Not everything Biblical is Christian. Part 10 - women as spoils of war

Dear Johnboy
The extremist Islamic partisan group ISIS, has made headlines for their wholesale slaughter of infidels, defined by them as anyone who does not share their strain of religion. The headline above those headlines is their treatment of captive women and children who are enslaved either for labor or for sex.

Here is a first person account in the Washington Post of a 14 year old Yazidi girl who was captured, enslaved, and rescued.
Here is a video and story in the Daily Mail of ISIS fighters discussing the purchase of captured girls and their prices.
Here is a CNN story with ISIS's theological justification for the treatment of captured women.

Nauseating, isn't it?

As you know from your history reading, ISIS's behavior is not unique to conquering armies. Unfortunately, their behavior is biblical. But then, not everything biblical is Christian.

Here is the biblical case for the capture and enslavement of human beings. When Israel is not attacking cities genocidally, Moses gives them this plan in Deuteronomy 20.
10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.
In the next chapter, the instructions for women as war spoils gets more specific. Deuteronomy 21,
10 When you go to war against your enemies and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, 11 if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. 12 Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails 13 and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 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.
Numbers 31 counts virgin women among the spoils to be divided among the tribes. Before the rise of ISIS, the theoretical defense of God-ordained sex slavery was a little easier for Christian apologists. Their defenses of Israelite behavior fill up the first few search engine results when researching Old Testament women as war spoils. The defenses range from, those evil nations were shown mercy by letting some survive to God only allowed that for a certain time. None of these defenses explore the corollary of those assertions, women who "survive" only to live a life of rape/concubinage, often prefer death, and God for a while in his relationship with humanity thought rape/concubinage was not a bad idea.

A commitment to inerrancy, the fundamentalist belief that everything in the Bible is God-breathed, forces good people to explain wicked passages with wicked defenses. But when you read the Bible through Jesus's lens, as he is the full and final picture of God, the Word of God revealed in the New Testament, concealed in the Old Testament, you can say, God would never condone the treatment of women (human beings) that way so God could not have commanded this. You can also say, if Moses did write this, he is revealing his own depraved humanity, not the good and loving God.

None of these conclusions takes away from the value of the Old Testament. The story worth seeing is that God has grace on utterly depraved people. This is why Jesus tells us that loving our friends and not enough. He calls us to love our enemies. He modeled this enemy love when he was lynched, crucified on a cross. Jesus wants us to emulate him. He loves Romans and Jewish religious leaders. He loves invading soldiers, both Israelis with Moses, and insurgents with ISIS. He loves the women who are violated, and the soldiers who violate them. He loves the people who misrepresent him.

Jesus offers salvation to all of them. This is the scandal of God's grace.

The war rules of ancient Israel are biblical, but not Christ-like, because not everything biblical is Christian.

Series review----------------------
This is part ten of the series, Not everything Biblical is ChristianPart one points out that the words of Satan recorded in the Bible are not Christian doctrine. Part two shows the Sermon on the Mount overruling the cursing of enemies exhibited in Psalm 137. Parts three and four show Moses getting overruled by Ezekiel and Jesus. Part five merely brushes the concept of source criticism.  Part six looks at the Old Testament application in the early church: a brief summary of the book of Acts. Part seven looks at how the church has worked this out regarding slavery. Part eight, showed one example of how an unchristian part of the Bible helps tell the Christian story. Part nine asks who would Jesus hate?


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