God Did Not Condone Rape In The Old Testament: Unbelievers Take Verses Out of Context

Posted: November 20, 2010 in Christian World News, Uncategorized
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First of all, in some passages God seems to tacitly sanction rape. In the Old Testament Moses encourages his men to use captured virgins for their own sexual pleasure, i.e. to rape them. After urging his men to kill the male captives and female captive who are not virgins he says: “But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves” (Numbers 31: 18). God then explicitly rewards Moses by urging him to distribute the spoils. He does not rebuke Moses or his men (Numbers 31: 25-27).

Second, when rape is condemned in the Old Testament the woman’s rights and her psychological welfare are ignored. For example: “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father fifty skelels of silver, and she shall be his wife, and he may not put her away all of his days” (Deuteronomy 22; 28-29). Here the victim of rape is as treated the property of the father. Since the rapist has despoiled the father’s property he must pay a bridal fee. The women apparently has no say in the matter and is forced to marry the person who raped her. Notice also if they are not discovered, no negative judgment is forthcoming. The implicit message seems to be that if you rape an unbetrothed virgin, be sure not to get caught.

In the case of the rape of a betrothed virgin in a city, the Bible says that both the rapist and victim should be stoned to death: the rapist because he violated his neighbor’s wife and the victim because she did not cry for help (Deuteronomy 22:23-25). Again the assumption is that the rapist dispoiled the property of another man and so must pay with this life. Concern for the welfare of the victim does not seem to matter. Moreover, it is assumed that in all cases that a rape victim could cry for help and if she did, she would be heard and rescued. Both of these assumptions are very dubious and sensitive to the contextual aspects of rape.

On the other hand, according to the Bible, the situation is completely different if the rape occurs in “open country.” Here the rapist should be killed, not the victim. The reason given is that if a woman cried for help in open country, she would not be heard. Consequently, she could not be blamed for allowing the rape to occur. No mention is made about the psychological harm to victim. No condemnation is made of a rapist in open country, let alone in a city, who does not get caught.
Answer: In these paragraphs there appears to be a series of complex questions which, in reality, really involve a mistaken understanding and misinterpretation of God’s Word. First, it is incorrect to interpret a sanctioning of rape by God (tacitly or otherwise) being that it is unfounded in light of His character and Laws. The verses cited as examples are not properly interpreted and therefore cannot be used as an argument for such. Let’s look at the first reference used: Numbers 31:18. The context of this particular Scripture involves the distribution of captives of war. In study of the battles that were taking place during this time, God had often required the total extermination of all. In this instance, God allowed the taking of women and children unto themselves. It has nothing to do with rape.

The custom would be for the conquering armies to take the defeated people as slaves unto themselves. Those women who were virgins and children would be the desired ones to keep. Keeping in mind that these wars during the conquest of Canaan were wars of extermination, it was an act of GRACE to allow these heathen people to remain alive, even as slaves…

Therefore it would not be an act requiring rebuke or condemnation by God. In the other examples cited regarding the rights and welfare of the woman, we must keep in mind the context of what is being recorded, as well as the Eastern custom concerning men and women. A thought foreign to Western custom is the rights and power of the man as head of his house. In America a man can ask a woman to be his bride, and if she consents, they can proceed with their plans. It is only out of courtesy that a gentleman asks the father of the bride for the hand of his daughter in marriage.

In the East, the daughter belongs to the father and cannot be taken at will by any Romeo who comes along and finds her attractive. To this day there is a dowry required of the man desiring a young lady to be his wife in many countries of the world.

The discovery of a couple who had engaged in sexual relations outside of the institution of marriage carried stiff penalties. It could mean the death of one or both of the parties involved. (Study further the consequences of fornication and adultery.) When this act was a forced act, in the case of rape, then God gave specific instruction as to the way He wanted Moses to deal with it.
The victim of rape is always left with the shame and psychological repercussions of such a wicked act. Only God can take one who has been so violated and restore them. His grace is sufficient for anything we face. However, in Scripture, if the woman cried out for help, she would be released from any other penalty. The man who forced her would be destroyed (Deuteronomy 22:25), but the woman would be allowed to go free. The woman who did not cry out would be as guilty as the man for the fact that it appears she was a willing accomplice, and therefore not a victim. Concerning whether a couple has been caught or not, we know that ALL sin will one day be judged by a Holy God who sees all! No one will get away with hidden sin.
There are many more verses which can be taken out of context on any number of other topics to be used as an excuse by unsaved individuals for not accepting God’s free gift of salvation or surrendering to Him as Lord. As believers we cannot be distracted by such, nor should we allow this to be a hindrance in our effort to always bring them back to the important issue…. “Except a man be born again, he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” John 3:3.

  1. dthwraith says:

    This truly was a amazing read. I just love it when I learn something new!!

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