Skeptic Challenge: God Condones Rape
By Nate Sala
This challenge centers on Deuteronomy 22:28-29, which at first blush, appears to force women to marry their rapists. It reads:
“If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.” (NIV)
There are two inductive study questions to consider with this kind of a challenge (and not necessarily in this order): What does the original language say? And What is the context of the passage?
First, the Hebrew word for “rape” in the NIV is a form of the verb “tapas”, which means to take hold of something, to grasp it in one’s hand, and/or to seize something. This verb is used in a number of different ways. It is used when people “play” the harp or flute in Genesis 4:21. It is used when people “take” God’s name in Proverbs 30:9. It is also used for those who “handle” God’s law in Jeremiah 2:8, as well as when Moses “took” the two tablets of the law in Deuteronomy 9:17. None of these passages (or any passage that utilizes “tapas”) connote the use of force.
There is a word in the Scripture that refers to “rape”; as a matter of fact, it’s located directly prior to the passage in question…
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