In chapter nine of When God Was A Woman, Merlin Stone sought to explain the laws introduced by the Levite priests in Canaan that were put in place to prevent the worship of the Goddess. Members of the Hebrew religion were commanded to kill their own children if they worshipped any deity other than God. Stone argues that the laws put the men of the society in power, as it was not stated that the husband should be killed for worshiping the Goddess.
The Levites demanded that every woman belong to a man, due to their distaste for any woman who was not a virgin or married, so they established the concept of sexual morality to restrict the females.
Stone states that given the sexual freedom in the religion of the Goddess, the women had to be taught that sexual relations to multiple men was pure evil. Any sexually free women, or women who still worshipped the Goddess, were referred to as whores and harlots.
Stone elaborates on the new laws of sexual morality, stating that a woman must only have sex with one man, her husband, while he could have sexual relations with numerous women. A woman could be stoned to death for losing her virginity or even for being raped, if she was already married. Stone says that only the husband could divorce his wife, and if so, she would be left with no material possessions. The divorce laws probably led to fearful women, forcing them to become submissive servants to men.
I found this chapter of When God Was A Woman particularly interesting in comparison to the rest of the book. The more information I learned about the religion of the Goddess prior to this chapter, the more I wanted to know about the laws that governed women with the initial introduction of the male-dominated culture. Chapter nine kept my attention due to the fact that I was already curious about the sexual morality laws. The realization that I could have been killed back then for the beliefs I have today also kept my interest. Stone did an impeccable job with her organization of ideas. The chapter was easy to follow and to understand, and each idea seemed to flow with ease to the next.
Looking back through the chapter, the only constant source I see her use is the Bible. Although this is a reliable source for the Hebrew laws placed upon women, I think that using other sources other than just the Bible would have helped in her overall objective of this chapter. Finding a source with the actual morality laws stated would have helped to further confirm the harsh reality of these laws. Other than this fact, I believe that Stone was very thorough in her description of the laws and the details she examined pertaining to the laws.
I do think that Stone made reasonable assertions pertaining to the morality laws. Her use of bible verses seems to confirm her arguments about the laws. However, I can see partial bias in her writing. I can see how this can easily happen, seeing as she relates to the laws as she is a woman. I can sometimes feel the anger and disgust for the laws come through in her writing as certain tones are used. Despite her small amount of bias, I think Stone satisfactorily represents and defends all of her points about the morality laws.
Most of what Stone exhibits in this chapter was new material for me. Although I learned a lot of information, what stands out to me is that fact that women could actually be stoned to death just for having sexual relations with men. This really grabbed my attention as I thought about how our society is today. Even though we still see sex and pregnancy before marriage as taboo, we have a certain level of toleration for it. It is crazy to think that years ago, many women in today’s society would be killed for their actions just because men wanted control over them.