Summary: Discuss marriage in the OT (Introduction is refuting this chart: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-QikkVCasr7U/TtmzyTVLoAI/AAAAAAAAFsg/pE-MGI0VWA8/s1600/biblical_marriage_chart.jpg and body of sermon adapted from book, God, Marriage, and Family pgs. 42- 48)
In the recent debate over marriage, there are some who say that we need to get back to the biblical definition of marriage. When that is said others counter with saying that the bible definition of marriage is screwed up because of what we see in the OT. The Bible, especially the OT, approves of things that we find objectionable today.
To get people thinking about how screwed up the Bible is on marriage, there is this chart that is going around the internet. Pass out chart. Must say that someone has done research but the chart is misleading in several ways. Let’s discuss this chart (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-QikkVCasr7U/TtmzyTVLoAI/AAAAAAAAFsg/pE-MGI0VWA8/s1600/biblical_marriage_chart.jpg).
Start with top left, man + woman (nuclear family) Genesis 2:24: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” This is the biblical ideal for marriage. Other stuff does not apply until the Fall that happens in Genesis 3 and is making the nuclear family look bad according to contemporary standards.
Next let’s go to the bottom, right. “If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.” Exodus 21:4, NIV. Now this is reading into this verse slavery as understood in the US. Yes, slave owners would arrange and encourage their slaves to have children so that they could have more slaves. If not producing children, the slave owner could make changes, either sell the woman and get the male slave another woman to have children. Even some slave owners had sexual relations with their slaves and the slaves had no recourse. This is slavery understood in more modern times. Slavery under the Law of Moses, the slave had certain rights. “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you. ” Deuteronomy 15:15, NIV. Look at the context in Exodus 21 we find that the slave can become a permanent slave of this master and the master has to accept him and then he can stay with his wife and children.
Next let’s go to the male soldier + prisoner of war. When the Israelites conquered the Promised Land, they were to destroy everything and kill all the people. The exception was virgin women. The soldier could take this virgin woman and make her his wife. This block is misleading because it says, “If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.” Deuteronomy 21:14, NIV. This sounds so barbaric and cruel. Kind compared to what the pagan nations did to women who were prisoners of war.
Next let’s talk about the rapist and his victim. “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.” Deuteronomy 22:28, 29, NIV. This sounds inhumane that this woman must marry her rapist. Well, since this man was caught he has a choice: Death or pay the bride price and marry her. For the woman, we need to look at vs. 29, it can be translated “and he may pay,” instead of “he shall pay.” With “he may pay” the tone changes significantly. If her father accepts the bride price and agrees to accept the man as a son in law; then the man must fulfill the marital duties that go with sexual intercourse. However, how many times did this happen. Most of the time the father would want justice done for such a violation.