We must now discuss some of the less pleasant aspects of sex. Satan often takes things that are righteous before God and encourages man to pervert those acts into things that are wicked. Often men believe they have created something new, but sin has long existed in the world. As Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Rape is when a man forces a woman to have sex with him. Instances of rape have been recorded in the Scriptures. It is consistently condemned by God. We have already read of the case of Shechem and Diana in Genesis 34:1-7. We will now turn to two other instances of rape that have been recorded in the Bible.

The first story we will read is in Judges 19:22-28.

Now as they were enjoying themselves, suddenly certain men of the city, perverted men, surrounded the house and beat on the door. They spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came to your house, that we may know him carnally!” But the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brethren! I beg you, do not act so wickedly! Seeing this man has come into my house, do not commit this outrage. “Look, here is my virgin daughter and the man’s concubine; let me bring them out now. Humble them, and do with them as you please; but to this man do not do such a vile thing!” But the men would not heed him. So the man took his concubine and brought her out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until morning; and when the day began to break, they let her go. Then the woman came as the day was dawning, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, till it was light. When her master arose in the morning, and opened the doors of the house and went out to go his way, there was his concubine, fallen at the door of the house with her hands on the threshold. And he said to her, “Get up and let us be going.” But there was no answer. So the man lifted her onto the donkey; and the man got up and went to his place. 

Judges 19:22-28

[The phrase “that we may know him” means that they wanted to have sex with him. A virgin is someone who has never had sex before. To “humble” a woman in this context means to force her to have sex.”They knew her and abused her” means they raped her. “There was no answer” because she was dead.]

A man of the tribe of Levi was traveling with his concubine. A concubine is a female servant who is married to her master. They stopped in the town of Gibeah to spend the night. That night, a group of men surrounded the house and began beating on the door. They insisted the Levite man come out of the house so that they could “know him.” The phrase implies knowing a person very intimately. In other words, they wanted to have sex with him. You still hear the phrase “getting to know one another” as an indirect way of saying that someone had sex. Men having sex with men are called homosexuals. We will discuss the subject of homosexuals in the next chapter. For now, we will focus on the other events. The owner of the house, where the Levite was staying, tried to protect his guest by offering his daughter to the men. She had never had sex before, but the owner of the house said that these men could have sex with her. (Disgusting, isn’t it?) The men would not hear of it. They wanted the guest instead, so the Levite sent his wife (concubine) out of the house. They raped her and abused her throughout the night. By morning, they let her go and she collapsed at the door of the house where they were staying. It was there that she died.

Why do you think this story is so repulsive? Why is rape a sin?

The second story is in II Samuel 13:1-19.

Now after this it was so that Absalom, the son of David had a lovely sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. Amnon was so distressed over his sister Tamar that he became sick; for she was a virgin. And it was improper for Amnon to do anything to her. But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Now Jonadab was a very crafty man. And he said to him, “Why are you, the king’s son, becoming thinner day after day? Will you not tell me?” And Amnon said to him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” So Jonadab said to him, “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill. And when your father comes to see you, say to him, “Please let my sister Tamar come and give me food, and prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it and eat it from her hand.”

Then Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill; and when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let Tamar my sister come and make a couple of cakes for me in my sight, that I may eat from her hand.” And David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Now go to your brother Amnon’s house, and prepare food for him.” So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house; and he was lying down. Then she took flour and kneaded it, made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes. And she took the pan and placed them out before him, but he refused to eat. Then Amnon said, “Have everyone go out from me.” And they all whet out from him. Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the bedroom, that I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them to Amnon her brother in the bedroom.

Now when she had brought them to him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” And she answered him, “No, my brother, do not force me, for no such thing should be done in Israel. Do not do this disgraceful thing! And I, where could I take my shame? And as for you, you would be like one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you.” However, he would not heed her voice; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay with her.

Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Arise, be gone!” And she said to him, “No, indeed! This evil of sending me away is worse than the other that you did to me.” But he would not listen to her. Then he called his servant who attended him, and said, “Here! Put this woman out, away from me, and bolt the door behind her.”

Now she had on a robe of many colors, for the king’s virgin daughters wore such apparel. And his servant put her out and bolted the door behind her. Then Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore her robe of many colors that was on her, and laid her hand on her head and went away crying bitterly.

II Samuel 13:1-19

The story involves Amnon and Tamar. Amnon was Tamar’s half-brother. King David was both Amnon and Tamar’s father. However, Amnon and Tamar had different mothers. Tamar was very beautiful and Amnon thought that he was in love with her. He wanted to have sex with her, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it because Tamar was a virgin. Under the Old Testament law, a man who raped an unmarried woman was required to marry her (Exodus 22:16-17). As we see from how the story ends, Amnon did not want to marry Tamar. He just wanted to have sex with her. He wanted it so badly that he was becoming ill. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Amnon had a crafty friend who suggested a way for Amnon to get Tamar alone. Perhaps Amnon thought he could get away with it if no one saw him raping his sister. Perhaps he thought he could convince Tamar not to tell anyone or that she would be so ashamed of what happened that she would not tell anyone about it.

Whatever the reason, Amnon played up his illness. His father asked if there was anything that he could do for his son. Amnon asked permission for Tamar to come to his house and prepare a meal for him. David, not suspecting anything, granted Amnon’s wish and sent Tamar to his house. After preparing the meal, Amnon refused to eat until everyone left the house. He then asked Tamar to serve the meal in his bedroom. Once they were alone in the room, Amnon told Tamar that he wanted to have sex with her. Tamar refused. If Amnon wanted her so badly, he should have asked David for her hand in marriage. Tamar was certain David would have permitted it. However, as we already noted, Amnon was not interested in marriage. Because he was stronger than Tamar, he forced her into bed and raped her.

Once he satisfied his lust, he no longer wanted his sister. She told him that she should now live in his house as his wife. However, Amnon became enraged and had his servants throw her out of the house.

Do you think that Amnon truly loved his sister, or was he interpreting his lust for her as love? Many people continue to think that desiring to have sex with someone means that you are in love with that person. Such an idea is plainly false according to the Scriptures!

Who do you think is guilty of sin? Obviously, Amnon is guilty, but what about his crafty cousin, Jonadab? God said in Romans 1:32, that those who encourage others to sin are as deserving of death as those who actually commit the sinful act. Do you think Tamar also committed a sin? If you said yes, you are wrong. Throughout this story, Tamar tried to convince Amnon to abide by the Law of Moses. Even after the first sin, she still tried to make the best of a bad thing and marry the fool according to the Law. From all that we can see, Tamar did not want to break God’s law and tried hard to resist Amnon. Amnon only won out because he was stronger than she.

Even though Tamar did not sin, it does not mean she did not act foolishly. Tamar had at least two advance warnings and possibly a third warning in advance of the actual rape. Since Amnon was lovesick over Tamar, it is possible that Tamar was aware of Amnon’s feelings even if she did not realize how far Amnon would go to satisfy his desire. The second warning was when Amnon sent everyone out of the house. This is not normal behavior, and it was not wise for a young woman to stay alone in the house of a young man, even if he was ill. She should have insisted that others stay or that she would leave with the rest. Unfortunately, most of us do not want to think the worst of others, so we don’t see the potential dangers ahead of us. The third warning was when Amnon asked Tamar into his bedroom when they were alone. If nothing else sets off alarm bells, this one should have. The wise thing would have been for Tamar to run out of the house as Joseph did.

Young women, don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that it can’t happen to you. I was told of a sad tale of a young Christian girl who was asked over to a young man’s house to celebrate his birthday. After the meal, his family all went out to the porch, but he kept her in the house, took her to his bedroom, and raped her. It is better to appear distrusting than to leave yourself open to forced sex. Your parents understand this. This is why they will insist that there are others around you.

Notice that in two of the three examples we looked at, the woman was raped by someone she knew. Recently the phrase “date rape” or “acquaintance rape” has been used to describe these situations. Statistically, about 20 percent of all rapes occur during a date. One estimate is that 80 percent of all rapes are done by someone known to the woman. Just because you are familiar with a man does not mean you should let your guard down.

Let us examine what the Law of Moses taught about rape. In Exodus 22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29, a situation is described where a man has sex with a woman who is unmarried, not engaged, and has not engaged in sex with anyone else. The act of sex between the couple could have been willingly done or unwillingly done. In either case, the man must pay the woman’s father a dowry of 50 shekels of silver. A dowry is money or things given to the woman’s parents for the privilege of marrying their daughter. The man was expected to marry the woman unless the woman’s father absolutely refused. In addition, the man lost any rights to divorce his wife. Even if the father refused to allow his daughter to marry the man, the man still had to pay the dowry.

Where the woman is married or engaged to be married, the penalty is much more severe (Deuteronomy 22:23-29). In the times when the Bible was written, being engaged was considered nearly the same as being married. If the man raped the woman in an area where other people were nearby, it was assumed that the woman willingly had sex with the man since no one heard her cry out. In this case, both the man and the woman were stoned to death. If the rape took place where it was unlikely anyone would have heard the woman scream, the man was stoned but the woman was presumed to be innocent of any sin.

A woman has not committed a sin just because she was raped. Unfortunately, many people don’t seem to understand this. Too often people assume that the woman must have enticed the man in some way. If not directly, then by the way she dressed or by the way she moved. Imagine that you just had your bike stolen and a friend of yours walks up to you:

“Someone stole your bike. Too bad. You really ought to have been more careful. Serves you right, leaving your bike out where a person couldn’t help but want to steal it.”

“What do you mean? I locked my bike before I went to class. They cut the chain with a bolt cutter.”

“Sure. Even if you did remember to lock it, why did you leave your brand-new bike out in front of the building where everyone could see it?”

Do you see how this “friend” is implying that you are guilty of some undefined sin because you had a bike stolen? The same thing happens when a woman is accused of leading a man on. It doesn’t matter what she did or did not do from the man’s perspective. The man still had sex with a woman with whom he was not married! No matter how you look at it, the man is guilty of sin. Being led into sin doesn’t lessen his guilt one bit. If the woman willingly had sex with the man, then she too is guilty of sexual immorality. However, if she resisted to the best of her ability, then she is innocent before God.

Recently, some women have tried to redefine rape as any time a woman has sex and the woman did not want it at that time. This is an inaccurate definition by God’s standard. In a marriage, a woman is never to withhold sexual privileges from her husband; just as a man must always be ready to satisfy his wife’s desire for sex (I Corinthians 7:2-5). From the Bible’s perspective, it is not possible for a husband to rape his own wife.

Study Questions

  1. What did Shechem do with Diana in Genesis 34:1-7 that was wrong? Why was it wrong?
  2. What did the men of Gibeah in Judges 19:22-28 do to the Levite’s wife that was wrong? Why was it wrong?
  3. What did Amnon do to Tamar in II Samuel 13:1-22 that was wrong? Why was it wrong?
  4. In Shechem’s and Amnon’s cases, what would have been the correct thing to do?
  5. Is a woman guilty of some sin when she is raped? Why or why not?
  6. In the story of Amnon and Tamar, what was Jonadab’s sin?

Class Discussion

  • Why do some men rape women?
  • Is it necessary for a woman to reject a sexual advance for it to be wrong?
  • Who sins when a rape is committed? Why?
  • Does the person who has been raped bear any responsibility?
  • Can someone not physically rape a woman and still be guilty of rape?