A friend recently sent me an article and asked for my thoughts on it. I was initially really angered by it because it really seeks to distort the reality of who the God I serve is. The author takes passages from the Bible that are really there as stories for historical context and tries to use them to show that God (Jesus) condones rape and the mistreatment of women. Let me vehemently say I do NOT believe that this is true, and if I remotely believed this was what Jesus taught, than there is no way I could serve a god like that.
So, let's break some of the arguments that this article presents apart. First of all, when we talk about the Old Testament which is where all of the examples are from we need to understand the context of the times. History tells us that women were not seen the same way then as they are now. Even within the last 100 years women have gained greater influence and a greater sense of equality.
Jesus "broke" the law that all the Jews kept. In Luke 5 for instance you see Jesus and his disciples being reprimanded by the Pharisees for doing what was "unlawful" on the Sabbath. The Old Testament is full of stories and of people "following" the law. The purpose of the law was to show people their need for a Savior. Once Jesus came there really wasn't a need for the law. Realistically even those who attempt to "keep the law" today don't! They "cherry pick" the parts they want to use. For instance many would not deem a woman to be "unclean" during her monthly cycle and that anything she sits on or sleeps in is unclean (see Leviticus 15). The law as seen in Leviticus was never meant for today.
The author of this article claims that Jesus condones the rape and mistreatment of women. If we look at how Jesus treated women while he was here on earth you will see this is not the case. There are multiple woman that Jesus interacted with in a very kind way which would have been frowned upon by the people of that day. Jesus interacted kindly with the woman at the well, he saved the woman caught in adultery from being stoned, he defended the woman who washed his feet with tears to the religious leaders, and so many others. All of these instances show Jesus treated women kindly and with respect.
The author also says that Jesus never says anything about rape specifically. While this may be true, there are definitely principles in the New Testament that would apply. Ephesians 5:3 says that there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality among God's people. I truly believe that you can apply this to the issue of rape and sexual abuse. These kind of actions are specifically forbidden in the Bible. Mark 9:42 says it would be better for a person to die than to offend (or hurt) a little one. This doesn't sound like the kind of god that would condone abuse. The other thing we can specifically point out is when Jesus in Mark 12:28-31 that the 2 most important commandments are that you love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as well. Reality is that if you are truly loving God and people as you should there is no way you are going to hurt other people. True love seeks the best for others, not to hurt others.
People are going to believe what they want to, but I choose to trust and believe and I KNOW that my God is not the monster that some would like to portray him as. The God I serve is one who loves unconditionally, values women and children, and doesn't want to see people be hurt.