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Houston, 29 Mar 2017

Good afternoon! I hope you're well, and growing in the knowledge of God's word and will.

I've flown down to Texas for a conference -- one I hope will help me better understand how God works in the physical world. But first, back to our Surprising Bible Passages series.

Surprise 4: Marry your rapist?

Of all the passages you've submitted, none is more surprising than this. "Here is a scripture that confuses me because it is unfair to the rape victim. In Deut 22:28-29, the rape victim must marry her rapist! I am a woman, and I and would loathe having to marry the man who violated me."

Agreed -- at first blush this seems grossly unfair, adding insult to injury. Your loathing is understood. The creep has committed a sex crime. He should be put away for a long, long time.

Yet the passage is not referring to a serial rapist. The situation envisioned in more like that of Dinah and Shechem (although this was before the Law of Moses). (If you are not familiar with this account, please take a moment to read Gen 34.) Shechem was in love with Dinah; he wasn’t an ordinary criminal rapist. However, instead of going through the proper channels of requesting her hand in marriage, he forced himself on her. There is no indication in the account that Dinah had any objection to marrying him. Nevertheless, what Shechem did was very wrong.

Granted, Deut 22 is disturbing. Those of us who have known rape victims, or suffered personally from this pernicious sin, may find my discussion somewhat clinical. I don't know how to avoid that if we are to strive to get behind what's going on. Thanks for following.

Christians believe the entire OT is the word of God. So if God truly communicated his will to his people under the old covenant (testament), we must not give up too quickly. Such an attitude could easily lead to a loss of confidence in all the difficult parts of the Bible -- like those that call us to be sacrificial, or remind us of the kinds of people we need to become as we resist the destructive currents in modern liberal society. We need to do some spadework, considering not only scripture but also ancient society. So let's read the passage in question:

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 her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives (Deut 22:28-29).

She has lost her virginity, but then that's not such a big deal, is it? (Actually, it is.) It's the violence of rape that shocks us. In our day, neither sex nor marriage is sacred. Fornication is so common that there's nothing remarkable about it. Back then, however, marriage was so sacred that if the virgin were betrothed (as good as married), the rapist was to be executed (Deut 22:25). How easily (and naively) we imagine the best thing for the woman would be release from the monster who'd abused her. But that would have effectively ended her chances for any future including a family and children. Unless she (and her family) were protected.

Click HERE for the rest of the article. (You'll be taken to the website.)

Next week:  A familiar verse that overturns a widespread -- though wrong -- idea about heaven.

Science & the non-scientist

I love science -- but as an outsider. So when I speak on matters of faith and science, I'm careful to leave the impression that I'm not a scientist, but just a friend of science. For me that means keeping up with the latest discoveries. Fortunately, there are a number of publications that hit the right level for the non-specialist, so anyone can keep current in just a couple hours a month. You could even attend a conference. That's why I'm in Houston for an event organized by BioLogos, whose mission statement strongly resonates with me:

"BioLogos invites the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith as we present an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation."

Science and religion aren't in competition; they are complementary. Now I realize that to some believers, "evolution" is a scare word. But it shouldn't be. There is strong evidence for cosmological evolution (stars and galaxies), geological evolution (the land forms of the earth), and biological evolution (the development of life). At any rate, while true Christians may disagree over the exact nature of the relationship between science and faith, we all agree that the Lord discloses his will in both realms, nature and scripture. According to the Bible, God speaks in both nature (his "book of works") and scripture (his "book of words"). See Rom 1:20; Psalm 19:1-2, 7-11.

A few of the many notable speakers at the 2017 Biologos Conference: Francis Collins (founder of Biologos & head of the National Institutes of Health), Scot McKnight (N.T.), N.T. Wright (N.T.), Andy Crouch (Exec. Director, Christianity Today), John Walton (O.T.), and of course many scientists, like Denis Lamoureux (biology and theology) and Deborah Haarsma (astronomer & president of Biologos). The opportunity to rub shoulders with these men and women is a real treat! After the conference, I fly from Houston up to Alberta, Canada. More about that next week.

Sincerely yours,
Douglas
IBTM, T&R, AIM
www.douglasjacoby.com

               
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