Some argue that the Bible cannot be true because it was immoral for God to command the stoning of the non-virgin woman. The argument is that the punishment is very disproportionate to the crime.
13 “If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then hates her 14 and accuses her of misconduct and brings a bad name upon her, saying, ‘I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her evidence of virginity,’ 15 then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of her virginity to the elders of the city in the gate. 16 And the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man to marry, and he hates her; 17 and behold, he has accused her of misconduct, saying, “I did not find in your daughter evidence of virginity.” And yet this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloak before the elders of the city. 18 Then the elders of that city shall take the man and whip[a] him, 19 and they shall fine him a hundred shekels[b] of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name upon a virgin[c] of Israel. And she shall be his wife. He may not divorce her all his days. 20 But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, 21 then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.Deuteronomy 22:13-21
The crime of the woman who should be stoned in Deuteronomy 22:13-21 was more serious than those who make this argument think. The nation of Israel was supposed to be God’s chosen people, a holy people distinct from all of the other nations around them.
A woman who was sexually immoral and not a virgin disobeyed important commands that God had established, and had thus blatantly rebelled against God’s commands, which was extremely serious. Because of this, the punishment for a woman who did this was not disproportionate to the crime, especially because all sins deserve the punishment of death.
The nation of Israel was unique in history because it was a theocracy ruled by God, and it was God’s plan to preserve the Israelite nation, both as a nation and in holiness. To preserve the holiness of the Israelite nation, God established strict laws concerning obedience that would set apart the Israelite nation from all of the other nations around them, and that would demonstrate that the Israelite nation was God’s uniquely holy people.
Because of this, the punishments for particular sins of disobedience and unholiness was different for the nation of Israel than they would be for a different nation, such as our own. Just because God commanded something for the Israelite nation does not mean that exact command applies universally, or still applies today.
The Bible teaches that all sin deserves death, so God would be just to take any human life at any time. That most humans do not receive the punishment they deserve immediately is a testament to God’s patience and mercy. The fact that God sometimes ends human lives earlier than when they would have died naturally is not unjust, since God would be just to end every human life immediately because of sin.
Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death,” and James 2:10 tells us that “whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”
To read more answers to alleged and apparent contradictions in the Bible, see “Contradictions” in the Bible Answered.
These books are also excellent resources: