In Genesis 24:50-51 and Genesis 29:15-19 the Bible speaks approvingly of fathers who forced their daughters to marry men they had just met without asking their opinion. In Deuteronomy 21:10-14 the Bible allows for men to take captive women and force them to be their wives.
The passages I just cited have been used by those who hate the Bible and hate Christianity to call the Bible an evil and immoral book. Most Christians do not even want to talk about these passages and when some Christians do talk about them they try and soften these passages or explain them away entirely.
The reason that such passages of Scriptures as the ones above are appalling to our modern American values is because of the false religion of Egalitarianism. And yes Egalitarianism is very much a religion just as Christianity is a religion. At the center of true Christianity is the Worship of the one true God – the God of Israel, the God of the Bible. At the center of Egalitarianism is the god of equality. One of this false god’s primary doctrines is that of bodily autonomy. The god of equality demands that his subjects believe that they can do whatever they want with their bodies. In fact, he demands total equality not just of opportunities but also of outcomes. Any freedom that does not include total equality is not a freedom that should be allowed according the god of equality. This god is actually willing to sacrifice true freedom as Christianity understands it to his end of total equality.
Another false doctrine of Egalitarianism is something I addressed in my article “It’s Not a Woman’s Consent That Matters, It’s God’s” and this false doctrine of Sexual Consent ideology has poisoned our society’s view of sex.
Since the rise of Egalitarianism in America and some of its evil children, the Free Love and Feminist movements, we have turned the entire concept of intimate relationships between men and women upside down. Entering into marriage is no longer centered on the decisions of men (whether it be fathers deciding to give their daughters in marriage or husbands deciding to take women in marriage) but rather marriage now centers primarily on the decisions of women. This change to human civilization over the last one and a half centuries cannot be understated.
With that said as an introduction, I will take a very different approach to these passages and the questions they raise than the ones you have probably heard from Christian teachers today. I will not to try to hide or explain away these passages of the Scriptures. But instead I will honor God’s Word in these passages and in doing so shine a light on the evil doctrines of Egalitarianism that the Church has allowed itself to become infested with over the last century and a half.
Forced Marriages in the Scriptures
First we will discuss the concept of women being forced to marry men without first being asked if they consented to marrying these men. We will discuss two notable stories in the Bible that not only illustrate this concept, but show that God blessed it.
The Forced Marriage of Rebekah to Isaac
In Genesis chapter 24 we have the story of how Isaac and Rebekah came to be married. We read that Abraham was very concerned about Isaac getting a wife. So he compels his servant to go back to his homeland (Aram which is also called Syria) to get a wife for his son Isaac. The servant sets a test before the Lord to show him which woman should be the one he chooses for his master’s son. Rebekah passes the test and the servant gives her jewelry and asks to speak with her family. He speaks to her father and brother and asks for Rebekah to be given to him to take back for his master’s son to be his wife. There was no asking Rebekah’s opinion if she wanted to marry this man far away that she had never met. Her father and brother responded:
“50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the Lord: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good. 51 Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master’s son’s wife, as the Lord hath spoken.”
Genesis 24:50-51 (KJV)
Some Christians have falsely claimed that Rebekah was given a say in marrying Isaac because her mother and brother asked that she remain ten days with her family before leaving to marry Isaac:
“55 And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go. 56 And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.
57 And they said, We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth. 58 And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go. 59 And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men.”
Genesis 24:55-59 (KJV)
An honest reading of this passage shows this had nothing to do with her mother or brother seeking whether she consented to marry Isaac. Instead what they were seeking her opinion on was whether she wanted to stay ten days with her family before leaving to marry Isaac.
Also, just a side note – we know based on the entirety of the Scriptures that her brother really had no say in this either – he was just agreeing with her father. Throughout the Scriptures it was the decision of one man – the father as to whether he would give or refuse to give his daughter in marriage to another man.
Finally, we see that the Rebekah did not hesitate but immediately gave herself sexually to this man, Isaac, whom she had just met knowing she was to become his wife:
“And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”
Genesis 24:67 (KJV)
The Forced Marriage of Rachel to Jacob
In Genesis chapter 29 we read of the story of how Jacob married Rachel and again we see forced marriage illustrated:
“15 And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?
16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured. 18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.
19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me. “
In Genesis 29:15-19 (KJV)
Note here that Rachel’s consent was never asked for by her father or by Jacob. A lot of Christian books try turn the Jacob and Rachel story here into a premarital romance. But nothing in the text paints this picture. They will point to this passage below when Jacob first meets Rachel as proof of their premarital romance theory:
“10 And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. 11 And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.”
Genesis 29:10-11 (KJV)
Isn’t romantic? Jacob just comes up and plants one on Rachel to show his romantic affection for her. Oh, but wait. Let’s see who kisses Jacob right after he kisses Rachel:
“12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s brother, and that he was Rebekah’s son: and she ran and told her father. 13 And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things.”
Genesis 29:12-13 (KJV)
So was Laban running to kiss Jacob and embracing him romantic too? The truth is that it was and still is common in Middle Eastern and other cultures as well for relatives to greet one another with a kiss. In fact the Scriptures tell us as Christian brothers and sisters in Christ to greet one another with a “holy kiss”:
“Greet one another with an holy kiss.”
2 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)
Sorry folks – but we have to poor some cold water on your premarital romance parade.
But it says Jacob loved Rachel!
Yes the Scriptures tell us tell us that Jacob loved Rachel:
“18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. 19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me. 20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.”
Genesis 29:18-20 (KJV)
A couple of notes here on this supposed premarital romance of Jacob and Rachel. Do the Scriptures here say that Rachel loved Jacob during this seven year period he waited to marry her? No. Does it say they went dating and for long walks just talking and sharing their feelings with another? No. In fact no passage in all the Bible proclaims Rachel’s love for Jacob. So once again we have a big bucket of cold water that is thrown on the premarital romance theory of Rachel and Jacob.
Did Jacob Marry Rachel for Her Beautiful Personality?
Now we have to ask the next question – what clue are we given as to why Jacob loved Rachel? Was it because he loved her personality? Was it because he loved sharing his feelings with her and her sharing her feelings with him? The answer is no. Instead the only clue we are given as to why Jacob loved Rachel is given in the two verses just before his love for her is stated:
“16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.”
Genesis 29:16-17 (KJV)
I stated this in my article “It’s Not the Women’s Consent That Matters, It’s God’s” regarding this passage above from Genesis 29:
“The Hebrew phrase that is translated as “beautiful and well favoured” in the KJV is not as literal to Hebrew text. In the Hebrew it it reads yâpheh[beautiful,lovely,fair] tô’ar [form, figure, shape] yâpheh[beautiful,lovely,fair] mar’eh[sight, vision, appearance]. So when we take this phrase together it said Rachel had “a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at”. In modern terms we would say “Rachel had a hot body and was easy on the eyes”.
So the only clue we are given in the Bible as to why Jacob loved Rachel was because she had a hot body and was easy on the eyes. Now if that does not blow a massive whole in our modern ideals of romance today I don’t know what would. If a man were to be asked today what was the first reason he wanted to marry his wife and he said “because she had a great body and was easy on the eyes” in most cases he would get nasty looks from every woman in the room including his wife.
This is because we have rejected God’s design of man and that fact that God has designed men to be drawn to women first and foremost by their physical features and then only secondarily to their personalities (their minds). It is also part of a larger rejection of God’s design in creating men, women and marriage. We have now so corrupted the process for how we enter into marriage and sexual relations that it bears little resemblance to God’s intended purposes in designing men, women and marriage.
Today marriage, companionship and sexual relations all center on the feelings of women. God created man for his glory, and he created woman for man as I Corinthians 11:7-9 clearly states. Yet we have turned the creation order upside down.
When we fully embrace this Biblical concept – that God create man for his glory, and woman for man than the fact that God designed men to first be drawn to women by their physical beauty, and then only secondarily to their personalities should never offend any Christian woman or Christian man. And when we fully embrace this same Biblical concept that God created man for his glory and woman for man then the concept of forced marriage should not offend our sensibilities as Christians either.
A More Controversial Form of Forced Marriage
While some Christians can wrap their heads around the forced marriage stories I just mentioned the following there is another type of forced marriage the Bible speaks to and it actually specifically allows and regulates.
10 When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.
11 And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. 12 And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:
13 And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword:
14 But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.
15 Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.
16 But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: 17 But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee“
Deuteronomy 20:10-17 (KJV)
God allowed the men of the army of Israel to take the spoils of war from the cities they conquered including women. However many have falsely said this was an allowance for the Israelite men to rape the women of these cities and murder them afterward or leave them for dead as many nations around them did. The next passage below actually details what the treatment of women who were taken as captives of war was to be.
“10 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the Lord thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, 11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;
12 Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;
13 And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.
14 And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.”
Deuteronomy 21:10-14 (KJV)
So no an Israelite man could not just take a woman sexually on the battlefield and leave her for dead as other nations did. God required him to take her back to Israel and allow her to mourn her family for a month and then he had to take her as a wife.
But this still leaves the fact that this was in fact a forced marriage and certainly forced sex was involved based on the phrase “thou has humbled her”. When the Bible refers to a woman being “humbled” by a man it means he forced her to have sex against her will. This same phrase is used in these other passages below:
“23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;
24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.
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 unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:
27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.
28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.”
Deuteronomy 22:23-29 (KJV)
The Bible does not frown upon forced marriage or forced sex within marriage. Not just in the stories mentioned here, but consistently throughout the Bible fathers give their daughters in marriage and husbands take wives in marriage. The modern idea of a woman’s consent either for marriage to be valid or for sexual relations finds no place in the Scriptures.
The Scriptures are clear – a woman has no choice but to tell a man she is not married to NO to sex and she has no choice but to tell her husband YES to sex. Therefore we can rightly conclude that from a Biblical perspective a woman’s consent to sex is an oxymoron.
In the situation of a captive woman being forced to marry her captor the Scriptures acknowledge that him forcing her to marry him was synonymous with him humbling her or literally he forced her to have sex with him as his wife and God approved of this entire process.