On a certain Saturday, Beth's mother was at a weight-loss retreat and Beth couldn't be in the house because her father was in an all-day private religious instruction session with Meagan. Beth spent the day walking around town and being friendly to people.
At a bus stop, a man sat down next to Beth and told her all about his life. He told her how his wife used to be young once and how she wasn't any more. He told Beth about how cranky his wife was and about how she had probably slept with everyone in Idaho before marrying him. He also told Beth how much he liked young women. Particularly really young women.
Unfortunately, Beth's bus arrived before she could hear the rest of the nice man's story, but she had heard enough to know that she had many questions.
Sunday afternoon, after Beth's mother got home (looking quite fit and trim), Beth said to her, "Mother, I have a question."
"Come into the back yard with me, Dear One," said her mother. "You can help me put stones in this sack while we talk."
"All right," said Beth, and they went into the back yard.
When they had started looking for stones, Beth's mother said, "So, did you go on motorcycle rides with Meagan while I was away?"
"Yes," answered Beth, "But that's not what my question is about. I was wondering what a man should do if he thinks that his wife has let whole bunches of other guys put their penises in her before they were married?"
"I thought you said your question wasn't about Meagan," said Beth's mother. When Beth didn't get the joke, she said, "In any case, Dear One, the Bible tells us what to do as it does for all problems. Here, let me tell you a story."
And this is the story she told:
One day Moses was talking to the Israelites and he said, "If a man marries a woman and puts his penis in her but doesn't like it, and then he tells everyone, 'Hey! I put my penis in this woman but I bet I'm not the first person who put a penis in her,' then here is what should happen: The woman's father and mother should bring proof that the woman had never had a penis put in her before she was married to the old people at the city gate. The woman's father should say to the old people, 'I let my daughter marry this man but he hates her. In fact, he says that other people put their penis in her before he did. But here is proof that he is lying!' Then they should spread the cloth in front of the old people."
"Wait a minute," said Beth. "What cloth?"
"Well," said Beth's mother, "the first time that a woman has a penis put in her, she bleeds all over the sheets in her bed. She should give those sheets to her parents so they can use them at a time like this."
"But what if a woman has a penis put in her for the first time in the back seat of a car?" Beth asked.
Her mother pursed her lips disapprovingly at Beth as she considered the question. "In that case, Dear One, the woman should give the seat covers to her parents. Now listen to the rest of the story."
Moses continued, "The old people should tell the man that he is bad for lying about his wife and make him pay the woman's father 100 dollars. Also, after that, he is never allowed to get a divorce from the woman.
"But if it turns out that nobody has any proof that the woman hasn't had a penis put in her before, then the old people should take the woman to her father's house and all the men in the city should hit her with rocks until she is dead. This is because she's acted like a woman who lets men put their penises in her for money and people need to get rid of bad people.
"Wait a minute," said Beth as she dropped a handful of rocks into the sack. "Didn't you once tell me that if a man lies to get another man in trouble, then the man who lied should get the same punishment as the person he accused would have gotten if the man hadn't been lying?"
"Yes, Dear One," said her mother. "That is in Deuteronomy 19."
"But if the woman had really had a penis put in her before, then she would have been hit with rocks until she was dead. So if the man is lying, then shouldn't he bit hit with rocks?"
"Oh, no. The rule about lying is only true when a man tries to hurt a man. A woman's life is only worth about $100, so having the man pay that is the same as stoning the woman."
"I get it," said Beth. "But what about the man who put the penis in the woman and made her have to get hit with rocks. Shouldn't he be punished?"
"Moses has something to say about that too, Dear One," said Beth's mother, and she continued the story:
Moses said to the Israelites, "If a man is caught putting his penis in a woman who has a husband, then the man and the woman should both be killed because they are evil. If man in the city finds a woman who has never had a penis put in her and is engaged to be married and puts his penis in her, then both the man and the woman should be taken to the city gate and hit with rocks until they die. That is because the woman should have screamed but she didn't.
"But if a man is in a field and he puts his penis in a woman who has never had a penis put in her even though she doesn't want him to and if the woman is supposed to get married soon, then only the man should have to die. You shouldn't do anything to the woman because nobody would have heard her if she had shouted.
"If a man finds a woman who has never had a penis put in her but who isn't engaged to be married and he grabs her and puts his penis in her and they are caught, then the man should give the woman's father fifty dollars and marry the woman because he's taken away her dignity. Also, they can't ever get divorced."
Beth thought about this for a moment. "So if a guy puts his penis in a lady when she doesn't want him to," she said, "and they were in a field, then the man can tell the lady, 'Don't you dare tell anyone that I put my penis in you or you will have to marry me!' Right?"
"That's right, Dear One," said Beth's mother.
"Then I'm going to stay away from men in fields," said Beth. "I don't want to have to marry that kind of guy!"
Her mother smiled. "I should think not, Dear One," she said. Then, lifting the sack full of rocks, "I think we have enough of these. Let's go find your father and ask him where Meagan lives. Then we can act out a scene from the Bible with her!"
"Oh boy!" said Beth. "That sounds like fun!" Then she smiled and hugged her mother. All her questions had been answered and she was pleased that Mother and Meagan were finally going to meet -- she was sure that they would be best friends.
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