Marriage does not offer protection from abuse or rape, and this applies also to marriages joined in communities that use and cherish the Bible as a sacred and authoritative text.
Saima Afzal and Johanna Stiebert are currently writing a book about some of the difficult dynamics between ‘the Bible’ on the one hand, and ‘violence in marriage’ on the other. The topic of violence, marriage and the Bible has multiple dimensions. To give a few indicative examples: many are excluded from certain definitions of ‘biblical marriage’ – notably, same-sex loving people – which does violence. Sometimes the Bible is used to suppress or downplay physical violence within marriage. In some biblical texts, violence – such as rape and abduction – transpires in marriage, or marriage obscures violence.
Important work has already been done on marriage and the Bible, including (where the Hebrew Bible is concerned) by Alastair G. Hunter. Alastair was lecturer in Hebrew and Biblical Studies at the University of Glasgow and has written and published widely, notably on Hebrew wisdom literature and Psalms. In 2019 Johanna heard Alastair present his work on marriage and the Bible at a fabulous conference, ‘Women and Gender in the Bible and the Ancient Near East’ (see more here).
Alastair has not published his research but has kindly permitted us to share it here. We hope you will find it as valuable as we do. Please note that there is a long, comprehensive version (of +20K words) and a much shorter, more accessible version (of ca.6K words).
[The featured image is called ‘Equal Marriage Timeline Infographic’ and is by Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. CC BY 2.0]