Respect the Unmarried

SDA JournalDevotional


Scripture: (Exo 22:16-17 NKJV)  “If a man entices a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall surely pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. {17} “If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the bride-price of virgins.

Observation: This section begins a series of civil regulations for the newly freed Israelites as they begin to form their nation, under God.  This section talks about the abuse of a virgin girl or simply taking advantage of the youth and naivete of a young girl to take sexual advantage of her.  Perhaps Matthew Henry, in his commentary, explains it better, “Here is, I. A law that he who debauched a young woman should be obliged to marry her, v. 16, 17. If she was betrothed to another, it was death to debauch her (Deu. 22:23, 24); but the law here mentioned respects her as single. But, if the father refused her to him, he was to give satisfaction in money for the injury and disgrace he had done her. This law puts an honour upon marriage and shows likewise how improper a thing it is that children should marry without their parents’ consent: even here, where the divine law appointed the marriage, both as a punishment to him that had done wrong and a recompense to her that had suffered wrong, yet there was an express reservation for the father’s power; if he denied his consent, it must be no marriage.”

Application: While women didn’t seem to enjoy the equality with men that God designed, God did not want men to simply take advantage of the young and vulnerable.  That’s the reason why there are so many regulations regarding the orphan and the widow, and in our text for today, a virgin girl.  While girls could marry at an early age, they were to follow the regular customs regarding courtship, betrothal, engagement, and marriage, and men were not to simply take advantage of a young girl without having taken all the steps necessary to protect her and ensure her physical and financial protection.  While today there is a minimum age at which a person, particularly a girl, can be married, we must also ensure that the young and vulnerable are not taken advantage of, particularly sexually.  We should also be careful not to encourage early dating as the level of maturity of one or both can become a great disadvantage to a healthy relationship.  This also teaches that young people must listen to their parents in these matters instead of going against their wishes and advice.

A Prayer You May Say: Loving Father, thank You for Your care and concern for the young and vulnerable, and for reminding us that marriage and sex are to be cared for in a sacred manner.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.



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