We're back with a summer hiatus special episode! I was delighted to invite my friend Jo Kitchen to re-record with me a segment on the second half of Deuteronomy 22. We look at how ancient patriarchal norms framed laws on sex and marriage, and how we can read scripture seriously today when we find in its pages the same attitudes that drive modern-day rape culture.

Special thanks to Viv Brown, Rebekah Lewis, and our other sisters in Christ who kindly volunteered their time to review drafts and notes of the material for this episode. Their feedback and input has been invaluable - thank you!

Read transcript

We pushed ourselves to talk about about subjects that are usually avoided in church, because silence on them only enables abuse and causes shame. Jo and I spend some time talking about these laws in both ancient and modern contexts, as we wrestle with a text that makes for extremely uncomfortable reading. What relevance can a law code that treats sexual assault as a property crime possibly still have for Jews or Christians today?

We might not have all the answers, but we have plenty of ideas on how to talk about the questions!

UPDATE (July 2020)
In this episode, during our discussion of rape culture in our own society in modern times, Jo and I spoke about UK police and prosecutors requiring full access to a rape survivor's smartphone as a condition of pursuing prosecution against the rapist. Well it looks like this policy is being dropped in the face of legal pressure! It just goes to show that reframing our worldview around justice is possible. It might take a long time, and it's hard work - but it can, and should be done.

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Carpenter, Eugene E. (2009). Deuteronomy in Zondervan Ilustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Old Testament) Volume 1: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
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Gafney, Wilda C.(2017). Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction to the Women of the Torah and the Throne. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
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Levine, Baruch A. (1989). Leviticus, The JPS Torah Commentary. Philadaelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society.
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Pritchard, James B. (1969). Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating To The Old Testament, Third Edition with Supplement. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
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Schmitt, John J. (1992). Virgin in Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday.
see references


Support for victims and survivors of sexual assault and rape: Feel free to leave a comment on this page directing other readers to support resources in your country.

What Were You Wearing?, a survivor art installation at the University of Arkansas


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