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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Marry Your Local Rapist

There is a portion of the skeptics that like to claim that God requires rape victims to marry their rapist. "See," they conclude, "if God exists, He's evil!" (I cannot quite fathom why someone who believes no such being exists would wish to debate about the morality of such a being. I mean, the Chinese portray dragons as good and wise and the Europeans portray them as evil, but I'm not debating the existence of dragons based on whether or not they're either.) So, where do they get that claim?
"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 of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days." (Deut 22:28-29)
Well, now, look ... there it is, plain as day. He "seizes her" and, if caught, has to pay a dowry and marry her for life. Too bad for him. Make sure you rape a girl you wouldn't mind spending your life with. Oh, and too bad for her.

But ... is that what it says? Again, context is important. I numbered that account because there are more to consider. Prior to this command is an earlier one centered "in the open country".
"If in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor, because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her." (Deut 22:25-27)
They end differently. Why? What are the similarities and what are the differences? Well, in both we have a young woman who is "seized". In one they are "in the open country" and in the other they are not. In one he pays the father and marries her and in the other he is ... executed. Now, wait! Isn't there a logical problem here? I mean, if God requires women who are raped to marry their rapists, why is one rapist killed and the other not? Hmmm. Perhaps the accusation against God is not valid.

There is another version here to take into account.
"If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst." (Deut 22:23-24)
Keep in mind that "betrothed" was "married but not yet consummated" in those times. (It says "he violated his neighbor's wife.") This is why, when Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant before he married her, he sought to divorce her (Matt 1:19). So in version #2 we were talking about a betrothed woman, and in this version it is a betrothed woman. The penalty for consensual sex between a betrothed or married woman (Deut 22:22) and someone not her husband is death for both as version #3 states. In version #2 -- non-consensual sex between a betrothed or married woman and someone not her husband -- the penalty is death for the rapist. So in version #1 regarding a "a virgin who is not betrothed", the penalty is somehow different.

So what exonerates the woman in version #2? In the case of married/betrothed women who encounter sex apart from their spouse, it is either death for both or death for the man, depending on whether or not it was rape. In the case of the betrothed woman in open country, the male dies, but "you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death." Why? "There was no one to rescue her." Ah, now we're getting someplace. In the instance where she was not in open country, note that "they are found", but not in the other accounts. This suggests that the act was mutual, not rape. If it is rape, she would cry out and find help. Oh, and in that case, the punishment for rape is death. Since she didn't cry out (remember, they were not "in the open country"), it appears to be consensual sex. For consensual sex with a woman who is not betrothed, the penalty is marriage without possibility of divorce.

Now, some will assure you that this is intended to protect the woman. No one would marry a non-virgin. She'd be stuck without a husband. Fine. I won't disagree. But my point here is that the text does not appear to require rape in the case of the virgin, but rather consensual sex. Therefore, the accusation that God requires a rape victim to marry her rapist is false. As in Exodus 22:16, the penalty for seducing a virgin is marriage. (Note that in the Exodus version the father has the right to refuse the bride-price and to give his daughter to him.) Since Deuteronomy means "the second law" and is supposed to basically be a restating of the law from the previous version, it's pretty clear that this is the case. The sad part is that too many Christians won't think it through sufficiently to be able to demonstrate this. So I would urge, "Christians ... know thy Scripture."


Neil said...

Great post, as usual. And a great rebuttal to the "Christians" who run around the Interwebs using the distorted interpretations to attack the credibility of God's word. They obviously have been your answers but they ignore them so they can push their "Christian" Left views on those who don't read the Bible. They sit in judgment of God's word and of God himself.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Excellent commentary on a subject that should never even come up, but when dealing with atheists you have to expect nonsense.

Stan said...

Atheists or "the Christian Left" types.

Alec said...

What Neil and Glenn said.

Isn't it amazing what a little context will do?