Does the God of the Bible condone and/or command rape? I asserted below that I have been told as much, though no particular evidence has been produced to that end. In the comment section, I was told that in the story of 2 Samuel 11-12 God commands rape. Let’s see if that is true.
That section of Scripture tells the story of one of David’s most grievous sins – he takes another man’s wife as his own and arranges for the husband’s death. In response to this radical injustice, God sends the prophet Nathan into him to tell him what will be the consequences of his actions. As far as I can tell, the only passage that would be used to say that God commands rape here is 2 Samuel 12:11:
Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.
As I asserted below, context has a lot to do with what this passage actually says. David took another man’s wife from him, and there are textual hints that she might have been a more than willing party to their behavior. David did not rape Bathsheba – their sex was consensual. In response, David is told that several of his wives will be taken away from him and given to his neighbors and they will be brazen about their sexuality. David took Uriah’s wife, his wives will be taken. No rape indicated, hinted at or explicitly mentioned in either scenario.
We might get hung up on the idea that God will give David’s wives to his neighbors. Here it is helpful to have a sense of how the OT communicates things like punishment for sin. There is reciprocity here to be sure, but the phrase, “I will take your wives” is shorthand for the natural flow of events which will result from David’s behavior. The OT understands God as punishing sin, so it has no problem assigning the reciprocity to God’s judgment. It need not be a heavy-handed judgment, as if God is forcibly removing women from David’s home and handing them over to violent rapists. In fact, that reading is directly contrary to the plain sense of the text.
In addition, the verb for, “shall lie with,” shakab, is a very common Hebrew verb in the OT for consensual sex (it is such a straight-forward verb that if often means literal sleep with no sexual overtones). It is, in fact, the same verb used in 2 Samuel 11:4 to describe the meeting of David and Bathsheba. In neither instance is rape explicitly mentioned or implicitly hinted at.
The plain, straightforward, and natural reading of the 2 Samuel 12:11 text is that David’s wives will be unfaithful to him just as he was unfaithful to them. It takes a strained and quote-mining reading of the text to conclude that it supports the idea that God commands or condones rape.