The Question: Does the Bible teach to punish rape victims? In Deuteronomy 22:20-21 it says: “…and no proof of the young woman’s virginity can be found, 21 she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death.”
Okay, so this is one I’ve heard before as well. Again this is a situation in which an individual takes a verse or two completely without any knowledge of the subject matter or context and tries to say it ‘means’ or ‘proves’ a point that coincides with their personal views or ideals or ideas about God or Christianity.
So to clarify, what someone is trying to say here when they say these verses show that God teaches us we should ‘punish’ rape victims is that: if a woman is raped (aka, no ‘proof’ of her virginity is found) that she is to be stoned to death.
Simply reading a few verses before and a few verses after (Deuteronomy 22:13-21) show what this law was actually talking about.
It is saying that if a man married a woman and found out that she had been promiscuous (aka, slept around) prior to their marriage (it also gives the laws on adultery in marriage later on but that’s not really related to our topic) that she should be put to death.
Now, their method of ‘proof of virginity’ I’m not exactly clear on and that would be part of old Jewish customs and laws. A google search of ‘Deuteronomy 22 what is proof of virginity’ will yield a variety of results that detail more on that topic, and as it’s not really related to this question I won’t comment further on it. However this site, and this one had some interesting info regarding it.
So anyway, the main point there is that these verses have absolutely nothing to do with rape at all, and as such it’s very easy to refute people claiming the Bible teaches to punish rape victims due to what it says in Deuteronomy 22:20-21. Deuteronomy 22:20-21 is about female promiscuity (not rape) prior to marriage between two Jewish people in their society during that time period.
Seeing as we are on the topic of rape though, lets actually take a look at what the old Jewish law did in fact say regarding rape. Coincidentally, if we look just a bit further down in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 22:25) you’ll see it clearly states their laws at that time regarding this.
So it’s quite obvious the Bible does not in any way instruct followers of God to punish rape victims.
Now there are certainly laws (especially in the Old Testament) that seem very barbaric and harsh, however keep in mind this was a completely different culture and time period and society. Virginity for example was treated with far more importance and respect than it is in our culture, as was marriage and commitment.
That being said though, the Bible does not instruct us as Christians to keep the old Jewish laws and traditions and customs; so even on those grounds alone one could refute the claim that we should ‘punish’ rape victims. There were also Jewish laws against wearing two different types of cloth, having ‘tassels’ on your cloak, being circumcised, etc…
Nowhere in the New Testament does it say we are to follow the old Jewish laws. It does say that Christ died to fulfill the law and made us free from the law (Romans 10:4, Matthew 5:17, Romans 6:14, Galatians 3:10-13). That again though is a different topic altogether. This site has a good overview in that regard.
I’m a Christian, not a Jew, I follow Jesus Christ to the best of my ability based on what He taught and what I understand from reading about Him from the Bible, I don’t follow Jewish laws.
That being said, I do certainly know that God does not, nor has not, nor will He ever, condemn or punish rape victims. There is nothing in the Bible to support that claim, and everything to refute it. Even without the Old Testament verses that actually address rape specifically, one could know God wouldn’t teach to punish rape victims based on the love and mercy He has extended to us through His actions and what Jesus and His disciples taught.
The answers are there and they are obvious. All you need to do is look.