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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rape: Is It Ever Legitimate?

With the presidential elections just a few days away, both sides have already made their voices heard on a number of topics, including women's issues. One topic that always comes up during election time is the question of abortion and contraception. This year it went a little further when one senator used the term "legitimate rape," which, quite frankly left me scratching my head. Where is the legitimacy in rape?

One thing I love about the Bible is that it tackles every subject known to man. The Bible is relevant today as it was when it was written thousands of years ago. And so the Bible addresses the subject of rape. Deuteronomy 22: 25 says, "But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die." 

Fast forward to the story of Tamar, King David's daughter. She was raped, not by a stranger and not in the fields, but by her brother, Ammon, in his own house.
"And when she had brought them unto him to eat , he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister. 12 And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly ... Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her" (2 Samuel 13 ; 11 - 12; 14).

Did Ammon have a legitimate right to rape his sister? No, he did not. The Bible says that immediately the act was completed, "Amnon hated her exceedingly ; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise , be gone" (v 15). No apology, no word of comfort, nothing. She was thrown out like a dog. King David was wroth at the news, according to the  Bible, but he did nothing about it.

The Bible says that Tamar tore her clothes, put ashes on her head and went out crying. From that time, no man would look at her, because she had been violated. She would be a desolate woman for the rest of her life. Not so Ammon. His life went on as usual. Until finally, as cunningly as he had plotted to rape his sister, his older brother, Absalom, plotted and had Ammon killed. 

Justice was served, you might say. But what about poor Tamar? She is never mentioned again in the Bible. Her life had just about come to an end. Society is much more lenient now. A woman who has been raped or abused may still get married, have a family and try to put her past behind her. But do the scars ever heal? 

The words "legitimate" and  "rape" could never belong together. They are on opposite sides of the coin. But if you have suffered that unfortunate experience, God can heal you. He can turn your scars into stars. He promises to give you  "beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness" (Isaiah 61 : 3). Won't you call on Him today?
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