A question on adultery and pregnancy

TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
So here’s my question as best I can put it: would it necessarily be wrong for the government to execute a woman now 6 months pregnant due to adultery?

It seems clear that under the Mosaic covenant, adulteresses were executed as soon as there was evidence to convict of their crime (so we get the scene with the Pharisees and the woman caught in adultery). Even if immediate execution wasn’t always the case, it was sometimes and that’s all I need to raise this question.

Since at least sometimes it was in fact the case that adultery occurred and it was without a doubt just to execute the woman immediately after conviction, then this means that during some of these executions, a child who had been conceived from that act died.

Because of that, it seems to me that one would have to say that this would not necessarily be wrong for a government to do, since if it can do so in the case of a week old infant, it can do so in the case of a 6-month old infant.

That said though, I am unsure here. Perhaps one might argue that a government must wait to execute only if there is an obvious sign of pregnancy. But that seems to raise the question of why ancient Israel didn’t just wait a few months every time a woman was accused of adultery to see if a child was conceived, and if so, to delay the execution. So that answer doesn’t really seem to work here.

I have to imagine that the historic Reformed addressed this question at some point, but I’m unaware of anything specific, although it is certain that at least sometimes a woman was executed who had already conceived, and again, this is all that I need to in order to raise the question. If anyone knows what their practice in this situation was, let me know.
 
Of course it would be wrong for the government to do this:

1. We no longer live under the Old Testament civil laws - you'll remember that Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery.

2. The last people Christians should trust to make decisions like this, if such were to become the case, are unbelieving government bureaucrats.

3. With the slaughter of unborn babies still occurring every year in their thousands because of abortion, we shouldn't be setting up situations in which an unborn child - who is not guilty of his mother's sin, by the way (Ezekiel 18, especially verse 20) - is executed for it. It would go against the New Testament ethic, and it would be abortion by another name.
 
I have to imagine that the historic Reformed addressed this question at some point, but I’m unaware of anything specific, although it is certain that at least sometimes a woman was executed who had already conceived, and again, this is all that I need to in order to raise the question. If anyone knows what their practice in this situation was, let me know.

Are you familiar with the following document?


CHAPTER VII.

Of Crimes. And first, of such as deserve capital punishment, or cutting off from a man’s people, whether by death or banishment.

1. FIRST, blasphemy, which is a cursing of God by atheism, or the like, to be punished with death.

2. Idolatry to be punished with death.

3. Witchcraft, which is fellowship by covenant with a familiar spirit, to be punished with death.

4. Consulters with witches not to be tolerated, but either to be cut off by death or banishment.

5. Heresy, which is the maintenance of some wicked errors, overthrowing the foundation of the christian religion; which obstinacy, if it be joined with endeavour to seduce others thereunto, to be punished with death; because such an heretick, no less than an idolater, seeketh to thrust the souls of men from the Lord their God.

6. To worship God in a molten or graven image, to be punished with death.

7. Such members of the church, as do wilfully reject to walk, after due admonition and conviction, in the churches’ establishment, and their christian admonition and censures, shall be cut off by banishment.

8. Whosoever shall revile the religion and worship of God, and the government of the church, as it is now established, to be cut off by banishment. Cor. 5:5.

9. Wilful perjury, whether before the judgment seat or in private conference, to be punished with death.

10. Rash perjury, whether in public or in private, to be punished with banishment. Just is it, that such a man’s name should be cut off from his people who profanes so grosly the name of God before his people.

11. Profaning of the Lord’s day, in a careless and scornful neglect or contempt thereof, to be punished with death.

12. To put in practice the betraying of the country, or any principal fort therein, to the hand of any foreign state, Spanish, French, Dutch, or the like, contrary to the allegiance we owe and profess to our dread sovereign, lord king Charles, his heirs and successors, whilst he is pleased to protect us as his loyal subjects, to be punished with death. Num. 12:14, 15.

13. Unreverend and dishonorable carriage to magistrates, to be punished with banishment for a time, till they acknowledge their fault and profess reformation.

14. Reviling of the magistrates in highest rank amongst us, to wit, of the governors and council, to be punished with death. I Kings 2:8, 9, & 46.

15. Rebellion, sedition, or insurrection, by taking up arms against the present government established in the country, to be punished with death.

16. Rebellious children, whether they continue in riot or drunkenness, after due correction from their parents, or whether they curse or smite their parents, to be put to death. Ex. 21:15, 17. Lev. 20:9.

17. Murder, which is a wilful man-slaughter, not in a man’s just defence, nor casually committed, but out of hatred or cruelty, to be punished with death. Ex. 21:12, 13. Num. 35:16, 17, 18, to 33. Gen. 9:6.

18. Adultery, which is the defiling of the marriage-bed, to be punished with death. Defiling of a woman espoused, is a kind of adultery, and punishable, by death, of both parties; but if a woman be forced, then by the death of the man only. Lev. 20:10. Deut. 22:22 to 27.

19. Incest, which is the defiling of any near of kin, within the degrees prohibited in Leviticus, to be punished with death.

20. Unnatural filthiness to be punished with death, whether sodomy, which is a carnal fellowship of man with man, or woman with woman, or buggery4, which is a carnal fellowship of man or woman with beasts or fowls.

21. Pollution of a woman known to be in her flowers5, to be put to death. Lev. 20:18,19.

22. Whoredom of a maiden in her father’s house, kept secret till after her marriage with another, to be punished with death. Deut. 22:20, 21.

23. Man-stealing to be punished with death. Ex. 21:16.

24. False-witness bearing to be punished with death.

4 April 2, 1674 Benjamin Gourd of Roxbury (being about 17 years of age) was executed for committing Bestiality with a Mare, which was first knocked in the head under the Gallows in his sight. N.B. He committed that filthines at noon day in an open yard. He after confessed that he had lived in that sin a year. The causes he alledged were, idlenes, not obeying parents, &c. [from The Diary of Samuel Sewall]

CHAPTER VIII.

Of other Crimes less heinous, such as are to be punished with some corporal punishment or fine.

1. FIRST, rash and profane swearing and cursing to be punished,

1st. With loss of honour, or office, if he be a magistrate, or officer: meet it is, their name should be dishonoured who dishonoured God’s name.

2d. With loss of freedom.

3d. With disability to give testimony.

4th. With corporal punishment, either by stripes or by branding him with a hot iron, or boring through the tongue, who have bored and pierced God’s name.

2. Drunkenness, as transforming God’s image into a beast, is to be punished with the punishment of beasts: a whip for the horse, and a rod for the fool’s back.
 
Of course it would be wrong for the government to do this:

1. We no longer live under the Old Testament civil laws - you'll remember that Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery.

2. The last people Christians should trust to make decisions like this, if such were to become the case, are unbelieving government bureaucrats.

3. With the slaughter of unborn babies still occurring every year in their thousands because of abortion, we shouldn't be setting up situations in which an unborn child - who is not guilty of his mother's sin, by the way (Ezekiel 18, especially verse 20) - is executed for it. It would go against the New Testament ethic, and it would be abortion by another name.
How do any of these 3 points conclude that it would “necessarily be wrong” for the government to do such a thing? The only point it seems to me that may even have the possibility to do such a thing is the end of 3. But look at what you’re saying there: it is wrong for a child to be executed along with the mother. But again, this certainly cannot be since this no doubt has actually occurred both under the Mosaic Law which was no doubt just and under any other law that has likewise punished an adulteress. And what is a “New Testament ethic”? I am asking only of whether natural law would forbid such a thing.
 
Are you familiar with the following document?


CHAPTER VII.

Of Crimes. And first, of such as deserve capital punishment, or cutting off from a man’s people, whether by death or banishment.

1. FIRST, blasphemy, which is a cursing of God by atheism, or the like, to be punished with death.

2. Idolatry to be punished with death.

3. Witchcraft, which is fellowship by covenant with a familiar spirit, to be punished with death.

4. Consulters with witches not to be tolerated, but either to be cut off by death or banishment.

5. Heresy, which is the maintenance of some wicked errors, overthrowing the foundation of the christian religion; which obstinacy, if it be joined with endeavour to seduce others thereunto, to be punished with death; because such an heretick, no less than an idolater, seeketh to thrust the souls of men from the Lord their God.

6. To worship God in a molten or graven image, to be punished with death.

7. Such members of the church, as do wilfully reject to walk, after due admonition and conviction, in the churches’ establishment, and their christian admonition and censures, shall be cut off by banishment.

8. Whosoever shall revile the religion and worship of God, and the government of the church, as it is now established, to be cut off by banishment. Cor. 5:5.

9. Wilful perjury, whether before the judgment seat or in private conference, to be punished with death.

10. Rash perjury, whether in public or in private, to be punished with banishment. Just is it, that such a man’s name should be cut off from his people who profanes so grosly the name of God before his people.

11. Profaning of the Lord’s day, in a careless and scornful neglect or contempt thereof, to be punished with death.

12. To put in practice the betraying of the country, or any principal fort therein, to the hand of any foreign state, Spanish, French, Dutch, or the like, contrary to the allegiance we owe and profess to our dread sovereign, lord king Charles, his heirs and successors, whilst he is pleased to protect us as his loyal subjects, to be punished with death. Num. 12:14, 15.

13. Unreverend and dishonorable carriage to magistrates, to be punished with banishment for a time, till they acknowledge their fault and profess reformation.

14. Reviling of the magistrates in highest rank amongst us, to wit, of the governors and council, to be punished with death. I Kings 2:8, 9, & 46.

15. Rebellion, sedition, or insurrection, by taking up arms against the present government established in the country, to be punished with death.

16. Rebellious children, whether they continue in riot or drunkenness, after due correction from their parents, or whether they curse or smite their parents, to be put to death. Ex. 21:15, 17. Lev. 20:9.

17. Murder, which is a wilful man-slaughter, not in a man’s just defence, nor casually committed, but out of hatred or cruelty, to be punished with death. Ex. 21:12, 13. Num. 35:16, 17, 18, to 33. Gen. 9:6.

18. Adultery, which is the defiling of the marriage-bed, to be punished with death. Defiling of a woman espoused, is a kind of adultery, and punishable, by death, of both parties; but if a woman be forced, then by the death of the man only. Lev. 20:10. Deut. 22:22 to 27.

19. Incest, which is the defiling of any near of kin, within the degrees prohibited in Leviticus, to be punished with death.

20. Unnatural filthiness to be punished with death, whether sodomy, which is a carnal fellowship of man with man, or woman with woman, or buggery4, which is a carnal fellowship of man or woman with beasts or fowls.

21. Pollution of a woman known to be in her flowers5, to be put to death. Lev. 20:18,19.

22. Whoredom of a maiden in her father’s house, kept secret till after her marriage with another, to be punished with death. Deut. 22:20, 21.

23. Man-stealing to be punished with death. Ex. 21:16.

24. False-witness bearing to be punished with death.

4 April 2, 1674 Benjamin Gourd of Roxbury (being about 17 years of age) was executed for committing Bestiality with a Mare, which was first knocked in the head under the Gallows in his sight. N.B. He committed that filthines at noon day in an open yard. He after confessed that he had lived in that sin a year. The causes he alledged were, idlenes, not obeying parents, &c. [from The Diary of Samuel Sewall]

CHAPTER VIII.

Of other Crimes less heinous, such as are to be punished with some corporal punishment or fine.

1. FIRST, rash and profane swearing and cursing to be punished,

1st. With loss of honour, or office, if he be a magistrate, or officer: meet it is, their name should be dishonoured who dishonoured God’s name.

2d. With loss of freedom.

3d. With disability to give testimony.

4th. With corporal punishment, either by stripes or by branding him with a hot iron, or boring through the tongue, who have bored and pierced God’s name.

2. Drunkenness, as transforming God’s image into a beast, is to be punished with the punishment of beasts: a whip for the horse, and a rod for the fool’s back.
Yes, I’m familiar with Cotton’s laws. This is one of those documents that at least seems to indicate that they would go through with such an execution, but I know that’s mostly just an argument from silence insofar as it doesn’t specify what would be done in the situation of a visibly pregnant woman. So I’m unsure how much we can conclude from it.
 
To answer your question, no. That she would probably be executed is true, but that does not mean it will always be done right away. Case laws are often applications, not a strict code.
 
To answer your question, no. That she would probably be executed is true, but that does not mean it will always be done right away. Case laws are often applications, not a strict code.

This line of thought has been taken even further. I'm not sure what to think of it, but it is an intriguing argument to consider. The premise for the argument is basically that ancient ANE capital laws have a historical context which includes the culture they belonged to and the literary conventions the writers wrote within. One cannot understand exactly what is being said without knowledge of both these aspects of context. Trying to understand OT law through the filter of modern Western legal cultural and writing conventions will perhaps lead to wrong conclusions about what was intended. Anyway, I think it is at least worth reading this article (carefully, and all the way to the end...) before deciding its possible merits. It's written by a New Zealander, Dr. Matthew Flannagan, who self-identifies as "a theologian with proficiency in contemporary analytic philosophy."

This line of argument assumes that these apparent laws function like modern statute law; the assumption is that they are literal and binding commands to kill people who had committed certain crimes. It is also assumed that the author of these laws expected them to be carried out. Interestingly, it is precisely this assumption which many scholars of these laws have questioned. Here I will spell out some reasons why they do so.​
Comparisons between Leviticus and Deuteronomy and other ancient Near Eastern (“ANE”) law codes suggest they are the same genre. One feature of such codes is seemingly harsh penalties. In old Babylonian law, the hand that assaults was severed; a man who kissed another’s wife was to have his lips cut off; a person who stole bees was to be stung by bees; a man who raped another’s wife would be sentenced to having his own wife or daughter raped; a negligent builder whose house collapsed and killed another’s son would be sentenced to having his own son killed, and so on.​
ANE expert Raymond Westbrook notes that these prescribed punishments are both inconsistent with the actual legal practice known to have occurred in these cultures and are often inconsistent with themselves. He notes, “some law codes impose physical punishments and others payments for the same offenses, while some codes have a mixture of the two.” The contradiction is only apparent because, “in highlighting one or the other alternative, the codes are making a statement as to their view of the gravity of the offence.” He argues that the laws “reflect the scribal compilers’ concern for perfect symmetry and delicious irony rather than the pragmatic experience of the law courts.” Westbrook concludes that the method used in ANE legal texts was “to set out principles by the use of often extreme examples.”​
A similar point is made by Old Testament scholar John Goldingay who suggests that many of these laws “were not intended to be enforced” but rather were “promulgated to indicate the moral and social priorities of the law giver.” They functioned to express certain ideals of behaviour, to denounce actions like adultery as really bad and intolerable rather than to define precise penalties for these actions.​
Westbrook points to the practice of “ransoming” an explanation of how this worked in application. In ANE legal practice a person who committed a serious crime would be considered to have forfeited their life or limb but this did not mean they were executed or mutilated. Instead, they could “ransom” their life or limb by making a monetary payment and/or agreeing to some lesser penalty usually set by the courts. These texts were written and read with the background assumption that penalties would often be ransomed and not literally carried out.​
Westbrook is not alone in this view. In a study of ANE laws JJ Finkelstein notes the absurdity and impossibility of putting many of these laws into practice. One Babylonian law, for example, stated that a physician whose patient died in surgery or was blinded by treatment was to have his hand cut off. Finkelstein remarks that “it is inconceivable that any sane person in ancient Mesopotamia would have been willing to enter the surgeon’s profession if such a law were literally enforced.” On the other hand,​
“if a system of ransom were assumed where the life of the builder or his son could be redeemed and the hand of the physician could be redeemed by pecuniary ransom, these laws would not only have an admonitory function (for which the more graphic statement of the penalty–execution or mutilation–is more effective), but would also be practical as law.”​
He concludes that the laws,​
“were not meant to be complied with literally even when they were first drawn up, [but rather they] serve an admonitory function. If one would be bold enough to restate Hammurabi’s 230 as a direct admonition it might run to this effect: “woe to the contractor who undertakes construction and in his greed cuts corners.”​
Right back to early rabbinical times, commentators of The Torah have noted it appears to operate with the same assumption. For example, Exodus 21: 29-32 deals with a case where if an ox gored another person to death due to negligence on the part of the owner “the owner also must be put to death” but the very next verse states “if payment is demanded of him, he may ransom his life by paying whatever is demanded.” The text literally demanded a person be put to death but assumed the punishment would be substituted for a fine set by the courts.​
This is borne out with other examples. Not only is ransoming implicitly assumed in many of the Old Testament laws about homicide but reading the text this way explains many features of the text which otherwise appear inexplicable.​
Gordon Wenham observes that “according to Deut. 19:19 false witnesses were punished with the punishment the accused would have suffered if substantiated”. So the penalty for falsely accusing a woman of adultery was not execution but rather an unspecified punishment alongside a monetary fine. Wenham concludes that a monetary substitution must have been envisaged in this text if it was to be read as coherent and consistent.​
This conclusion seems to be strengthened by the fact that only a few chapters later Deuteronomy 24:1-5 deals with a case where a woman was divorced for committing adultery; the woman was clearly not executed as she married another man in verse 2. This makes sense if the capital sanctions for adultery functioned as admonitory devices and in practice a ransom was made as a substitute, but it does not make sense if the woman was required to be executed.​
A further example occurs in the book of Kings where a person had committed a capital crime. The sentence was announced as “a life for a life”; however, the immediate context shows what this sentence was: “It will be your life for his life or you must weigh out a talent of silver.” Old Testament scholar Joe Sprinkle notes that “‘life for life,’ in the sense of capital punishment, has an explicit alternative of monetary substitution.”​
Perhaps the clearest example is in Numbers 35. At least seven times in close succession the text states, “the murderer shall be put to death”; however, the text proceeds to state ”‘Do not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer, who deserves to die. He must surely be put to death.” Here the text assumes the existence of a practice of substituting capital punishment for a fine exists that there is a risk it might be applied in this instance and so it explicitly forbids it in this circumstance. Sprinkle contends “The availability of ransom seems to have been so prevalent that when biblical law wants to exclude it, as in the case of intentional murder, it must specifically prohibit it”. Old Testament scholar Walter Kaiser draws the same conclusion,​
“The key text in this discussion is Num 35:31: “Do not accept a ransom [or substitute] for the life of a murderer, who deserves to die. He must surely be put to death.” There were some sixteen crimes that called for the death penalty in the OT. … Only in the case of premeditated murder did the text say that the officials in Israel were forbidden to take a “ransom” or a “substitute”. This has widely been interpreted to imply that in all the other fifteen cases the judges could commute the crimes deserving of capital punishment by designating a “ransom” or “substitute”. In that case the death penalty served to mark the seriousness of the crime.”​
So, it is not at all clear that the Old Testament commanded to always stone to death women who commit adultery. As useful a rhetorical club for contemporary secularists as this claim might be, it involves transposing modern assumptions about law back onto an ancient literary genre and practice. The genre of the passages, in light of the common ANE legal practices and customs, suggests that most capital sanctions functioned as a kind of rhetorical denunciation which expressed, in vivid form, a moral ideal. Further, in practice, a ransom was paid and the punishment was not literally carried out; it was not statute law demanding the killing of adulterers.​
 
To answer your question, no. That she would probably be executed is true, but that does not mean it will always be done right away. Case laws are often applications, not a strict code.
The answer then is that it would not necessarily be wrong for the government to execute a 6 months pregnant woman?
 
The answer then is that it would not necessarily be wrong for the government to execute a 6 months pregnant woman?
I understand you're asking in the abstract, "would it be (in theory)", but how would this begin to work out in a modern non-tyrannical government? With appeals process and stuff. I can't see it ever working honestly. I love theoretical thinking but in matters of ethics and law you always have to balance out theory with practice.
 
I understand you're asking in the abstract, "would it be (in theory)", but how would this begin to work out in a modern non-tyrannical government? With appeals process and stuff. I can't see it ever working honestly. I love theoretical thinking but in matters of ethics and law you always have to balance out theory with practice.
Yeah I get that. My question is not at all concerned with actual practice and concrete circumstances. I’m just trying to think through abstract moral situations, which is why the question is specifically whether it would *necessarily* be wrong for the government to do such a thing in any situation.
 
The answer then is that it would not necessarily be wrong for the government to execute a 6 months pregnant woman?

I am saying, assuming that she should be executed at all, which I only grant for the sake of argument, is to withhold punishment at the very least. It's really difficult to say one is pro-life and then terminate a six month old baby.
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Yeah I get that. My question is not at all concerned with actual practice and concrete circumstances. I’m just trying to think through abstract moral situations, which is why the question is specifically whether it would *necessarily* be wrong for the government to do such a thing in any situation.

Whether it is absolutely necessary I'll leave for others. If the govt did execute the woman, it would fundamentally misunderstand the nature of OT law. Dru Johnson's people at the Center for Hebraic thought are really good on this.
 
So here’s my question as best I can put it: would it necessarily be wrong for the government to execute a woman now 6 months pregnant due to adultery?

It seems clear that under the Mosaic covenant, adulteresses were executed as soon as there was evidence to convict of their crime (so we get the scene with the Pharisees and the woman caught in adultery). Even if immediate execution wasn’t always the case, it was sometimes and that’s all I need to raise this question.

Since at least sometimes it was in fact the case that adultery occurred and it was without a doubt just to execute the woman immediately after conviction, then this means that during some of these executions, a child who had been conceived from that act died.

Because of that, it seems to me that one would have to say that this would not necessarily be wrong for a government to do, since if it can do so in the case of a week old infant, it can do so in the case of a 6-month old infant.

That said though, I am unsure here. Perhaps one might argue that a government must wait to execute only if there is an obvious sign of pregnancy. But that seems to raise the question of why ancient Israel didn’t just wait a few months every time a woman was accused of adultery to see if a child was conceived, and if so, to delay the execution. So that answer doesn’t really seem to work here.

I have to imagine that the historic Reformed addressed this question at some point, but I’m unaware of anything specific, although it is certain that at least sometimes a woman was executed who had already conceived, and again, this is all that I need to in order to raise the question. If anyone knows what their practice in this situation was, let me know.
In the NT age, I believe we shouldn't execute someone for adultery. As pointed out, Jesus didn't condemn, but offered mercy. It is sin, but civilly separated from other violent crimes that would demand execution in our culture. On top of that, it would be wrong to murder a baby because of the crime of the mother.
 
Another way to look at it is to use the example of Matthew 5.32/19.9 and I Cor.7.39. If someone divorces their spouse because the latter has committed adultery, the former is free to remarry. Why? Because it as if the adulterer is dead, even if they have not been punished so.

I would also think Exodus 21.21-22 and Ezekiel 18.20 suggest that capital punishment of a woman who is suspected of being pregnant would not be just. There is no place in Scripture that I can think of that requires that the stoning of a woman be immediate after discovery of a capital offense. Consider, too, that the most frequent way fornication and adultery would be discovered would be through pregnancy.
 
Consider, too, that the most frequent way fornication and adultery would be discovered would be through pregnancy.
That’s kind of what’s making me think that it was relatively common to execute during pregnancy though.

Idk if it's a reliable source as to how OT practices actually worked, but at least the Mishnah says that pregnant women were executed unless they were just about to go into labor. (see here, which I found interesting: https://thelehrhaus.com/scholarship/the-pregnant-sotah-a-case-study-in-the-ethics-of-abortion/)
 
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It's worth noting that the majority of folks (including Reformed folks) used to hold that the child in the womb is not ensouled or quickened until sometime after conception. That said, they also believed that ending potential life, like Onan spilling his seed on the ground, constituted murder.

Personally, I think any godly government would wait until the baby is born before executing the adulteress. And I do think a godly government would execute her--the commandment reflects the law of nature, and the general equity thereof still applies.
 
That’s kind of what’s making me think that it was relatively common to execute during pregnancy though.

Idk if its a reliable source as to how OT practices actually worked, but at least the Mishnah says that pregnant women were executed unless they were just about to go into labor.
That may have been how it worked, but I would think that to be in error. Again, there is nothing I can think of in Scripture that requires the immediate carrying out of capital punishment with regard to a woman found guilty of fornication or adultery.
 
It takes two to tango...

I would suggest to either put both to death, or else apply the wisdom of our Saviour, and have the one without sin first cast a stone at her...
 
“If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (Exo 21:22-25)
 
That may have been how it worked, but I would think that to be in error. Again, there is nothing I can think of in Scripture that requires the immediate carrying out of capital punishment with regard to a woman found guilty of fornication or adultery.
Would you not see the incident of the Pharisees with Christ as perhaps implying that was the usual practice? Besides that, the only other passage I can think of that might be relevant is Numbers 5 on at least some interpretations, but I know that passage is rather convoluted.
 
I wonder if there are some implications from 1 Cor 6? He speaks of adulterers as those who have been forgiven, washed, and justified. It doesn't seem that he is seeking capital punishment for them. Also in regards to that section, he talks about the Church handling matters on its own, and not bringing such things to unbelievers to judge. At that time the Church definitely didn't have authority to execute somebody. I confess that I have not really studied this topic, but I'm just going by some general things that stand out to me.

"‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:1‭-‬11‬ ‭
[1] When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? [2] Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? [3] Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! [4] So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? [5] I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, [6] but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? [7] To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? [8] But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! [9] Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, [10] nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. [11] And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
 
Would you not see the incident of the Pharisees with Christ as perhaps implying that was the usual practice? Besides that, the only other passage I can think of that might be relevant is Numbers 5 on at least some interpretations, but I know that passage is rather convoluted.
If caught in the act of adultery by multiple witnesses then yes, I could see immediate punishment being meted out. There would not be the issue of pregnancy as conception is not immediate.

In the case of Numbers 5, capital punishment is not in play as there are no witnesses, just the husband's suspicions. Therefore the punishment from God is "her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot, and the woman shall be accursed among her people" which seems to me to be a way of saying she will be infertile the rest of her days.
 
If caught in the act of adultery by multiple witnesses then yes, I could see immediate punishment being meted out. There would not be the issue of pregnancy as conception is not immediate.
Yes, but even if it at some point took even just a few days in order to convict, wouldn't this be an issue?

Edit: Maybe I can put the question this way: if such a thing would in fact be an issue, must we then hold both that 1) such a thing never lawfully occurred in Israel and they were supposed to wait every single time 2) likewise, the answer to the originally posed question is "yes" it would be wrong for a government to do such a thing and thus it must wait every single time?
 
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Yes, but even if it at some point took even just a few days in order to convict, wouldn't this be an issue?

Yes, which is one of the reasons why I don't think the law should always be understood in such a wooden manner.
 
“If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (Exo 21:22-25)
A great hypocritical irony is (I believe some lawyer on here please correct me if I'm wrong here) at least in Florida if you kill a pregnant woman you get charged with two count's of murder/manslaughter. But we swim with alligators and and have Florida man running around, if you haven't looked up Florida man on YouTube do it it's hilarious.
I say this because even the natural law aspect is reflected in the laws understanding of the situation but I agree with the previous post about different times and places and cultures and today. Also, just a a thought, how would Jewish scholarship answer this question?
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Yes, but even if it at some point took even just a few days in order to convict, wouldn't this be an issue?

Edit: Maybe I can put the question this way: if such a thing would in fact be an issue, must we then hold both that 1) such a thing never lawfully occurred in Israel and they were supposed to wait every single time 2) likewise, the answer to the originally posed question is "yes" it would be wrong for a government to do such a thing and thus it must wait every single time?
Just thinking out loud here, what if she cried rape instead?
 
A great hypocritical irony is (I believe some lawyer on here please correct me if I'm wrong here) at least in Florida if you kill a pregnant woman you get charged with two count's of murder/manslaughter. But we swim with alligators and and have Florida man running around, if you haven't looked up Florida man on YouTube do it it's hilarious.
I say this because even the natural law aspect is reflected in the laws understanding of the situation but I agree with the previous post about different times and places and cultures and today. Also, just a a thought, how would Jewish scholarship answer this question?
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Just thinking out loud here, what if she cried rape instead?
If she cried rape, it isn't adultery, but I don't really see how that is directly relevant to the question. I'm just trying to figure out what one would have to say based on how would would answer the original question posed. It at least initially seems to me that is one answers "yes" to the question of whether a government would *necessarily* be wrong in executing a pregnant woman, then one puts on themselves the position that such a thing never (at least lawfully) took place in Israel. That seems hard to argue for, but I'm definitely open to hearing it. But if one answers "no" that it would not necessarily be wrong for a government to do such a thing, then this raises the question as to if it would be wrong in any given situation, and if so, why in this given situation rather than another one? Whatever reason is given to this question, it certainly seems that it could not be based simply on the age of the infant since such a thing seems completely arbitrary. But I am definitely open to hearing the argument on this side as well.

As an aside, it seems that the assumption behind answering "yes" is usually along the lines of thinking that indirectly causing the death of the infant by the execution of the mother would always be immoral. But it at least seems to me that there's good reason to doubt this assumption. Of course, we must realize that the context of adultery itself is rather irrelevant here: for instance, a pregnant woman can still commit murder and this raises the same question in regards to execution. But to take an (admittedly, rather unrealistic) example that would seem to raise doubt against this principle: consider if one's life is endangered by a pregnant woman to the point where, having exhausted all other options, in order to defend oneself, one must take the woman's life. Surely this would be moral and yet it indirectly causes the death of the infant. Thus, if we attend only to the justice of execution, it seems to me that such a thing could be argued to be moral in view of the principle of double effect with the greater good in view being the immediate justice of execution itself.
 
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But to take a (admittedly, rather unrealistic) example that would seem to raise doubt against this principle: consider if one's life is endangered by a pregnant woman to the point where, having exhausted all other options, in order to defend oneself, one must take the woman's life. Surely this would be moral and yet it indirectly causes the death of the infant.

Besides the fact we've already addressed the interpretation and application of the law, the above scenario completely changes the game. It is apples and oranges.
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And to explain why the law can't always be applied in a 1:1 scenario. The law says if a woman cries out, she's in the clear (at least in terms of culpability). Yet if she were given a date rape drug or some similar situation, she couldn't have cried rape. Yet the law does not say anything about that. Torah often engages in hypothetical reasoning, designed to elicit a wise response.
 
Besides the fact we've already addressed the interpretation and application of the law, the above scenario completely changes the game. It is apples and oranges.
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And to explain why the law can't always be applied in a 1:1 scenario. The law says if a woman cries out, she's in the clear (at least in terms of culpability). Yet if she were given a date rape drug or some similar situation, she couldn't have cried rape. Yet the law does not say anything about that. Torah often engages in hypothetical reasoning, designed to elicit a wise response.
I have not yet seen any address the interpretation of the law as it regards the original scenario. At best, we only have the assumption that Israel always waited until birth to execute, but again, this is just an assumption. Again, nobody thinks the law is always to be applied in a 1:1 scenario. The question merely regards whether the principle is true that: the government would always be wrong to execute a pregnant woman.

The point with the self-defense scenario is simply that if one holds that the principle is in fact true, one needs to provide a valid reason for this. If the reason is simply that indirectly causing the death of an infant is always wrong, then clearly this scenario shows that such is not the case.
 
I have not yet seen any address the interpretation of the law as it regards the original scenario. At best, we only have the assumption that Israel always waited until birth to execute, but again, this is just an assumption. Again, nobody thinks the law is always to be applied in a 1:1 scenario. The question merely regards whether the principle is true that: the government would always be wrong to execute a pregnant woman.

The point with the self-defense scenario is simply that if one holds that the principle is in fact true, one needs to provide a valid reason for this. If the reason is simply that indirectly causing the death of an infant is always wrong, then clearly this scenario shows that such is not the case.

I addressed it at the very root. Many of these laws are hypothetical situations. Laws, by contrast, have to be applied in often unique circumstances. I've linked articles on how laws in general, and biblical law in particular, is to be interpreted.
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if one holds that the principle is in fact true, one needs to provide a valid reason for this

I don't think anyone holds that. In any case, we know for a fact it wasn't applied like that. Take Mary, for examples. Yes, she was pregnant by supernatural means, yet no one knew that and in any case that probably wouldn't have held up in court. Joseph, by contrast, is called righteous because, among other things, he didn't want to call attention to her case.

One could argue that the Romans wouldn't have let them kill Mary. Perhaps, but that didn't stop the Jews from killing Stephen.
If the reason is simply that indirectly causing the death of an infant is always wrong, then clearly this scenario shows that such is not the case.

But that is not the reason we gave, not the ultimate one anyway. It is a good side reason, other things being considered.
 
I addressed it at the very root. Many of these laws are hypothetical situations. Laws, by contrast, have to be applied in often unique circumstances. I've linked articles on how laws in general, and biblical law in particular, is to be interpreted.
This is completely irrelevant to the question seeing as it it is agreed upon by all sides. That laws must be applied in unique circumstances tells us nothing about how the law was actually to be applied to the issue of a pregnant woman to be executed, which is the whole point at hand. Again, so far nobody has proven what would have happened in such a scenario one way or the other.
I don't think anyone holds that.
There are multiple replies that answer in the affirmative. Even the very first one.
But that is not the reason we gave, not the ultimate one anyway. It is a good side reason, other things being considered.
What then is the reason given?
 
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