In the previous post I discussed the four hermeneutical principles she describes as essential. They are not wrong but one-sided, designed to support this conclusion:
The combined effect of these four principles (there are others, but these will do for our purposes) is that it is not good enough (or safe enough) to take a single biblical verse, passage or story, and to maintain that it should be understood as authoritative for the conduct of our lives today. That does not mean that we cannot, or should not, attempt to take the Scriptures as a guide for living – we certainly should do so – but our approach needs to be comprehensive, critical and cautious if we are to avoid doing violence to the text and to one another.The principles are not in fact robust enough to warrant this conclusion in its absolutist form. It is of course obvious to virtually everyone that one cannot simply take a verse, passage or story at random out of its biblical context and declare it binding on our conduct today. But this does not mean that there are no specific biblical verses that can be identified as "authoritative for the conduct of our lives today." Christ's summary of the law would seem an obvious example.
I doubt that there are many who would disagree with the notion that "our approach needs to be comprehensive, critical and cautious" (even if they do not practise what they preach). The main problem therefore is the insinuation that her argument is only with people who rely on illegitimate proof-texting. Now I can well believe that Meg Warner has come across people whose use of Scripture was uncritical, insufficiently cautious and piecemeal proof-texting. But a Christian scholar seeking an honest answer to the question posed should arguably ignore such nonsense and engage with the arguments of those who seek their best to be comprehensive, critical and cautious.
It is not impossible that Warner has picked Deuteronomy 22 because someone used verses from this chapter as a proof-text to say that sex outside marriage is wrong. I myself do not remember having come across this before and her stated reason sounds different:
The foundation for biblical views on this subject is found in Deuteronomy 22’s collection of law (or ‘instruction’) about sexual conduct outside marriage, which sets out a series of examples of proscribed behaviour.Unfortunately she does not tell us why she thinks Deuteronomy 22 is foundational in this sense. I want to suggest that it is not. The chapter concerns property laws and family laws rather than sexual behaviour more broadly. The critical point here is that the second half of the chapter considers just penalties for sexual crimes; it does not say anything about sexual immorality which was not criminal in ancient Israel. Warner is right to stress that we need to understand the cultural background to make sense of these laws. We would need to bear in mind such factors as (a) daughters customarily given in marriage at a young age, (b) the father's responsibility for and authority over the woman until marriage, (c) the legal nature of engagement, as well as cultural considerations which also relate to biology such as (d) inequalities between men and women with regard to forced intercourse and (e) the more serious consequences of loss of virginity for women than men not least in the light of the different ways in which paternity and maternity could be established in the ancient world. All of this then relates to the custom of marriage presents given by the bridegroom and his family to the bride's family (which in the light of the complaint in Genesis 31:15 may have been held by the bride's family for the bride). The law also seems to assume the practice of polygamy as the obligation to marriage in Deuteronomy 22:28-29 is not conditional on the offender being unmarried (although Exodus 22:16-17 suggests that the bride's family can veto it).
The obvious omission is prostitution. This involves illicit sexual intercourse (carrying opprobrium throughout the Bible) which carries no legal sanctions. Why? Because a prostitute is already on the margins of society and a man's relations to wider society are not fundamentally changed by intercourse with a prostitute. This means that we cannot go to the case law for a comprehensive answer to the question what constitutes sexual immorality. The law only concerns itself with certain forms of illicit sexual activity, namely those that disrupt society or profane Israel's holiness by ruining fundamental distinctions.