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Does the Bible Say a Rape Victim Must Marry Her Rapist?

“Where is, ‘Thou shalt not rape’…?” —Pat C., Facebook question

While the Bible doesn’t say, “Thou shalt not rape” in the Ten Commandments, it is summed up in the essence of the moral Law, which says to love your neighbor as yourself. Love does not rape.

Hebrew criminal law considered rape such a serious crime that rapists were to be put to death:

“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” (Deuteronomy 22:25, KJV).

Yet there are some who believe that the Scriptures say that the victim of the rapist had to marry him. He wasn’t to be punished, but to be rewarded with the woman as his prize. Here is the verse used to justify that belief:

“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, KJV, caps added).

Unbelievably, (in the light of the previous verse saying that a rapist was to be put to death) a number of modern translations interpret “lay hold on her” as rape.

The Hebrew word “tapas” means to “take hold of something,” to grasp it in hand, and (by application) to capture or seize something.

In Genesis 4:21, it used for “handling” the flute.

If a man raped a woman, he was to be put to death. Killed. That means he is dead (no longer alive), and a dead man can’t marry the woman he raped. He can’t marry her because he’s dead.

So for those who can figure out that dead men don’t marry women, coupled with the fact that the verse says “if THEY be found,” implying both were guilty, this verse obviously refers to consensual sex.

It’s similar to what we nowadays call a “shotgun” wedding. They had to get married.

Ray Comfort

Ray Comfort is the Founder and CEO of Living Waters and the bestselling author of more than 80 books, including God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life, How to Know God Exists, and The Evidence Bible. He cohosts the award-winning television program “Way of the Master,” seen in almost 200 countries, and is the Executive Producer of “180,” “Evolution vs. God,” “Audacity,” and other films. He is married to Sue and has three grown children, and hasn’t left the house without gospel tracts for decades.

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