Thursday, October 22, 2015

Words of Comfort: Condoning rape?

I was speaking at UC Berkeley back in November of 2012, when an atheist stepped up to the open microphone and said that the God I believed in condoned rape. He pointed to Deuteronomy 22:28--29 where, according to him, if a man raped a woman all he had to do was pay a fine and then marry her. He was angry. This proved that the God of Christianity despised women and was therefore a tyrannical misogynist:

“If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.”

These verses don’t seem to be speaking of rape, because of the words “and if they be found,” which seems to mean that it was consensual.  If “they” were found is a reference to both of them being discovered, and that would then make the required dowry and betrothal make sense. This was similar to what we would nowadays call a “shotgun” (forced) wedding. Add to this thought that the previous verses speak clearly of rape (saying if the man “forces her”), and prescribes capital punishment to the rapist:
“But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die” (Deuteronomy 22:25).

The death sentence for the rapist shows that God cares a great deal about women being validated. But the student didn’t seek out the truth, because he had no incentive to do so. He just wanted to find some dirt on the Judge.

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