Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Yes, the Bible Condemns Rape.

[Written August 24, 2022]

While I was conducting some research to find topics to write about, I came across an article that caught my attention. The article is titled, “Ten Questions Biblical Literalists Cannot Honestly Answer”, written by Casper Rigsby of Atheist Republic. I would love to respond to each of the questions posed by Rigsby, but I cannot respond to each of them right now. In the future, when I have more time, I plan on revisiting this article. For now, I would like to address the first half of the first question posed by Rigsby:

“Can you make a moral judgement against rape or slavery using only scripture?[sic]”


I could leave my response at that, given that the author of the article does not cite any passages to support their claim about there being no passage that condemns rape. However, my response is designed to bring some kind of sense to a rather simple question, posed by a man who is not educated in the Bible. The article describes how, “they [Christians] can search the bible till their fingers fly off, and not once will find a single scripture that says rape and slavery are morally wrong. Not even one.”

The statement in question is verifiably false, and I will explain how Rigsby is incorrect, but I want to take a moment to clarify a few things. I have quoted the author of the article correctly, including the way he intentionally leaves “Bible” in lowercase. He does the same with the words “Scripture” and “God”. The decision to leave said words in lowercase shows the author’s contempt for the faith of Christians, as well as his devotion to being condescending and dismissive of other beliefs, to the point where he actually harms his writing by leaving a proper noun (“the Bible”) in lowercase. I am not a Muslim, but I would still capitalize the name of their holy book. This is a concept that one would be taught in elementary school, and a topic that Rigsby is surely aware of, yet he chooses to make a grammatical error just to get in another dig at Christians. The author also uses language that would lead the reader to assume the article was written by a man with extensive knowledge of the Bible, despite the author having a very limited understanding of the Bible. There are plenty of atheists that are respectful, educated, and genuinely interested in a discussion. The author of this article is not one of those atheists.

The first passage that I want to draw your attention to is Genesis 34. This chapter is about the defiling of Dinah. Jacob (who would go on to become Israel) had a child with Leah, and that child was Dinah. Dinah was “seized” by Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite, who was the “prince of the land”. The ESV describes how Shechem “seized her [Dinah] and lay with her and humiliated her. [Genesis 34:2]”. In short, Dinah was raped.

Now, what happens next? Hamor, the father of the man who raped Dinah, tries to get Jacob to give Dinah in marriage to Shechem. Jacob makes a deal where, if all the men are circumcised (as the Jewish people were), he would give Dinah for Shechem to marry. This deal was made “deceitfully, because he [Shechem] had defiled their sister Dinah. [Genesis 34:13].”

So, Jacob’s daughter was raped, then he gave her to the man who raped her? No. In verse 25, we are told about Simeon and Levi (two of Dinah’s brothers) taking their swords and killing all the men in the town. Verse 26 tells us that the brothers killed Hamor and Shechem (the father and the rapist, respectively), then took Dinah away from Shechem’s house. Verse 27 describes how the brothers “came upon the slain and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister”. Jacob was upset about what his sons had done, as he feared that he and his household would be destroyed because of what his sons had done. The chapter ends with the response given by the brothers: “Should he treat our sister like a prostitute? [Genesis 34:31]”

The chapter ends there. What does this chapter tell us? This chapter describes Dinah being raped, her brothers killing the man who raped their sister, killing the father of the rapist, and killing all the men in the town. Jacob tells his sons how they may be destroyed for what they did, but the brothers basically tell their father, “it was worth it.”

I have provided an example of the Bible condemning rape, despite Rigsby’s claims that no such condemnation exists in the Bible. To further illustrate how silly of a question Rigsby has asked, let me describe some more examples of the Bible condemning rape:

Deuteronomy 22:25:

“But 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.”

This verse describes how a man who rapes a betrothed woman should be put to death. Verses 23 and 24 describe a similar scenario, except the woman is in a town, and the woman does not resist the man. In the previous example, by not resisting the rapist, she consents. As for what would constitute “resistance”, verse 24 mentions the woman never letting out a “cry for help”. Basically, if a man wants to have sex with a woman, and that woman does not try and fight or make a sound, she would effectively be consenting to the act. The requirement that a woman resist her rapist is not important if the rape takes place in a location where nobody could witness the rape. In such a case, the woman is not punished, but the man is put to death.

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.”

One may look at this passage and be upset at the seemingly insignificant ramifications for raping a woman, but there is a cultural aspect to this punishment that one must understand. Virginity was incredibly important in those days, to the point where a woman would likely never marry if she was not a virgin. By raping a virgin, the rapist is removing her hope for a future, which means that she will live with her family for her entire life, she will never have children, and her family will be required to take care of her. In order to deter the rapist, the Bible requires that, in such a scenario, the rapist pay the father of the victim, and that the rapist is now required to marry and take care of his victim for the rest of her life. This passage deters the rapist, while providing some kind of security for the victim. Whether one agrees with the punishment that this passage describes, this passage definitely condemns rape.

Casper Rigsby claimed that Christians could not find a single example of the Bible condemning rape, yet I have presented you all with three examples of the Bible condemning rape.

In order to address a common argument against the Bible (concerning rape), I would like to dedicate the remaining portion of this entry to discussion Numbers 31. It does not take much to explain why this chapter does not support rape, but let me explain it anyway:

Yes, Numbers 31 does allow for the Israelites to take female captives. No, it does not give the Israelites the authority to rape them. The captives may have married the Israelites (they probably did), but that does not mean that the Israelites raped the captives. If the Israelites did rape their captives, the Israelites in question would be put to death (see my explanation of Deuteronomy 22).

The New Testament never describes rape, but it does condemn sexual immorality (which would include sex with a person outside of marriage), and it commands Christians to submit to the governing authorities. The governing authorities had already made rape illegal, so Christians would not be allowed to rape.

In short: the Bible condemns rape.

- Daniel Teberian

Here is the link to the article that I responded to:

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