Did you know that the atheists have their own bibles containing hundreds of alleged biblical contradictions? These “bibles” also point to an assortment of Old Testament moral teachings that they find highly distasteful and want to shame and silence you with them. Therefore, they will throw this overwhelming collection at you, knowing that you cannot even begin to answer them.
Of course, you will not be able to answer them all. Instead, you will be on the defensive. However, I try to keep an assortment of answers in my arsenal, if not for them, then for me and for other Christians who might feel threatened by this torrent.
Here is one of their favorites. These verses give Israelites the right to marry captive women from the nations they have defeated:
- When you go to war against your enemies and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails 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. 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. (Deuteronomy 21:10-14)
Initially, you will find this teaching disturbing. We can simply answer it by claiming that we are no longer under the Old but the New Covenant. While this is certainly true, these verses are still the Word of God, and we should be able to defend them as reflecting God’s wisdom, at least for that particular time in history.
OLD TESTAMENT TEACHINGS WERE DIVINELY TAILORED FOR A PARTICULAR PEOPLE AND SITUATION. When asked about divorce, Jesus answered that God only gave permission to divorce because of the hardness of the hearts of the Israelites (Matthew 19:1-8). This principle of accommodation can be applied to many other OT teachings like polygamy. In other words, God gave moral/legal instructions to control sinful practices, not to promote them.
SOLDIERS WOULD OFTEN RAPE, KILL, AND SELL THEIR FEMALE CHATTEL. However, this wasn’t allowed in Israel. Instead of raping and selling their captive women, the Israelites were instructed that their only option was to marry these women. After their families had been killed in battle, this might have represented the best possible option for them. Perhaps a woman left in such a vulnerable situation could expect nothing better.
ISRAELITE SOLDIERS HAD TO RESPECT THESE CAPTIVE WOMEN. She had to be allowed to mourn for a month before the marriage could be consummated, even though the mourning was for the enemy of Israel. She wasn’t a mere sexual object to be used and abused.
THE SOLDIERS COULD NOT SELL THOSE THEY HAD MARRIED. Even if the soldier had tired of his wife, he could not pass her on to others or sell her as a slave or a sex slave. Instead, she was given complete freedom. Why, because the husband had treated her wrongly. He had “dishonored” her! Elsewhere, we learn that anyone had the option of becoming an Israelite to enjoy the complete rights of an Israaelite. What other nation had extended such protections to captive women!
We have nothing to be ashamed of regarding the teachings of the OT. In wisdom, our God had given them to a previously pagan people, still inculcated with the same tendencies. Although these teachings might not have matched God’s heavenly ideal, they were just what such a people at that time required, as even the NT asserts:
- So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. (Romans 7:12)
Do not be surprised that such an exposition will not satisfy your atheist associates. They too have their own belief system and faith to which they are entirely committed.