Does the Bible Address Rape?
Some atheists and Biblical critics have held up the notion that the Bible condones rape. Across the board, TheBlaze’s entire panel of faith experts reject that the criminal act of rape is upheld in any form in the holy book.
Averick addressed Deuteronomy — the book that is most targeted by biblical critics.
“The ‘rape’ that is talked about in Dvarim (Deuteronomy), is obviously not criminal rape; it is talking about a case where a relationship between a young man and woman got out of hand,” he said. “Sexual relationships in a Torah society are strictly forbidden before marriage — dating is only for purposes of marriage in the Orthodox community.”
Averick also pointed out that in Jewish law, women cannot be forced to marry against her will. If a man does not fulfill his duties as a husband, the woman is “entitled to initiate divorce proceedings.” The “rapist,” or fornicator, is not allowed to initiate such proceedings but is obligated to fulfill spousal duties.
This requirement that a “rapist” marry the violated woman, Bock noted, was enacted in order to protect the woman whom he defiled with his sexual advances.
“His act has rendered her unacceptable as a wife for others,” he explained. “So this law was designed to indicate responsibility in the sex act for the person in a patriarchal context where women had little power and where the women if left to the event would be on her own.”
Nettelhorst acknowledged that in a modern context, the situation mentioned in Deuteronomy “sounds awful,” and it was not ideal at the time it occurred either, but the idea was to, again, protect the woman and discourage sexual immorality. By marrying her, the “rapist” was accepting the consequences of his actions, paying her father a restitution and taking on the responsibilities of a husband to provide protection and security.
Spero added that a rape victim could “opt out” of marrying her rapist if she so desired, for, “if not, men could forcibly bring to altar any single woman he desired simply by raping her.”