From Awareness Times Newspaper in
CHRISTIAN LIFE OPINION & REFLECTIONS: Rape – Punishable By Death?
By Elder Francis Hinga Maada Lahai
Sep 3, 2015, 17:00
Sierra Leone has been rocked by a series of revelations of rape victims in the months of July and August 2015 in Freetown, Kono, Kailahun, Makeni and who knows where else. It raises concerns amongst the children of God about what has gone wrong with God’ most cherished creation, Man. Or are these only symptomatic of the end-times? End-time belief is that there will be utter decadence of humanity to the point that the World’s cup will get full and the Lord Almighty will be left with no option but to destroy sin. In the process men and women who have sin in them will be destroyed! Ooops Sorry, God was only destroying Sin.
Rape is a sinful act. So if rape is a sin and it stays in you till the end of your time, you will be destroyed together with Sin. You are marked for death!
Just so we understand ourselves, the Gender Acts of Sierra Leone define Rape as :
Rape is one of the sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) daily perpetrated all over the world. Other forms of gender based violence can include beating of women and children, depriving them of food, education, and care; even intimidating through telephones and text messages. From the definition above, we are not only looking at the physical use of force but any other subtle forms through which a man can coerce a woman into sexual relationship without their consent.
Most men think that its only the physical use of force makes the act rape. This would be an underestimation of the impact of rape on the victims.
Rape is a manifestation of violence, taking something that does not belong to you by unlawful means and without the consent of the owner. It stems from lustful thinking, from anger at not being able to get what one wants or from criminal thinkings. Rape victims live under fear of discrimination and the possibility of a repeat of the act. Why should anyone have the right to enter into the privacy of the victims without their consent? This is a breach of their basic human rights.
Leviticus 18 gives us a whole series of laws in relation to sexual immorality. …. Verse 15 ‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law—she is your son’s wife—you shall not uncover her nakedness. 16 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness. 17 You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, nor shall you take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness. They are near of kin to her. It is wickedness. 18 Nor shall you take a woman as a rival to her sister, to uncover her nakedness while the other is alive. 19 ‘Also you shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness as long as she is in her customary impurity. 20 Moreover you shall not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife, to defile yourself with her.
Research shows that half of rape perpetrators are members of family, friends and persons that the victims hold in high esteem. The victims are often scared and afraid to expose these persons for fear of the reprisals, others not believing their story or for the social stigma that goes with it.
In the Bible, two cases of rape are famous:
First was the case of Tamar who was raped by her half -brother Amnon. In 2 Samuel 13 we see a glimpse of how lust for the half-sister eventually led to rape and the feud between brothers. In verse 12, even though the sister pleaded, ‘….But she answered him, “No, my brother, do not force me, for no such thing should be done in Israel. Do not do this disgraceful thing! 13 And I, where could I take my shame? And as for you, you would be like one of the fools in Israel.”
The appeals of the young lady did not stop him. Rapists can become ‘fools’ and very stubborn when the urge in them becomes uncontrollable. To stop this tendency, the Bible teaches to be self-disciplined, be sober-minded, refrain from excessive anger and marry your own wife.
Ecclesiastes 7: 9 “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools”In Amnon’s case, for reasons easily understandable, he developed hatred and anger for her sister after the incident. One cannot perpetrate injustice and anger against a close family member and not regret it.
Empirical evidence shows that it is the guilt and the desire to cover the shame that leads to multiple perpetrations of the act as if the repeated act will lead to acceptance by the victim. In war times, the soldiers and rebels are known to have developed what we call Multiple Rape Perpetrator (MPR) syndrome. The perpetrators are not satisfied with a one-off incidence but continue in the act as if it’s a God-given right or as if a legal arrangement now exists between the perpetrator and the victim. However, as long as consent is missing, it shall always continue to be rape. In Amnon’s case, he drove off the sister in a shameful way, out of regret that caused the brother Absalom to decide to revenge.
28 Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, “Watch now, when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon!’ then kill him. Do not be afraid. Have I not commanded you? Be courageous and valiant.” 29 So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. (Amnon was killed.)
When God created man and woman, he made the man the stronger sex and the female the weaker sex. But at the same time, he made all humans equal. The equality of the man and the woman can therefore be understood to be in the rights to life and justice. Each of God’s creation will be judged in a similar manner and on the same principles as the other. Each should experience the love of God in their lives to similar extents. The physical strength of the man was to be used to provide for his family while the cunningness of the woman was to be used for survival. Man is not expected to Lord it over her spouse.
The second case of rape in the Bible is not so explicit.
In 2 Samuel 11, while the soldier husband of Bethsheba, mother of King Solomon was at war, the King David took the woman for his wife. While the Bible is silent about how the act finally happened, we can see that the married woman could not have accepted without some form of coercion by David. Yes, David committed adultery and rape at the same time! The use of power dynamics is another factor that comes into play very often in rape cases. Where the man is a powerful man in society, or he is a fatherly figure, or a rich man, not even whispers of what happened can be heard. In David’s case, Bathsheba was powerless against the King. In today’s world, Presidents, Honourable Ministers and Directors of corporations are the most powerful. Who can question them if they committed such acts? Only the one who never sleeps or slumbers. The sovereign Lord of Israel is always watching and is the ultimate defender of the defenceless.
David, unlike most rapists immediately saw he had done evil in the sight of the Lord and prayed for forgiveness. Psalm 51 provides insight into how troubled he was and what he asked God to do: Create in me a clean heart, O Lord…
Oh, if our multiple rapists could stop and inquire of the Lord, their lives would change. God is a loving God who listens to the heart. He saw David had completely changed after talking to the prophet Samuel. David never again went through that path. He went on to become a better citizen in God’s kingdom, has a place in the World’s religions and is the great grandfather of Jesus Christ. Godly sorrow and love can transform for good.
REAL LIFE LESSONS
The death of Hannah Bockarie and others has once more opened the debate on the right of men to do what they want with their female friends and spouses. Some violence will not lead to death but makes life unbearable for the victim. The laws of the land make it abundantly clear that wives are not the property of the husbands. As Christians, the appeal is for all to develop homes in which there is the fear of God. Some women are stronger in size and character and do exercise violence with their words and their physique on their partners. Husbands and wives should love and respect one another “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips” (Prov. 24:26) and “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). Whether in the home or in the streets, the above principles will turn away strife. Women and men should dress in a manner not suggesting anything immoral. And then there would be less violence. There should be a place in our lives we call ‘home’ where we are protected without fear, except the fear of God. When there is that fear, we will only engage is legal sex, based on consent. We will care for the feelings of our spouses. There will be marriage before sex and each will love the other because that’s what God wants.
Else whether in the home or on the streets, Rape is punishable eventually by death.
© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.