Does The Bible Command A Rape Victim To Marry Their Rapist?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Does the Bible actually command a rape victim to marry their rapist? Is this what the Bible teaches?

The Commandments

God gave us the Ten Commandments, not to take away from the pleasures of life, but to give us the very best of life. It’s not so much, “Don’t do this and don’t do that” as it is, “Don’t do this and hurt yourself.” The Commandments are like guardrails; they show us where the danger is and keep us on a steady course forward. You can also see them like a speed limit sign. You obey the speed limit, you will be blessed, but if you break it, you’ll get a ticket and your insurance rates will go up. In other words, it will cost you, so it’s in the person’s best interest to keep the laws of God. It’s not in order to be saved (Eph 2:8-9), but to be saved from harm. God never commands something that is not good for us. He is a good God. All He does is good and He can even use evil for good (Gen 50:20; Acts 3:16), so God intends these for our good, but what of the other laws in the Old Testament? Are these still relevant today? What about the laws that some say are really “hard ones” to understand? Is it that they’re not being fully understood or are they more severe than we’re comfortable with?

Does The Bible Command A Rape Victim To Marry Their Rapist

Antagonizing Questions

When skeptics come up to you and say that the Bible contradicts itself, you could ask them to be more specific, like name the chapter and verse. If they do, you may not immediately know the answer to what seems like a paradox, but we know that the Bible never contradicts itself. Let’s understand that fact from the very beginning. If there seems to be a contradiction, it is we who don’t understand. God’s Word is never wrong, so we must be! There are a few examples of apparent contradictions in the Bible, but most of these can easily be explained with proper study, reading the context, and looking at the setting and audience. One example that skeptics or outright professing atheists use is the so-called command where the rape victim is commanded to marry their rapist. Is this true? Where is this alleged law to be found?

Deuteronomy 22:28-29

The passage that most use to declare that the Bible teaches that a rape victim must marry her rapist is found in Deuteronomy 22:28-29, which says “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.” On the surface, it may appear that the woman has no choice but to marry her rapist, but the problem was that this man should have requested the hand of the woman from her father because he has the authority over his daughter. This man who “seizes” a woman who was not betrothed or engaged to be married is not like what we find in Deuteronomy 22:25-27. In this case, the man who lay with the betrothed woman must die…but the woman is blameless and doesn’t have to marry the man because the man broke the law. The woman was innocent, but in the latter case of the man who seized the un-betrothed woman, the man’s only crime was to not consult with the woman’s father first. Moses expands on this same commandment elsewhere by writing, “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride price for her and make her his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride price for virgins” (Ex 22:16-17). In both cases, the man must pay; either with money or by marrying the woman he seized and never divorcing her, but in the end, the father has the final say…not the man or the woman.

No Such Command

You can look anywhere you want in the Bible and you won’t find one single command or example where the rape victim was forced to marry the rapist against their own will. You just won’t find it and it’s certainly not taught in the Bible. These types of anti-Christian “urban legends” are not honest attacks on the Christian faith. They are simply taking text out of context and creating a false pretext. They have no desire to really know God, and in most cases, they only want to tear down the authenticity of the Bible. That, they will never do! His Word abides forever and cannot be changed or muted by mankind. The more Bible believers obey the law, the more they are persecuted and the more they are persecuted, the more the church spreads. God has always used these types of attacks to spread the gospel to others. We would do well to have our speech salted with saltiness, and enhance the reality of Jesus Christ living in us. This joy can act as a magnet to draw men and women to find out more, and this may even open the door for God to use you as a means to save some, which, by the way, is also a command, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20).

Conclusion

Don’t be discouraged if you are attacked for your faith but be encouraged because they persecuted Jesus and they will also persecute you. They’ll try to tear down the Bible as being written by men but be like an ant trying to put out the sun. It’s interesting that all of these educated men say you can’t trust the Bible because it was written by men, when they themselves were educated by the writings of men. It really doesn’t matter. We know that every Word of God is inspired (2nd Tim 3:16). That means we can trust His Word as much as we trust Christ with our eternal souls. We can’t trust what men might say or what others may think. We know that God cannot lie, but man; every one of us are liars (Num 23:19; Heb 6:18)!

Read more here: What Does the Bible Say About Rape?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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