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Date Rape and the Bible: Part 1


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Allen Webster

Rape is a crime committed at the appalling rate of every 2 minutes in North America. The statistics are shocking for every parent of a teen or college-age daughter, frightening for every female, and infuriating to every red-blooded decent man. In America,

  • 1872 women are raped every day.

  • One in three women is assaulted in their lifetime.

  • An additional one in four women surveyed was touched sexually against her will or was victim of sexual coercion.

  • One in four girls will fall victim to rape or attempted rape before she reaches 25

  • 40 percent of rapes occur before a woman reaches age 18 (some say 60 percent - three out of five), and 15 percent are younger than 12.[1]

Rape in the Bible.

The word rape (chazak) means, to seize, bind, restrain, conquer, force, or ravish. Rape is not a new crime; unfortunately it goes back as far as the first book of the Bible. Lot's daughters raped their father (Genesis 19:33-35). The men of Gibeah gang-raped a girl (abused her all the night until the morning) until she died (Judges 19:15; Judges 20:5). This rape nearly caused the tribe of Benjamin to be exterminated by the army of the other tribes (Judges 19:22-30; Judges 20:35). David's son, Amnon, raped his half sister, Tamar (2 Samuel 13:11-16). Tamar's brother Absalom avenged her rape by killing Amnon. (2 Samuel 13:22-33). Captives' wives were raped (Isaiah 13:16; Lamentations 5:11; Zechariah 14:2). Paul said that no extortioner shall inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:10). The word extortioners here means ravishers of virgins; or plunderers of men's substance in an open and forcible way.[2]

Moses' law had variations of punishments regarding rape. In some cases it carried the death penalty. In the case of an engaged woman raped in a city, for instance, the law said,

If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you (Deuteronomy 22:23-24).

In the same case away from the city, the law said,

But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: but unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: for he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her (Deuteronomy 22:25-27).

In the event a virgin was raped, we read,

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 (Deuteronomy 22:28-29).

A Case Study.

In the case of Amnon's rape of his sister (2 Samuel 13:11-16), we learn some valuable lessons.

Rape often takes place in stepfamilies. Tamar was only Amnon's half sister. They had the same father (David), but they did not share the same mother. This is still detestable, but we often see similar things happen today in blended families. Many rapes are committed on daughters by their mother's boyfriends or step-fathers. Teen sons from dad's side of the family rape teen daughters from mom's previous marriage. If God's plan for the family is followed (one man, one woman until death separates them, Matthew 19:4-6; Romans 7:1-4), the children are shielded from one common source of abuse. In the event that one is in a blended family situation, care has to be taken to guard the heart from improper desire and to protect the innocent from those who do not.

Rapes are often well-planned and encouraged by peers. Tamar's rape was not a spur-of-the-moment-I-don't-know-what-came-over-me action. It was carefully planned, well orchestrated, and ruthlessly carried out. Many date rapes are just as carefully thought out, callously implemented, and viciously done. College boys (they do not deserve to be called men) sit in frat houses talking about what they will do to the freshman girls who come to the frat party on Thursday night. They purchase the alcohol and ready the rooms. The girls arrive and they meet and greet, mingle and charm. All the while, the boys fill their cups with beer or something harder. In some cases, the drugs come out as the lights get dimmed. Then they pick their victim and take her to a room on another floor or to an apartment across campus.

Rape victims should understand that not all date rapes can be prevented. Most of the assaults are planned well in advance, and the assailant usually has a history of forcing women to have sexual relations. A woman may also be unsuspecting, since she may have spent significant time with the man, learned to trust him, and does not feel she is in a vulnerable position. Whatever the case, if date rape occurs, it is not the victim's fault. Though victims may engage in behaviors that increase their vulnerability, they are not to blame if date rape occurs.[3]

[1] Greenfeld, L.A. Sex offenses and offenders: An analysis of data on rape and sexual assault: Sex offenses and offenders. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, 1997. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, report no. NCJ-163392).

[2] Gill

[3] www.fit.edu/caps/articles/documents/daterape.doc

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