Notwithstanding Bible-thumping puritans who claim scriptural authority for their censorious prudery, the Good Book is replete with lewd metaphors, sexual innuendo, and outright obscenities, often starring some of the Bible’s most famous characters.and
Bible-thumping scripture-citing fanatics are unreasonable. One can counter argue their claims, but as they won't listen to anybody else, there is no point in arguing with them.
Far from being embarrassing anachronisms in a timeless tale, the naughty bits do much to enrich biblical stories by affording us insight into the beliefs and ideas of ancient Israel. As literary depositories of antiquity’s customs and beliefs, the biblical texts are fascinating documents. It’s when antiquated religious prescriptions and practices are treated as an enduring moral authority that trouble starts. Taken together, the Bible advocates a rather curious set of “family values.”
Take incest. Adam and Eve’s sons and daughters couldn’t have perpetuated the human race without it. And while early Israelites prized virginity, they also considered it a mark of hospitality to offer their wives and daughters to male guests for complimentary sexual services, just as it was a father’s right to sell his daughter to be a “maid servant” (Ex. 21:7).
In the famous story of Sodom, Lot, the nephew of Abraham, volunteers his virgin daughters to placate randy Sodomites seeking to “know” his male guests—two angels in disguise, as it happens. Later, while he’s in a drunken stupor sheltering in a cave after God’s destruction of Sodom, Lot is raped by these same daughters to “preserve the seed of our father” (Gen. 19:32).
Deuteronomy, meanwhile, prescribes the amputation of a woman’s hand for grabbing a man’s family jewels, or “secrets”—even those of an attacker as she comes to the rescue of her husband (Deut. 25:11-12). A biblical scholar, Jerome T. Walsh, has argued that the text in fact stipulates another punishment: the shaving of the offending woman’s pubic hair to shame her. Either way, incapacitating an attacker in a tried-and-tested method would seem preferable to letting your husband perish lest you overstep the bounds of propriety. Not by the lights of the Bible, though.
Not even the most devout can afford to interpret the Bible too literally—selective reading is inevitable. Yet many people still think that without the Bible (and religion in general), we’d all be morally adrift in a sea of licentious barbarism. Judging from many a biblical passage, the reverse is true: sexual civility requires ignoring scripture.