I have a friend who was raped. She wants to know if she is still a virgin according to the Bible. Is she?

Please think about the following question very carefully because it is a significant point: Is she interested in whether she is a virgin or whether she committed a sin?

The reason people place emphasis on virginity is because being a virgin is an indication that a woman had not committed a sexual sin in the past. However, the relationship is taken too far and people assume that the opposite is also true: if you are not a virgin then you have committed a sexual sin in your past.

In logic, the first statement is called an implication. One true truth logically leads you to another truth. But people who have taken logic know that implications cannot be reversed. Just because one truth leads to another does not imply that the opposite conclusion leads to the opposite proposition. There are some things that do work backwards, but they fall into an entirely different category of statements. Reversible statements are called equivalent. In our topic being a virgin and being free of sexual sin are not equivalent ideas.

Let us examine what the Law of Moses taught about rape. In Exodus 22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29, a situation is described where a man has sex with a woman who is unmarried, not engaged, and has not engaged in sex with anyone else. The act of sex between the couple could have been willingly done or unwillingly done. Willingly done, it would have been an act of fornication. Unwillingly done, it would have been an act of rape. In either case, the man must pay the woman's father a dowry of 50 shekels of silver. A dowry is money or things given to the woman's parents for the privilege of marrying their daughter. The man was expected to marry the woman, unless the woman's father absolutely refused. One would assume that in the case of rape, the father of the woman would rather throw the the man out on his ear than to let him marry his daughter. But if his daughter was committing fornication with a man because she thought she was "in love" with him, then he might agree to the marriage force the couple to do what was right. In addition the required marriage, the man lost any rights to divorce his wife. Even if the father refused to allow his daughter to marry the man, the man still had to pay the dowry.

Where the woman is married or engaged to be married, the penalty is much more severe (Deuteronomy 22:23-29). In the times when the Bible was written, being engaged was considered nearly the same as being married. If the man had sex the woman in an area where other people were nearby, it was assumed that the woman willingly had sex with the man since no one heard her cry out. In this case both the man and the woman were stoned to death. This is because adultery took place and the woman violated she covenant with her husband, or soon to be husband. If the rape took place where it was unlikely anyone would have heard the woman scream, the man was stoned but the woman was presumed to be innocent of any sin. "But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter" (Deuteronomy 22:26).

A woman has not committed a sin just because she was raped. Unfortunately, many people don't seem to understand this. Too often people assume that the woman must have enticed the man in some way. If not directly, then by the way she dressed or by the way she moved. This is not what the Bible teaches. God said it is just like murder. The victim of a murder is not guilty of sin, nor is the victim of a rape guilty of sin.

Is she still a virgin? Sadly, no. The word virgin means "a person who has never had sex;" willingness doesn't enter into the definition. But she is focusing on the wrong thing. She is innocent of this particular sin. The creep who raped her is the sole guilty party.

Unfortunately, sins always have consequences. Some on the one committing the sin, but some fall on the victims of the sin. If this was her first exposure to sex, she now has a very damage view as to what sex ought to be like. It will take effort on her part to overcome preconceived notions regarding sex when she does marry. Hopefully she will find an understanding man to marry who will work with her in overcoming her fears and be able to show her the joys God intended sex to be for a husband and wife.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Sexual Relations
Questions and Answers regarding Rape
"Rape" in Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Girls