Marital Rape, Virgin Rape, And Marital Consent


(Devon ) #1

Need help here with this one. I Am in a disscussion with some one and they are asking where in the Old Testament Only, is Marital Rape and Virgin Rape Condemmed. And Also where in The Old Testament did Women have a say or have consent in Who to Marry, and Marriage?

Thank you all so Much!


(SeanO) #2

@Dev Here is an article that explains Deut 22:23-29 and how these laws protect victims of assault. I also thought the author did a great job of pointing out that we can tell by how families reacted when a relative was raped that no one took this crime lightly.

I also think it is important to keep in mind that in ancient cultures rules served relationships and these laws were given in a specific context. If the scenario were different than the one for which the laws were originally intended, the elders and priests, with God’s guidance, had freedom to make a wise and just decision in each individual case. The laws were not like a set of rules or computer program in which there are no alternate options - it was expected that wisdom and discernment would be exercised in passing judgment.

The Bible is not silent about rape. The accounts of sexual assault against women are heartbreaking, even gruesome. But they are not brushed under a rug or hushed up. In fact, of the three accounts describing a woman who was sexually assaulted, each of them precipitated civil war. When Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, was violated by the son of a neighboring ruler, Shechem, her brothers murdered him, his father, and the all of the men of his city in revenge (Gen. 34). After the Unnamed Concubine was gang-raped and left for dead by men in the tribe of Benjamin, the other tribes went to war against them upon hearing of her injustice (Jgs. 19-21). And after Tamar was raped by her half-brother, Amnon, her brother Absalom killed him, and incited a rebellion against his father, King David (2 Sam. 13). Rape was neither covered up nor ignored. Instead, it was answered and avenged. It was such a cultural convulsion that it was answered with outrage and further violence. The cases of rape in Scripture tell us something about the cases of rape we are hearing today: These women must be heard and they must be protected.

Choice in Marriage

While the society was undoubtedly patriarchal and there would have been expectations regarding who to marry, it does seem that the women were consulted and some level of common sense applied. We see this in the story about Isaac and his wife Rebekah. Rebekah was asked if she would go with the servant. I am not aware of this being merely a formality - it appears she was genuinely asked.

Genesis 24:57-58 - Then they said, “Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.” 58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?”

“I will go,” she said.


(Devon ) #3

A Helpful answer but, here’s this persons Argument.

There is no place in the Bible (OT really) where God Condems Marital Rape, and Where God Gives Woman A Say in whom They Marry. Specifically Female War Captives. Therefore, God is either immoral or not all knowing. But Cause He allowed Woman (specifically Orphaned War Victims) to be forced into a marriage that they didn’t want to be in, which would result in forced sex, so Rape. And Seeing how People,in the Future would Be skeptical of this, He either didn’t know that people would be skeptical, or He didn’t mind Rape in that Case. Therefore making Him either Immoral or not All-Knowing, and Therefore Flawed.

I don’t really know how to answer this, any Help would be greatly Appreciated. Thank you All and God Bless!

P.S. I wanted to add that the Heart of the Question seems to be “Is there anything in the Old Testament that says that it’s wrong to force anyone to do anything against their will?”


(Andrew Bulin) #4

Can we also make the argument that nowhere does God make the case that this is the way He intended life to be? I would hate to misunderstand the sinful failings of man after the fall (Gen 3) to be equivalent to God’s condoning of injustice. The Old Testament is replete with examples of what not to do. That’s basically the entire book of Judges!

The creation story is the perfect example of what relationships were suppose to look like. Perhaps the argument is based on a false assumption that God designed things this broken way?


(SeanO) #5

@Dev I think there are two lines of thought that help in response to this argument:

I think we can start by acknowledging that the New Testament says the law was not perfect. The law permitted divorce because of the hardness of men’s hearts (Matt 19:8) and not because it was the ideal. The law was a tutor - a temporary reality to foreshadow Christ.

John 1:17 - For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

God is actually more of a realist than we are - He met people where they were at culturally rather than trying to force the ideal on them when He knew they could not keep it. Like any wise leader, God was steering the Israelites and the world in a direction which would allow Christ to be understood. God was preparing the world for Jesus. God was preparing the way for the ideal with something temporary that was non-ideal.

Line 1 - This Argument is Rooted in Modern Western Culture

We in the West value autonomy above all else - the freedom to choose as we wish. In ancient culture marriage was at times arranged and your role in society was more important than freedom to choose. So the fact that a woman did not necessarily get to choose who to marry would not be seen as rape. The cultural context was different.

God was working in a particular culture to redeem those within it, so God did not make a mistake or lack knowledge of our modern views. God knew full well that a modern person might be offended by ancient culture. Even today people from one culture must be careful not to offend people from another culture. Ignorance of ancient culture is not a shortcoming on God’s part, but a lack of willingness to study and understand how God was working in that time and place on the part of the critic.

God is the ultimate missionary. When he spoke to a middle eastern people from two thousand years ago he used ideas and language familiar to them to reach them. That is why we modern Westerners have to study that cultural context before judging how God chose to work within that culture.

Line 2 - God Was Working Within Ancient Culture

Here are some thoughts on how God may have been working within ancient culture:

  • God was moving the existing culture in a redemptive direction - what we see is not the ideal but movement towards the ideal
  • an ancient Israelite would not have understood this as rape. There were other cultures that literally raped women they took captive without their consent and without marrying them. In this case, the women were given 1 month to mourn and then the men had the option to marry them. Marriage is not the same thing as rape
  • this arrangement would have been beneficial to the woman, who needed protection

Dt 21:10-11: Were female slaves raped?

The law explicitly condemned all of the following:

Therefore any forced intercourse would have been against both the letter and the spirit of the law.

https://www.rationalchristianity.net/slavery_ot.html


(Alex Barber) #6

Hi @Dev

I think it’s also fair to point out that the argument being raised is essentially an argument from silence.

“Since this isn’t specifically condemned, it’s approved.”

This is a fallacious reasoning and it might make sense to lovingly, patiently address that fact, in tandem with some of the other points that have already been raised (cultural differences etc, points of the law that protected victims etc.)

As a really brief example of what I mean, consider:

The Bible doesn’t explicitly comment on whether I am allowed to purchase clothes that cost less, but may have been made in a sweatshop that exploits child labour. I can say, “well because the Bible doesn’t ban it, then it’s okay,” but I can just easily say, “because the Bible doesn’t affirm it, it’s not okay.”

All I’m saying is that the Bible doesn’t comment on everything overtly, but that doesn’t mean that it’s silent about the foundations of those topics and that answers can’t be found.

Interpreting silence as a stance on an issue should tell you more about the person interpreting the silence than about the one who is silent.

Hope that’s helpful :slight_smile: