Rape: Separating Myth From Truth

What a firestorm of a comment! What a major myth!

"It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that [pregnancy is] really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

"But let's assume … that didn't work: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child." – US Representative and candidate for US Senate Todd Akin

The last part of this comment hits the target. The first part misses it.

When Congressman Akin spoke these words with sincerity, he was unknowingly perpetuating a myth. Nevertheless, as soon as he learned more factual information, he humbly apologized. A rarity among politicians today!

Incidentally, 16 years ago (on the very first night of our syndicated radio broadcast Hope In The Night, our live 2-hour call-in counseling program), a pregnant Tammy shared the horror of being raped at knife point. She then asked whether or not she should have an abortion. The lawyer for the imprisoned rapist said his client had rights to the child – a claim that proved to be false.

Obviously, we need to debunk the myth that implies that, in cases of rape, the trauma to a female's body prevents any chance of pregnancy.

The second myth is a matter of semantics: There is a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate rape. No! Rape … is rape… and this despicable act is evil.

Personally, I believe when the congressman said, "if it's a legitimate rape," he was making the distinction between wanted sex verses unwanted sex.

God designed the sexual act to be a mutual expression of love between a married man and woman … to intimately communicate tenderness, endearment and devotion. In contrast, the Bible considers forced sex as a perversion of sex, an act of violence. The Word of God clearly refers to rape as "wicked." In Sodom and Gomorrah, a man named Lot said to those who were intent on rape … "Don't do this wicked thing" (Genesis 19:7 NIV).

 What are other major myths that should be exposed?

MYTH: "Rape is all about sex."

TRUTH: Rape has nothing to do with sex. This self-indulgent act is all about an abuse of power and control, typically rooted in deep-seated anger. Rape ... in contrast to God's design for sex ... could not be more opposite. Indeed, they are polar opposites.

MYTH: "Women secretly want to be raped."

TRUTH: No one wants to be a victim of a violent, criminal act! No one wants to be violated sexually and emotionally by another person. The Bible says ... "Give up your violence and oppression and do what is just and right" (Ezekiel 45:9 NIV).

MYTH: "Any sex act resulting from mutual consent should never be considered rape, even if one of the persons is a minor."

TRUTH: Just because a child does not object in the midst of a sex act, that silence does not imply consent, nor can compliance imply agreement. Children do not have the maturity to make adult decisions or the discernment to understand adult sexual behavior.

Healthy adults do not have "love affairs" or consensual sex with minors. Rather … it's the sexual perpetrators who manipulate, intimidate and violate young people and turn them into victims of sexual abuse and rape. The Bible speaks about silence that results in anguish … "So I remained utterly silent, not even saying anything good. But my anguish increased" (Psalm 39:2 NIV).

MYTH: "Provocative women cause rape."

TRUTH: No one causes someone to rape another. Victims absolutely bear no blame for being raped. The most probable victim of rape is a person who appears vulnerable. No one deserves to be raped, regardless of how that person dresses or acts. The ultimate responsibility lies with the rapist, not with the victim. The Bible says … "Each of us will give an account of ourselves to God" (Romans 14:12 NIV).

MYTH: "A wife must be subject to sexual relations at any time with her husband – regardless of poor health or emotional distress. A husband has the right to take what is his."

TRUTH: As a general principle, husbands and wives should be sexually responsive to each other. However, a wife is not his piece of property. Likewise, the Bible even mentions times to refrain from sexual relations, such as when devoting themselves to prayer. Most of all, the Bible clearly directs ... "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect …" (1 Peter 3:7 NIV).

MYTH: "Gang rape is committed against sexually provocative women who intentionally entice and lure men to have sex."

TRUTH: Gang rape is not rooted in sexual passion toward females, but rather in power and the craving to be "in" the group. In fact, gang rapists typically don't rape separately from the group, but only as a group.1 For male youth, gang rape is a horribly perverse method for achieving "manhood" or achieving gang membership. Most often, gang rapists do not act out of anger, but solely to prove their masculinity and to gain or keep group acceptance.

MYTH: "Women who report the charge of 'date rape' have instead led their dates to believe they wanted sex but later changed their stories because of jealousy or revenge."

TRUTH: Date rape is the least reported type of rape and is not committed as a result of the victim's misleading the offender. Rather, it is the result of the victim's being vulnerable and trusting the offender, who has an attitude of selfish, sexual entitlement. False accusations of rape account for less than 3% of all reported rapes, the same percentage as other felonies.

Due to the extensive duress of taking a rape case to court, false accusations almost never come to trial.2 Psalm 94:16 (NIV) appeals to us to stand with those who are victims of evildoers. … "Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?"

Like Congressman Akin, I am unashamedly pro-life. I strongly believe that every unborn baby has the right to live. I also believe that we must protect not only the lives of the unborn but also the well-being of women and girls everywhere who are victims of rape. We must not be silent concerning this violent, gut-wrenching violation.

Do not use qualifiers like "legitimate" or "forcible" to describe rape, because all rape is an assault. This language can tacitly condemn and marginalize its victims. Rape is a vile act of violence, humiliating and degrading like no other – an assault against the victim's body, soul and spirit.

Realize that the Lord is tenderly close to all who are victimized. His heart deeply grieves for those who experience such immense pain and emotional trauma … always offering His healing and restorative hand. His heart also cares for the unborn victim … the little innocent life who should be celebrated and cherished. In Psalm 34:18 we see God's heart for the hurting. … "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crusted in spirit."



June Hunt, counselor, author, radio host and founder of the worldwide ministry Hope For The Heart, offers a biblical perspective while coaching people through some of life's most difficult problems. June is the author of How to Forgive . . . When You Don't Feel Like It, © 2007 Harvest House Publishers. Learn more about June and Hope for the Heart by visiting Here you can connect with June on Facebook and Twitter, listen to her radio broadcasts, or find much-needed resources.Hope for the Heart provides spiritual guidance, heartfelt prayer, multi-media resources, and biblical wise-counseling. Call 1-800-488-HOPE (4673) to visit with a Hope Care Representative, 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 a.m. (CST).

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