This was a case of pressured seduction and/or fornication. If an unscrupulous man felt at liberty to have sex relations with a virgin, she would be the primary loser. Besides the possibility that she might have an illegitimate child, her value as a bride was diminished, for many Israelites might not want to marry her once she was no longer a virgin. What, though, would discourage a man from taking liberties with a virgin? God’s “holy and righteous and good” Law would.—Romans 7:12.
The Mosaic code had a provision allowing a man to divorce his wife for certain reasons. (Deuteronomy 22:13-19; 24:1; Matthew 19:7, 8) But what we read at Exodus 22:16, 17 and Deuteronomy 22:28, 29 shows that the option of divorce disappeared after premarital fornication. This, then, might cause a man (or a virgin woman) to resist a temptation to share in fornication. A man could not feel, ‘She is pretty and exciting, so I’ll have a good time with her even though she is not the sort I’d like to marry.’ Rather, this law would deter immorality by causing any would-be offender to weigh the long-term consequences of fornication
—having to stay with the other party throughout his life as he had violated and humiliated her.
The Law also lessened the problem of illegitimacy. God decreed: “No illegitimate son may come into the congregation of Jehovah.” (Deuteronomy 23:2) So if a man who seduced a virgin had to marry her, their fornication would not result in an illegitimate offspring among the Israelites.