In our day, having failed to study the law of God, the people of God are not familiar with it. Being unfamiliar with it, we don’t understand it, and not understanding it we lack confidence in it. This makes us vulnerable to the wiles of wicked men who take advantage of our lack of confidence to try to get us to be ashamed of God’s wisdom in one area and then use our ashamedness in that area as a prybar to silence our witness in other areas.
But we know that…
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; – 2 Timothy 3:16
And this includes the 2/3 of the Bible that is the Old Testament!
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. – Romans 15:4
In our day one of the doctrines most under attack is the doctrine of man, including the unique places of man and woman in creation and all things regarding sexuality. So it should not be surprising that the attacks against God’s Word often come against those areas where God teaches us about relationships between men and women and about sexuality. Let us study, then, the wisdom of God regarding the way of an irresponsible man with a virgin…
Deuteronomy 22 deals with rape, and Exodus 22 with seduction:
“If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.” – Deuteronomy 22:28-29
“If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the dowry for virgins.” – Exodus 22:16-17
So the civil law in Israel was that a man who rapes a woman must pay a dowry and marry her and can never divorce her.
Providing for the woman
The objection is immediately raised, “The woman committed no crime but must marry a rapist?!”
But this is looking at the issue upside-down: the question is, who is going to care for this woman who has been violated? Men used to care about purity and no one would want to marry this woman now, so she would be condemned to live like a widow in her father’s house—no children, no protection after her father died. God says, No! The man who did this must care for her.
This is incomprehensible to the modern mind, because:
- Generally speaking, men today care nothing for purity; and
- We reject the idea that a woman needs the care and protection of a man, her father or her husband.
But this is a reflection on the folly of our modern thinking, not on the wisdom of God’s law.
Disciplining the man
Whatever else rape is, it is an act of irresponsibility: a man uses a woman and leaves her with the consequences. God says no, if you commit this act of irresponsibility you will be given permanent responsibility for this woman.
The objection is raised, “Would God have anticipated the loophole that if you have trouble getting a pretty woman to marry you because you’re a shrek, just rape her?”
No, the father can absolutely refuse, and then you’re out money, without a wife, and what father in Israel is going to give his daughter to you now? — you’ve torpedoed your own hopes for a family.
Love of God and neighbor
God’s law regarding rape also seamlessly incorporated love of God and neighbor.
Remember that if your neighbor’s ox gored yours to death, you got his live ox, but you also bore an increased burden: you now owned an ox that was known to be in the habit of goring. This rankles the modern sense of justice: we want justice to mean everything is put back exactly as if the crime never happened; we don’t want to bear any part of the burden for our brother.
But we see that in the same way, the Lord’s provision for the woman was not burden-free for her: the Lord provides a husband—she will not be destitute—but she gets a man who is known to have been irresponsible…with her! What a difficult thing for her: he killed her dreams, can she ever respect him? And the man is given the task of learning responsibility with the very woman he wronged. What a humbling situation for him, facing the consequences of his sin daily and working to build on that barren ground. What danger, what difficulty—what need for support and help from God’s people at every turn—what opportunity for forgiveness and restoration and fruitfulness and steps of faith in the fear of God for man and wife, the extended family, and the whole community.
It was the wisdom of God, dear ones. O let us not turn from His wisdom as from an unclean thing.