Christians support rapists…REALLY???

a enjoy

~ At coffee yesterday I ran into a Christian friend of mine, he hasn’t been very happy with me over an article I wrote more than a year ago in which I was critical of Evangelical Christianity; specifically it was something I wrote about it being wrong to force raped women to marry their rapist, something the bible condones (see Deuteronomy 22:28-29 & Exodus 22:16-17).

Kenneth, you keep taking bible verses out of context. The bible doesn’t advocate men raping women; by forcing the woman who was raped to marry her rapist, it is a judgment against the guy because he is forced to care for her the rest of her life”  he said

If you are scratching your head right now don’t blame yourself. The logic that Evangelical Christians use to defend the inerrancy of the bible can leave you a bit mystified at times. How any sensible person could ever think it is a good thing to force a raped woman to marry her rapist seems even absurd to discuss.

Let’s look at some comments from Christians the last time I wrote on this subject;

StevePage writes,

“The truth is the rapist wasn’t off the hook. In the day the rapist was forced to care for the woman and her offspring for the rest of his or her life. Today the rapist gets a couple of years in jail and no further responsibility. Society is left to pick up the tab and the pieces. In many ways I can see that the Old Testament way was a better deterrent and perhaps better punishment. A life sentence rather than a three year sentence”

April K writes;

“1. Back in OT times, a woman’s respectability was tied up in her ability to marry, have children, and keep a household. Women who couldn’t prove their virginity were pretty much doomed to remain forever in their father’s house. So by forcing rapists to marry their victims (not the other way around), these women had a chance to reclaim their lost honor. The rapist, in turn, was forced to accept responsibility for his actions by providing food, shelter, and children for his victim for the rest of his life. He was not ever allowed to divorce the woman. And that’s only if she were not betrothed to someone else when he raped her. In that case, he *did* pay with his life”

Those are well written responses, but I must take umbrage with what these two bloggers are saying. While they can say that the rapist is being penalized, its simply not true; the rapist is getting exactly what he wants!

Take for instance the lonely 21 year old dude from Santa Barbara, California, who last year went on a killing spree after writing a 141 page manifesto <article>, the dude couldn’t get any of the attractive women he had his eye on to go out on a date with him, so his answer was to murder 7 people and shoot a dozen more.

Imagine if that dude was living in biblical times. Under biblical laws the answer to his predicament was simple; he could choose the hottest chick in the village, lie in wait for her when nobody is looking, pull her into the bushes and rape her against her will. Then, by biblical law she would be forced to marry him; problem solved.

But the problem is not solved for the innocent woman who was raped against her will; she is now forced to be married to her rapist for the rest of her life, and the dude who rapes her gets exactly what he wants; he gets to have her naked in his bed every night for the rest of her life till she dies!

What we are really discussing here is whether the God of the universe, the Omnipotent Creator of all things spoke down from heaven an inerrant word to Moses about this issue of women being raped. THAT is what we were are discussing, because THAT is what Evangelical Christians believe.

Evangelicals believe that God was so concerned with raped women, that in his infinite wisdom he believed it necessary to add a provision to his law that women who were raped would be cared for… the rapist.

The reality of the situation is that the laws of the Old Testament (in this instance) sound less like some Divine Oracle spoken down from heaven, and more like a bunch of laws that a male dominated society put together.

If Christians didn’t insist that the God of the Universe spake these Old Testament laws into existence, then there wouldn’t be anything to argue. After all, if we simply agreed that not all of these laws were good, that some of these laws were created by fallible men thousands of years ago, then the issue could be over.

But Evangelical Christians take things a step farther; they insist that every law spoke via Moses came down from heaven, and was authored by God the Creator, and that these laws are inerrant and perfect in every way (at least they were at the time).

That is a heavy pill to swallow, and if you had a difficult time drinking that, join me tomorrow and we will discuss the damnable practice of selling your daughter in sex slavery, another practice supported by biblical law.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,


Categories: Culture & Society

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34 replies

  1. Thank You for speaking up !

  2. reading between the lines requires a few reads, and as you point out, it;’s convenient to adapt a literal interpretation and to ignore what really is being said, as spoken by Jesus, it’s love, nothing else, amen

  3. I think it is quite hard even to imagine what life was centuries, milleniums ago. No free will for anything, majority of people without the chance even to leave their village-town. Wars always bring something what western culture like pretending to forget: raping, taking lives and properties…
    On the other hand, tha point is really there: What is God, our Heavenly Father’s true nature like? Even in this fallen world, every parent wants to protect the innocence of his/her children, in every aspects. So, probably it is not that God, our Heavenly Father has ever wanted anything to happen with rape.
    Purity, keeping God’s bloodlineage was the most important task, what humanity basically failed to do so.
    To inherit the heart of Jesus and God, well, that is something we -and any evangalical person- should do.
    And the heart of God, our Heavenly Father is an absolute value, something we barely can fathom.

  4. And you see there is where me and evangelists par ways too. In older religions which also use the bible, a Rapist was castrated into worst way publicly, I don’t know if he was then forced to support his victim but that would have made sense. Isn’t there even a commandment about coveting a woman that’s not yours being punishable by death? These are all in the bible folks, that evangelistic logic is flawed. Or I’m more of a barbarian that I thought.

  5. Rape is disrespect to women. From the Old Testament, God disagree in rape.

  6. The only laws God directly gave to Moses were the 10 Commandments. Nowhere in there does it condone marrying your own rapist. All other laws were conceived by the leaders of the time. That would be like saying that all of our laws are from God when clearly they are not. They were created by a government.

    • Julie, I appreciate your comment a lot. Unfortunately the great majority of Evangelical Christians, Roman Catholics, and other notable Christian sects teach and believe that God gave directly all of the laws listed in the Mosaic law.

  7. I’m afraid I must take exception to a bit of what you write here. To suggest that the 21 year old dude who murdered 7 and shot 12 was somehow motivated by his lack of success with women is to grossly under-simplify the psychological dynamics involved. It reduces the entire episode to a bit of ‘dumbing-down’ for the sake of ‘clarity’ and ‘communication’.
    “Let him just lie in wait, and rape the object of his affection. Problem solved.”
    Problem solved…?
    But it seems that’s exactly what the evangelicals have done. By claiming all the bible is the unfailing word of God, they can manage to avoid those pesky bits that keep rearing their ugly heads, like the instance you quote; or the fact that Paul said it’s a sin to keep your head covered before God… if you’re male. But if you’re female, it’s a sin to NOT cover your head. And yet we as a culture have entirely ignored this rule.
    What about all those Gospels not included in the canon?
    What about all the other traditions which take the God of Israel as the one true God, but do not accept the evangelical viewpoint?
    Where is the unfailing word of God now?
    Dietary laws were put into place for a very good reason, in the OT. Eating certain things would kill you, if not prepared properly. Nowadays, it’s not as necessary to have those laws. Yet no one seems to find fault with them, as they do for their own personal issues…
    To resort to the very same tactics you bemoan – to a lowering of the discussion to a lowest common denominator in order to prove a point – is perhaps not the best way in which to point out a shortcoming, to those who do not see it.

    Please forgive my two cents…
    I do not feel that you are necessarily wrong in what you say.
    I just have a problem with how you got there…

    • … and the title is completely misleading… at least, to my reading it is…

    • Well, the opening line of the dude’s manifesto reads “All of my suffering on this world has been at the hands of humanity, particularly women“, and he goes on from there to discuss his animosity towards women. My parallel example with the biblical text, is that if Old Testament laws were in effect today, the kid could have gotten any single woman he wanted by merely raping her. Thus stands my point, that such a law is absurd; a rapist should NOT have the right to marry the woman he rapes, it is inhumane

  8. Perhaps if you reproduced the verses, it would be helpful:

    Deuteronomy 22:28-29 New International Version (NIV)
    28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[a] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

    Exodus 22:16-17 New International Version (NIV)
    16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. 17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.

    There is nothing in these verses requiring a women to marry her rapist or as you put it “he gets to have her naked in his bed every night for the rest of her life till she dies!” (Both verses are directed to obligations of the rapist.) Rather, the Exodus language expressly provided that there need not be a marriage.

  9. What the commenters were missing was that the point of this early Iron Age legal code was to bring restitution to the “true victim” of the crime. Namely, the father of the virgin. By raping and sullying his daughter, the rapist is cheating the father out of his rightful dowry so the rapist has to marry the virgin (paying the dowry in the process) to make monetary restitution. In the same way a thief has to return the monetary value of a stolen good. If one views marriage as a simple business transaction between men then this law makes perfect sense. Of course today we have a radically different conception of marriage and of the basic human rights of women. Conceptions born in the cradle of Christendom, but I digress. The trouble comes when we look at these legal codes from as immutable laws for all time rather than snapshots from the early stages of our ever evolving relationship with and our ever changing understanding of this mysterious reality we call God.

  10. I didn’t say that the OT arrangement wasn’t problematic or that we should do it today; I was pointing out that cultural norms and views of things like property and justice were vastly different back then. I don’t think this practice was spoken by the mouth of God as a command to be followed for all time; rather, I think it was developed by the Israelites based on their early understanding of God. We’ve had some time to grow, which is why we now put rapists in prison – at least, some of them anyway.

    Also, please remember that rape is not about attraction; rarely is it even about pleasure. Rape is about entitlement – taking what isn’t yours. Rapists don’t rape because they want to spend their lives with a woman; they rape for the rush of power and control. Forcing them to make life-long restitution to their victims is, in my mind, the ultimate stick in their craw. I don’t think this should be accomplished through marriage, but that was the only way it was conceivably done 3,000 years ago.

  11. all this stuff depends upon how many dimensions a person lives on . . .

    two dimension gets a “damn right the bible says it and so it is” . . .

    three dimension brings logic into the question and the declaration becomes an argument adinfanausim till the rapture comes . . .

    fourth dimension says. ‘What? are you people crazy? What does your intuition tell you?

  12. Evangelical Christians, if they believe this – are just plum off their rockers! more fanatics being lead down the road by very misguided leaders and that’s being kind.

  13. God gave 10 commandments to Moses, right? So how the heck did the Jews come up with the other 600+? I’m with you K. I think men were trying to do just what they thought should be done.
    Haven’t modern day Christians come up with a ton of not-from-God laws too? I think so.

  14. Good questions that need answering. But we have to be careful that we don’t judge a totally different time and culture, or worse, say that because of this, the Old Testament is not the word of God. That would be a very superficial treatment.

    God is not a misogynist nor is He condoning rape at all. One the problems we have about the OT Law is that much of it did not express God’s heart but was dealing with man where they were at the time, based on how they could understand God. For instance, God never wanted their animal sacrifices. He says this over and over. What He wanted was their heart, yet this is the only way they understood worship in the barbaric and idolatrous culture they came from. God was basically dealing with them by religious standards that they could understand. Women and children were treated like cattle in the world they lived in at the time. Some of His Laws (eye for an eye) were actually instituted to limit the punishment. They were never to condone revenge.

    We see God, throughout Scripture, progressively relating to man at a higher cultural level. For instance, while hating your enemy was appropriate, according to the Law, Jesus said it no longer was appropriate in His day. He told us to love our enemies, not to judge or retaliate. He raised the status of women up to the standard that God always had in view. Women were an important part of Jesus’ ministry and many were leaders in the earliest local churches. The Scripture reveals Jesus as the exact expression of God and His nature, not the OT Law. As Paul stated, the Law was only added to reveal our true nature. What was appropriate in primitive and barbaric times is not appropriate now. We can only see God’s true intent through Jesus.

  15. The thing the got me with this article is also well illustrated in Bob’s response. The female is a commodity in all of these laws.

    1. In the Exodus version the owner, er, father, who has been a kept his daughter chaste doesn’t loose the value of his virgin daughter even though she is spoiled.

    2. In the Deuteronomy version, again he gets his 50 shekals and he doesn’t have to pay for her upkeep for the rest of her life.

    Where is the justice for the woman? Does eye for an eye (or genital for genital) not apply here, or is the fact that the women is property or a commodity nullify the need for justice from her perspective? She is the equivalent of a cow or a lamb.

    Standing behind God as the author of these texts and then trying to waive the hand of mystery to dispel the blatant misogyny seems rather shallow. Centuries if not millennia of Biblical scholarship fly in the face of these 19th Century American fundamentalist interpretations of scripture. The Catholic view of inerrancy is a little more subtle than this. There is something beautiful carried in the text of the Bible. Don’t spoil it by ignoring the fact that these texts were written by men, changed by men over time to suit needs of the times and the people, and are subject to the flaws of men, however divinely inspired.

  16. Growing up in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church I don’t think I was ever told that the Bible was inerrant. Historical context was often used to as a hermetical method, as well as the Christo-Centric hermeneutic (to use Jesus as our ultimate guideline). Each of the books of the Bible were considered to have been inspired, but still human, with human error. For example, Matthew, Mark and Luke disagree on subtle details of the life of Christ. Scripture was only held up as one source of information about God, reason, experience, and tradition were also given partial authority.

    Regarding rape, I think one of the best responses to it that I’ve seen was from two friends. Only a short time after they got married she was raped, the perpetrator was never caught. She got pregnant from the rape, but they decided to keep the child and raise it as their own, they didn’t hold the rape against the child. This is a very brave thing they did. They took responsibility for the tragic situation even though it would be painful, and that little girl has a loving mother and father. She is such a part of their life now you would never know the pain her parents endured for her – but they really are beautiful loving people.

    I think it is a beautiful thing when we can endure some suffering for the sake of others, to face it with character. Jesus even says that one of the greatest marks of love is to, “lay down one’s life for a friend”. But often I’m told that this is too soft on rapists and abusers, that it encourages people to stay in abusive situations out of “love and forgiveness” for abusers. When Jesus says “love your enemies” does he really mean we should love the person who raped us or killed people in our family? It seems like a similar problem to what you have posted here.

    We have this idea that people should “pay”. Forgiveness doesn’t seem to work in our contemporary consumerist framework, and our legal framework of “liability”. Do we really let thieves go scot-free? (as in Luke 6:30 “from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back”.) This is said along with “turn the other cheek”. Jesus doesn’t seem to believe in “Punitive Justice” like we have in our society today, and I don’t think most people would agree with him on this issue. Most people (I’ve talked to) think that this would cause society to collapse, which is what Aristotle thought.

    I think this demonstrates that we live in a very Greek/Latin culture, that thinks Jesus is this quaint idea. Jesus is beautiful and nice, but too idyllic to build a modern society on. – So maybe our problem is that we’ve idolized the modern?

  17. Que en el mundo? That is madness, and I’m really happy you’re bringing this up. Keep on keeping on Kenneth – you’re an inspiration : )

  18. In those days women and men thought that raping a virgin and then abandoning her was even worse than raping her in the first place. So on this basis Moses left out the question of whether the woman consented or not and required the man to marry her (without divorce) in either case. (It doesn’t say she has to marry him.)

    Our circumstances and assumptions are so different today that the law would be pointless; and I have never heard of anyone that’s suggested re-introducing it. Evangelical Christians do still agree that men and women should only sleep together as part of a marriage covenant.

    Evangelical Christians do believe that Moses’ laws were inspired by God but this does not mean we think that they were perfect in every way. This is a common theme in the New Testament. For example, Jesus himself pointed out that Moses only allowed Jewish men to divorce their wives because he knew that their hearts were hard. So Moses’ law was a step forward, but far from God’s ideal.

  19. The pharisees tested Jesus by questioning him about these laws. John 8.

  20. Brilliant response to an insane logic! Life would be so much better without religion in it. It brings more misery than joy!

  21. Kenneth, I see your struggle, and I thank you for being honest as you wrestle with these difficult biblical words. I think it is possible to have a middle way. I think that the provision that raped women were provided for was the point of the law you speak of here. And I believe that God grieves any harm that plagued the raped woman as a result of continued contact with her rapist. I believe that a historical reading Can be held to be true and God-breathed, with an understanding that God uses what we have available at the time. Like the story of the loaves and fishes, there was very little available at the time, to meet the needs for the victims of rape… but God entered that culture, with all of its folly and limitations to make something out of nothing… to provide where there was a need. In our present culture, we have evolved to have many more resources available for rape victims, and therefore, I think if God were writing his law, or suggesting how to deal with the consequences of rape here and now, he would include those alternative resources, and would tell us to do something different.

  22. “Imagine if that dude was living in biblical times. Under biblical laws the answer to his predicament was simple; he could choose the hottest chick in the village, lie in wait for her when nobody is looking, pull her into the bushes and rape her against her will. Then, by biblical law she would be forced to marry him; problem solved.

    But the problem is not solved for the innocent woman who was raped against her will; she is now forced to be married to her rapist for the rest of her life, and the dude who rapes her gets exactly what he wants; he gets to have her naked in his bed every night for the rest of her life till she dies!

    What we are really discussing here is whether the God of the universe, the Omnipotent Creator of all things spoke down from heaven an inerrant word to Moses about this issue of women being raped. THAT is what we were are discussing, because THAT is what Evangelical Christians believe.”

    Exactly Kenneth. You are honest enough to admit this. This causes a major dilemma. Either there is something “errant” about this or in the worst case, it is true and God supports rape marriage.

    Seems to me that admitting errancy of the bible would be the first thing, but questioning the truth of the bible is a big no-no in all the Christian groups I have been a part of.

  23. It’s unfair to judge the Bible according to its modern day application. For one, the laws of the Bible were written for both a society that is very much different from ours, as well as for people who are very different from us. So while today, someone might use this rule to lie in wait and rape the girl of his dreams because then she will be forced to marry him, this might not have been something to cross the mind of someone 2,000 years ago. Also, it is unfair to take one part of the Bible out of context from the rest of its contents. For example the Bible does discuss the return of Christ and how all the rules will be made anew. I think the fact that the rules in the Bible make no sense in modern day society makes it logical that Christ either has or will be returning to ‘update’ us.

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