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Twisted Scripture : Rape Victims Sold as Slaves

on Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:25 pm
Here is one when I first read, I was completely flabbergasted that such moronic sentiment was said by the person. However, being online the last few years, you will see it more and more from those who hate Christians. Likely shared by a staunch advocate of anti-theism, (I have my suspicions, but not sure) on Twitter or the like, it has become the smug absolute for moral superiority against the bible.

So where did such a perversion come from? Is there any remote truth to it?

No and no.

Here is the passage that is twisted.

If a man meets with a woman who is not engaged, and takes her and lies with her, and it's discovered,
then the man who lay with her shall give to her father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife,
because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days
- Deuteronomy 22:28-29

We see that he pays the father fifty shekels of silver. While it's argued this is "payment for slavery" what it really was, was a bridal dowry. This was normal not only with the Israelites, but every other culture of the time. In fact, it remains normal in some parts of the world today. Some cultures did flip it so the bride's father paid for his daughter to be married off! In fact, the custom of the bride's family paying for the wedding is a result of this. (Though in the 21st century practice is fading due to economic reasons)

The forcible marriage is another point of contention. What sort of woman would want to marry her rapist? Actually, in the day and age, she may very well have wanted to! The reasoning being, if you weren't physically a virgin, (I say physical as I believe emotional and spiritual are different) it was hard to find a husband. And women wanted to marry and have families. Their parent's wanted to them to marry and have families. The idea that woman had children and men worked with the herds and the fields was definitely a thing. And caring for people cost money, so you wanted your daughters to marry.

But perhaps the rapist was detestable and you wished your daughter not to marry. What do you do? What non-believers don't know or care for is that the Israelites often had their laws repeated to them. What's found in one book can often be referenced or resaid in another. And that's the case here. Exodus 22:16-17 has the same law written;

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

So here we see that the father may very well refuse to marry his daughter off. It's not a forcible marriage. The rapist still has to pay the penalty! We also see in this passage in Exodus, that it also doesn't matter if it's forceful rape, even seduction is enough to warrant the penalty.

Still, what about the girl's desires? Again, the mindset of women of the time was different. We see the desire to marry and have children repeatedly throughout the old testament. As well as wanting to contribute and be useful in a society that required everyone to do work, due to economic conditions, and this meant bearing children.

Still, if this man was reprehensible, but her father wanted her gone, what could she do? This is still a very concerning thing.

Here is one part that using only the bible we have the least clarity. While unfortunate, we do know some things. For one, women had the right to refuse a marriage. While there are no verses in the bible, we know from other writings about history that this was the case. We see it in Genesis 24:57-58 where Rebekah was asked if she would go marry Isaac. It doesn't take much research online to find references to this right of a woman to choose or accept a chosen husband. Feel free to research it yourself. As it's something not from the bible, being skeptical and finding that truth for yourself is a good thing.

We also see in Deuteronomy 22:26, that also deals with rape, that "you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense." And while we see that the situations are different, (25-27 deals with chazaq or "force" and 28-29 deals with taphas or "using") I don't think it's a far stretch to say that not penalizing someone in the situation in 28-29 was a given as well. And the marriage wasn't a penalty to her.

Lastly, we see that the man who seduces in Deuteronomy isn't allowed to divorce his wife. While we know it was not God's intention, we know from history that divorce was all in the husband's hands, he being allowed to seek one for finding something undesirable in his wife where a wife could not seek one for herself. In Matthew 12 Jesus would clarify saying it was only meant for marital unfaithfulness. However, in this instance, the man could not seek a divorce and his wife was assured to be cared for life due to his transgressions.

So in summary to the question, "was a rape victim sold into slavery," we have shown;
1) The price was the bride-price, a common practice for all cultures at the time and not slavery at all.
2) The culture (and those of other countries as well) was that women and their families wanted them to be married, but not physically being a virgin made you unmarriable. So your husband being forced to marry you was better than not being married at all.
3) The father had the right to refuse the marriage, but the wronged man still had to pay.
4) We know from history (though not specifically the bible, though we have an example) women had the right to refuse marriage.
5) Women in these marriages had more rights when it came to divorce than other women.

And while today we may consider the Israelite's system archaic and many would consider it extremely sexist and barbaric, it was far and away the best system for women at the time, compared to the lands of other nations around them. So you can confidently know that rape victims were not sold into slavery under God's law.
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