Saint Monica

Some months ago, a well-educated, avid, practicing Christian man who I respect told me that, “In the Old Testament,” they executed women who didn’t have children. I felt awkward, and my initial reaction was to say something smart. Over time, I gave that idea a lot of thought. I tried to imagine what that must have been like. The choice for a woman to remain childfree by choice is not a new one. I also wondered if the threat of execution would make me change my mind. I don’t want to have a child. I think that, alone, would make me “less than” as a mother.

More recently, I ran this by another educated man I know who is also an avid, practicing Christian. He seemed appalled. His brows drew together and his jaw fell open. When I asked if it was not true – that they did not execute childless women during “Old Testament times” – he said, absolutely not. Now that I am remembering it, he seemed kind of offended. I explained that someone told me that. He just kept saying it was absolutely not true.

As I wrote, both men are Christians, and not just, “I got to church almost every Sunday” Christians. These are two Christian men who practice their faith in obvious ways every single day – Bible reading, verse sharing, regular fellowship beyond Sunday morning service, teaching, reaching out, etc. The concept of killing women who don’t have children during a certain era seems very cut-and-dried. Where does this very obvious confusion come from? Regardless of denomination, don’t both of these men subscribe to the same magazine, so to speak?

So, who is correct? How does this work that two men who are clearly dedicated to and knowledgeable about their Christian faith have significantly different answers about this one topic? I’m struggling to see how there can be flexibility. They did or they didn’t.