The issue of consent has been much discussed in the wake of, among other things, the #MeToo movement, and I was wondering how we can relate that to the types of marriage practices that we see in the Bible, where consent really is not at the forefront, if relevant at all. What are we to make of concubinage, war brides, bride kidnapping (in Judges), rape laws (where unbetrothed virgins may be given in marriage to their rapists) or just the fact that Mosaic law seems to place a daughter’s choice of spouse entirely in her father’s hands? Many have highlighted that what David did to Bathsheba was most likely rape, but do we also change the way we speak about, say, Abraham and Hagar? As a concubine/slave, was Hagar in a position to consent? How do we speak honestly and forcefully about the evil of forced marriage and the importance of consent, considering that the Bible does not seem to condemn these things in a straightforward way? The Church has historically held that mutual consent is necessary for marriage, but was that arrived at independent of the biblical witness or in proper extrapolation from it? I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue.
Today, I discuss Genesis 35, as Jacob journeys southward in stages from Shechem to Hebron. This passage is punctuated by the deaths of Deborah, Rachel, and Isaac, the birth of Benjamin, and the rebellion of Reuben.