I agree Jesus was using little children as an “stand in” for the weak and powerless, but did not then exclude the little children from than group, but rather made them representative. Do you hold that Jesus did not consider children of value in those verses?
I’ve been realizing more and more how this is a relative morality. I think I would have held similar views in the time, had I lived then. In addition, I think some of them would be horrified at our laissez faire attitude to children suffering in the West. John Patrick wrote about that based on his experience in Africa, where survival depends on care of everyone in the family unit. In addition, this Onscript podcast notes that they were strict with the glutton because such a person would literally endanger the family–though the rules themselves were not always followed.
In the same line, it is possible that sexual abuse of little ones was not such a pervasive problem. I have personally seen that linked to porn–and that was certainly not present in such a degree then (not to ignore that slaughter of men folk and forced marriage did exist, even to children).
Growing up in Africa, I was struck by the communal thinking. In the outpatient department, a young man who had admitted taking drugs instantly received a tongue lashing from all the crowd around him–strangers or not–in a shame based correction that doubtless had an effect on him.
That would never happen here; in fact, “shame” is considered a dirty word (except for favorite sins on the Internet). This makes me think we may be the ones who are at least partially blind. A community uses peer pressure, love, and busybodying in each other’s lives to succeed–and we are losing that.
It’s all nicely blurred and inverted Phil. No Jesus of mine would hold thus.
Interesting. I certainly think the Jewish subculture may well have had little sexual child abuse, but as I understand it, in Roman society it may have been a different story.
While I think that porn makes child sexual abuse more prevalent, no doubt it has been a problem for a long time. Of course, pornography has been around a long time also.
I think you are right. And it may have been very present in Jewish society…but not dealt with in writing by a primarily verbal culture.
I have a very hard time believing that people in this era needed to be told not to have sex with animals or burn their children as sacrifices but child molestation was nearly unheard of.
Doesn’t the Bible itself include several accounts of brothers raping their sisters? Just because it wasn’t morally condoned (like taking virgin war brides as part of the spoils) doesn’t mean it was rare.
And I agree that Roman society allowed for young boys to be kept as sex slaves by older men. So, in that case it was morally condoned. Prostitution was also legal and a mainstream part of the culture. Not all the prostitutes were voluntary or of age.
I only have a short time, but perhaps this book here helps (download link). It is about the philsophical problem mainly, but should apply here, too:
One to thing to remember is this.
The Torah , is the teachings, not the law. The Torah was not a legal codex. It was a story that contained elements of their legal laws. There is no reason to believe it encompassed all their laws. The talmud for example, contained way more laws.
The Old Testament contained 611 laws of Do and don’t do. Is that number significant? Yes. Because in hebrew the word Torah contains the numerical value of 611. They stopped at 611 laws from their legal codexes that were used in the Torah as a literary technique.
We can also see that they clearly recognized kids, just like most parents do nowadays, as being kids. They viewed kid sacrifice as evil. It would not have been normal for adult men to marry and have sex with kids. Sure, just like america 100 years ago they probably lowered the number to like 15. Which is definitely gross. I don’t think a 15 year old has the mentality of a 20 year old. I also think it’s gross when I see a 25 year old with a 60 year old.
I’m not sure why some men prefer younger women. I don’t believe most do. I always heard lots of horror stories about ancient cultures and kids but I never see a lot of hard proof for it or see distinctions between the two parts of marriage.
The contract and the consummation.
Take Mary and Jospeh.
Their engagement was not how we test engagements nowadays. They were married, but the marriage was not consummated. They did not have sex until after jesus was born. Afterwards is when Jospeh “knew” her.
We see similar things in countries that allow child marriages now. In many countries kids can be married to each other, or grossly handed off in a contract where they are married but they still live with their parents and will be adults once it’s consummated. Again that’s strange to us.
But being married vs the marriage being consummated through sex are different things.
Some things are culturally different and often misunderstood through the lens of another world view where words mean different things. Take arranged marriages.
I am in a arranged engagement. The woman I’ve been faithfully dating for three years is a woman that when she and I got engaged knew nothing about outside of we were both are christians that view marriage as a life long commitment with two exceptions. The spouse cheats or the spouse is not a believer and leaves you. Then you’re not stuck in the contract and can righteously move on.
Before we got engaged we talked for four minutes. It was already set up. I proposed and we got engaged. To us love and marriage is more than feelings or paper. It’s actions and a binding covenant that God is part of. During those four minutes, we were both obviously really stressed. My stress was what if she’s some ugly idiot I can’t stand. She was worried about the same. I knew it, so to help ease it I brought up the fact that I hope she knows even if I’m not attracted to her and can’t stand her I will always have her back and I’ll always be faithful. Even if a prettier cooler chick enters my life I won’t allow it to morph beyond anything decent. She said the same. Luckily, and thankfully, we are attracted to each other physically and mentally. Though I was caught off guard that she was not even in America but in China and it’s been 99% long distance with the exception of us meeting a few times in person.
Many people that I know are really caught off guard and on both sides people suspected the worse. The ones on her side was worried what if I was some old out of shape sexual deviant and on my side people
Screamed she just wants citizenship. But. Either are true. She and I are both 30 and we both workout and run consistently and eat healthy.
So when I hear about older marriages I know often it was a two part marriage just like many are nowadays in the Middle East. I have friends from India and Pakistan and Kuwait and all over. They are all adults, and none of them think child abuse or pedophiles are cool. Many even disagree with arranged marriages for kids. Even the few couples that are in arranged marries that happened when they were kids set up by their parents still never consummated it until they were adults and usually after college. Some even barely talked until after college and then got married and moved in. They are all just as happy as most other couples.
So again with this subject I think there are two layers to it.
The cultural layer that can be misunderstood.
The fact that 611 laws specifically was picked. But remember the Torah was not their legal book. At court the judges did not just read through stories and find the codes. They had a legal codex that was larger than the Torah. The Talmuds speak of this as well.
I feel ya. Requiring revealed religions to make perfect moral sense is difficult to say the least:
“You shall fear (no other gods) only Yahweh… for He is a jealous God. Otherwise His anger will be kindled against you and He will wipe you off the face of the earth… In the cities He gives you leave alive nothing that breathes… utterly destroy them… show them no mercy… or Yahweh will destroy you utterly… The Lord delivered them before us… we… utterly destroyed the men… women, and the little ones of every city… If your brother, son, daughter, wife, or your friend who is your own soul, entice you away secretly, saying, ‘Let us go serve other gods’… you shall kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death… so that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of his anger… These curses shall come on you… because you would not obey the Lord… you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters… The Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you… I [the Lord] will make mine arrows drunk with blood.” (Deuteronomy 2:34; 5:9; 6:13,15; 7:2,4; 13:6-9, 17; 20:16,17; 28:45,47,53,63 32:42)
Shaming the woman for having a child out of wedlock, and shaming the child too. Bastards can’t be part of the assembly of the Lord. Deut 23:2.
“Thou shalt have no other Gods before me”
Since this specifically refers to Yahweh, the Hebrew deity, we’ll need to do a little tinkering with the First Amendment to enforce this, like getting rid of that entire “freedom of religion” concept. Punishment for offenders? We can ascertain what God would want in Deut.13:6-10 and 17:2-6. Punishment would have to be death.
According to the Bible it was more important to stone a woman to death if she should “entice you to follow after other gods,” than it was to rescue the life of any fetus she might have been carrying.
It was more important to stone a woman to death the day after her wedding night “if she was discovered not to have been a virgin,” than it was to wait and see if she might have conceived new life that night (or already be carrying new life)…
It was more important to stone a woman to death for “adultery,” than to wait and see if she might be pregnant.
It was more important to stone a woman to death for “failing to cry out while being raped within earshot of the city,” than it was to spare the life she might have conceived during that ordeal, during which the rapist may have held a knife to her throat, or strangled her into silence and submission.
And what about the test of “bitter water” mentioned in chapter five of the book of Numbers? The test consisted of mixing dust from the floor of the Hebrew tabernacle (“dust” filled with bacteria feasting on the blood and other drippings from animal sacrifices) with “holy water” to make a concoction that a woman drank to test whether or not she had committed adultery. If she had, it says, “her belly will swell and her thigh will rot.” Scholars have pointed out that “thigh” is a euphemism for sexual organs. So if the woman had committed adultery and had conceived as a result, then the “bitter water” would make her "thigh rot” which would probably be equivalent to inducing an abortion.
What about children who “curse their parents?” The Bible says, “Kill them.” (Ex. 21:17; Lev. 20:9; Mat. 15:4; Mark 7:10) The Bible does not say how old the child has to be, but it does emphatically state they must “surely be put to death” should they “curse their parents.”
Those were the good old days, when God fearers had higher priorities than “saving fetal lives.” They were too busy threatening with stoning whomever enticed them to worship other gods, stoning adulteresses, stoning women who were not virgins on their wedding night, stoning women who “failed to cry out” during rape, and stoning sassy children. In other words they were too busy with all of those higher priorities to worry about the fate of any fertilized eggs inside some of the above women.
This might be the explanation that I like the best so far.
I did also try to see how the Talmud and Judaism in general dealt with the issue of pedophilia but unfortunately I’m not sure of how much I was actually able to learn.
In the Seder Nashim you can find the Yevamot which alludes to their mindset. It’s “44a”.
You can find some links that it as responses in this place as well. Many lead to Jewish links in Hebrew but you can copy the title and section and look up English versions.
Another thing to consider is that when reading the Torah look at the examples. Are there any examples of old men with little girls? I don’t know of any. Men’s eyes and drives were the same then as they are now. Most men now, and it’s presumable that most men then were not attracted to kids.
We also see examples in the Talmud where men and women married but one was younger they would stay living with their parents until older.
What you did not have was 20+ year olds sleeping with kids. You probably had 13 and 16 year olds being married and living together. But there is no real strong reason to believe a 30 year old would have been with a 13 year old. Even if that was not strictly forbidden.
This topic was one that really grossed me out at one time. I use to think that their culture was mostly old men marrying and having sex with little kids. As more time went by, I realized that the men themselves married young. Easy for a male to be married by 13-16. By married I mean fulfilling both parts of the marriage. These teens were not marrying older women. They were marrying women their age. No reason to believe there was a bunch of unmarried teens being picked up by older men.
Not Laser Wolf?
In Africa where I grew up, frequently you would get quite a disparity in age… I recall a 30 yo with a 14 or 15 yo; there were greater ones. Grizzled men proposed to my father to marry my 13 yo sister. There were up to 4 wives. It is a different culture.
For sure it exists. Just stating that even where it’s not shamed directly, you don’t see most men doing it. If you walked around that place, I’m guessing you would see mostly people with less gaps between their ages and most not with teens.
Well, I think it’s generally not considered ideal–though I’m not sure. I no longer resent the old men who tried to marry my sister; I realize that’s the way they grew up (I would be horrified to have it happen, of course). Our own society has changed a lot–from the MeToo, and even from the '60s–see this article about what was at one time fully accepted. Our '60s liberal society didn’t require marriage in the cases of older men seducing younger women–at least the African culture required it.
I would definitely be grossed out by it. Regardless if they were raised that way or not. Came across a terrible story about some theist evolutionist a while back while researching it that got in trouble for sexual harassment or worse at some west coast campus.
I don’t get it myself. I think most men and women don’t either. That’s why you mostly see people closer to their age and the biggest gap is when it’s much older people like a 60 year old woman with a 75 year old man who met after becoming widows.
Despite being in arranged engagement while still dating I’ve always looked for several things. I think talking is the biggest factor. Being honest and not playing games about what you want and what they want. Cultivate a lifestyle that encourages those things together. I workout daily and when my fiancée is in America and we get married one thing we are going to do is workout together. Or rather at the same time. We will go to the gym together and to the track together. Physical, mental, and spiritual attraction are all equally important to me. I would hate to be with someone i thought had an amazing heart but was ugly and likewise I would hate to be with someone who was really pretty but had a horrible hard heart.
I think that’s why most people don’t like others significantly younger than them. They just lack that layer of self awareness and experience. Even when I was single at 26 and went on a date with a girl who was 22 I was just like man… she still lives with her parents and works at the mall. She was cool, just I quickly realized she never did any soul searching, she’s never been in a real financial pinch and needed to learn good habits and had no real passion. If you went to her book shelf, outside of just fiction, you would not find any one subject dominating the shelf. Most of the talk was really watered down.
Maybe 4000 years ago the emotional intelligence and self awareness was really hammered out by 16 and so a 16 year old had the same mentality as a 26 year old. Even in America it seems like back in the day, a century ago, 14 year old would marry 20 year olds. Nowadays I just can’t imagine it. Also seemed like cousin marriages was more common. Maybe the paradigm back then, and especially thousands of years ago and in different cultures is just too far gone from my reality to understand it.
The formula these days is “half your age plus seven.” Any younger is creepy.
To even that would be odd sometimes xd.
30 would 15+7 = 22 and 60 would be 37.
But I guess ultimately as long as it’s legal and fits the standards God gives then it’s not a sin, even if it makes you look a bit creepy and lame.
But I think ultimately concerning the OPs question they should be able to find peace from the fact that the Torah only contains 611 Dos and donts which reflects the numerical value of the Torah. That the Torah was not a law book. It was a book that contained laws. They also had way way way more laws found in their Talmud and other writings. Finally that we can imagine , just like nowadays, that the majority of men went after women closer to their age and that the women mostly married men closer to their age. You would not have the majority of men with teens. Even 1400 years ago they held mocked a older man who sought out a younger woman as shown in that link I posted. The other thing people don’t pay attention to is that marriages were often arranged and that the marriage was broken up into the covenant of marriage and the consummation of that marriage. Those could be separated by years and years. That was part of the backstory to Jospeh and Mary’s introduction when he found out she was pregnant. Plus when we read the Bible, most of if not all the relationships that are talked about is of men and women close in age. None of the stories really make it seems like a kid with an adult.
Even the proverbs when it says what to look for in a woman to be a wife the characteristics it lists can definitely be seen as those in a older woman and not something a kid could do.
Nonetheless a lot of it is violent. A lot of the consequences for sin is really violent. However, you also don’t read very many stories of that punishment being carried out and a few times when it is carried out we see the punishment is less than the punishment that was called for.
I think that’s a big part of it, and also perhaps the total cultural view of what marriage even was and what it was for. If spouses’ primary daily roles involved gendered field and household tasks, then probably things like “physical attraction” and “intellectual compatibility” were less important, or at least placed on a lower priority. I think it can be difficult for us Westerners to wrap our minds around, especially those of us who’ve grown up on Disney princess movies and have never plowed a field or had to make our own butter or cheese.
As to age differences, my husband and I have a large one and don’t worry ourselves much about what others think about it (but those who know us have always been supportive). By the time we started dating I was out of college, working and paying rent, and responsible for my own life, so in that sense we were in a pretty similar place in life despite the difference – so I see it as less about a number (as long as it’s legal) and more about who each person is and who they’re looking for in a partner. What I think people rightly are wary of is predatory dating, where it’s technically legal, but one member of the couple (usually the woman) is significantly more naive and inexperienced at life, and therefore more vulnerable to manipulation and coercion.
I agree that there is definitely an overlap of age and experience once it gets passed the legal ages. I’ve definitely met 26 year old women who are way more mature and educated than some 34 year old women.