Rape in the Old Testament

How does the Catholic Church respond to the passages of the Bible that seem to condone, or make exceptions for, rape?

I don’t know enough about the Old Testament to say I have a good grasp of this, but it is very troubling on the surface.

openbible.info/topics/rape

I just read through those, and I didn’t see a single one of them condoning rape…

In fact, the few that do have to do with rape, says the offending party should be put to death. Perhaps you could elaborate?

… Aside from Zechariah,and that’s speaking of what the people invading Jerusalem would do to the Jews.

Sure.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29

“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."

This seems to say that a man can rape a woman, but he has to marry her and pay the father afterwards. Hardly a condemnation.

Deuteronomy 22:23-24

“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.

This quote seems to suggest a woman should be stoned to death for not “calling out for help” when in a city and being raped, suggesting that if she doesn’t call for help, she must not have been truly raped.

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 ESV

“When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her."

This quote seems to suggest women can be made slaves as spoils of war, regardless of whether they want to be married or not.

Deuteronomy 20:10-14

“When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it. And if it responds to you peaceably and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labor for you and shall serve you. But if it makes no peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. And when the Lord your God gives it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword, but the women and the little ones, the livestock, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as plunder for yourselves. And you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the Lord your God has given you."

This one also says plainly that women can be taken as spoils of war, against their will.

The law sentences rapists to death or punishes them in some other way. Deuteronomy 21:10-14 describes the capture and forced marriage of the enemy’s women. The coercion to marry was in accordance with the hard morality of the time (think of the rape of the Sabine women for example).

Well, first off, Deuteronomy is conveying the system of laws that were in place. That they were included in the Bible is neither a mark of approval or condemnation. As to this passage, This is not condoning the act; this is stating what would come about as a punishment for it. He forcibly took her virginity, and as such must care for her for the remainder of his life.

Deuteronomy 22:23-24

“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.

This quote seems to suggest a woman should be stoned to death for not “calling out for help” when in a city and being raped, suggesting that if she doesn’t call for help, she must not have been truly raped.

This one doesn’t actually deal with rape, at least not in my reading. It has to do with premarital sex. The “does not call” out implies that she was a willing participant.

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 ESV

“When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her."

This quote seems to suggest women can be made slaves as spoils of war, regardless of whether they want to be married or not.

Again, laws of the society, neither condemned nor approved. This one also does not strictly speak of rape, though in our society it would likely be considered rape, and likely so. During the time this was written, however, when a woman was taken as a spoil of war, they generally could only look forward to rape and slavery. This is actually presenting them with a superior arrangement. If a captor fancies a woman from the conquered city they can take them as their wife. They are then obligated to give them a mourning period during which you cannot approach them or seek relations with them. If you chose to divorce her (also allowed at the time) you were forbidden from selling her into slavery or treating her as a personal slave, and she essentially became a free woman, able to marry again. So, while not a perfect arrangement, it was definitely better than being sold into slavery and actually forcibly raped.

Again, laws of the time, neither condemned nor approved of morally. This passage is actually also forbidding you from killing the woman and children, and makes no mention of rape.

I don’t find either of these responses to be very satisfying. You both seem to justifying the passages. Who cares if that was the secular law at the time, why would God allow it in His book? That makes no sense at all.

And to say that women getting raped, or forced to marry against their will which really amounts to rape, is somehow ok because it’s better than being killed and that was the norm is INCREDIBLY offensive. There has to be a better explanation that that.

umm… I’m sorry?

You both seem to justifying the passages. Who cares if that was the secular law at the time, why would God allow it in His book? That makes no sense at all.

Explanation is a far cry from justification. As to your statement about God “allowing” it in his book, Why wouldn’t it be included if the death of the Egyptian firstborn was included? Or The murder of children by King Herod? It is included because it had a major affect on the development of the Jews. You are assuming that just because something is in the Bible that it is good or to be followed; this couldn’t be further form the truth. There are more examples of people doing the wrong thing in the Bible than there are of them doing the right thing. Heck, within the first few chapters, humanity has completely and knowingly reject God, and then proceeded to commit its first murder. Neither of these things would be called good, but they are in there because they are important to the development of humanity.

This code of laws, likewise, is exceptionally important to the development of the Jewish people, and are therefor included in their religious / historic texts. From there, they became a part of the Bible as we know it today.

I don’t understand why you are calling this explanation justification, perhaps you could elaborate on your reasoning?

And to say that women getting raped, or forced to marry against their will which really amounts to rape, is somehow ok because it’s better than being killed and that was the norm is INCREDIBLY offensive. There has to be a better explanation that that.

I never once said OK, I said better. Being stabbed in the arm is better than being shot in the face, but that doesn’t make it good.

There were a few recent articles by Jimmy Akin in the National Catholic Register addressing these very same passages that concern you:

“Does God Expect Women to Marry Their Rapists?” and “Is It Okay to Force a Woman You’ve Captured to Marry You?” Also, “Does God Approve of Rape?”

Good articles. Read those, and I think they may answer all or most of your questions.

ProdglArchitect basically explained the the matter of fact reason for the laws. Keep in mind that this time frame was different than it is now. Women were treated differently and the law kept that treatment in check. Know one says you have to like those laws, but that does not mean that rape was condone. Can you name me a passage were rape was approved of and the perpetrator got away free?

Oh and Deuteronomy 21:10-14 does deal with war. Not once does it state that the woman is to be force to have sex. He has to marry her first. Meaning he would have to conform her to Jewish law (if possible). Of course this was not very popular since if you wanted you children to be considered Jewish, you need to marry a Jewish Maiden. Feel free to read Deuteronomy 7:1–5, Leviticus 24:10, Ezra 10:2–3 over this topic.

In contrast look how other religions look at forced sex. Just google “insert religion view on rape” and see the stark contrast.

In Genesis, Lot offers his daughters up to the whoring mob as a way to protect the two male angels staying with him. God destroys Sodom, but allows Lot and his family ample time to escape. He turns Lot’s wife into a salt for having the temerity to look back at the destruction, but I suppose that’s a separate moral quibble.

I wonder if Hagar got a vote when it came time to conceive Ishmael.

Admittedly, I’ve always been curious about this one.

Up until recent times, marriages were arranged.

When Henry the fifth took Catherine (daughter of the French king) as wife, she had no say. Was that rape? It’s called marriage. Neither Henry nor Catherine were free to choose, they were marrying for political reasons and the marriage had to produce an heir.

A friend of mine had an arranged marriage. He met his wife on his wedding day. Did he rape her or marry her?

Today, we believe ‘luv’ will keep you together. If it fails, divorce will make you happy. Society believes in serial monogamous relationships. Previously society supported marriage without possibility of divorce…marriage was til death.

Recognize your cultural beliefs and that not all cultures share them.

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If you believe that rape is objectively defined, then you believe it’s not culturally defined.

Originally Posted by Giants View Post
In Genesis, Lot offers his daughters up to the whoring mob as a way to protect the two male angels staying with him. God destroys Sodom, but allows Lot and his family ample time to escape. He turns Lot’s wife into a salt for having the temerity to look back at the destruction, but I suppose that’s a separate moral quibble.

I wonder if Hagar got a vote when it came time to conceive Ishmael.

First off, great posts and explanations on this board ProdglArchitect :thumbsup:

As for Lot, from what I have learned, he wasn’t offering his daughters so that the angels wouldn’t leave his house but so the mob would be committing less of sin. Homosexual acts are a greater sin than fornication, and he was offering his daughters to lessen the severity of their sin.

Lot’s wife’s “looking back” is a lesson to all of us. It’s the same when the Israelites were in the desert and started complaining and saying that life was better back in Egypt. When we look back at what God has saved us from and long for the life that enslaved us and was surrounded by evil, we damage ourselves, and possibly mortally wound ourselves in the process.

Why do people always say that God’s laws are unchangeable but then if you go back to the OT and there are changes.

Is this moral relativism?

Leaving aside the fact that the CCC classifies rape, fornication, and homosexual acts as grave matters (and thus, mortal sins), I would only say that it’s a strange sort of moral God that would condone heterosexual rape as a trade-off for the greater immorality of homosexual rape.

I agree. I do not think the explanation given was correct or that Lot’s action was right or justified. Two wrongs do not make a right.

Since when did you start to believe in Objective Truth? :eek: :thumbsup:

No, context is important. A poster in the beginning of this thread was explaining the difference between describing what the peoples` laws were and what Gods commandments are.

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