Is It Okay to Force a Woman You’ve Captured to Marry You?

by Jimmy Akin

in Apologetics, Bible, Canon Law, Moral Theology, Sacraments

Suppose you've captured a woman in wartime. Is it okay to force her to marry you?

Sometimes atheists claim that God endorses rape because Deuteronomy says it’s okay to force women you’ve captured in wartime to marry you.

Is that true?

Let’s look at the issue . . .


Captive Brides

(NOTE: This post is part of a series on the “dark passages” of the Bible. Click here to see all of the posts in the series.)

Several years ago I was in an art museum with the children of a family I’m friends with.

We were in the classical art section when, suddenly, the four-year old at my knee asked, “Where are those men taking those women?”

I bent down to look at the painting that was oddly hung at her eye-level (!) and realized it was a depiction of an event from early Roman history, the Abduction of the Sabine Women.

Not knowing how to break this down in a chaste way for a four-year old, I said: “Uhh . . . to have fun.”

“Okay,” she said.

Of course, there was more to it than that.

Specifically, the early Romans who participated in the abduction were engaging in a practice that was somewhat common in the ancient world, and even in some parts of the world today: obtaining a bride by capturing one.

Wikipedia has an article on this, in case you’re interested. (There are even captive grooms, though that is much less common, unless you count old-fashioned “shotgun weddings.”)

What are we to make of this in a Judeo-Christian context?


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