Child Abuse

GOD’S PERSPECTIVE ON RAPE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE

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This is an honest attempt to write about God’s perspective on rape and sexual violence. I am not a preacher nor a theologian, and I had a lot of help writing this. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about anything written in this article at the comment section, or add something I might have missed. And if you’re not a Christian please don’t go away, I am and I love God. I have to say that coming to this place where I have something to write concerning the heart of God and how He sees all human beings, women and men, is a huge leap for me. Don’t take my word for it, Christians and non-Christians, read the bible and learn all there is about God’s love for yourself.

I know that for every passage in the bible that speaks about love, kindness, tenderness, compassion, oneness, and all other virtues, there are equally passages that speak about violence, steep punishment for disobedience, what seems like insensitive resolution to the issue of rape, injustice against women, etc. For example, there are some difficult passages in the Old Testament. One is Deuteronomy 22:28-29, “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.” Another example is in 2 Samuel 13; Prince Amnon raped his half-sister, Tamar. The horror and shame of being violated yet unmarried made Tamar beg him to marry her (her half-brother), even after he had rejected her. And her full-brother, Absalom, was so disgusted with the situation that he murdered Amnon. That’s how highly virginity in women was prized back then.

There is also Numbers 31 (and similar passages) in which the Israelites were allowed to take female captives from nations they conquered. Critics would often say this is an example of the Bible’s condoning or promoting rape. However, the passage says nothing about raping the captive women. It is wrong to assume that the captive women were to be raped. The soldiers were commanded to purify themselves and their captives (verse 19). Rape would have violated this command (see Leviticus 15:16-18). The women who were taken captive are never referred to as sexual objects. Did the captive women likely eventually marry amongst the Israelites? Yes. Is there any indication that rape or sex slavery was forced on the women? Absolutely not. This also goes for Deuteronomy 22:28-29, it is important to see these scriptures through the lens of ancient culture. In those days, social convention treated women poorly. They couldn’t own property. They couldn’t get a job to support themselves. If a woman had no father, husband, or son, she had no legal protection. Her options were slavery or prostitution. If an unmarried woman wasn’t a virgin, it was extremely difficult for her to get married. If she wasn’t marriageable, her father didn’t have much use for her, and so on.

Moving on, progressively in the New Testament, rape is not mentioned directly, but within the Jewish culture of the day, rape would have been considered sexual immorality. Tell the young men to have self-control in everything – Titus 2:6. We humans are made in God’s image. Our bodies are meant to bring Him glory, not to become a source of ungodly lust. Your life as a Christian man and woman should exhibit the “self-controlled” fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23), not the immoral ways of the flesh (Galatians 5:19). God has promised that He “will show you how to escape from your temptations” (1 Corinthians 10:13). And He asks that you “offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing” (Romans 12:1).

If you have the opportunity to take advantage of someone sexually, DON’T! Here are some ideas for avoiding temptation to commit sexual assault:

  • It is natural to recognize human beauty in a woman or a man, you can praise God for His work, without comment to the woman or to the man. Be truthful with yourself; if you feel lustful, acknowledge that sin before God and repent.
  • If you are often overcome with lust, discuss this with a counselor or a trusted friend who can help you move your focus to God.
  • When a woman is in public alone and you feel tempted to harass or sexually assault her, ask for God’s help to turn your attention elsewhere. If other men torment her, defend her, as appropriate; remember, “God’s Spirit doesn’t make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7), and “if you don’t do what you know is right, you have sinned” (James 4:17).
  • Simply put, treat everyone as respectfully as you’d want a sister or brother treated. Think of them as beloved by God: He has invested His image in every being. His Son died for their sins, just as He did for yours. Your good behaviour will help “your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

We must offer much care and compassion to the victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence. God’s Word often speaks about helping those in need and in vulnerable situations. Christians should model the love and compassion of Christ by assisting victims of rape in any way possible. People are responsible for the sins they commit, including rape. However, no one is beyond the grace and redemption of God. Even to those who have committed the vilest sins, God can extend forgiveness if they repent and turn from their evil ways (1 John 1:9). This does not remove the need for punishment according to the law, but it can offer hope and the way to a new life.

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