So if you're a girl, chances are you learned at some point you're supposed to bleed the first time you have sex, thanks to a vaginal barrier known as the hymen. (Obviously, I can't say if boys learn this or not).
I do remember, however, being confused by this. Women shed blood every month, out of the same opening. Like, how is that possible if it's barricaded by a membrane?
Well: it's not.
The hymen is not a barrier - it's simply an open scrap of membrane that protects the vagina when women are growing up.
So all that stuff you hear about maidenheads, about an intact hymen and blood proving virginity?
It's a load of crap. Cultural hoopla descended from millennia of patriarchy. Some pregnant women have intact hymens, and some women have none at all. The hymen only tears during sex if you are too fast or too violent.
Language warning for video, but it is quite informative.
According to the Bible, in these verses God says virginity is proven with blood. God says something demonstrably false.
I've never seen any Biblical scholar address this issue (possibly because it involves a culturally awkward discussion of vaginas?). One article mentions that lack of bleeding would not necessarily condemn the woman due to the need for at least two witnesses, but the author still acknowledges that it is evidence against her virginity.
Something scientifically false could witness against a person in a life-or-death situation. I find that extremely troubling.
Frankly, it seems to me that this verse is incompatible with a literal Bible, unless you want to argue that hymens have evolved over time. Or that God is advocating marital rape, I suppose.
Honestly, it makes more sense to say the Israelites were adopting a cultural misunderstanding/norm into their law, than to say God is a liar.
Don't get me wrong. I confess that all Scripture is inspired by God, a good God, whether I like it or not. Maybe this passage exists to emphasize the importance of commitment to one person. Maybe, much like Moses' law of divorce, this this was God permitting them their hard hearts - I don't know.
But I do think Deuteronomy 22:13-21 is evidence that Bible is not flawless. At the very least, I don't see the notion that the Bible is scientifically accurate as tenable.
Inerrantists, if you have another explanation, please let me know. I say that in all sincerity.
Thanks for listening, friends.
*Update: I love getting answers on Twitter - yes, really. As my friend Peter at The Places You'll Go Music points out, equating the modern body with a body from 4000 years ago is probably not the most accurate comparison.