Questions From Readers
● According to the Bible at Deuteronomy 22:23-27, an Israelite engaged girl threatened with rape was required to scream. What is the position of a Christian woman today if faced with a similar situation? Is she to scream even if an attacker threatens her life with a weapon?—M. U., United States.
According to God’s law an Israelite girl was under obligation to scream: “In case there happened to be a virgin girl engaged to a man, and a man actually found her in the city and lay down with her, you must also bring them both out to the gate of that city and pelt them with stones, and they must die, the girl for the reason that she did not scream in the city, and the man for the reason that he humiliated the wife of his fellow man.” If, however, the attack took place in a field and the woman screamed and thus tried to get away from the attacker, she was not to be stoned, since she was overpowered and there was no one to rescue her.—Deut. 22:23-27.
But suppose the man had a weapon and threatened to kill the girl if she failed to lie down with him? These scriptures do not weaken the argument or alter the situation by citing any circumstance that would justify her in not screaming. It plainly says she should scream; hence, oppose the attack regardless of the circumstances. If she was overpowered and perhaps knocked unconscious and violated before help came in answer to her screams, she could not be held accountable. The thought of the scriptures apparently is that the girl’s screaming, by attracting neighborhood attention, would frighten off her assailant and would save her, even though he threatened her life for not quietly complying with his wishes and passionate desires.
Such Scriptural precedents are applicable to Christians, who are under command, “Flee from fornication.” (1 Cor. 6:18) Thus if a Christian woman does not cry out and does not put forth every effort to flee, she would be viewed as consenting to the violation. The Christian woman who wants to keep clean and obey God’s commandments, then, if faced with this situation today, needs to be courageous and to act on the suggestion made by the Scriptures and scream. Actually this counsel is for her welfare; for, if she should submit to the man’s passionate wishes, she would not only be consenting to fornication or adultery, but be plagued by the shame. There would be shame, not only from the repulsiveness of the experience, but of having been coerced into breaking God’s law by having sex connections with one other than a legal marriage mate. Not only that, but she might become an unwed mother, or she may contract a terrible disease from her morally debased attacker.
It is true that a woman faces the possibility her assailant will carry out his threat; but, then, what guarantee does she have that such a desperate criminal would not kill her after satisfying his passion? In fact, such a one, perhaps already hunted by the law, may be more likely to kill her after the attack, since she would then have had a greater opportunity to identify him and would therefore be in a better position to supply a description of him to the authorities. In such case, following the Scriptural counsel of screaming could well save one’s life by attracting attention and driving the attacker away at the outset, instead of causing him to feel that he must get rid of his victim for fear of being identified later.
In most instances it is doubtless a matter of calling the assailant’s bluff, since the girl’s screams could result in his arrest for attempted rape. Also, if he carried out his threat and committed murder, he would face the likelihood of apprehension and conviction for this even more serious offense. Of course, there is the possibility that instead of fleeing immediately, the attacker may strike his victim or inflict a superficial wound to silence the screams, yet would not the endurance of such physical punishment be insignificant compared to the disgrace and shame of submitting to an immoral man?
A Christian woman is entitled to fight for her virginity or marital fidelity to the death. Just how best she can defend herself against anyone who wants to defile her depends upon her courage and quick wits. At least, as has been mentioned, she should first try to frighten off the would-be rapist by screaming and making as loud and noisy a spectacle of the matter as she possibly can, in order to summon any convenient aid. This being unavailing, then she has a right to defend her virtue by whatever means she can.
The morals of this generation have indeed sunk to an unprecedented low, just as Bible prophecy foretold for these last days. The fact that over 15,000 women a year, about one every half hour, are raped in the United States alone emphasizes this fact. It also serves as a warning to women that they should exercise care so as to avoid dangerous situations. Since women are almost always attacked when they are alone, they should arrange to have a companion along, especially when they are out after dark. And in localities where it is considered dangerous for women even during daylight hours, women should not go out alone but should take along a companion. God’s Word says: “If somebody could overpower one alone, two together could make a stand against him. And a threefold cord cannot quickly be torn in two.” (Eccl. 4:12) For a Christian woman to persist in going out alone in a city or locality where women are frequently attacked is to invite trouble and needlessly endanger life. It is the part of wisdom to give thought to what could happen in a given situation and then take the necessary precautions. The wise person foresees danger and takes steps to avoid it. “The shrewd one considers his steps.”—Prov. 14:15.