The Misogyny of God vis-á-vis Victims of Rape

Last night on Facebook, i began a discussion on Facebook (no login required to view) about “I’m Pro-Choice Because…” & abortion.

I’m still not ready to discuss the morality of abortion, but during the course of the discussion, i was able to bring up perhaps one of the most disturbing passages in the Bible:

“If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 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.

Deuteronomy 22:28–29, ESV

Assuming you recognize this as “God’s Law” (as Jesus supposedly did & professed “Bible-believers” should), there are a number of important thoughts to take away from that text.

  • God rewards rapists. Or more accurately, the patriarchal society responsible for the Old Testament rewards rapists. In Israel under the Old Testament, if you were a man looking for a wife, you could go through the trouble of wooing an available woman, or you could simply find a virgin, seize her, and have sex with her someplace where you’re sure to get caught. You’ll be required to marry the lass and to stay with her the rest of your life. Oh, you’ll also have to pay her father some silver, but depending on the length of time you would have otherwise had to date the woman, you may actually be saving money!

  • A woman’s dignity is cheap. A rapist must pay a woman’s father fifty shekels silver, should they be caught in the act. Fifty shekels. If you’re uncertain how much that is, you may imagine it is a substantial amount. Fifty shekels of silver, however, is comparable in mass to one and a half cans of pop.

    I’ll admit, fifty shekels silver is worth more than fifty shekels of mostly pop. However, that value works out to just a few hundred dollars.

    A woman, then, trades her dignity for about as much as a wedding band costs. (There are jokes in there somewhere, i’m sure, but i’ll leave those to you.) And then, of course, she has to marry her rapist.

  • Rape isn’t a crime. If you were following along in the text above closely enough, you may have noticed that the “punishment” of paying a brick of silver & marrying the victim was only instituted if the rapist was caught in the act.

    Raping a virgin & not getting caught? Apparently that wasn’t worth punishment according to God (it is “God’s law,” after all). If you point out verses 23–27, then make sure you notice those verses refer to a betrothed woman falling victim to rape.

    The rapist is punished in those instances not for raping a woman, but for “violating his neighbor’s wife” (ESV), which of course is tied to the Old Testament’s insistence that women are on the same level as property (famously illustrated by the Tenth Commandment).

These details are important, so important that every critic of the Bible ought to be shouting them out to all who will listen, particularly among Christian women. They deserve to know what sort of misogynistic being they worship.

If, perhaps, any of those women are victims of rape themselves, ask them how they feel about their attacker. Ask them if they married him. If not, ask them why. Ask them why God’s revealed morality was not good enough for their situation when he, “loving” father that he is, imposed it upon his chosen nation.

When confronted with the unrelenting misogyny of God, it’s no wonder that the apostles, when opening up their religion to other nations, depicted a more humble, loving object of worship, namely Jesus Christ. (That isn’t to say that there aren’t wretchedly violent or misogynistic details to be found in the New Testament…)

4 thoughts on “The Misogyny of God vis-á-vis Victims of Rape”

  1. two women discussing the fatherhood of God

    By providence coincidence, i found this comic while stumbling across the Internet moments ago. It fits with what i talked about above pretty well, don’t you think?

    Comic transcription:

    Woman #1: “I like to think of God as the bestest father there ever was!”
    Woman #2: “Because good fathers are usually invisible, condemn you for being rational, and have a history of misogyny?”

  2. both the bad thing and great thing about the bible is, you can read soo much both any way you want. by that i mean to say that if you beleave in the bible then its a great thing, if you dont then its a bad thing. ill show you what i mean.
    “If a man meets a vir­gin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 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.

    Deuteron­omy 22:28 – 29, ESV

    it could be said that this quote isnt talking about rape, as much as it could be talking about man who takes a virgin without her fathers consent and before marrage. or even just before marrage.
    or it could mean exactly what you were saying, that gods law says that if a man rapes a woman and is caught in the act that he must then pay silver and marry her.
    almost every quote from the bible you can do this with. i hate the fact that it is that way but it is. also i said this on a different post but truth is, the bible its self as a translated book has more translation errors than any other book that has been translated in the history of mankind.

    1. The verse says “seize.” Many (many!) translation use “rape” there. This makes Christians uncomfortable, so they dumb it down to mean that the word doesn’t mean “to seize” but rather means “to seduce” or “to ask out on a date” or some other less forceful suggestion.

      However, simply because Christians do that doesn’t mean it makes any sense. Aren’t they supposed to mold their beliefs to the Bible, not vice versa? And the Bible says that a single woman who is raped is to marry the rapist, and they cannot separate all the days of their lives.

      This is the exact sort of handling of the text demonstrated in the New Testament instance of Jesus stating that only those who are drawn by the father will be saved. The word “to draw” there is translated from a word meaning “to drag.” It’s a forceful act. And the word is used like that consistently throughout the four or five times (i forget exactly) it’s used in the Bible. An example of its usage is “to draw water from a well or a pump.” It’s a forceful act — not one of mere suggestion or wooing. God does not whisper impotently “please believe in me; i have cookies.” No, he simply drags people to his son, regenerates them into new life, and they consequently believe — not by any will of their own, but by the will of God (as Paul puts it).

      But this idea of a God who is actually in control is uncomfortable to many Christians. They prefer instead to trust their own human faculties and thus believe they have free will.

      That’s all well and good, but it makes no sense biblically, and so the biblical text must be conformed to their beliefs, rather than vice versa.

  3. before i make my point here i should warn you that i am not a christain and i dont beleave much that is in the bible. im not much into taking religous books at face value, they dont really offer proof. what they do offer instead is answers to questions, thats not to say those are the correct answers, just answers.
    but you make my point, ive told people for a long time that the bible is full of translation problems. because of these problems, instead of acually fixing them people tend to make them mean what they want. this quote to you seems verry clear what its saying. though to a preacher or “man of the cloth” this might mean something different.
    so with that said, is it possable that the preacher was using his faith and his personal belief to make the bible say what ever he wants.
    in my few years of experence that i have with people, ive noticed people have a core set of morals, reguardless of religion or absence of religion. but the flaw we tend to make is we enterject our personal morals into every aspect in our lifes. though, this is good in most cases, but when it comes to the bible it just doesnt work. i agree with you about what the quote means, at least how it apears in the quote. that doesnt mean its what it was meant to mean. if i have come to understand what the bible says, we as humans were given a “moral compus” so that we could decide what was right and wrong. although this was a result acording to the bible of adam and eve and a crazy tree of knolage of right and wrong. it was one of those crazy things that happened in the bible at least. but people dont seem to realize that we as humans have the ability to “know” the difference between right and wrong. the bible has its explanations for it, and im sure athiest do as well.
    with the bible it says a great many of things, both horrable and good. preachers tend to only give us half the story in the bible. it is my conclusion the reason why this happens is because they enjecting there morals. in the time the bible was written women were treated as something different than what we do now days. women were not aloud to make money, they were pretty much treated as kids that men were meant to love and marry and use to produce offspring. where now days we see them as equils who can work and take care of themselfs.
    back then a womans virginity was about the only thing she had going for her, it was her “big gift” to her husband. and if she were to loose it before marrage then she couldnt be marryed. in fact somewere in one of these post of yours you posted the exact quote where it says it.
    so in order to punish men who raped a woman, thus made her unable to marry, they were forced to marry the woman they raped, and in those days it wasnt considered to be punishment for a woman. considering not just the view of woman and the treatment of them in those times. it seems like a cave men ruled the world lol. women could not support themselfs, so the only way for them to survive was to marry a man, or live with there fathers untill they died.
    now, as to god not punishing rapest, you may be correct that the bible doesnt say in its current translation that they are. but i do think it probably does somewhere, i got the impression the story of sodom was more of a punishment of a city that made rape mandatory for strangers, so god destroyed it. though i could be wrong.

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