Problematic Biblical Laws
The View from the “Other” Side
Traditionally, the Deuteronomic laws and the Decalogue are thought to be ethical achievements. However, the values of biblical laws that even supposedly protect women, the poor, the slave, and the foreigner are suspect because they privilege the interests of the normative male head of household (who is presumed to be Israelite, heterosexual, and financially secure). These suspect values are reproduced in ecclesial and academic discussions about ethics in the Decalogue and other laws, to the benefit of the corresponding contemporary norm (white, male, affluent, heterosexual). Just as the norm of male dominance over women underlies laws about rape and sexuality, biblical provisions for the poor, the slave, and the foreigner are found, from the perspective of these groups, to favor the privileges of the powerful over the well‐being of the laws' putative beneficiaries. Inclusion of marginalized reading perspectives is a prerequisite to a just biblical ethic.
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