One of the often overlooked blessings of remaining at home-and one of the precise reasons why the Lord has ordained the practice of unmarried daughters remaining under their father’s roof-is the physical and emotional protection which that sphere affords to unmarried daughters. In our day, it is by no means uncommon for daughters to be off on their own-be that at school, work, or one’s own dwelling place-forming relationships with one young man after another, oftentimes without the father’s knowledge or oversight. This is contrary to God’s Word and therefore very dangerous on many levels. When daughters are left alone with young men, emotions tend to flare and one thing leads to another. Meanwhile, there is no one to protect the young woman or to keep her from making hasty, sinful decisions in a moment of passion. It is for this reason that the Lord has commanded fathers to actively preserve and guard their daughters’ purity, in their homes, until they give them in marriage.
Verses 13-21 speak of a situation in which a father gave his daughter to a young man in marriage, claiming that she was indeed a virgin. Sadly, the groom later has reason to believe that this claim was not accurate, and that she had rather lived an impure, unchaste life. The groom goes to her parents in the hopes that they can, in some way, prove to him that his suspicions are groundless and that she has indeed known no other man. If, unfortunately, it becomes known that his accusations were true, and this young woman did indeed give away her purity to another man prior to marriage then the guilty bride was to be stoned.
Now, before we proceed, allow me to make it clear that I am not advocating the stoning of daughters who have given away their virginity prior to marriage! Some may wonder why this is, seeing as how stoning the guilty party was the law. First, this was a law issued to ancient Israel. Second, Jesus, in a sense, abolished this law with his coming. John : - recounts the time when a woman was found to be committing adultery. She was brought before the to be stoned, as the Old Testament Law dictated. Jesus, being in the midst of the crowd about to stone her to death, calls for the attacker who was sinless to cast the first stone. Obviously, not one of them could claim to have no sin, and so one by one, they went home. Finally, only Jesus and the adulteress remained. She marvels that those who were to stone her had departed. He proclaims that He no longer , but that she is to go and sin no more. Therefore, while the passage in Deuteronomy we will be studying today is helpful and provides us with much wisdom and insight into a father’s role, the stoning aspect of this verse is not to be followed through by us today.
Having said this, let us continue on with this passage. First, notice in verse 15 that it is the young woman’s parents who were responsible for providing tokens of her purity. This is because they are to be watching over her, training her in ways of righteousness, involved in her life and knowing the state of her purity and guarding it with all their might.
Second, note in verse 21 where it was she was to be stoned. Was it at the place where she committed her sin of fornication? No-she was to be stoned at “the door of her father’s house”. Why is this? The reason is that it was the father’s duty to guard his daughter and her purity and to be actively involved in her life, that she might not find herself in a compromising situation. While the daughter is guilty for committing the sin (as is shown through her death), the father is disgraced for not fully preserving his daughter’s purity (as is shown in the stoning occurring at his home-the sphere which is to be a place of protection for daughters). Now, clearly, daughters will at times reject and rebel against their father’s authority and protection, leaving the father with little he can do to prevent her from committing an act of impurity. But this verse shows unequivocally that the father is held responsible to guard his daughter from any debilitating influences and entanglements with young men, so as to guard her purity. He has the responsibility of presenting his daughter to a husband as a pure, radiant virgin. This is his task, and this is why his home is to be her place of shelter until he gives her in marriage. Fathers rejecting their duty and instead releasing their daughters to the world to be on their own spells disaster. For, one of the greatest benefits of remaining at home until marriage is the protection it provides against defiling temptation, male predators, and sinful actions which daughters would one day greatly regret. When a daughter is alone with friends or perhaps with just one young man, without the protection of her father, it can be so easy for her to give in to flirting, fleshly desires, and actions which she would otherwise never dream of doing. How appealing the world and its ways can look when off on your own! This is precisely what Mr. Henry was saying when he wrote, “See what came of Dinah’s gadding: young women must learn to be chaste, keepers at home; these properties are put together, Tit. 2:5, for those that are not keepers at home expose their chastity. Dinah went abroad to look about her; but, if she had looked about her as she ought, she would not have fallen into this snare.”1 He wrote furthermore, ““Dinah, when she went to see the daughters of the land, lost her chastity. Those whose home is their prison, it is to be feared, feel that their chastity is their fetters.”2
1. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2991) pg. 73
2. Ibid, pg. 2370