Scripture: “If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and detests her, 14and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, ‘I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin,’ 15then the father and mother of the young woman shall take and bring out the evidence of the young woman’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. 16And the young woman’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man as wife, and he detests her. 17Now he has charged her with shameful conduct, saying, “I found your daughter was not a virgin,” and yet these are the evidences of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. 18Then the elders of that city shall take that man and punish him; 19and they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name on a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days. (Deuteronomy 22:12-19 NKJV)

Observation: This chapter contains several regulations concerning marriage and/or sexual relations; these can be summarized as follows:
vs. 22 – speaks of adultery, sex with a married person, for which both guilty parties were to be put to death.
vs. 23-24 – Refers to a woman betrothed to a man but who has sex with another man – even if she claims that she was raped, it is evident it was consentual and therefore both must die.
vs. 25-27 – If a girl is betrothed to a man, and another man rapes her, he must be put to death.
vs. 28-29 – If a man forces a young woman to have sex with him, he must marry her.
vs. 30 – a man can’t marry his father’s wife.
     The section I read today is vs. 13-19.  By itself, this passage raises several questions and challenges:
1. The man is not pleased with his wife, so he finds something to complain against her (vs. 13-14), and lies about her.
2. The parents had to “play it” safe by keeping “proof” of her virginity in the form of stained bed sheets.
3. The man is punished and forced to remain married to his wife (vs. 18-19).

Application: As I look at this section of Scripture, I guess what bothers and saddens me the most is the poor wife, for several reasons:
1. First of all, her husband is not pleased with her.  Her self-worth must have hit rock bottom.
2. He finds something to accuse her of.  Her integrity and purity are questioned in public.
3. After her husband is found out lying, she’s forced to remain with him.  I can imagine that if he wasn’t pleased with her before, he sure was not any happier after, either.  I wonder what her life was like afterwards?
     I know this process was written to protect the woman from false accusations by a frustrated husband, but I can’t help but wish more positive steps had been specified to protect her from further abuse.
     When we look through critical eyes, we will find fault in everything our spouse does.  Allowing that critical spirit to fester will eventually lead to a desire to leave them or to the actual act of leaving them by divorcing them or by shamefully committing adultery.  That’s why it is so important that we dismiss negative thoughts immediately before they lead us to want to leave our spouse and cross the fence thinking the other  grass is greener only to find it is astro-turf, synthetic, and bad for the digestion.

A Prayer You May Say: Father, help us to always look for and find the good in our spouses and to refuse to foster negative thoughts about them.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.



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