You might be surprised! For all the theological disagreement between these branches of the Abrahamic religious tradition, there’s also a great deal of overlap. Such as how they all seem to agree that sex with underaged girls is A-OK providing God or a prophet is the one doing it, or if they are spoils of war.
For example, everybody knows Muhammad married Aisha when she was 6, and ‘consummated their marriage’ around the age of 9:
Most also know Joseph Smith married a 14 year old girl named Helen Mar Kimball:
But that’s just Islam and Mormonism. What about Christianity? What about Mary, the mother of Jesus? How old was she when Yahweh, God of the Bible, impregnated her?
Even Christian apologetics websites admit this, but urge us not to “impose our modern values on ancient times”. This defense is applied only to Christianity mind you, those same apologists will then turn around and heap scorn on Islam because of how young Aisha was. (And Mormonism, because of Helen Mar Kimball’s age when Joseph married her.)
But then, isn’t Yahweh’s morality timeless? See below:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
“ For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”
So, why would he do something back then which is not acceptable today? Either this means Yahweh’s ideas of right and wrong change over time, or that modern attitudes concerning child marriage and statutory rape are wrong in the eyes of Yahweh, God of Abraham.
It is argued that according to scripture, Mary consented to being impregnated. But can a girl of 12 really consent? Your answer to that question will determine how troubling you should find it that several billion people currently worship a supernatural statutory rapist.
There’s also the fact that there was a severe power imbalance involved, which is one of the defining criteria for statutory rape. If it’s wrong for a teacher to have a sexual relationship with a student, even if the student is 18, because of the power imbalance between them…what about the power imbalance between Mary and Yahweh?
Apparently not important to the majority of the world belonging to religions which venerate Yahweh, and even less so to Mormonism and Islam whose prophets were every bit as fond of young girls as the God they worshiped.
As for Judaism, during the war of extermination that the Israelites were commanded by Yahweh to wage on the Midianites, this command was given to them in Numbers 31:
Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
Evidently it’s righteous to kidnap young virginal girls from a culture you’ve just annihilated and force them to marry you. The gross slags who have already been used up? Kill ’em all. But the fresh virginal girl children? Handed out to Israelite soldiers like party favors.
So, what else do these religions all agree on? Slavery.
Here’s what Judaism has to say, in Leviticus 25:44–55:
As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.
It says very plainly that you may have slaves. You may buy slaves, male and female, provided they are foreigners. The only stipulation is that Jews should never enslave fellow Jews. More verses both explicitly permitting and regulating slavery:
“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.
“But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.
“If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.
So if you keep the family of a freed slave as your slaves even after he is freed, he may choose to stay with you so that he can continue to be with his family. It’s really heart warming, isn’t it?
Likewise with the rule that a father can sell his daughter into slavery so long as he doesn’t sell her to foreigners, deprive her of food, clothing and sex (which she surely must desire from the man who bought or captured her after killing her family in war).
Those situations came about because Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19 affirms that Jews could take women from the lands they conquered and force them to marry their captor:
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.
Admist rules concerning how assault is to be punished in Exodus 21, a special exception is made for slaves:
20“Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.
Right there, plain as day. “Slaves are property”. But Jews aren’t alone in this. This is reinforced in Ephesians 6, in the New Testament:
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
Oh, well. If it also says that slave masters must treat their slaves kindly, that’s fine isn’t it? Perhaps we were too hasty in eliminating slavery in the US. It just needed to be reformed according to Biblical principles so that slaves would not be mistreated, is that it?
Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, had the opportunity to condemn slavery. He never did. It is frequently argued that slavery was the norm at the time, which it was. It’s argued that condemning it would have been too contoversial, nobody would have listened and Jesus and his followers would have been put to death.
But Jesus was already in the habit of preaching very controversial things, against the status quo of that era. Teachings so controversial that they did indeed get him and his followers killed. Why didn’t he throw “slavery is bad” and “adults can’t marry kids” in there while he was at it, given that the outcome was going to be the same either way?
For that matter, why are there multiple commandments about God’s jealousy and not worshiping other Gods, not using his name in vain, etc. but none of the ten commandments forbid slavery? There is one that says not to covet your neighbor’s slave, but none of them say “don’t keep slaves”.
How come none of the ten commandments forbid child marriage? Was there not room? Couldn’t it have been the 12 commandments, or the 15? Why were slavery and pedophilia not important enough to forbid explicitly in the ten commandments, but coveting your neighbor’s property was? (Even though “Thou shalt not steal” was already in there).
Why are there plentiful verses detailing how to punish women who have been raped if they did not scream loudly enough, and how she should not be believed unless there are multiple male witnesses, but no verses saying “don’t rape women” and “don’t abduct women from conquered cultures for the purpose of forced marriage and sex slavery”?
The answer, as ought to be plain by now, is that Biblical values affirm the legitimacy of slavery, both the sexual and conventional kinds. Nowhere in the Bible is slavery said to be wrong, only practicing it improperly.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say you can’t marry a little girl and force her to sleep with you, in fact several verses explicitly say you can do this if she comes from a conquered foreign people.
What about Islam? I’ll save you the reading and just say that it also worships Yahweh, who impregnated a 12 year old girl. It also affirms that slavery is justified, with regulation. It also affirms that believers can abduct women from a conquered culture and force them to marry.
Likewise, Mormon teachings concerning race and slavery are public knowledge due to the controversy stirred up by it.
But that stuff is widely known about. It’s often strongly condemned by Christians and Jews who are unaware that their own holy books contain the same teachings concerning slavery and child marriage.
If only they could all sit down with one another, and learn about the other fellow’s beliefs. They would find out that when it comes to slavery, raping your “war trophies” and marrying a child bride, their religions are in perfect agreement!
Which should make some sense, by the way, of why so many Christians voted for the sex offender Roy Moore. Or why they voted a man into office who has frequently implied he’d like to nail his daughter.
Or why child marriage and slavery are still practiced to this day in large parts of the Middle East. Or the FLDS scandal, and the ongoing protection of child abusing priests from prosecution in Catholicism (and Mormonism, and Jehova’s Witnesses).
Isn’t it nice that in this day and age, with so much argument and division resulting from peoples’ different religious beliefs, followers of every tradition can still find certain things they have in common. :)
Hammer out your angry comment below!