Friday, May 22, 2015

Tokens of Virginity

Deuteronomy 22:13-21 is a passage I had struggled with recently, but not so much anymore.

It is today a well documented scientific fact that the whole notion that a woman is supposed to bleed the first time she has sex is a myth.  Just do some basic web searches on the subject and you'll find many articles on it.  Sometimes women bleed when they have sex whether a virgin or not, often that can be a sign of something medically wrong, but other times just from being nervous.

In addition to all the biology I can't explain well, they mention how because of this prevailing myth many girls on their wedding night snuck in either a razor of some animal blood to put on the sheets in-case they didn't bleed.

These articles however tend not to be kind to Deuteronomy 22 if it comes up.

Sadly many Fundamentalist Christians feel the need to still believe this myth, and teach doctrines about Marriage being a "Blood Covenant", and tying it into the Bride of Christ doctrine saying at that wedding it'll be the Groom's Blood on the sheets.

But there is no Biblical basis for calling marriage a Blood Covenant.  More then one witness is needed to build doctrine, and Deuteronomy 22 is in fact the only place in the entire Bible this myth seems to be acknowledged much less endorsed.

The Song of Solomon is the one book that's entirely about Sex and Marriage.  The consummation happens in chapter 4, if I'm understanding it correctly.  But the entire book never references blood at all, no occurrences of the words blood, bleed, bled, bleeding, or any related words.  And yes I am going off the KJV for that.  Same with Psalm 45 that many see as linked to the Song of Solomon.

Blood is a major theme in The Bible, and I agree with the KJV onliers who consider one of the many reasons modern Bibles are bad to be how many occurrences of the word Blood they remove.  The Blood of Jesus is at the heart of The Bible's message. So for any entire book to have no references to Blood at all, and for it be 8 chapters, not one of the really short ones that often fit on one page, I consider quite significant.

Also the words Virgin and Blood never occur in the same verse.

Why is this in Deuteronomy 22?  First of all The Law of Moses was imperfect.  God allowed certain things He didn't really like like Slavery because Human society was simply not ready to reject them.

As I said, most women throughout history made sure they had Bloody sheets regardless, and God knew that.  I'm willing to bet no woman was ever actually killed or convicted by this law.

And it's notable in that context that it allows no wiggle room for the husband to suggest that the bloody sheets are fraudulent.  The evidence is provided by the very family he's seeking to slander and the option of questioning it isn't provided.  The intent here is really to protect the women.

I think this is here somewhat as a formality even, how likely is it this would even happen?  Why would a husband try this when he knows his wife's father has the sheets?  And if he knows there were no sheets why wait so long to decide he cares?

As far as other reasons why people criticize this part of Deuteronomy 22.
I actually exchanged some emails with the author of this, when I was still struggling with this subject.
It's a much larger myth that the passage indicates that a woman is "supposed" to bleed at that time.
Ancient law codes like Deuteronomy were didactic, or case law. They gave typical examples.  
So if for some reason a woman did not bleed after her first sexual encounter, that would be brought up in any proceeding and considered.
I still felt that was inadequate however, he still seemed unaware that it is scientifically atypical if she does bleed.  If this wasn't happening right after the wedding night, the proceeding would certainly question why the husband didn't care till now.  But if it was happening right away the concern people have is the woman wouldn't be believed.  But what I have now come to is that in-spite of how it looks nothing in this chapter or any other Bible passage actually says a woman will bleed.

(Update Edit: He says in a new email he did understand.)

At any-rate many Bible critics don't even get that the lack of Virginity itself isn't what makes this hypothetical crime a potentially capital offense, that is addressed later.  It's the lying about it.

Now to many Feminists the very concept of Virginity exists only because of this broken hymen myth.  So they feel The Bible endorses it by even using the word at all.  It's mostly a modern thing in the post enlightenment world to try to define Virginity purely clinically.

The concept of Virginity need not require a physical change, it's just a term that means a lack of a certain kind of sexual experience.

What's viewed as sexist is that until very recently only women were perceived as losing something when they have sex.  And The Bible in the Old Testament is kind of consistent with that.

Ancient law codes like the Law of Moses were more cornered with the sexual chastity of women because of how reproduction works, you're always certain who the mother is, certainty of who the father is is dependent on the wife's fidelity.  It's unfair but that's how it works.  In the modern world we can fortunately do DNA tests.

The other major reason why Female Virginity is so important in Scripture is for The Doctrine of The Virgin Birth.  The purpose of which is only to demonstrate the Supernal nature of the Incarnation, it is not all to suggest a only a Virgin would worthy to bear The Messiah.

But is male virginity really completely unheard of in The Bible?  Revelation 14 says poetically/symbolically of the 144,000 in verse 4
These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
I do not agree with the view that there are no women in this group because I tie the 144,000 into the end of Joel 2 and Pentecost in Acts 2, where there are Sons and Daughters.  But the grammar is rare for The Bible in defining virgins as people who haven't had sex with women.  But this isn't a literal verse, it's describing Resurrected believers, you do not need to be an actual virgin whether male or female to qualify.

In the study where I defend that the word Almah mean Virgin, I point out there there is a rare masculine form of Almah used twice in 1 Samuel of unmarried young men.

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