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Featured Flogging the adulterer - Sura of Light

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by adrian009, Jan 25, 2019.

  1. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    If the verse of light (24:36) is mystical, there appears little mystical about verse 24:2 from the same chapter, the sura of light:

    The woman and the man guilty of adultery,- flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment.

    The sura continues with various explanations and decrees relating to corrupt sexual acts, family law, and specifications on the giving of testimony. Foremost amongst these rulings is God's punishment for adultery.

    An-Nur - Wikipedia

    Bearing in mind that the Quran was revealed during the seventh century on the Arabian Pennisula, does the punishment fit the crime?

    If the punishment in the Quran sounds severe, consider that adultery was amonsgt a number of crimes punishable by death under Mosaic law (Leviticus 20:10). Interestingly Jesus forbade divorce, with the exception of one party of the marriage committing adultery. So adultery has always been a major issue for the Abrahamics.

    So in these modern tiimes, should adultery still be considered a crime and if so what of should be the punishment?
     
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  2. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    Yes, there was a strong rationale behind such harsh punishments for adultery in certain societies.

    In a tribal society, where your status, how people react to you, who will die to defend you and who will try to kill you all depend on paternity as this defines group membership. It was thus very important to be certain of who people 'belong to'.

    In addition, in an honour culture, being cuckolded would require retaliation, otherwise you would lose respect and status. Such a loss of face could make someone be perceived as weak, thus open to exploitation, or untrustworthy (not a man of honour), which could be a death sentence in a harsh environment where you are reliant on the help/acquiescence of others. As an example for the latter, tribes/families had to allow people to cross their land, and both parties needed to know that they would not be sneakily attacked. As such, you might not afford safe conduct to a group containing such a dishonourable man, so reputation was everything.

    This doesn't just affect one person either, but their entire family for multiple generations, and potentially the tribal group.

    Retaliation could also spark a larger blood feud that could involve entire families or tribes across multiple generations, and cause many deaths and great disruption to peoples lives and livelihoods.

    So back then it was far from a victimless crime, or minor moral transgression.

    No. At least not in any society where the above doesn't apply.
     
    #2 Augustus, Jan 25, 2019
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  3. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    Interestingly adultery carried a prison sentence of up to 5 years in India until it was finally repealed last year. The law was seen as being discriminatory towards woman.

    Adultery is not a crime, India's supreme court rules
     
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  4. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    I'd say that the punishment was way too severe. And no it should not be a crime today. It is a breach of trust, to be sure. It can cause much heartache, yes. But does it rise to the level of a crime that should be punished by the government? I don't think so.

    Perhaps, instead, people should learn how to communicate and not be so possessive.
     
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  5. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    This shows part of the problem in honor cultures. Nasty ways to form societies, I think.
     
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  6. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    It was discriminatory. The law treated women as property. A man could charge his wife, but she could not charge him if he cheated.


    And the Abrahamic religions also great women as property. Now I might yearn for the good old days, but I can't see owning a women. Make it two or three and I might change my mind.
     
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  7. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    The strongest honour cultures often developed in harsh environments. In these places they made sense.

    Where there was little formal law and order, they enabled a greater degree of cooperation and stability than would otherwise have been possible.

    They tend to prize generosity and hospitality which could be a matter of life or death in many places where you were often reliant on the benevolence of strangers for food, water, etc.

    Saw a documentary a while back about a British guy in Afghanistan who was arrested. His guide refused to leave the prison until his 'guest' was also free as by agreeing to look after him, he had assumed total responsibility for his safety. This possibly saved the British guy's life.

    Strong honour cultures generally do more harm than good in the modern world, but aspects of honour culture can still be beneficial.

    For example, in the past those who started wars would be leading the charge into battle. We'd see a lot fewer military adventures if that were the case today.
     
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  8. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    I can't imagine there will be too many participants on RF that will advocate for Sharia law. The purpose of the OP was more to explore the types of punishments that would be necessary in tribal societies where there would be no recourse to prisons and the types of rehabilative institutiions that are established today. Sharia law was more lenient than Mosaic law. Both sets of laws seemed necessary for the tribal societies of the Jews 3,500 years ago and the Arabs 1,400 years ago.

    I'm also interested to explore the contrasts within even one chapter of the Quran where we have mystical writings in the Surah of light amidst laws to maintain order in the community.

    The verse of light - What does it mean?

    In that respect the Quran is very similar to the Torah. Despite the austerity both the Jews and Arabs prospered.
     
  9. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    At the time, they probably raised the status of women from what was the case before, at least in many places.

    They may not have been men's equals, but they were not property. For example, Paul entrusted the epistle Romans to a woman named Phoebe. This meant she was a trusted representative authorised to speak on his behalf, rather than being a mere errand girl. This shows that women could have status in early Christian society.

    Compare this to women in ancient Greece where they actually were property and often could not even venture out into public.

    In Islamic society a woman could divorce her husband. Again they were far from equals, but they were not property (unless they were slaves of course).
     
    #9 Augustus, Jan 25, 2019
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  10. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    India blames colonial Britian for the laws it repealed last year. I'm sure India has been male dominated until relatively recently.

    Muhammad certainly didn't promote the types of equality between men and women that we've come to expect today. Not too many cultures back then did. Muhammad did elevate the station of women though. Amongst the practices of one tribe was infanticide of girls to control the population. Muhammad forbade this.
     
  11. Debater Slayer

    Debater Slayer Born-again Glompist
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    Even if it applied, should any specific act be a crime based on a given society's reaction to or perception of it, or should whether or not it's a crime be determined based on the act's own merits and ramifications? Should premarital sex or homosexual sex, for example, be a crime in modern-day societies where it brings families shame if one of their kin engages in it?
     
  12. Epic Beard Man

    Epic Beard Man Bearded Philosopher

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    It's actually a crime in the U.S. military

    Legal Separation, Adultery and the UCMJ
     
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  13. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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  14. Jollybear

    Jollybear Hey

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    Its interesting how Jesus tackled this in John 8

    Woman is cought in adultery. Pharasees bring her to Jesus, knowing that Jesus knows the mosaic law says she is to be stoned. Jesus knows there trying to trap him. Jesus also knows its against roman law to stone her.

    So, Jesus does something interesting. He simply says "he who is without sin, cast the first stone."

    They all drop there stones and leave.
     
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  15. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    Does the same requirement hold for those wanting to punish murderers?
     
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  16. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    The most interesting implication of the pericope adulterae relative to this thread, is not only the fact that Jesus saves her from capital punishment but that she suffers no punishment at all, implying that adultery should not be treated as a criminal activity but rather relegated to the sphere of 'guilty conscience' and the penitential.

    The key verse is, "Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11 She said, "No one, sir." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you."

    This subversive aspect to it caused quite a few murmurs of discontent in the ancient world, given that it was a patriarchal honour culture. The Spanish Church Father Pacian (c. 370) appealed to the pericope de adultera when protesting against excessive severity in discipline. “Are you not willing,” he asked, “to read in the Gospel that the Lord also spared the adulteress who confessed, whom no man had condemned?

    St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), noted how, "Certain persons of little faith, or rather enemies of the true faith, fear [this passage], I suppose, lest their wives should be given impunity in sinning", that is immunity from punishment for sin.

    My favourite, though, is still his remark about the prostitutes and their pre-eminence over the priests in entering God's Kingdom: "Jesus said to them, “I tell you solemnly, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are making their way into the reign of God before you.” (Mt 21:23, 31-32)

    There is an early variant in some manuscripts of the Gospel of Luke, which reads as follows, dealing with the accusations made against Jesus before Pilate by the priests and Pharisees (see variant textual additions in brackets):


    They began their accusation by saying, “We found this man inciting our people to a revolt, opposing payment of the tribute to Caesar, [leading astray the women and the children (kai apostrephonta tas gynaikas kai ta tekna)-Marcion], and claiming to be Christ, a king.... He is inflaming the people with his teaching all over Judaea; it has come all the way from Galilee, where he started, down to here, [and he has turned our children and wives away from us for they are not bathed as we are, nor do they purify themselves (et filios nostros et uxores avertit a nobis, non enim baptizantur sicut nos nec se mundant-Epiphanius)].” (Luke 23:2 , 5)

    [For variant texts and references, see Eberhard Nestle, ed., Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine, p. 22 1; Stuttgart, 1954; and Roger Gryson, The Ministry of Women in the Early Church, p. 126; Liturgical Press, 1976.]

    So, there was an early tradition that Jesus's detractors accused him of subverting the patriarchal family structure by leading women astray. As one scholar, Professor Leonard Swidler, notes:


    Not only are the Gospels full of incidents wherein Jesus championed the cause of women and of children (e.g., Lk 9:46-48 and parallels, Lk 18:15-17 and parallels, where Jesus draws children to himself and says that all must become like them), but his reputation for this behavior was widespread enough that he may well have been denounced to Pilate for having “led women and children astray.”

    There are at least three variant readings in Luke’s Gospel, two of which are very early, which witness to this tradition. The oldest one, stemming from Marcion, who lived in the first half of the second century when some of the canonical Apostolic Writings (New Testament) were still being written, simply says that Jesus was accused of “leading astray both the women and the children.”

    The second ancient variant reading comes from the fourth-century Palestinian-born church father Epiphanius, whose text stated that Jesus’ accusers charged: “and he has turned our children and wives away from us for they are not bathed as we are, nor do they purify themselves.”
     
    #16 Vouthon, Jan 25, 2019
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  17. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    That's a great question. PLEASE FORGIVE ME for a slightly Long-ish post :D

    The contemporary Catholic position would be yes, capital punishment for murderers or anyone (however guilty of crime) is inadmissible. Pope Francis has reaffirmed that “today capital punishment is unacceptable, however serious the condemned’s crime may have been.” (Francis, Letter to the President of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty (20 March 2015): L’Osservatore Romano (20-21 March 2015), 7.)

    See this extended commentary penned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

    Letter to the Bishops regarding the new revision of number 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

    In the early church, this seemed to be the stance as well. Around A.D. 177, the church father St. Athenagoras of Athens wrote a defense of Christianity in which he stated that Christians not only are forbidden to kill anyone for any reason but “cannot endure even to see a man put to death, though justly. … We, deeming that to see a man put to death is much the same as killing him, have abjured such spectacles. How, then, when we do not even look on, lest we should contract guilt and pollution, can we put a man to death?” (Athenagoras Presbeia, A Plea for the Christians, ANF). He referred to the human being as a "sacred animal" that could not be subject to death.

    But things changed after the Constantinian shift in the fourth century. The Roman Empire's legal system made frequent and widespread use of capital punishment, and if Christianity was to be an appropriate religion for imperial rule, it couldn't restrict emperors from exercising the death penalty over recalcitrant subjects. So the Church came to be more and more 'lenient', even complicit, in permitting secular authorities to execute subjects.

    The earlier "anti-capital punishment stance", nevertheless lasted as late as Pope St. Nicholas the Great condemnnation of the death penalty in 866 (Letter 99):


    http://www.pravoslavieto.com/history/09/866_responce_pope_Nicholas_I.htm 2


    Chapter XXV.

    You claim that it is part of the custom of your country that guards always stand on the alert between your country and the boundaries of others; and if a slave or freeman [manages to] flee somehow through this watch, the guards are killed without hesitation because of this. Now then, you are asking us, what we think about this practice.

    Nevertheless, far be it from your minds that you, who have acknowledged so pious a God and Lord, now judge so harshly, especially since it is more fitting that, just as hitherto you put people to death with ease, so from now on you should lead those whom you can not to death but to life. For the blessed apostle Paul, who was initially an abusive persecutor and breathed threats and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord,[cf. Acts 9:1] later sought mercy and, converted by a divine revelation, not only did not impose the death penalty on anyone but also wished to be anathema for the brethren [cf. Rom. 9:3] and was prepared to spend and be spent most willingly for the souls of the faithful.[cf. II Cor. 12:15]

    In the same way, after you have been called by the election of God and illuminated by his light, you should no longer desire deaths but should without hesitation recall everyone to the life of the body as well as the soul, when any opportunity is found. [cf. Rom. 7:6] And just as Christ led you back from the eternal death in which you were gripped, to eternal life, so you yourself should attempt to save not only the innocent, but also the guilty from the end of death, according to the saying of the most wise Solomon: Save those, who are led to death; and do not cease freeing those who are brought to their destruction. [Prov. 24:11]

    Prior to him, so had Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604) when he stated: “Since I fear God, I shrink from having anything whatsoever to do with the death of anyone”.

    The church’s teaching on the matter today is more reflective of these earlier opinions.

    Initially, the church forbade the execution of heretics - treating heresy and apostasy as purely penitential under ecclesiastical censure.

    To provide you with an example, in 350 the first execution for heresy took place (it was orchestrated by secular authorities) but the decision to execute the person was vehemently opposed by the Catholic Church, by the Pope, St Ambrose and St Martin of Tours. Most theologians saw punishment for 'heresy' as therapeutic not punitive - Christians believed that you could not force somebody to change their mind. God had given them freewill after all. To elucidate the viewpoint of this period, St. John Chrysostom (died AD 407) one of the greatest of the Church Fathers wrote, "To kill a heretic is to introduce upon earth an inexpiable crime".


    "Men ought not to be compelled to believe, because God will have mercy on those whom he will have mercy. As man fell by his own free will in listening to the wiles of the serpent, so man can only be converted by his free acceptance of the Christian faith"

    - (Fourth Council of Toledo, 633)


    "...Faith should be a matter of persuasion, not of imposition..."

    - (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090 –1153)


    Later on, Waso, the Bishop of Liege urged against using force upon the Carthari, arguing much as St. John Chrysostom had seven centuries earlier. Peter Cantor, the most learned man of this age, expressed the prevailing sentiment within the Church leadership: “Whether they be convicted of error, or freely confess their guilt, Catharists [apostates] are not to be put to death, at least not when they refrain from armed assaults upon the Church. For although the Apostle said, ‘A man that is a heretic after the third admonition, avoid,’ he certainly did not say, ‘Kill him.’ Throw them into prison, if you will, but do not put them to death’” (De investigatione Antichrist 3:42). St. Bernard put down the law, in direct opposition to the mobs, “Fides suadenda, non imponenda.” Men are to be won to the Faith, not by violence, but by persuasion. He censured the princes, arguing that “the obstinate were to be excommunicated and if necessary, kept in confinement for the safety of others” (O’Brien, p. 15). The views of Peter Cantor and St. Bernard were ratified by a whole series of synods during that time: Rheims (1049) under Leo IX, Tolouse (1119) under Callistus II, and the Lateran Council of 1139.

    But, then, in the high middle ages the church started to send more and more heretics over to secular authorities where they were executed, and Thomas Aquinas even penned a defense of capital punishment for heretics.

    Throughout the middle ages, however, even if the power to condemn criminals to death was conceded to the secular power, the clergy - held to a higher standard - were expressly forbidden from having anything to do with the shedding of human blood.

    The canons of the Council of Toledo (675 A.D.) stated:

    It is not licit for those by whom the sacraments of the Lord are to be performed to carry out a judgment of blood. But if anyone, unmindful of these precepts, has done anything of the sort to members of his church or to any other persons, he is to be deprived of the honor and place of his granted order.

    Master Thomas of Chobham, for instance, in his Summa confessorum (c. 1216), warned against the sentencing of men to death or mutilation by clerics, urging that ‘So great is the dread of human blood that even a judge who justly slays the wicked, if he enters the religious life or wishes to be made a cleric, cannot be promoted to holy orders.’

    Clerics were also prohibited from engaging in violence in the Fourth Lateran Council (1215):

    No cleric may decree or pronounce a sentence involving the shedding of blood, or carry out a punishment involving the same, or be present when such punishment is carried out. A cleric may not write or dictate letters which require punishments involving the shedding of blood.


    Saint Agobard (799-840), archbishop of Lyons, once stated that: “Whoever spills human blood, His (God’s) blood is spilled as well: For man is made in the image of God”.

    If we hold our priests and religious to this ideal of not “polluting” themselves with the shedding of blood through capital punishment, should we not aspire to this same degree of holiness for all including the laity as the highest aim? And is really right for the church to say, "we don't condemn anyone to death, our hands are clean", but then pass people off to a secular court where the certain judgement will be death? This "double-standard" was often viewed as a ridiculous attempt to circumvent the non-violence of the gospels.

    Since Vatican II “clericalism”, by which the religious are held to higher standards than the laity, has been abandoned in favour of the “universal call to holiness” and so the clerical restrictions are increasingly being expected of the secular laity as well, as reflected in the stance against capital punishment.

    FYI: for more on the clerical ban and double-standard see:


    Innocent Civilians


    The ban on clerical fighting was part of a general prohibition on the clerical use of weapons which extended to hunting as well as warfare. Clerics could not shed blood, either human or animal. The ban on clerical participation in war was not simply an implication of the advice to those who served God not to be concerned with the things of the world. Rather, it was the act of killing which was thought to sully (as the ban on clerical hunting clearly shows). The ban on clerical participation is an acknowledgement that the most Christian thing to do is forgo all killing.

    The established reasoning was to be based on the idea of the two levels of Christian vocation put forward by Eusebius of Caesaria. Eusebius held that Christians of the higher level (the clergy and religious) were to aim at the highest Christian ideals; they were bound by the ‘counsels of perfection’…This differentiation between lay and clerical morality is not firmly grounded and there is certainly no biblical basis for it.

    It is odd to interpret Jesus’s command of non-resistance strictly for those Christians who desired to attain perfection (equated with clerics)…That something is not to be done by the most perfect Christians, because they are the most perfect Christians, is almost an acknowledgement that it ought not to be done by any Christian
     
    #17 Vouthon, Jan 25, 2019
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  18. InvestigateTruth

    InvestigateTruth Well-Known Member

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    Even in USA, when Bill Clinton, had an offer with Monica, they made the president to go through hell for that.

    I would suggest to have vote pull for this thread.
    What should be the punishment for adultery:
    1. Flogging
    2. Prison
    3. Paying a fine
    4. No punishment
    5. Death by stone
    6. Other
     
    #18 InvestigateTruth, Jan 25, 2019
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  19. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    Hypothetically, it could be considered utilitarian: greatest good for the greatest number of people.

    If an individual's actions would likely bring costly penalties to other people, you can argue that such behaviour should be criminalised.

    You can make a rational and ethical case that until society had changed sufficiently to mean adultery would not necessitate violent retribution, and that criminal sanctions would be sufficient to restore honour, then it should remain criminal. This would be especially true if losing honour in the community would mean you lose access to networks which are important for survival too.

    Of course you can make a rational and ethical case to the contrary too. There is no cut and dry answer, it depends whose rights are put at the top of the tree.

    What do you think? Hypothetically, should an individual have the right to sexual freedom if practicing this right is likely to cause severe hardship and danger for the larger family?
     
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  20. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    I like the thread you have started. It focuses more specifically on the crime and punsihment aspect of adultery. I would consider an even more basic question. Do we consider adultery immoral at all? I'm sure we would both agree that it is both immoral and has significant repercussions for families and the community as a whole. Part of the problem is now adultery is so widely practiced that it has become accepted and its consequences minimised.
     
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