Last week I led a youth dialogue. Youth came from around the city to discuss the issue of rape. Many wanted to know what the Bible says about rape, so I thought I would extend my answer to this week’s column.
I will briefly summarise the actual stories of rape that are talked about in the pages of the scripture. Then, we will talk about the practical applications for us in dealing with rape. To add a disclaimer, although I realise that both women and men can be raped -for the purpose of this article, I will focus on a man raping a woman since that is generally the type of rape we read about in the Bible.
Surprisingly, there are several very explicit stories written in the Bible about rape. I will just give you the references of two stories and quick highlights of a third. You can read stories of gang rape and entire tribes avenging the violation of their sister after being raped in Genesis 34 and Judges 19-21.
Samuel 2, 13 tells us that Amnon was the half-brother to Tamar. The Bible says he “loved her”… if you read the story, you can see he was filled with lust for her because as soon as he “had” her, he was disgusted with himself and with her and immediately and forcefully sent her away after the “act”. The Bible tells us due to the way she was disgraced, she lived the rest of her life in the home of Absalom, her brother as a desolate woman. In the end, her brother Absalom was so full of hatred for Amnon for this disgusting act that he eventually murdered him. Amnon’s intense need for instant gratification made him so blind that he could only think of himself – not the fact that he would literally ruin this girl’s life that he supposedly “loved” and ultimately his sin would bring his own life to an early end.
To contextualise, in ancient times, a woman’s virginity was her most valued prize. If it was known a woman was not a virgin, then no man would want to marry her. In a time where women couldn’t own property, have a job, or many other civil rights we take for granted today, without marriage a woman’s life would be destined for immense hardships.
The security of marriage provided protection and provision and ensured her the hope of legitimate children whom would grow up and bless her even if something happened to her husband. One moment of passion brought ruin to an entire lifetime of happy hopeful dreams for Tamar.
Sadly many beautiful women and young girls today can relate to being robbed of their peace of mind and hopeful dreams. Men who treat women as an object of their pleasure ruin their lives. Survivors of rape speak of how it literally kills them inside to be violated and overpowered in such a horrific manner.
Deuteronomy 22:25-27 displays that God hated rape too – so much so that the punishment was being stoned. In a world where women had no rights and rarely appreciated, God made His laws in such a way that a woman who was dishonored in this way was not shamed nor ignored.
The crime was dealt with in such a way that God defended her innocence and ensured her reputation wasn’t spoiled for life by a selfish man’s actions. His laws shielded her from blame and shame! She was not to be discarded but rather protected and the violator was to be severely punished. The man must bear responsibility! Any woman who has suffered this should know that God loves you; He sees you and He is a just God who is disgusted with what has been done to you. The person who is abusing you will have to stand before God one day and will be held accountable. He sees and He cares!
During the youth dialogue, I heard a moving testimony of a girl who had been raped by a relative from a young age. She testified that to cope she had literally stopped feeling – she felt dead inside. In fact, she had tried to kill herself many times.
Then, one day she read that God could bring beauty out of ashes, that God could turn mourning into laughter and that God could work all things for the good of those who love the Lord. Psalms 9:9 promised her, “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Her face beams now with a joy that for over a decade she never thought she would feel again. She said, “God took my heart of stone and gave me a new heart”. She said I could share her story so if anyone reading this wants to know how to find joy and supernatural healing as a survivor of rape, contact me and I will give you her contacts.
The journey isn’t easy! We hope strict laws are put into place by our government and swift harsh punishments are given to deter this awful crime, but there is hope after this life shattering violation on your precious body. God can shine light into the darkness that you may feel now surrounds you. And to the person who is contemplating raping another, please consider this verse, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12) Learn from the story of Amnon. No matter how you may burn with passion, you will always regret hurting another person in this way. You will never have a peace of mind nor experience true joy in life if you continue to abuse and violate another person’s body for your pleasure. Your temporary satisfaction will hurt both you and your victim and you will answer for your actions one day – if not in this life then for sure on Judgement day when you stand before the All-knowing and All-seeing God.
What do these verses teach us when we have been hurt by other’s actions (even if it isn’t rape), what does the Bible say a rape survivor can do to move on, what does the Bible say about the perpetrator who has done this but sincerely wants to repent, and from a social perspective what we can do to show the love the Bible models for us to our neighbors so we prevent this from happening all together! We are out of space so come back next week for part B of this answer!
Send questions or comments to [email protected] or my Facebook page – Mom to Mom: Parenting Consultations.
Ashley Thaba is an author, life coach and motivational speaker. She also facilitates corporate team building and wellness activities. View her work on her YouTube channel: Ashley Thaba.