What Does the Bible Say About Sexual Harassment, Assault and Rape?

You are here

What Does the Bible Say About Sexual Harassment, Assault and Rape?

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up

×
Downloads
MP3 Audio (7.87 MB)

Downloads

What Does the Bible Say About Sexual Harassment, Assault and Rape?

MP3 Audio (7.87 MB)
×

Today, many live in fear for their sexual security, especially women. We live in an unsafe world. Rape and sexual assault have been problems throughout history. However, the Bible reveals a loving and caring God who will intervene to fix this condition. Throughout God’s Word, He shows special concern for the oppressed, disadvantaged and victimized. In every account of sexual assault or rape in the Bible, these acts are not swept under the rug but regarded as serious tragedies that demand action.

God promises to administer justice to all who have been mistreated or abused (Exodus 22:22-24 Exodus 22:22-24 22 You shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. 23 If you afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all to me, I will surely hear their cry; 24 And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.
American King James Version×
) and ultimately offers them everlasting comfort and complete emotional healing (Revelation 21:4 Revelation 21:4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
American King James Version×
). God promises a future free from sexual assault, rape and harassment, when “no one shall make them afraid” (Micah 4:4 Micah 4:4But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken it.
American King James Version×
).

From beginning to end, the Bible condemns sexual harassment, assault and rape and includes them in a list of “works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21 Galatians 5:19-21 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousies, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×
). Paul’s letter to the Ephesians proves that sexual harassment, even in the form of lewd or suggestive “jokes,” have no place in the life of a Christian and are totally prohibited: “…fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness , nor  foolish talking , nor coarse jesting , which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks” (Ephesians 5:3-4 Ephesians 5:3-4 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becomes saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
American King James Version×
, emphasis added). Paul goes on to write in verse 5 that those who practice, say or even think such things, and refuse to change their ways, cannot be part of God’s Kingdom (Ephesians 5:5 Ephesians 5:5For this you know, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
American King James Version×
).

In contrast to the failings of human courts and institutions, God’s Law gave complete protection and deference to victims, with high punishments for offenders. This would promote a culture that allows victims to come forward without guilt or shame, and without the fear that they wouldn’t be believed, or nothing would be done.

The primary law concerning rape is found in Deuteronomy 22:25-26 Deuteronomy 22:25-26 25 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. 26 But to the damsel you shall do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man rises against his neighbor, and slays him, even so is this matter:
American King James Version×
, which describes a situation when a man “finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her.” The use of the word “force” conveys a clear meaning of rape that distinguishes this passage from the surrounding verses that share a similar structure. A careful examination shows that verses 23-24 deal with a case of consensual adultery, while verses 28-29 concern consensual sex before marriage—neither of these describe a man using “force.”

According to Deuteronomy 22:25-26 Deuteronomy 22:25-26 25 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. 26 But to the damsel you shall do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man rises against his neighbor, and slays him, even so is this matter:
American King James Version×
, a man found guilty of rape would be put to death, and such a terrible act is equivalent to murder:

“You shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter” (Deuteronomy 22:26 Deuteronomy 22:26But to the damsel you shall do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man rises against his neighbor, and slays him, even so is this matter:
American King James Version×
).

Not only was the man punished, but the woman was proclaimed entirely guiltless.

A close look at the circumstances presented in the law reveals great deference to the victim. It describes a young woman “in the countryside” who “cried out, but there was no one there to save her” (Deuteronomy 22:27 Deuteronomy 22:27For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.
American King James Version×
). By “crying out” the woman warned her attacker that this sex was not consensual and reminded him of the penalty of the law. Despite the horrific nature of the assault, she at least could have confidence of her full protection under God’s Law and that justice would be done. The law gave the woman the benefit of the doubt, and, when the matter was investigated, her testimony would be taken seriously. 

Given the increasingly evident failures of today’s system, it is hard to overstate the significance of this last point: the law of God sides with a woman even when she is the only witness to the crime committed against her. She knew she would be taken seriously and given justice.

Throughout the entire Bible, sexual violence—including rape, assault and harassment of either women or men—is outlawed and condemned. Our loving Father will bring about a future Kingdom that is free from these evil acts. At that time, He will also heal and restore those who have been victimized when He “will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4 Revelation 21:4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
American King James Version×
). But for victims of sexual assault, the healing process can begin now.

More resources to help you or someone you know cope with sexual assault: “Healing and Hope For a Victim of Sexual Abuse” ; “Why Am I Suffering?” ; Breaking Free ; rainn.org  (or call 1-800-656-HOPE); “Life Beyond Abuse” at joycemeyer.com.

You might also be interested in...