Tuesday, March 17, 2015

On the remediation of rape in the Mosaic Law...

In the Old Testament Law, if a man raped a woman, and got her pregnant, he had to pay a fine and marry her, and was forbidden to ever divorce her.  (Deut. 22:28, 29)

Unfortunately, this is interpreted almost universally as a dastardly law designed to let men get away with rape in an era of unbounded patriarchal oppression of women.

It is anything but that.  Quite the contrary, in fact, especially given the cultural norms and stigmas surrounding marriage and family life at the time.

Rather than oppressing the woman and allowing her rapist to get off scot-free, this law gives her a valid method of accusation and remedy against him, in a time when marriage was a) not for love anyway, and b) a huge financial boon to women.  Notice the prohibition of future divorce, which locks the fellow (and his whole family!) in, so he cannot get out of providing child support, etc. (and if he neglects her, his family is liable).

There is no shame or stigma in these commands.  Quite the opposite, in fact.

Far from allowing him to "get off scot-free", it locks him into having to provide for her and her child for the rest of his life, and also into publicly acknowledging his sin and doing his best to make it as right as possible for the rest of his life (note, again, the prohibition against divorce).

This law would even be fair today, let alone in an era where it would have locked the whole family into providing for her.

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