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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Rick Beckman