we did have this discussion, how can you continue like nothing ever happened? Cognitive dissonance is really that strong.
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Re: God cannot be the standard of morality

Postby jimwalton » Thu May 16, 2019 2:33 pm

> That's what laws are.

No, not so. We generally regard law as prescriptive legislation set down in legal documents to serve as precedents that expects obedience and conformity as a response. We look at it as a systematic collection of rules to guide future decisions. This was not at all the perspective of the ancient world. Instead, they were to them collections of the king's wisdom (such as Hammurabi or Solomon) to show how wise the king was in the thoughts of their deity. They were generally set down as examples of some of the verdicts this particular king gave to show what a wise king he was in establishing the order of the gods. It's a completely different mindset and purpose than "laws."

> It's especially difficult when this same book says that if a woman is not a virgin when married, she is to be put to death. That is why this is specifically in the case of rape, because otherwise, the woman was to be executed, so being "fair" means that if the woman didn't have a choice...she just gets to marry her rapist for the rest of her life, or just has to be celibate from now one.

First of all, as has already been stated, these are not laws; they are not legislation. The writer is giving legal wisdom (not actual cases) so a judge can gain wisdom from it and render a decision.

Dt. 22.13-30 is divided into 2 parts: the first involving a false accusation and the second (vv. 20-21) a true accusation. You can see that the judge is already being guided. The law involves procedures similar to our modern ones: procuring evidence, a public hearing, calling witnesses, considering intent and motive, and rendering a decision with an appropriate sentence. There is no attempt to defend a guilty woman in vv. 20-21; the first section, however, goes to great lengths to protect an innocent woman from false accusation against an abusive husband or trump-up charges.

Vv. 13-19, if a man thinks he can just abuse a woman or toss her aside as he wishes like a piece of trash, he is mistaken. Slander, false accusations, and malicious intent are punishable offenses, and the honor of the woman should be protected in such a case.

Verse 19 is designed to protect the innocent victim. You wonder who would want to spend her life with a man who publicly defamed her. Ancient texts, however, need to be read in their culture and understanding their intent. The intent was to rehabilitate the man while protecting the woman. After having been publicly shamed (now everyone in town knows he's a sexual offender), he is forced to take her in, care for her, and assume husbandly responsibilities. The townspeople will be watching him. The woman is now guaranteed financial security. Otherwise, her life was for all intents and purposes over: she would never marry otherwise, never bear children, and be a pauper. The parents get to keep the bride price (plus the fine). The elders and the community will watch over the family to make sure he treats her right.

If the charges are true (vv. 20-21, the verses to which you are referring), they are executed. Adultery was a capital crime in the ancient Near East. We are not told why, but it was a widespread cultural practice. We can speculate that adultery was a threat to family life, and therefore the community at large, as well as a complicating factor in inheritances. It also destroyed order in the community.

> She just can't marry anyone else or biblical law will have her executed. That's quite the bit to leave out.

She is not required to marry the rapist. It is a decision the father and daughter make together. Nor will she be executed if she refuses. Wow. She is the innocent victim and is to be treated as such.

> She is not, did we have this discussion before?

I don't remember having this particular discussion with you before, but if we did, I'm disappointed that an actual correct exegesis of the text doesn't sway your distorted interpretations, but that you persist in them despite the evidence and accurate information. If correct information doesn't change your mind, perhaps continuing the discussion is fruitless.
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Re: God cannot be the standard of morality

Postby Imama IQ » Thu May 16, 2019 2:38 pm

> First of all, the Torah is not legislation. It is a covenant agreement the point of which was to establish a reputation for YHWH as the patron of order.

And also the law that Israel was to follow if they wanted to receive God's blessing, right? That's kind of a huge endorsement of those behaviors.

> Second, this was written to protect the woman.

She was raped, then forced to marry her rapist and live with him where she'll be raped repeatedly by the same rapist and likely have to bear the children of her rapist, while cooking and cleaning for her rapist, etc. That's a deeply messed up notion of what it means to protect a woman.

You could argue that it's not as bad as putting the rape victim to death, for example, but both are still horrible ways to treat a woman. Being "less bad" isn't the same thing as being good.

> If the father and daughter both agree to it,

Nothing in that passage says the daughter has any say at all in the matter.

> But a plain reading of the text shows that it is the man who is being pronounced guilty, and the man who is being forced to marry.

Yikes.

To elaborate, that's a view that only makes sense if you take the same view of women that was prevalent at the time, in which case okay I guess, given what we would consider a deeply offensive view of women that sort of makes sense in a twisted way. But yikes I'd hope you don't actually have that view of women, except that I don't see any other way to look at this as a good thing for the woman and punishment for the man.
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Re: God cannot be the standard of morality

Postby jimwalton » Thu May 16, 2019 2:51 pm

> And also the law that Israel was to follow if they wanted to receive God's blessing, right? That's kind of a huge endorsement of those behaviors.

No, it's not law as we understand law. It's really tough to put ourselves in someone else's worldview, but it's necessary if we want to understand the text correctly. If Israel wanted to receive God's blessing, they needed to stay true to the covenant. We are not to understand Deuteronomy 22 as legislation as we understand law.

We generally regard law as prescriptive legislation set down in legal documents to serve as precedents that expects obedience and conformity as a response. We look at it as a systematic collection of rules to guide future decisions. This was not at all the perspective of the ancient world. Instead, they were to them collections of the king's wisdom (such as Hammurabi or Solomon) to show how wise the king was in the thoughts of their deity. They were generally set down as examples of some of the verdicts this particular king gave to show what a wise king he was in establishing the order of the gods. It's a completely different mindset and purpose than "laws."

> She was raped, then forced to marry her rapist and live with him where she'll be raped repeatedly by the same rapist and likely have to bear the children of her rapist, while cooking and cleaning for her rapist, etc. That's a deeply messed up notion of what it means to protect a woman.

No, you're thinking in modern terms, not in ancient ones. If she were raped and the man could walk away, he would be fine (in ancient culture) and she would be shamed and destitute for the rest of her life (in ancient culture). The law is designed as a punishment for the man, not for the woman. But, as I said, given the situation, the father and daughter could together decide that she not marry him.

> Nothing in that passage says the daughter has any say at all in the matter.

This isn't the only text about such matters. There's more about these things in Exodus 22.16-17, which is a backdrop to this scenario. We take all of them together to assemble a picture of what wisdom a judge could access for a wise decision. Ancient judges didn't study legislation as ours do, memorizing precedents to guide future decisions along the same lines. Instead, they were generally the wisest person(s) in the town who were expected to use their God-given sense of morality, common sense, and judicial know-how (listening to testimony, hearing evidence, etc.) to make a wise decision. No one consulted law books as we do now.

See, that's the problem with people who don't know the biblical text and don't study it. They just read superficially and then criticize.

> Yikes.

He not only must marry her (if the father and daughter say so), but he must also put up some big bucks according to whatever the judge said, depending on the situation. The text says 50 shekels of silver. The average salary for an artisan or laborer was about 10 shekels a year. Therefore 50 shekels was about 5 years' salary. If an average salary in America is, say, $30-$40K, that ends up as a fine of $150-$200K! Serious penalty.

> to elaborate, that's a view that only makes sense if you take the same view of women that was prevalent at the time, in which case okay I guess, given what we would consider a deeply offensive view of women that sort of makes sense in a twisted way.

Their worldview was very different from our own. In our day, this is not a suitable arrangement, but this was not written to us. In their world, this was very affirming and protective of women. They would look at this as a tremendous boon, not the "yikes" way we look at it.
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Re: God cannot be the standard of morality

Postby Shazzam » Thu May 16, 2019 2:59 pm

> Thanks for your comment, but it shows a serious misunderstanding of the biblical text.

Or maybe you have got it completely wrong? There are countless different ways that the bible could be interpreted. How have you determined that your particular interpretation is correct?

> You say the woman is "forced to marry her rapist." But a plain reading of the text shows that it is the man who is being pronounced guilty, and the man who is being forced to marry.

Yes a man can be 'forced' to marry a woman he raped. Do you seriously not see any issue with that?

> So what's going on in Deut. 22:28-29 is that when the man rapes the woman, he will be required to take over that woman's upkeep for the rest of her life, with no possibility of divorce. This is not forced on the woman—it is forced on the man.

Who decides whether the woman should marry the man who raped her?
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Re: God cannot be the standard of morality

Postby jimwalton » Thu May 16, 2019 2:59 pm

> Or maybe you have got it completely wrong? There are countless different ways that the bible could be interpreted. How have you determined that your particular interpretation is correct?

No, if you've studied the text (if you actually have), you'll see this is the way it is interpreted. Have you done any work on researching the text? Your comments make me think you haven't; you've possibly just read it superficially.

> Yes a man can be 'forced' to marry a woman he raped. Do you seriously not see any issue with that?

Their worldview was very different from our own. In our day, this is not a suitable arrangement, but this was not written to us. In their world, this was very affirming and protective of women. They would look at this as a tremendous boon, not the "yikes" way we look at it.

In their world, a victimized woman didn't think the way we do about marrying her rapist (cf. 2 Sam. 13.1-20). Since the primary way women achieved financial and social security was through marriage, a rape victim would often end up impoverished. This law was perceived as providing protection and security for an innocent victim, and was welcomed. It's not the way we think, but that's beside the point. It's for their world, not ours.

> Who decides whether the woman should marry the man who raped her?

The father and the daughter would. There's more about these things in Exodus 22.16-17, which is a backdrop to this scenario. The father and daughter, in cooperation with the wisdom of a judge, would decide how best to handle it.
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