Deuteronomy 22, Judges 19, Lot, Lot's Daughters, rape, sexual assault, Sodom, Steubenville, Steubenville Ohio, Steubenville rape
There may be triggers with this post.
And it may be NSFW. But so is the Bible in certain places.
Let me tell you a story. No names will be used to protect all involved.
One weekend night in college, my friends came back from a night at a bar. Most of them were pretty intoxicated and very sick from their evening libations. A couple of them were unconscious. They thought they had alcohol poisoning. Looking back on the situation, I wonder if there were other substances that had been slipped into their drinks by someone at the bar… but that’s secondary to this story.
A number of people were in one dorm room. I saw all of this occur from the doorway as many of my closest friends were in the room. The person who lived in that dorm room, Mr. Snake, decided to kick everyone out of the dorm room except Ms. Deer who was passed out on his bed. Two of my male friends refused to leave the room. One jumped on Mr. Snake’s back. The other, Mr. Rhino, headbutted Mr. Snake, in order to protect his friend Ms. Deer.
Guess who got in trouble from this? Mr. Rhino, of course.
It doesn’t matter if Mr. Rhino was standing up for Ms. Deer trying to protect her from any abuse or violation (and thank God she wasn’t raped or abused). What mattered to the powers that be is that Mr. Rhino be held accountable for what he did to Mr. Snake even when his actions were needed.
I was friends with men who stood up for the protection of women, but when they were trying to be faithful allies to women, they were the ones who got in trouble.
The ones who wanted to take advantage of women never got reprimanded by the powers that be.
Too many people I know have endured sexual assault in many various forms. There are men who cared about these women and tried to protect them. But there were still men who felt they had the right to use these women’s bodies as they wanted.
I’d love say that any decent human being should know not to rape someone when they are passed out or in any other vulnerable position. Isn’t this a “duh” situation: don’t hurt someone who is more vulnerable than you.
But I guess some people need to feel powerful. And abuse is how they attain that power.
The conversation we should be having in the 21st century must include how we associate power with sex, and that conversation must include how the Bible portrays rape.
The Bible, especially the Old Testament, does not do the greatest job defending people against rape. Sure if a man is to rape a man, then that’s an incredible sin. People associate the sin of Sodom being sex between men, but the Sodom citizens really wanted power over the visitors.
Lot offers his daughters in return. So, back during the time when this text was written, it was apparently more acceptable to offer women and their bodies. Fortunately for the girls, the Sodomites didn’t want Lots daughters.
Yet even Lot’s daughters took advantage of their father while he was drunk. (This can go both ways. While women being attacked by men is more common, we can’t forget that men can be assaulted as well.)
A similar story to Lot offering the rape of his daughters is found in Judges 19. When the men in a town called Gibeah demand to rape a male visitor to the town, his host offers to give the men his virgin daughter and the guest’s concubine. As the host says to the rowdy men “Ravish them and do whatever you want to them; but against this man do not do such a vile thing.” The men of Gibeah take the concubine and assault her all night. They throw her dead body in front of the guest’s door.
Did women have so much less value than men that they deserved to have their bodies raped until they were dead?
Deuteronomy 22:28-29 does not condemn a man from raping an unmarried woman. He must buy her as a wife from her father.
(And sometimes I wonder how I’m still a Christian with texts such as these.)
And then I continue to read… The book Song of Solomon shows a more egalitarian and loving relationship between two people. Seeing 1 Corinthians 13, I am reminded what real love is about: not taking advantage of another. Jesus was never a “power over” person but rather “power with” those around him.
Why do we continue to allow a rape culture, and does Scripture perpetrate that culture? If it looks alright in the Bible, which was written in a completely different context, are we implicitly allowing it in our current culture?
Which leads us to Steubenville. People turned their heads and laughed as a young, unconscious drunk girl was sexually assaulted. Why were there no people like my friend Mr. Rhino? Where were the men and women who could have called the police? Why do the powers that be cover up and glorify certain men (especially ones who shine in sports)?
And in how many other high schools and colleges are situations like these happening? It’s time to talk, and it’s time to put Scripture stories of rape in their proper place.