Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

Cut up the concubine

When I read the Bible a couple of years ago I was struck by how some stories are repeated several times, with different protagonists. Obviously they were the equivalent of our modern 'Urban Legends': stories that appealed to the popular imagination, and were recounted 'about' various cultural heroes.

One of these generic stories goes as follows: An upright man has an important guest. The people of his city come round his house at night, demanding to be allowed to rape this guest. Upright man refuses, but as a kind of quid pro quo throws his virgin daughter out into the street. She is raped to death. God then takes revenge on the city, killing all men women and children.

The story tells us good and bad things about its culture. The reverence for guests, the condemnation of rape, but the treatment of daughters as disposable property. Some Christians take this story (particularly the version set in Sodom) as a parable against consensual homosexual relations - which seems to be a wilful misreading.

Another version of this story is recounted in Judges 19:

Some men turn up outside a house wanting to rape the guest 'A Levite'. The host offers them his own virgin daughter and the Levite's concubine to rape instead. When the assailants reject such an exchange, the Levite simply expels the concubine from his host's house, leaving her to be raped repeatedly throughout the night. The following morning, upon finding the concubine's dead body on his host's doorstep, the Levite dismembers her and sends her body parts out to the twelve tribes of Israel as a provocation to revenge

A recent conference called 'The War on Christians' took this story as emblematic. In their struggle against acceptance for homosexuals, they were truly inheritors of this tradition.

'"I kind of feel like the Levite," Ron Luce confessed. And then he uttered a battle cry of his own: "CUT UP THE CONCUBINE! CUT UP THE CONCUBINE! CUT UP THE CONCUBINE!"

I think this is a very, very significant statement. One can see in these biblical stories a fear of violation, and a desire to project that violation onto the other, onto the female. The concubine (=whore) is raped, so that the male guest can be saved. But it's worse than that - let the daughter/concubine die - cut up the whore. Not only must the body be violated to save the spirit, but the person who 'embodies' sex must be dismembered, turned into lumps of literal flesh. The body must be punished, and this punishment must continue after the body has died from it.

To rally people against gay men with the cry 'cut up the concubine' makes no logical sense at all. But it makes a twisted psychological sense. Cut the woman, hurt the gays, never touch anyone ever in a loving way.
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