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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Does the Bible teach that a woman has to marry her rapist?

muslimcoupleRecently I read a shocking news report out of Morocco about a 16 year-old girl who committed suicide after a judge ordered her to marry her rapist. A number of conservative bloggers and commenters jumped on the story as another example of a real "war" against women by Islamic societies. They contrasted that story with the imaginary "war" against women concocted by leftists here in the U.S. who decry the withholding of free birth control and abortions from promiscuous girls.
Though I agree with a number of these bloggers who wrote that a greater threat against girls comes from Islamic societies, those same bloggers seemed to have failed to read the comments under that news item. If they had, they would have seen atheists quoting Deuteronomy 22:28, 29 and mockingly accusing Christians and other religious conservatives of hypocrisy, because, as the atheist claims, the Christian Bible teaches the exact same thing about the fate of raped girls marrying their rapists as this Moroccan judge.
Deuteronomy 22:28, 29 states,
28 "If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out,
29 "then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days.
According to the atheists, this passage describes a young woman (read here: 16 year-old Moroccan girl), who is violently raped by a thuggish man, and rather than being punished, he is told that if he marries her all will be forgiven. The young woman has no choice in the matter. She and her family has to comply. And they can never get divorced.
As the first atheist commenter under that news article stated, “it’s why we hate religion.”
So is the atheist right? Does the Bible teach that rape victims must marry their rapist, assuming they aren't married to begin with? A modern day example would be the college freshman coed who gets date raped at a Saturday night frat party having to marry her frat boy rapist.
Some preliminary remarks before we even delve into providing a response.
First, as I noted in an article on the sex-trade and the Bible, atheists love to abuse these types of passages in the OT. They always cite them out of historical context and often times butcher the translation. Going back again to the atheist commenter under that news article, he not only got the verses wrong, he also picked a terrible translation that totally misrepresents what the passage is saying. But who says atheists like to play fair in these discussions?
At any rate, after they quote their pet verse, the atheists proclaim how Christians are ignorant of their own Bibles because they cherry-pick verses. Christians need to be consistent, argues the atheist. If they are gonna hate on gays and not allow them to be married, they need to be prepared to own slaves and not eat lobster. That of course is a dishonest, lazy way of offering objections because it doesn't seek to truly engage the position.
But secondly, and more to the point, why, according to the atheist's particular view of the world, is this law a "bad" thing? Why should we care? Why should it make them “hate religion?”
Keep in mind that atheism believes humans are merely biological, gene replicators trying their hardest to pass their genes on to the next generation in order to survive. What's with all the moral outrage over a female gene replicator being told to reproduce exclusively with an exceptionally aggressive male gene replicator? These two individuals are just a couple of highly evolved hominids. Do atheists get morally outraged with alpha male primates that "rape" young female primates and add them to the "harem" as it were?
The atheists are inserting all of this phony talk of justice, violating the wills of persons, right and wrong, etc. Under the conditions by which atheists claim the world works, they are wanting me to see some glaring inconsistency with how I as a Christian believe the world works. But aren't we all just gene replicators living out life according to our genetic program? If my genetic program insists female gene replicators should reproduce exclusively with aggressive male gene replicators, what exactly is the problem?
But moving along to reality, how exactly then do I understand this text?
Deuteronomy is outlining instructions for life within a theocratic society, a society whose purpose is to live separately from their surrounding nations and are set apart as a holy nation of people belonging to YHWH. Within that society, YHWH provides instructions on how to deal with situations that will arise among His people, that would include relationships, marriage, and sadly, sexual sin. Israel, in spite of being a distinct, "holy" nation, is a nation comprised of sinners who will at times act sinfully.
Deuteronomy 22:13 ff., addresses laws pertaining to sexual morality and regulates a variety of scenarios that would potentially surface among the people of Israel. That includes situations involving premarital promiscuity, infidelity, affairs, and rape.
If one were to read the text carefully, there is a law addressing rape found in 22:25-27. It reads,
25 "But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die.
26 "But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter.
27 "For he found her in the countryside, and the betrothed young woman cried out, but there was no one to save her.
The word "forces" describes a man who sees a woman and rapes her. The text says it is akin to a man rising against his neighbor and committing murder. In such a case the rapist is executed. Nothing happens to the girl. Those three passages clearly speak about rape and what happens to the rapist and victim.
However, 22:28-29 describes a much different situation.
The atheist will point to the word "seizes" as translated in the NKJV and other English translations and claim the word means rape. That isn't totally accurate. The word has the basic idea of "to grasp" or "seize" and doesn't necessarily mean rape in a violent sense. The context will determine that. The only modern translations that translate the word as “rape” that I could find were the NET and the TNIV, but I believe they offer a woefully bad translation that does not represent the passage. I say that for at least three reasons.
First, the idea here is a guy taking a girl who isn't "betrothed" to be married. She isn't engaged, nor has she been pledged to another man, so she is probably young, still living at home with her parents.
Next, the verse says "and they are found out" or "discovered." "To be discovered" means that the couple didn't want to be found out. The implication being that his or her family found out they had sexual relations with each other. This would mean the girl could very well had been a willing participant in the sexual sin.
Contrast that situation with the one described in the previous three verses. There it is clear a girl is raped. The fact that she cries for help indicates she was attacked. In that situation, the guy is executed. Now, in verses 28, 29, both the guy and the girl are "discovered," and rather than being executed, the guy is told to marry the girl. It would be a rather odd regulation if in one instance, the guy is executed for his attack, yet in the next, he is allowed to marry his victim. It's nonsensical, to be exact.
Third, the situation described in Deuteronomy 22:28, 29 reads almost exactly like Exodus 22:16, 17. In fact, Deuteronomy is more than likely a reiteration of these verses in Exodus,
16 "If a man entices a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall surely pay the bride-price for her to be his wife.
17 "If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the bride-price of virgins.
Here we have described for us a man who “entices,” or better, “seduces” a young girl and sleeps with her. It is not a rape at all, but is something that is quite common between teenagers even in our day. That being, a young man who sweet-talks a girl into liking him and he gets her into bed, or in the case of our modern society, in the back of his 94 Dodge van. Rather than being raped, she is willingly compliant.
When they are found out, the guy isn’t executed because he didn’t violently attack her. He is given the option to marry her along with paying fifty shekels of silver to the family for his foolish, piggish behavior.
Also notice that Exodus 22:17 gives the option for the father to refuse the marriage. In other words, he can tell the young man to take a hike and not come back. The young man is still required to pay the bride-price, or the dowry the family would have received when the daughter was engaged.
Looking over that article about this situation in Morocco, none of these biblical factors are even present. The father was “pressured” by authorities to make his daughter marry the guy. Her and her family weren’t given the choice to say no as the Bible allows.
So to say that the Bible makes a girl marry her rapist is just patently absurd.

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8 Comments:

Blogger thomas4881 said...

Phillipians 4:8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

11:00 PM, March 28, 2012  
Blogger Larry Geiger said...

Thank you. Very cogent.

12:36 PM, April 03, 2012  
Blogger Unknown said...

You cited Deuteronomy 22:25-27 and said "The word "forces" describes a man who sees a woman and rapes her."

Actually, it describes a man who sees a "betrothed" (engaged to be married) woman and rapes her. After that, what you say is accurate until you then cite Deut 28:28-29 when you say "The atheist will point to the word 'seizes' as translated in the NKJV and other English translations and claim the word means rape."

It's actually the words 'seizes' combined with, 'and lies with her' that is translated into "rape". This verse also specifically refers to a 'young woman who is a virgin [because that's important apparently] and not betrothed'. Also your translation of "and they are found out," is not a reference to being discovered in hiding as if it's a mutual secret. It is referenced that way because a woman's word meant nothing in those times and required an eye witness to the crime to be credible. Women could be considered guilty of debauchery in those days (and even today in Sharia Law, which is built upon Biblical law - as evidenced by the article you are referencing) if she could not prove such an accusation. All of these criteria must be met - virgin, not betrothed already, and caught in the act - for this particular brand of "justice" to even be implemented. So, in that event, when the man's word is discredited by said eye witness, the attacker must then be forced to marry his victim and pay 50 shekels of silver to the father, whose "honor" (his own and that of the family name) is the only thing deemed valuable in this situation. No concern or regard is made for the victim's health, mental status, or personal wishes. The fact that Exodus says something similar and happens to mention that the father may refuse the marriage only serves to emphasize one of the many inconsistencies of the bible, not to mention ignoring the will of the victim whom the father can clearly overrule should he chose, without ever addressing how impractical and insensitive this law is given the proper context I've just laid out for you. The rule is not only inconsistent, but ridiculous. For reference sake, Exodus 22:17 also says to kill witches, a ridiculous made up fairy tale of which we now know were completely fictitious and this document is treating them as a real threat. Does that invalidate it alone? Not completely, no, but it certainly makes one pause and consider the values (and sanity) of the authors. But I digress. The remainder of your article is built upon these fallacies and is therefore invalid.

Alas, I'm afraid it is your translation/interpretation that is faulty here. And while I'm at it, I might just add that I find your description of what you think, atheists think, to be quite offensive and absurd. You might try actually speaking to atheists (plural) and asking them what they think independently. I'm certain if you approach it honestly, you will find that they believe quite different things from each other as far as their 'world view' is concerned, which atheism, by the way, does not qualify.

I hope you will address these comments openly and honestly.

2:02 AM, November 05, 2012  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Thank you unknown commenter whose profile is conveniently hidden. I never cease to marvel how all atheists are experts in practically every field of Christian theology. Not only that, but also experts in the original languages of both the Old and New Testaments. Heck, I've bet you even had a few years of Aramaic.

So tell me, why should I believe your "translation" of these passages? What insight to the original languages do you have that I don't that makes you an expert in Hebrew?

BTW, I want to know your opinion about what I wrote in this paragraph,

But secondly, and more to the point, why, according to the atheist's particular view of the world, is this law a "bad" thing? Why should we care? Why should it make them “hate religion?”

Keep in mind that atheism believes humans are merely biological, gene replicators trying their hardest to pass their genes on to the next generation in order to survive. What's with all the moral outrage over a female gene replicator being told to reproduce exclusively with an exceptionally aggressive male gene replicator? These two individuals are just a couple of highly evolved hominids. Do atheists get morally outraged with alpha male primates that "rape" young female primates and add them to the "harem" as it were?


When you can demonstrate consistency between what you complain about regarding my so-called views of the Bible and women with what you are advocating with your atheistic worldview that you think is the best way to explain reality, then we can push the conversation further.

5:38 AM, November 05, 2012  
Blogger Michael Childs said...

I do not know why this is showing up as anonymous. It is, as I see it, not convenient at all because I would very much welcome the discussion. I'm trying this time to ensure that it shows up, but if it doesn't, you may call me Michael. So far, I must say your reply is far more condescending than I usually appreciate but we'll see how things go from here.

"So tell me, why should I believe your "translation" of these passages? What insight to the original languages do you have that I don't that makes you an expert in Hebrew?"

First of all, you never discuss the Hebrew texts. As it stands, nobody is an "expert in Hebrew" including you I might add, so if that's your argument to me, then you have no business discussing this either. The world knows, what, maybe 25 words of real ancient Hebrew? So I doubt either of us has the information to discuss what the Hebrews actually wrote. What we do have are the many translations and interpretations of the bible in their various textual forms. The very books we've been instructed to read, and which people have drawn their entire faith from, by theological authorities, since long before either of us was born.

5:32 PM, November 06, 2012  
Blogger Michael Childs said...

In your article, you're discussing the KJV version, which I've studied in its entirety along with the NIV, the NASB, the NLT, and the YLT versions. Not to mention years of Catholic upbringing and Bible studies throughout my time on this planet and even at one time, aspired to become a priest. So you might say I'm more than qualified to discuss on these matters. You condescendingly mock that atheists are more knowledgeable on Christian theology than Christians, a fact I've found more often than not to be true and is a major contributing factor to our atheism. It shocks me to this day how many "Christians" are completely ignorant to what the bible says and only repeat buzz words and phrases they've heard from apologists, but I digress.

The context doesn't fit with the time that you're referencing, nor does the "flow" (shall we say) of the text you're reading - and I'll explain. The historical period simply gave zero rights to women. The bible itself even says that women are not allowed to teach or preach to men. They were not allowed to be information givers because they were perceived to be without the capacity for rational thought. Also, if you follow the context of the passages prior, these are all discussing the same thing. First it's willful sex, then rape, within city limits and it switches back and forth between betrothed women and unbetrothed. Both of whom are put to death by stoning, one for cheating, the other for not yelling loud enough. Even prior in Deut 22:13-21 it lays out how the man can marry a woman, decides he hates her, and claim she was not a virgin. Then if the parents can't prove it, she's to be stoned to death on their doorstep. Again, no reference to the wishes or opinion or word of the girl. This establishes a precedent. Then it switches context into "rape" outside the city, which I explained why that term is interpolated from the text - forces/seizes + and lies with (if you still think this doesn't mean rape, you'll have to explain that to me because in your article you "conveniently" leave the 2nd part out. I'll admit that if that part was not there, your interpretation would be far more accurate, but it is and cannot be ignored). First it speaks of a woman who is merely betrothed and is raped. If he rapes her, he dies, plain and simple, but only if she's not within city limits as described prior where, again, she would be put to death for not screaming. But then immediately after, it specifies (still talking about rape) that if she is a virgin and rapes her...etc. etc. This is where you interpretation gets fuzzy because you paint it as a Romeo and Juliette kind of scenario where the two crazy teenagers sneak off in sin. But you're failing to take into account that it specifically states she's a virgin (hasn't had sex yet, let alone been sneaking around having sex with her boyfriend), not betrothed and "rapes her." But up to this point, the texts have not been talking about consensual relationships at all, but the penalties of sex in lieu of virginity and engagement. So that should make that clear.

5:33 PM, November 06, 2012  
Blogger Michael Childs said...

"BTW, I want to know your opinion about what I wrote in this paragraph,"

But secondly, and more to the point, why, according to the atheist's particular view of the world, is this law a "bad" thing? Why should we care? Why should it make them “hate religion?”


The reason this is "bad" is because these are the very laws with which Christians have chosen to govern their morality and very lives. Furthermore, the Christians advocates, zealots, proselytizers, all claim that these rules come from an all loving, all moral, etc. being. Passages like these expose the law to be anything but "moral" and therefore the being who authored it to be just as immoral. It speaks to the very inconsistency of the bible and the behavior of a being who is purported to be perfect in every way. Atheists expose these passages because it clearly shows that God is anything but perfect. And if God is not perfect, then he's not God, likely not even real, and therefore unworthy of worship. The religion that is then subsequently based on the belief of an immoral, impotent, relatively evil, and nonexistent God is therefore ridiculous. Anything ridiculous is worthy of ridicule, by definition.

"Keep in mind that atheism believes humans are merely biological, gene replicators trying their hardest to pass their genes on to the next generation in order to survive. What's with all the moral outrage over a female gene replicator being told to reproduce exclusively with an exceptionally aggressive male gene replicator? These two individuals are just a couple of highly evolved hominids. Do atheists get morally outraged with alpha male primates that "rape" young female primates and add them to the "harem" as it were?"

This speaks to exactly what I was talking about in my prior post. Atheists don't think we're "merely" anything. We are and we live and that's as much as we know. But to apply external meaning to human life, where none is evident is futility personified. Again, "atheism" (there's really no such thing) is NOT a "worldview." It's is a stance on a single question, "Do you believe that God exists?" Many atheists are Secular Humanists, which IS a worldview and I consider myself to be one. To put it into context, Buddhism is a worldview and most Buddhists are atheists also.

Morality is a word that's been ascribed to a concern for what is right and wrong. Right and wrong are authored by individuals and societal laws are made by the consensus of those individual opinions. It's completely spawned from human empathy. There was a time when the forcible taking of a woman at any males whim was perfectly acceptable. You see it in aggressive primates to this day. But part of being self aware is being aware of the thing you wouldn't wish upon yourself. Eventually, that evolves into understand that others don't wish that upon themselves either. So rape becomes a bad thing, along with thievery, slavery, murder, and so on. Developing compassion is not a theological construct, it's an evolutionary one. So today, when "alpha male primates" rape other "young female primates" logic is applied and we consider the fact that those females are someone's mother-daughter-sister-cousin and what that means to the mental and physical well being of that individual and absolutely do become "morally outraged." Why wouldn't we?

5:34 PM, November 06, 2012  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Michael,
Do me a favor.
I've moved this blog over to Wordpress at the first of Sept. I don't really visit this version any longer. Cut and paste the last three comments you made and post them in the WP version of this post here:
http://hipandthigh.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/does-the-bible-teach-that-a-woman-has-to-marry-her-rapist/

We can continue there.

8:39 PM, November 09, 2012  

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