Judges 19:1-30 (Part 2) – A Concubine, A Negro Slave, And A Fetus: It’s All Just Property, Right?

Posted: September 28, 2017 in Book of Judges
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Judges 19:1-30 (Part 2 of 3)
The Levite and His Concubine

When I read through this passage, I was struck by the fact that this concubine was a real person but yet she was treated like a piece of property. She was just, and excuse my crudeness, another piece of ass to the Levite man. She was just something to have sex with. She was not really a woman to him. She was a blow-up doll with no mind and no rights. Just a hole. He was willing to toss her out to the dogs to save his own skin from the degradation of homosexual rape. He just threw out the door because she was just sex hole anyway. He represents the ugly side of us. We condemn him for treating her like a piece of meat, or a piece of property that could be tossed away with impunity. She could be tossed away to her violent death because she was just sex to him and she had no rights.

Does this sound familiar? It is the view that I have of the whole abortion debate. It smacks of the same attitude. In order to support abortion as a choice, we must have this Levite’s attitude. We must treat an unborn fetus the same as this concubine. We must treat the fetus with the same as property. Thus, the fetus is comparable to a slave in the old South. Bear with me a minute before you start picketing in front of my house. Let’s logically walk through the argument.

Several months ago, I re-watched for like the third time, the powerful movie, Twelve Years A Slave. In that movie, the repeated phrase of the plantation owner was that a slave was property. That right of property superseded any human rights of a slave. The slave was seen as no better than a barn or the nails that it held it together. No better than the crops from the field. There were laws throughout the South that treated blacks as nothing less than property.

According to theories of John Locke, the great political theorist of the Renaissance, man has a right to enjoy the rights of life and liberty and property and this right is not granted by government but by the nature of universe. Lockean theory was the backbone of the cry for revolutions in Europe and the revolution here in the US. Black slaves were seen as property and slave owners fully believed that they had an inalienable right to use their own property as they saw fit. This position was so pervasive that it was an issue in drafting the Constitution of the country. Laws and court cases upheld the theory of property all throughout the South and it made its way all to the Supreme Court. In the infamous Dred Scott Supreme Court ruling of 1857. Dred Scott was a slave who escaped into a slave-free state (Illinois) and who subsequently sued for his freedom.

In the Supreme Court’s decision, the choice to own slaves was an individual decision, a private matter for each citizen to struggle with apart from interference by the state. If a person, in an act of conscience, chose not to keep slaves, that was his own decision, but he could not force that choice on others. Every person had a private right to choose. Dred Scott, as a slave, was declared chattel–human property. He was a possession of his owner, and the owner had a right to do whatever he wanted with his assets. Three of the justices held that even a Negro who had descended from slaves had no rights as an American citizen and thus no standing in the court. It took an amendment to the constitution, ratified by the majority of states in December 1865, that finally gave black slaves equal standing under the law. It is now commonly accepted that all men and women, regardless of color, have a natural right to freedom and it is not subject to laws or governments. It is an inalienable right. It’s taken 100s of years, a civil war, a civil rights movement, and civil rights law to guarantee that we all know this – that no man is property, no man should be seen as subhuman, no man should have his right to life be contingent upon another’s view of that life, that no man should have his right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness abridged. It is a natural human right.

That was the profound thing that struck me this morning in watching this powerful movie for a second time in my life. Watching this movie for a second time (saw it first on DVD about a year ago) was kind of like reading a Bible passage that you have read a thousand times and glossed over it but this 1001st time, it hits you like a brick to the head. That was the thing that I felt like a ton of bricks watching this movie today. It just came to me. It was one of those Holy Spirit things, I guess.

The ton of bricks was the archaic view of blacks as property is seen as an aberration now but we are perpetuating the view with the current legality of abortion as supported by a Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade in 1972. I know some who might read this and say, how can you compare slavery and abortion…but hear me out, please. In that Supreme Court case, part of its justification for the legality of abortion was that the Court established that the word “person” as used in the due process clause and in other provisions of the Constitution did not include the unborn, and therefore the unborn lacked federal constitutional protection. The court stated that the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action” includes “a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy” and that “[t]his right of privacy . . . is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”

What it boils down to is that which is not life is property. When life is considered property then you can do with it what you please. We have the right to enjoy property as we wish. If a person is not considered a person, then what are they? Our nation once saw negroes as not better than the swing on your front porch – to do with what you pleased. As property they had no rights. No more than a lamppost has rights in the court of law. Under Roe v. Wade, a fetus has no legal standing in the court of law. A fetus is not considered a person who has the whole avail of privileges guaranteed citizens under the laws and constitution of our country. Fetuses have the same lack of constitutional rights as negroes prior to the long history of constitutional amendments and laws that won their rightful place beside other persons of our country. Under the reckoning of Roe v. Wade, it had the same impact of the Dred Scott decision of the same court, the Supreme Court of our land.

If it is not life, then it must be property. Roe v. Wade hinged on the issue of viability. In the court’s eyes, a fetus is not viable as an independent human life until after the first trimester of pregnancy. However, like with slavery, because something is legally defined as right, it does not make it a universal truth (the old legal vs. moral issue). If we do not define a human life as viable life, it is then, in a legal sense, property to do with as you please. We once saw negroes as property to do with as we pleased. It was guaranteed by the Supreme Court of the land. That did not make it universally and morally right. In fact that it was so morally wrong that ultimately the law of the land was changed and an amendment to the Constitution was added to guarantee the rights of all citizens to be seen as equal to and have the same rights as all other citizens.

It comes down to what is not considered life is and must be considered property. Under Roe v. Wade, a fetus has to be considered the property of the mother who carries the fetus in her womb. The Christian view is that life begins at conception. That point at which an egg is fertilized and it amazingly begins the reproductive process. Saying that life does begins at a later point under the argument of viability is just mincing words and timeliness. Regardless of whether a fetus is viable, it is life. It is multiplying. It is growing. Unless we stop it growing through abortion, it will become viable. That’s why the courts had to establish the point of viability arbitrarily to allow abortion to be legal. In order for abortion to be legal, there be room to consider a fetus property and thus strip away any constitutional rights guaranteed to all that which is not considered property.

Let us read through Judges 19 now with an eye toward the treatment of the concubine in this passage/chapter. We may condemn the Levite for his treatment of her but before we get all morally outraged, let’s then think about our modern day ways that we treat life in the same way:

19 Now in those days Israel had no king. There was a man from the tribe of Levi living in a remote area of the hill country of Ephraim. One day he brought home a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine. 2 But she became angry with him[a] and returned to her father’s home in Bethlehem.

After about four months, 3 her husband set out for Bethlehem to speak personally to her and persuade her to come back. He took with him a servant and a pair of donkeys. When he arrived at[b] her father’s house, her father saw him and welcomed him. 4 Her father urged him to stay awhile, so he stayed three days, eating, drinking, and sleeping there.

5 On the fourth day the man was up early, ready to leave, but the woman’s father said to his son-in-law, “Have something to eat before you go.” 6 So the two men sat down together and had something to eat and drink. Then the woman’s father said, “Please stay another night and enjoy yourself.” 7 The man got up to leave, but his father-in-law kept urging him to stay, so he finally gave in and stayed the night.

8 On the morning of the fifth day he was up early again, ready to leave, and again the woman’s father said, “Have something to eat; then you can leave later this afternoon.” So they had another day of feasting. 9 Later, as the man and his concubine and servant were preparing to leave, his father-in-law said, “Look, it’s almost evening. Stay the night and enjoy yourself. Tomorrow you can get up early and be on your way.”

10 But this time the man was determined to leave. So he took his two saddled donkeys and his concubine and headed in the direction of Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). 11 It was late in the day when they neared Jebus, and the man’s servant said to him, “Let’s stop at this Jebusite town and spend the night there.”

12 “No,” his master said, “we can’t stay in this foreign town where there are no Israelites. Instead, we will go on to Gibeah. 13 Come on, let’s try to get as far as Gibeah or Ramah, and we’ll spend the night in one of those towns.” 14 So they went on. The sun was setting as they came to Gibeah, a town in the land of Benjamin, 15 so they stopped there to spend the night. They rested in the town square, but no one took them in for the night.

16 That evening an old man came home from his work in the fields. He was from the hill country of Ephraim, but he was living in Gibeah, where the people were from the tribe of Benjamin. 17 When he saw the travelers sitting in the town square, he asked them where they were from and where they were going.

18 “We have been in Bethlehem in Judah,” the man replied. “We are on our way to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim, which is my home. I traveled to Bethlehem, and now I’m returning home.[c] But no one has taken us in for the night, 19 even though we have everything we need. We have straw and feed for our donkeys and plenty of bread and wine for ourselves.”

20 “You are welcome to stay with me,” the old man said. “I will give you anything you might need. But whatever you do, don’t spend the night in the square.” 21 So he took them home with him and fed the donkeys. After they washed their feet, they ate and drank together.

22 While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him.”

23 The old man stepped outside to talk to them. “No, my brothers, don’t do such an evil thing. For this man is a guest in my house, and such a thing would be shameful. 24 Here, take my virgin daughter and this man’s concubine. I will bring them out to you, and you can abuse them and do whatever you like. But don’t do such a shameful thing to this man.”

25 But they wouldn’t listen to him. So the Levite took hold of his concubine and pushed her out the door. The men of the town abused her all night, taking turns raping her until morning. Finally, at dawn they let her go. 26 At daybreak the woman returned to the house where her husband was staying. She collapsed at the door of the house and lay there until it was light.

27 When her husband opened the door to leave, there lay his concubine with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said, “Get up! Let’s go!” But there was no answer.[d] So he put her body on his donkey and took her home.

29 When he got home, he took a knife and cut his concubine’s body into twelve pieces. Then he sent one piece to each tribe throughout all the territory of Israel.

30 Everyone who saw it said, “Such a horrible crime has not been committed in all the time since Israel left Egypt. Think about it! What are we going to do? Who’s going to speak up?”

In this passage, we see that having a concubine was an accepted part of Israelite society although it is clearly not what God intended (see Genesis 2:24). A concubine had most of the duties but only some of the privileges of a wife. Although she was legally attached to one man, she had her children usually did not have the inheritance rights of the legal wife and legitimate children. Her primary purpose was, of course, was giving the man sexual pleasure as well as bearing additional children for the man and contributing more help to the household or estate. Concubines were often foreign prison, but they could also be Israelites, as was probably the case in this story.

As you can see in this story, the Levite saw the concubine as a piece of property do with whatever he pleased. In his eyes, she was his property so if he wanted to use her for cannon fodder with no regard to her rights, that was his right. That idea that a life can be considered property is not the intention of God. We were created in his own image. Nobody knows what that spark of life is that creates an existence (when a sperm fertilizes an egg) but there is a miracle of creation at that moment that science cannot truly explain. Life begins multiplying as cells at a compounded exponential rate at that moment. Science can explain how it happens but not why. God is in that moment. He creates life in that moment. And He holds each life in high regard. We are the apex of creation whether we are rich or poor, whether we are black or white, whether we are in the uterus or out of it.

So from this story, we see that man has not changed a lot over the millenia. Man has the amazing capability to desensitize himself to the value of human life so as to get a desired result. The similarities of how this man treated his concubine to how we treated slaves in the Old South and now on to the so called modern world with how we treat life in utero.

There is a great similarity between the basis for legalized slavery (my property to do with as I wish) and the basis for legalized abortion (my body my choice). We must blind ourselves to blacks being human beings with a right to life and liberty to make slavery legal. We must also blind ourselves to what life is and when it starts. Saying it starts at specified date is just legal definition. It does not change the fact that at that date cells are multiplying and if left alone will grow into a baby that would be born and live a life outside the uterus. Legal definition does not always match moral definition.

In this less well known story from the Bible, it is clearly evident that the Levite has the same view of his concubine as slave holders had of their slaves and that abortion activists have of fetus developing in a mother’s womb. It’s just property. Property that I have an inalienable right to do with as I please – even to the point of destroying the property. It’s my property. You can’t tell me what to do with my property. A concubine, a slave in the Old South, a fetus – it’s all property. Right?

That which is not life must therefore be considered property. When will we come to realize that we have been as wrong about when life begins as we were about whether a human being can be considered property and not really a valid human life. Can we quit the legal dancing just as we did in the days of slavery and as we are doing now with abortion and see life as life? Not a choice. Not a piece of property.

Life is life and it deserve liberty and to be considered a person under the eyes of the law, just as God sees us as persons from the moment of conception, the unique individuals that we all are, and just as God sees all of us as children no matter the color of our skin or what position we hold in society. We are each a glorious creation of the miracle of life given to us by God each with a unique purpose in God’s grand plan for the universe started at Genesis and to be completed in Revelation. Life is not property in God’s eyes!

Can I get an…

Amen and Amen!

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