Picture the scene, the jury declares the man guilty of rape, the judge tells the perpetrator to stand as he prepares to pass sentence. Can you imagine the shock when the sentence passed is for the rapist to marry his victim? What is going on? If God is so good, how come the man is left unpunished and the woman has to marry the person who violated her? What is that all about?
God and the rights of women.
In Deuteronomy 22:25-27 rape carries the death sentence for the perpetrator, which actually shows us how God really feels about it, but then, in the next few verses we read that the rapist is told to marry his victim if she is not engaged to be married. For a 21st century Western mind the whole idea, quite rightly in my opinion, is totally and utterly abhorrent; I mean, why does the creep get to live just because the girl was single? The key here is, as in any reading of the Bible, to get into the mind of the people the book was originally for. Believe it or not, Yahweh really did have the welfare of women at heart. His justice reflected the needs of the victim and not the rights of guilty.
The lesser of two evils.
Whilst no one would deny that rape is an appalling evil, this is still very tricky. The culture into which God was speaking had little or no respect for the needs of, or the well being of women; they could be sold, traded and discarded. In His law Yahweh declared that the consequences of rape could be marriage rather than death. Why? Because a women who had been raped would have been passed over for marriage, potentially abandoned by her family and would most likely have had no means of support. Not only would she have had her dignity and well being appallingly violated, she would also have gone onto face complete destitution.
God’s law provided for the victim.
What Yahweh brought about in His law was a cultural revolution, women had rights that were enshrined in law. She was no longer dependant on handouts or reduced to begging and prostitution; on the contrary she was to be taken care of for the rest of her life. It is worth remembering that in these early cultures marriage was less about falling in love and more about business, provision and propagation. I find it unlikely that the new husband would have enjoyed a passionate honeymoon and he would be reminded of his crime every time he saw his wife. Ideal? Maybe not, but a lot better than the alternatives available at the time.
God is not a misogynist
Even though God has been repeatedly accused of being a woman hater, and truth be told many who have spoken in His name were either misguided or genuinely perverse, he does in fact love His daughters fully and completely. After all they bear His image in the earth just as their male counterparts. Because of this it befalls men to show the same love and respect to women as our heavenly Father, and ladies you have a responsibility to see your selves as you really are: joint heirs with the men, and of course with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Go well my friends 🙂