How could God command a rape victim to marry her rapist?

 

     Critics of the Bible often quote Exodus 22:16,17 and Deuteronomy 22:23-29 as to how unfair God is to women. They say these scriptures degrade women by treating them like property. They say the rapist gets off easy while the woman has to spend a lifetime married to this jerk. How is that fair? It always amazes me how non-bible lovers presume to know a lot about a book they claim to hate.
Let’s look at these passages a little more carefully. Also, here’s where knowing some cultural background helps a great deal. Exodus 22:16,17 says, “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. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.” Deuteronomy 22:23-29 is similar.
Remember that the people of Israel had been making bricks for 400 years (almost twice as long as America has existed as a nation).  They had lost all knowledge of how to run a nation, of farming, of building, etc. So God gave them all these laws on how to do things as a nation. These laws were given to Israel only. If you question if all of these laws should apply to us today, then read my FAQ on “Why are some Old Testament laws valid for us today but others aren’t?” Now let’s get back to these passages.

 


The rapist is hardly getting off easy. Consider the following:
1) If the woman was engaged to be married, this means her financial future was secure, the rapist was to be put to death (Deuteronomy 22:25). What a good way to discourage raping an engaged woman. By treating the rapist as a murderer. That’s a good deterrent!
2) If the woman wasn’t engaged, the rapist’s life was spared for the woman’s sake. In these ancient times, a woman who was ‘violated’ was considered unmarriageable. This meant that her financial future was very uncertain. This Mosaic law was made for the woman’s protection and, as you’ll see, was made as a deterrent to rape. The woman and her father, if he was still alive, had to make a choice of providing for her financial security. Either the rapist marry her with no possibility of divorce ever (thus ensuring her financial security) or forcing the rapist to support her financially forever by paying money to her or her father (if she never married). So even if her father wasn’t alive to help her financially, she would be provided for her entire life. The rapist would also be providing money to her if any children resulted from the rape.
So, far from being a barbaric law that treated women like property, thru this law God has provided protection and provision for the woman while punishing the man. Let’s face it, if you’re the man, would you want to rape a girl if you knew you’d have to marry her and/or provide for her financially for the rest of her life? Or that it may cost you your life? Remember this law was not designed to force the woman into an unbearable marriage but to secure her future and those of any possible children resulting from the rape.
Ultimately, then as now, there is no ‘good’ solution for a woman who has been raped. But at least this way provides for her financially and serves as a strong deterrent for the man.

 

For His Kingdom,
Dave Maynard
http://BSSSB-LLC.com