Friday, September 19, 2014

The issue of Rape and Deut. 22:28-29

Steve Hays wrote a great blog on Deut. 22:28-29.

Legal technicalities by Steve Hays

This blogpost is my attempted supplement to Steve's comments.

I also highly recommend the following video on the topic by George Athas

George Athas - The Bible's attitude to Rape from Audio Advice on Vimeo.

Here are my comments on the topic:

Deut. 22:28-29 is really is a difficult case law to understand. From what I can gather, it seem to me that the woman actually does CLAIM being raped. And so, it seems to me that there are two possibilities. Either it was actually consensual, or actually non-consensual.

1. Assuming it was NON-CONSENSUAL (i.e. real rape)
The woman rightly claims rape. Must she then be forced to marry her rapist? Well, if we first look at and compare the situation where an unbetrothed woman engaged in consensual sex, what do we find?

In such a case, when an unbetrothed virgin woman is seduced (or allows herself to be seduced), the father has the option to utterly refuse to give his daughter in marriage to the man (Ex. 22:17). If that's the case in *consensual* sex, then it only makes sense that a father, or brother (or even the woman herself) has the option of utterly refusing to allow a rapist to marry the woman since it's a case of *NON-consensual* sex. It's not like the Jews were emotionally indifferent to the rape of their woman. Jacob's son slaughtered an entire city and plundered their goods because their sister Dinah was humiliated and defiled by rape (Gen. 34). George Athas seems to agree that the father or brother (and the woman) has the option of refusing marriage between the woman and the alleged rapist in this video HERE

The question I'm not sure of is whether a father or brother in that society can decide marriage contrary to the woman's wishes. Say for example, being motivated out of the prospect of sharing in the man's money.

The man, being actually guilty of rape but falsely claiming innocence, is fined with having to marry the woman and never having the option of divorcing her. Apparently ONLY if the father or brother (or the woman herself) is willing to allow the marriage.

Why would a woman ever be willing to marry her rapist? Maybe if she feels she may never get married because of the incident. Since, prospective men might find her unacceptable on account of her having been defiled. Other possible reasons include the woman concluding she is likely never to find a husband because 1. her family is  poor or of low standing in the community, and/or 2. her not attractive enough (Hence why she may still be unbetrothed. Arranged marriages back then being a family decision on both sides).

2. Assuming it was actually CONSENSUAL

Then the woman falsely claimed rape.
What motivation might an unbetrothed woman have in falsely claiming rape? The woman might be wanting a husband but can't find a man willing to marry her because (like above) 1. her family is  poor or of low standing in the community, and/or 2. not attractive (hence why she may still be unbetrothed).

The man innocent of rape, but falsely accused of it, is still fined with having to marry the woman without the possibility of divorce because, at the very least, he violated a virgin daughter of Israel.

Why would a woman in that society be motivated to claim rape when it was in fact consensual? Maybe to shame the man out of spite. Especially, if she still had the option of refusing to marry him, or convincing her father/brother not to allow the marriage. Or maybe a woman might lie about rape for pride's sake. In order to make it seem like she wasn't wantonly venereous/libidinous. In which case, she may still be willing to marry the man.

If she were to marry the man, she will have to live with the consequences of her decision of falsely claiming rape because he may never divorce her. However, does she have the future option of divorcing him (e.g. for adultery)? I'm not sure. I think so.

3. Is there ever a circumstance in which a woman who is actually raped might be motivated to claim it was consensual? Not if she were betrothed since she would be punished with death along with the man. What if she were not betrothed? If she were unbetrothed, she may do so in order to secure a marriage for similar reasons I explained in the last paragraph of part 1.
The difference being that in this instance she's claiming it's consensual even though in both cases [#1 and here] it's an actual case of non-consensual rape. She may also do so in order to make the marriage (which she wants for reasons given above in part 1) less scandalous. And if she got pregnant, in order not to have the child considered to have been conceived in more scandal than necessary. Thinking of the child's future reputation, it might be better to be perceived as having been conceived in consensual immorality than due to rape.

See these other blogs at Triablogue

OT rape laws

OT honor-killings?

Compare that with this Jewish article:

The Rape of the Unbetrothed Virgin in Torah and Assyrian Law" A Comparative Analysis

The Punishment for Rape and Bad Translations

see also my blogpost: Answering Moral Objections to the Bible

Steve Hays blogpost on slavery: Flogging

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