Exodus 21:7-11 (NKJV)
“And if a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who has betrothed her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt deceitfully with her. And if he has betrothed her to his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. If he takes another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marriage rights. And if he does not do these three for her, then she shall go out free, without paying money.”
These verses equate female slavery with marriage. You could buy a bride from her father. That sounds pretty extreme until we remember that Isaac and Jacob essentially bought their brides, and these turned out to be legitimate, successful marriages.
“Here is Rebekah before you; take her and go, and let her be your master’s son’s wife, as the LORD has spoken.” And it came to pass, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, that he worshiped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth. Then the servant brought out jewelry of silver, jewelry of gold, and clothing, and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother. – Genesis 24:51-53 (NKJV)
Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, “I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.” And Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me.” – Genesis 29:18-19 (NKJV)
This is all in the context of a primitive culture with many unfamiliar, even disturbing, practices. Often, rather than abolish those practices, the Bible regulated the practices so as to protect the innocent.
The regulations imposed here were a leap forward in women’s rights.
Think modern courtship is better? Consider this. In sixty-percent of reported on-campus rapes, the accuser was too drunk to remember what happened.
How can laws protect people who don’t care to protect themselves? You can’t legislate self-esteem.
The mistreatment of women is just one facet of man’s inhumanity to man. We don’t need new laws to get people to act sane; we need them to become sane. Only gospel transformation can do that.
God has placed His church in the middle of an ocean of pain. We need to respect the urgency of the situation.
God saved us for a reason.
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