Does a Christian wife have to submit to a sinful request from her husband?

Should a Christian wife have to participate in a threesome or abort her child because her husband tells her to? Some Christians teach that women should submit to any and all requests their husbands make even if they believe that in doing so they would be directly sinning against God. Other Christians believe that if a husband is not living a righteous and holy life he has no authority over his wife at all regardless of whatever requests he asks of her.

How should a Christian wife handle such situations?

The Two Extremes on Submission

When it comes to the submission of wives to unrighteous husbands there are extremes on both the left and the right side of this issue.

On the left we have Christians who believe women only have to submit to husbands that are righteous and treat them right (as they see right).

This comment I recently received from a Christian woman illustrates the left position on wives submission to their husbands:

“In your blog you speak a lot about women submitting to the authority of her husband. Even when her husband is sinning (i.e.denying her sex, which you admit is her right to have) she must still submit to him. She cannot do as men and deny him dates, gifts, etc. Here you say a husband should show love toward his wife and can please his wife, but he must please God above her. I agree with that. However, isn’t a woman’s duty to please God before her husband also? If he isn’t treating her as a Christian husband should, should she follow an unrighteous man?

Authority is given from God, if we do not follow God we lose the power that comes with that authority. Therefore, his authority becomes useless. Would a sinful man have her well-being in mind? I would think not. I agree a man is the leader of the home, but I also believe a woman is only obligated to submit to her husband’s righteous desires the same as a man should only please a woman when her desires are righteous.”

There are so many things wrong with this statement it is hard to know where to begin.

I have never stated that a wife has to stay with her husband if he sexually denies her.  I have shown from the Bible that a Christian wife may divorce her husband for these 4 reasons:

If he fails to provide her with food and clothing (shelter is implied with clothing).

If he refuses to have regular sexual relations with her (sexual defraudment).

If he physically abuses her or makes attempts on her life.

If he abandons her.

For a detailed discussion on each of these four items please see my article “For what reasons does God allow divorce?

However this woman is not looking for serious reasons she may divorce her husband.  She is looking for reasons that she does not have to submit to him. These grave sins I have described are not reasons for a wife to stop submitting to her husband’s authority – they are reasons to end the marriage so he is no longer her husband. If the woman chooses to stay even if he is chronically sexually denying her, physically abusing her or refusing to work then she must continue to submit to him.  As long as he is her husband she must submit to him.

So if a woman were to come to me and tell me “I am not divorcing my husband for refusing to work and playing Xbox 7 days a week while he sends me out to work.  But I won’t submit to him either.” –  I would tell that woman she is wrong.  She has two choices – submit to her husband or end the marriage so he is no longer her husband.  Those are her only two choices.

A wife does not submit to her husband because he is “treating her as a Christian husband should” or because he has “her well-being in mind”. She submits to her husband because God has commanded it.  A husband, Christian or non-Christian, does not lose his authority over his wife if he does not follow God’s Word.

This woman and a whole host of Christians today ignore this passage from Peter on the subject of submission of wives to unrighteous husbands:

“3 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”

I Peter 3:1-2 (NASB)

This passage makes it crystal clear – wives are to submit to sinful and disobedient husbands.  Whether your husband is a Christian, a non-Christian or a professed Christian who is living in disobedience if you are his Christian wife you are to submit to him despite his sinful behavior.

This attitude toward submission is by far the biggest problem today with Christian’s attitudes toward marriage.

But there is another extreme – the far right extreme.   And while this far right extreme may be a small minority and some think it is not worthy of our time even to address their false teaching – as Christians we must also stand for the truth and stand against false teaching.

It does not matter if many people are teaching a false doctrine or just small groups are teaching it – false teaching is false teaching and it must be exposed.

Should we not talk about exceptions to submission?

Some of the people on the far right of on this topic of Biblical submission believe we should not talk about exceptions to submission.  This is demonstrated in recent comments by the blogger Deep Strength:

“You’re falling prey to the same trap that women do. It’s an obvious diversion! You don’t answer the question to an obvious diversion or if you do then you have to tie it back to righteous attitude and actions.

Good answers to a question like “But what if my husband commands me to sin?” are:

  1. “lf that ever happens, feel free to call me at any time and we’ll look through the Scriptures to discuss it. Now, as I was saying about submission…”
  2. “When’s the last time you heard a husband command his wife, much less to sin? Now, as I was saying about submission…”
  3. “You should find where it says it is a sin in the Scripture. Then you come to him with a respectful and submissive attitude and say: ‘Hey, I think this may be against what God says in the Scripture here and my conscience. Is there anything else I can do instead to make it up to you? Now, as I was saying about submission…”

The point is to stay on topic because the desire to divert a topic away from uncomfortable Truths is one of the strongest temptations that women have which is the desire to be rebellious. Submission is righteous and holy. Discussing it is good, and diversions away from it are to play right into temptation.”

Deep Strength argues that it is a “diversion” and a “temptation” to even discuss exceptions to a wife’s submission to her husband.  He acts like it is so rare and unfathomable that a husband would ask his wife to sin.   Does he forget how many Christian women are married to unbelieving husbands? Husbands that might ask their wives to do drugs? Husbands that might as their wives to have sex with their friends or participate in a threesome? Yes these things happen.

And yes even professing Christian husbands may ask their wives to do sinful things.  Just because it is rare does not mean it does not happen.

I really don’t see the fear these men have of discussing exceptions to submission.  Since when is the truth a “distraction” or “temptation”?

It is actually very easy to address these exemptions and then continue on in the topic of submission. We don’t ever have to be afraid of the truth as Christians.

Now are there Christian bloggers who add to the exemptions to submission like the way the female commenter did above? Yes and they do it all the time.  But just because people add to God’s Word does not mean we can take away from it.

We are to teach the whole counsel of God.  We are not to go to the left or the right:

“Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”

Proverbs 4:27 (KJV)

People on the left and right extremes of submission both have something in common.  They both dismiss those passages they don’t like and they both add things to the text that are not there.  But we are not to take away from God’s Word or to add to it – but instead we are to follow the entire Word of God:

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”

Deuteronomy 4:2 (KJV)

So truth about the submission of wives to their husbands is very simple. A wife is to submit to her husband in all areas of her life and everything he wishes her to do or not do as long as he does not ask her to sin against God. Even if he asks her to sin against God she should respectfully refuse his request but this does not mean she stops submitting in every other way. Even if her husband is living a sinful life either as a Christian or non-Christian she must submit to him.  She is not responsible for his sin, she is only responsible for hers.

But this then brings us to the final part of submission to sinful requests by husbands to their wives.

Is a wife responsible for doing something sinful if her husband commands her to do it?

This statement was made by the blogger Moose Norseman in his post “For clarity’s sake

But perhaps the last one tells the most. Do these blogs and ministries teach young women to be obedient to their husbands, or do they teach things like this:

“Submission does not mean that the men in authority, whether in the church or in the home, are always right. They aren’t. They’re sometimes and often wrong. They sin, as do we. Submission does not mean blind obedience. It does not mean that we sin in order to submit. It doesn’t mean that you overlook sin in the authority. “(emphasis in original)

And this:

Now, what if he asks her to participate in a threesome, abort her baby, or help him commit robbery by stealing from a bank? Should she submit in these instances? NO!

A reminder about headship and covering: The one that is covered bears no iniquity. It is the authority that bears the iniquity.

Moose first presents a false dichotomy – If a Christian teacher teaches that there are any exceptions to God’s command that wives are to submit to their husbands then the person is said to be negating the entire Biblical teaching of the submission of wives to their husbands.

So according to Moose – a Christian wife should participate in a threesome, abort her baby, help her husband commit a robbery and do anything else her husband requests of her even if she believes that action would be a sin against God.  If she does God will not hold her accountable – in fact he honors her for participating in acts she believes are sinful if her husband asks her to do it.

This teaching by Moose Norseman is not just simply absurd – it is the very definition of heresy.  Any teaching that tells someone it is ok to sin against God is heresy.

As believers we will often disagree on Bible interpretations and what is and what is not sin.  But to acknowledge that something is a sinful activity and then say God is ok with us doing that sinful activity under certain circumstances is the height of heresy.

The Apostle Peter made this point abundantly clear:

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

Acts 5:29 (KJV)

Moose bases his heresy on a passage from the book of Numbers which is linked from the phrase “the authority that bears the iniquity.”

“13 Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void.

14 But if her husband altogether hold his peace at her from day to day; then he establisheth all her vows, or all her bonds, which are upon her: he confirmeth them, because he held his peace at her in the day that he heard them.

15 But if he shall any ways make them void after that he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity.

16 These are the statutes, which the Lord commanded Moses, between a man and his wife, between the father and his daughter, being yet in her youth in her father’s house.”

–  Numbers 30:13-16 (KJV)

The key verse Moose is pointing to is verse 15 of Numbers chapter 30:

“But if he shall any ways make them void after that he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity.

This is a great passage of Scripture that I have spoken about several times on my blog. I do not disagree that this passage demonstrates the headship of man over the women in his family whether it be his wife or his daughters.

But what it does NOT show is that a husband can ask his wife to directly participate in an activity that she believes is a violation of God’s law and that God would honor her for obeying his sinful command and participating in these kinds of sin.

In this case with her broken vow the husband by not overriding the vow his wife has made when she made it has taken on the penalty for her not fulfilling that vow if he stops her from doing it.  If he tells her he has changed his mind and does not want her to fulfill the vow she made then he bears what would have been her sin.  It is his sin now since he approved her vow.

A simpler way to say this is – when a woman makes a vow to do something in her husband’s presence and he either remains silent or actively agrees with her vow then as her husband he takes on the responsibility and the penalty if he stops her from fulfilling that vow.

Conclusion

God’s Word teaches us two important principles as it relates to the submission of wives to their husbands. God tells wives to submit to their husbands in “everything” (Ephesians 5:24) but the Apostles when told to disobey God said that “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).  So when we take the whole counsel of God on the matter of submission we see that wives are to obey their husbands in all things unless their husband directly tells them to do something that would violate God’s law.

It really is that simple.

Christians on the left of Biblical submission want to find every way they can out of submission so they abuse the principle that “We ought to obey God rather than men” by saying things like if your husband chooses a church you disagree with you don’t have to follow him there which is utterly false. But then on the far right of Biblical submission we have those like Moose who claim that there are no exceptions for wives submitting to their husbands and even if their husband asks them to participate in a threesome or kill their child they must do these things.

The people of God must avoid all extremes.  We must instead walk the straight path – following the whole counsel of God and not veer either to the left or the right.

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34 thoughts on “Does a Christian wife have to submit to a sinful request from her husband?

  1. “So according to Moose – a Christian wife should participate in a threesome, abort her baby, help her husband commit a robbery and do anything else her husband requests of her even if she believes that action would be a sin against God. If she does God will not hold her accountable – in fact he honors her for participating in acts she believes are sinful if her husband asks her to do it.

    This teaching by Moose Norseman is not just simply absurd – it is the very definition of heresy. Any teaching that tells someone it is ok to sin against God is heresy.”

    This example in his post is not looking at God’s Word through the light of the whole Bible. Romans 14 clearly says that if something goes against a person’s conscience, and they do it anyway, then it is sin for them. The Bible also has various verses that say that each person will be held accountable for their words and actions in the end.

    This is random, but more on the ability for husbands to ask their wives to do something they feel is wrong… Lori Alexander told me recently that she is amazed by how many Christian women have husbands who ask and pressure them to engage in anal sex – something she believes like many other women do, is wrong. She teaches that it’s ok to not have to obey (submit) to their husbands in that area, because of how dangerous that sex act can be for women.

  2. BGR,

    Deep Strength argues that it is a “diversion” and a “temptation” to even discuss exceptions to a wife’s submission to her husband. He acts like it is so rare and unfathomable that a husband would ask his wife to sin. Does he forget how many Christian women are married to unbelieving husbands? Husbands that might ask their wives to do drugs? Husbands that might as their wives to have sex with their friends or participate in a threesome? Yes these things happen.

    And yes even professing Christian husbands may ask their wives to do sinful things. Just because it is rare does not mean it does not happen.

    I really don’t see the fear these men have of discussing exceptions to submission. Since when is the truth a “distraction” or “temptation”?

    If you think that’s my point then you have missed what I’m trying to say on the topic altogether.

    1. How I addressed this topic, if you want to answer it directly. For example, direct quotes I said:

    >>> “You should find where it says it is a sin in the Scripture. Then you come to him with a respectful and submissive attitude and say: ‘Hey, I think this may be against what God says in the Scripture here and my conscience. Is there anything else I can do instead to make it up to you? Now, as I was saying about submission…”

    >>> “You know your husband’s character. If he made an honest mistake and was unaware then you, as his helpmeet, bring it up to him respectfully. “Hey, this might be a problem because…”

    >>> “Any good answer is done respectfully and with a submissive attitude straight up.”

    We’re talking with women who have Christian husbands here. If a wife has a non-Christian husband it’s going to be a MUCH more difficult situation. However, 1 Peter 3 gives a good guideline for the attitude for such a wife to win over her husband.

    2. As you can see from my quotes above, the diversion temptation is very real.

    Both you and the women commenting continued to gloss over these examples I have given in order to continue to argue moral dilemmas. These moral dilemmas are not mutually exclusive. You do not have to “disobey God OR disobey your husband.”

    The Scripture is clear that if you have a moral issue with a leader(s) degree you do your best to be respectful and obey to the extent that you don’t disobey God, even potentially offering obedience in other ways as I have give examples above.

    ————–

    As for Moose, I won’t speak for him because I don’t hold that particular position. I have told my girlfriend personally if I told her to “sin” to point it out to me in the Scripture and/or let me know because I don’t want her in any dubious moral situations. Will I or other Christian husbands make an honest mistake? Sure, it’s possible. Christians make mistakes. The problem is that most responses to a Christian husband’s mistakes are met with the hostility that he was telling her to sin with malicious intent.

    Even so, it’s one instance. The comment by Stephanie said there were plural: multiple husbands. I would like to see the other examples.

  3. Also, there was the statement of leading wives into sin. Advocating that a wife obeys her husband in [potential] sin, while potentially dubious, is not commanded their own wife to sin.

    I would like to see examples of that too.

  4. Bgr,
    My wife thinks me reading your blog is sinful. I have subscribed her to Dragonfly’s, April’s, and Always Learning. She thought they were sinful due to their interpretations and cancelled her subscription.
    I asked her to read through them and she will not, however she considers herself respectful and submissive TO A ‘T’.

    The problem you run into is that most women will decide what is and is not sinful. I do not think women should sin, but using extremes eventually leads women to take a mile and start adding in the most mundane things to cut their husbands off at the knees. I think you know this and very self aware women like Dragonfly and Lori know this as well. Marie, Anna, and Alex will contend this, but spades are spades.

  5. Also, my point behind this is that if there’s no evidence to back up said statements, it’s clearly slander.

    Accusations are clearly behind thrown around too wildly. For example,

    But there is another extreme – the far right extreme. And while this far right extreme may be a small minority and some think it is not worthy of our time even to address their false teaching – as Christians we must also stand for the truth and stand against false teaching.

    It does not matter if many people are teaching a false doctrine or just small groups are teaching it – false teaching is false teaching and it must be exposed.

    Come on BGR. Far right extreme? False teaching? I agree with you on almost everything. You didn’t understand the point I was trying to make and already went to labeling me as such.

    Let’s not go overboard here.

  6. I am 100% with you here BGR and Stephanie, but I can also kinda see why the whole “distraction” concept is frustrating for people like Deep Strength. My care group recently went over Ephesians 5 and about 75% of the time was spent addressing husbands and leadership, and when we finally got around to submission, at least half of that was spent talking about submission in general (parents, government, bosses), and when we did get around to talking about wifely submission we spent at least half of that time talking about exceptions.

    However, like you said, just because an issue might be a minority doesn’t mean it should remain unaddressed. Jesus certainly doesn’t have a “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it…now back to the main point” approach to life as demonstrated in how many potential scenarios He addressed in Leviticus 18-19. He didn’t tell Moses to come to Him when an issue happened. He knows our weaknesses and sinful tendencies and addressed them up front. I just wish Christians in general had a better balance when it came to time allotment! I’d say you do a good job on this blog. 🙂

  7. Jeff,
    Your wife is not responsible for what she thinks u do that is sinful. She is only responsible for herself not sinning. I totally understand that there are many women that abuse the “sin” exception to Biblical submission. You know full well that I combat that here on this blog all the time.

    But we cannot combat one wrong by committing another wrong. I think women need to be very careful when I comes to refusing something their husbands tell them to do. They need to be sure they are standing on very solid scriptural ground when doing so. If it is a gray area they need to follow their husbands lead.

  8. @ Anna

    My care group recently went over Ephesians 5 and about 75% of the time was spent addressing husbands and leadership, and when we finally got around to submission, at least half of that was spent talking about submission in general (parents, government, bosses), and when we did get around to talking about wifely submission we spent at least half of that time talking about exceptions.

    Again, things that prove my point.

    75% husband roles and responsibilities
    12.5% on submission to parents/gov’t/bosses
    6.25% on exceptions
    6.25% on submission to husband

    Given that the husband is the most important relationship in a wife’s life, you would think/expect/hope more time would be spent on the wife’s roles and responsibilities to him. In an hour with those percentages, that’s 3 minutes and 45 seconds on submission to the husband. Now, you probably mis-estimated the percentages, but the point stands.

    If it needs to be addressed it should be given the time it’s due. Exceptions are exceptions. They’re less important than the main concepts.

    Christianity is a self-oriented faith. Each person has a responsibility for their relationship with God, their own spiritual gifts, and their roles and responsibilities in their own lives. Getting distracted by focusing on others is a good way to not be effective in your own. Specks and planks and all of those things.

  9. @Stephanie

    This is random, but more on the ability for husbands to ask their wives to do something they feel is wrong…

    You have effectively highlighted the current problem of authority being discussed here. Does the wife’s feelings or her personal interpretation of scripture that something is or maybe sinful, preempt her role of submission?

    The highest source of authority is the Word of God, but that is subject to honest interpretation by delegated authorities. In the matter of the marriage and household that delegated authority is the husband/father. Certainly the church and other wise men can counsel on the matter, but the authority and responsibility rest on the husband; his best understanding of the scriptures is the delegated rule of the home. Your appeal however is to feelings and those of a wife, which has almost no authority. Both history and the Scriptures demonstrate that men’s elevation of female feelings has lead to uncountable grievous consequences.

    to the specific example you mentioned, I think that Christians are allowed great diversity in the marriage bed celebration and still keep it holy as long as both participants are married to each other, acting out of love and no other parties are included; God allows great latitude variations. BGR disagrees with me on the subject of anal sex, but I have found no compelling reason that it should be forbidden or labeled as sin, scripture simply does not go there. Neither are there compelling reasons from natural law to create a prohibition, despite the objections of many Christians and medical reports from the homosexual community of abuse and extreme bizarre fetishes. Of course neither are Christians commanded to enjoy anal sex, it is a little like eating escargot, its not for everybody, but not forbidden.

    If one accepts the premise that married people can enjoy anal sex without sinning then the questions that I believe are apropos are:
    -Does a wife have authority over her body (1 Cor 7:4) if she finds some sexual activity repulsive (this could be anal sex or wearing lingerie the principle is the same)?
    -Is the sexual act expedient (1 Cor 6:12)? Is forgoing the act more harmful than helpful, perhaps even setting a sinful precedent?
    -Is the act likely to improve the oneness of the union?
    -How are love and respect applied in the bed and in the activity specifically?
    -What preparation and approach is the most likely to make any sexual activity enjoyable?
    -What does submission look like in the grey areas, not just in the sex, but certainly including sex?
    -Is pressing against sexual inhibitions sanctifying or is it a slippery slope?

    While both husband and wife should be asking these questions, ultimately the husband is the one who is held to account. Where scripture is silent, we ought not add to the law. It takes the application of indirect principles, and prudence to navigate ethical issues where no clear precept is present. That navigation rests on the husband, he is the captain of the ship.

    Finally an equally random observation, I find it puzzling how Christians will swear that anal sex is evil and have no problem displaying their tattoos (Lev 19:28). Maybe feelings not exegesis have been their ethical guide after all? (Proverbs 21:2)

  10. You missed my point. I want her to learn from women by reading and following examples. She is unsubmissive by not doing it and is calling this and other blogs sinful, which they are not. So the point is that if I commanded her to read these blogs she would call them sinful and therefoore does not have to submit to my request.
    Who gets to decide what is sinful? Yes using extremes will fullfil what would be described as sinful, but most women on here and other similar blogs have decent husbands who would not command such extreme sins, but use the extreme examples to bundle ANY type of submission.

    You could conclude that David might have participated in 3somes by knowing he had multiple wives therefore condoning it. Wrong? Absolutely, but so is a wife who interprets something as sinful that is not, by saying it violates her conscience.

    The decent husbands are going to make mistakes, but using extremes doesnt help women, it enforces their stand that they are right. Use examples of a mean christian husband that wants his t shirts ironed or the carpet vacuum daily would be far more beneficial than acting as 49% of christian husband want a 3some or their wife to have an abortion.

    Talking with pastors, most marrital problems come down to the mundane day in and day out routines that are the norm. Worse case scenarios are infidelity pased sex abuse or a child going off the reservation.

    What we have in society is men not loving their wives because the wife isnt happy. She is not submissive to God in her role as a wife, and will nlame this on him, just like pastors due, ie. “If he leads correctly she will submit”. Which means if he does what she wants she will submit to what she wants.

    Pastors use this and tell wives to let their husband lead. Different meaning than submit and follow. A private doenst “let” a seargent lead. He is at attention until he is told whT to do

  11. @Anna,

    I’m not surprised that exceptions end up being a big topic of discussion in those groups. To an extent, I can understand. It can be stressful to figure out how to manage multiple obligations to submit to multiple authorities, and some women may just be concerned with getting it absolutely. But many Townes are probably looking for a get-out-of-jail free card. I went back and read Lori Alexander’s full post on the subject of what you should do if your husband asks you to do something that you consider sinful, and her advice was different than Moose’s post made it out to be. She argued that a wife might encounter a more minor moral dilemma with her husband if he asks her to work full time and send there kids to public school because she fears that it will conflict with her duties as the keeper of their home and with her role as a mother. She said that in those cases, a wife could meekly bring her concerns to her husband but let him know that she would accept his judgment on the matter. She also encouraged women in that situation to submit and do the bes that they could to remain effective keepers of the home and good mothers. She then said that for more extreme moral dilemmas–like a husband asking his wife to abort a baby or engage in a threesome–a wife should not immediately submit but should go seek council from other women on how best to proceed. I recall that Debi Pearl argued that women whose husbands wouldn’t relent and kept insisting on an abortion would have to separate from him and accept that they would no longer enjoy his financial support or protection. So, ultimately, they would have to disobey in order to honor God’s law, but they would also take the consequences of that disobedience to their husband. I don’t know what the take here is on the Pearl methods, but the idea that a woman who is compelled to disobey must be willing to acknowledge what she’s done and accept her husband’s discipline (as long as it’s not physical or a threat to her safety). That may encourage more women to consider carefully what’s really an exception. The way I see it, it’s for cases of obvious, mortal sins that aren’t open to any other interpretation (at least I don’t think that there’s any interpretation of the Bible that would okay threesomes or abortions) rather than sins of conviction.

    @DeepStrength,

    The process that you described for dealing with cases where a wife either fears or knows that her husband is asking her to sin sounds very effective. Not only does it give the husband an opportunity to examine his faith and actions by studying scripture again, but it gives him the opportunity to further and better instruct his wife. It’s a process that may also help wives struggling with conviction. Her husband may be able to assuage her conscience by showing her a new interpretation, or he may be able to offer her a compromise by giving her something else that she could do that would be an adequate substitute in his mind.

  12. Jonadab, if you want to ask Ken and Lori what they truly think on this subject, here is the link that goes into discussing it in the comments. I do agree that the marriage bed provides a lot of freedom, and my husband and I used to feel the way you do. But I also agree with Lori being wise to warn women about the dangers of something that could harm their bodies and shorten their life. It’s not the same as wearing lingerie or not. I looked back over the comments and didn’t find Lori expressly saying to women that they didn’t have to submit in this area, so disregard my previous comment and feel free to ask them what they think.

    http://lorialexander.blogspot.com/2016/03/to-love-your-husband-chapter-sixteen.html

  13. @Stephanie

    Everything is acceptable unless it clearly violates God’s Word such as porn or anything harmful such as anal sex. Anal sex is a homosexual act and no normal man or woman desires this. The use of pornography has increased this abomination. It is a filthy practice and medically dangerous.* I had no idea married couples even wanted to have anal sex until a few years ago! I agree with the Pearls that any woman has a right to not obey her husband in this area if he asks but in everything else, cheerfully and willingly participate.

    This is issue at hand, not anal sex per se, but what constitutes “clearly violates God’s Word”. Using the current example, I do not see any place in scripture that forbids anal sex between married husband and wife, but I do see scripture forbid sexual defrauding, a wives lack of submission and a claim of either husband or wife to authority over their own body. So which is the real sin? Anal sex is not the issue, submission in the grey areas is the bigger principle. If a wife can decided in ethical areas that are not clearly delineated in scripture, but a matter of feelings, then she is not really in submission. Any outward appearance of submission is just agreement, but she is ruled by her feelings not her husband or the scriptures.

    Lori’s argument is not scriptural or logical, it is simply prejudicial. As I read her, She is giving her prejudice more weight than a husband’s desire or scriptures. It is a shame that an otherwise powerful piece was weakened and sidetracked by her own feelings of detestation. If her last sentence in the read, piece “Everything is acceptable unless is clearly violates God’s Word.”, it would have been much better. She injected her own autonomy and encouraged others women to “make the rules” by saying more.

  14. @Stephanie (Dragonfly),

    I’ll admit that I don’t have particularly strong opinions on anal sex for myself. Shortly after getting married, I’d been reading some things online (RedPill stuff, mainly) about how it was a big thing for a lot of men. I hadn’t learned much from school (I went to religious schools until college), except from one teacher who commented that it was a risky practice that should only be undertaken with care and (obviously) within marriage. My church didn’t really talk about specific sex acts in sermons, so I didn’t have any real biblical perspective on it. Anyway, I asked my husband if that was something that he wanted to try, and he said that he really didn’t have any interest in it. To him, it sounded like it would take more work and preparation than vaginal sex and could easily be painful for me, and he thought that it honestly sounded sort of gross for, well, self-explanatory reasons. We’ve never really discussed the sinfulness or acceptability of the act because neither of us has a strong interest it, so I’ll admit that I don’t have a strong scriptural backing on this issue. The best explanation that I’ve gotten on why it would be sinful came from BGR. He believes that the medical community’s assessment of anal sex demonstrates that it’s a high-risk activity and that agreeing to participate in it would violate the biblical commandment to not damage our bodies.

    So, what that long tangent was leading to was this question: is looking for a specific Bible verse on the subject the right way to go (if we want to approve it or disapprove it), or is it about determining if the sex act has a high potential to cause harm? There are definitely other sex acts out there that a husband or wife could conceivably ask for that would be more obviously high risk. Choking comes to mind. Do we have to look for a specific biblical verse that allows a husband or wife to refuse to engage in erotic asphyxiation during sex, or can we say that since it’s an act that can easily cause death or brain damage and that that risk can’t reasonably be guarded against? (A lot of people mistakenly think that the only way to harm someone by choking them is to keep strangling until they die, but it’s very easy to cut off the blood supply to the brain by putting your hands around someone’s neck. There’s no real way to determine if you’re about to cause irreparable damage or even death by doing this. Furthermore, someone who already has issues breathing could die as a result of temporarily being unable to breathe.) I’m not accusing any specific Christian bloggers of saying that wives need to submit to choking during sex. I’m bringing it up as an example to demonstrate a point. Some bloggers on the secular side of RedPill are really into it–Mike Cernovich comes to mind–but they’re not relevant to this discussion, unless a believing woman was married to an unbelieving man influenced by those ideas.

    With regards to anal sex, the risks are less definitive than choking. It’s theoretically possible to have anal sex that isn’t painful and doesn’t cause damage, but the husband has to realize that it’s not going to be like vaginal sex and that he has to be much more careful. The other issue is that pain during anal sex generally means something very different from vaginal sex. If my husband does something that causes me pain during vaginal sex, I can just ask him to go slower or say that I’d like to try a different position, or I can simply hold my body in a different way. We don’t have to stop sex. I don’t have to ruin the mood because I can just phrase it like I want to try something different, which I really do, and express pleasure at the change. Plus, we can both trust that I’m not being internally injured by anything. If we tried anal sex and I was feeling pain, that could very easily be an indication of tearing, which could lead to an infection. The point here is that if a husband wants to avoid injuring his wife that he’s going to have to give her a lot more control during anal sex than he would give her during vaginal sex. As I said, during vaginal sex, they could share control equally, and the husband could easily take on a more dominating role without worrying about hurting his wife. Plus, I could go through a consistently painful vaginal sex session without worrying about longterm physical consequences because I want to submit to and please my husband. If I did that with anal sex, I’d risk a horrendous UTI, hemorrhoids, an anal fissure, or a really serious bacterial infection other than a UTI. So, the question here is: how far does a wife’s submission have to go with anal sex? I can accept that that she should try it because her husband wants to (and this is probably what I’d do if my husband suddenly developed an interest in it), but can she insist and disobey if her husband refuses to honor her request to stop having anal sex, clean up, and switch to another type of sex if she’s in severe pain and afraid that she’s tearing? What if she has a bad experience and suffers some complications the first time (or times) trying anal sex with her husband, and he won’t honor her requests to refrain from having anal sex again? I know that most Christian husbands and even most non-Christian ones would be understanding and apologetic and would agree to cease anal sexual relations because they didn’t want to continue hurting their wives. But I have seen comments while reading reddit and other forums where some men kept insisting on having anal sex with their wives (or girlfriends, because there are non-Christian commenters as well) even though they knew that it was causing their women severe pain and complications. Recently, I saw a thread on r/relationships where a woman was asking for advice because her husband was mad that she didn’t want to have anal sex again after he gave her hemorrhoids. (The first time that they had anal sex, he refused to stop when she said that it was hurting too much because he was close to orgasm. The woman felt severe pain for several days afterwards and had trouble with her bowel movements, but her husband convinced her to try anal sex again. Then she got hemorrhoids, and he was still pestering her to try anal sex once she recovered.) In another thread, a young woman had agreed to keep trying to anal sex with her husband, but he wouldn’t honor her requests to use lube, go slowly, or stop if it hurt too much. After she had to take herself to E.R. because she developed a severe U.T.I. that went to her kidneys, she told him that she couldn’t have anal with him anymore, and he still kept insisting. So, this can be a real issue. What is a Christian wife to do in these circumstances?

  15. “Some bloggers on the secular side of RedPill are really into it–Mike Cernovich comes to mind–but they’re not relevant to this discussion, unless a believing woman was married to an unbelieving man influenced by those ideas.”

    Oh no Alex… really? Mike??

  16. Yeah…I read a couple of posts because someone had linked to him, and then I stopped. I never commented there because I could tell that they wouldn’t believe me if I tried to explain that choking really wasn’t an essential part of enjoyable sex. But like I said, I don’t think that Mike influences any Christian manosphere bloggers or identifies as religious.

  17. @ Stephanie

    There are again two ditches that one can fall into. On the one hand if one calls anal sex a sin, then it is a condemnation to all those Christian marriages that find anal sex an enjoyable activity. It offends their liberty because the argument that it is sin is not scripturally compelling. Your argument that anal sex is dangerous I think is also overstated. It is an activity less dangerous than motorcycle riding, and like motorcycle riding there are prudent measures that can mitigate the risks and make the activity safer and enjoyable. Is it a sin for a husband to want his wife to ride on the back of his motorcycle? The other ditch is to ignore those risks altogether, refusing prudent measures, this is loveless concern on the part of the husband. The same risks could be said about consuming pork. Pork could be dangerous if not properly cooked, it makes many people uncomfortable to eat an unclean animal and has been associated with health risks like heart disease. I go back to my list of questions to consider, including is it more sinful to refuse your body to your husband and not submit in the grey area or is it more grievous to God to enjoy contact with the anus? The husband must also ask is pushing his wife’s comfort level likely to sanctify her or stumbler her? The same could be said about making her eat escargot.

    We err when we add to the law, so the questions in the grey areas of submission are not as simple as let her conscience (feelings) be the guide or on the other hand whatever he wants he gets. Both errors are not according to God’s prescription. Frankly I think the example of anal sex a red herring because the vast majority of women are not providing passionate vaginal sex or oral sax to the degree and frequency the husbands desire. The red herring serves to weaken a wife’s need to submit by stirring up more anxiety about the “what ifs”. While many women find anal sex enjoyable not all will; some like ballet and others hate it too.

    The guide for wives is simple to state although difficult to perform; obey your husband in all things except when and only when doing so clearly and unambiguously violates the law of God. That means in the grey areas she is to submit as to the Lord. Deepstrength has provided some helpful ways for her to approach her husband when that is more difficult to see the value or values in his lead. The guide for men is easy to state as well, love her as Christ loves the church, the difficulty is discerning the way Christ loves the church. Often his loving sanctification is unpleasant and painful – so there is the rub.

  18. @Jonadab,

    To simplify my ramblings to Dragonfly…if a wife tries anal sex with her husband but finds it too painful to continue, is it okay for her to tell her husband that she can’t stand to perform it because of how much it hurts but that she’s willing to provide him with enthusiastic vaginal and oral sex and to experiment with any other less painful sexual activities that he’s curious about?

  19. @ Alex

    A loving husband will cherish a wife that tries to please him and will desire to end her discomfort. Just as if she is experiencing pain with vaginal sex he will do his best to comfort her and seek a remedy. While I am certainly no expert on the subject of anal sex, I do believe that there are methods to make it more comfortable and enjoyable for both. Gentleness, trust and surrender are some of the prerequisites for such activities to be edifying to the union.

    The question arose because the assertion was made that anal sex was clearly sin and a wife can an should refuse her husband and I disputed that assertion as not just fallacious, but as an encouragement for a wife to oppose her husband based on her feelings and not scripture which I contend is the greater evil.

    To summarize my position:
    1) A wife is to submit to her husband unless doing so is in clear violation of law of God.
    2) A wife’s emotional reaction is not equated to the law of God, but her submission is required by the law.
    3) I am not persuaded that anal sex is a clear violation of the law of God. Some men and women may be repulsed by the idea, but their reaction does not equate to the law.
    4) Condemning that which is not against the law is to err and violate the conscience and liberty of brothers and sisters in Christ.
    5) Violating a husband’s of wife’s conscience should not be done without first considering the likelihood of sanctification of vexation.
    6) Submission on the wife’s part does not negate the duty of husbands to love and sanctify their wives.
    7) Prudence should guide decisions and preparations when deciding to engage in activities like anal sex, motorcycle riding and eating snails.
    8) The overarching principles of the Christian life still apply like Sola Deo Gloria (to God alone be the glory) to the degree that having or not having pleasure with anus motorcycle or snails contributes to that end will guide the prudence.

  20. Jonadab, my husband’s asked me not to respond directly to all the things surrounding the argument whether or not anal sex is detrimental to the marriage/ a sin/ or part of the grey areas of submission. We mostly agree with you, but there are parts where my husband may not agree with the way you are making that argument. He doesn’t want me to argue it with you. Just thought I’d let you know so you don’t think I’m ignoring you or slighting you. I think you’re a great man from what I’ve read in your comments in the past.

    The broader topic that you’re I think trying to talk about is adding to the Bible based on our own convictions, and where that fits in with submission when you’re a woman.

    Your statement:
    “We err when we add to the law, so the questions in the grey areas of submission are not as simple as let her conscience (feelings) be the guide, or on the other hand, whatever he wants he gets. Both errors are not according to God’s prescription.”

    I think is on point. I agree that in most cases, simply talking about these things with one’s husband will clear them up, but from my experience in counseling women married to men who are either baby Christians and less spiritual than their wives, or even not Christian at all, these women have huge communication problems with their husbands – and a lot of it has to do with how they’ve treated their husbands in the past when it comes to discussing things or arguing. Trying to help them learn how to submit and respect and honor him in everything is a beautiful thing, and we make a lot of progress with counseling them in this using biblical principles like “winning him over without a word,” and submitting to him in everything, but wow is it ever a huge change for them in learning how to act. I’ve personally never come across this issue with a husband demanding something the wife feels would be a sin like what’s mentioned here (thank goodness!), but I have come across many times a wife trying to deal with a husband sinning against her in how he acts or speaks to her, and that’s a lot easier to counsel her on.

  21. @Stephanie

    I understand. Your obligation is to honor your husband and that is the entire concern of this thread.

  22. I never thought that I would see the day when Christians defend sodomy. This is hilarious.
    Jonadab comparing Anal sex to riding a motorcycle or eating pork is not the same thing and you should know that.
    And Alex the vagina is meant for sexual activity whereas the rectum isn’t. Women usually don’t have pain from vaginal sex, the risk of injury from anal sex is much higher. This is because the rectum was designed to get rid of waste not for sexual intercourse.
    I know that after I post this comment someone’s going to say: “oh yeah what about oral sex?” My answer is simple. Without getting to technical no one has ever gotten tears in their mouth muscles from oral. As that poor woman from Alex’s comment did.

  23. @Jonadab,

    Those are 8 great points. My own questions revolved around trying to determine how to reconcile a wife’s duty to submit and her rights to protect herself from injury without saying that she could override her husband’s scriptural interpretations or stop submitting to him if he failed in his duty to love and cherish her as he would himself. I agree that most husbands, especially Christian husbands, would readily help their wives avoid pain during any form of sex and would take proper precautions when approaching anal sex because, again, most men aren’t going to enjoy sex that is causing their wives severe pain and possibly even injury. I also realized, when considering it further, that a husband who insisted on causing his wife pain and even injury during sex when he could easily avoid hurting her by being gentler and taking the right precautions would be considered physically abusive. So there’s not a conflict like I thought.

  24. @Jordan,

    I agree that anal sex is a risky sexual practice that should only be undertaken with the proper precautions. As I said in my comment to Stephanie, I think that woman should be able to stop anal sexual activity if it’s too painful for her and even more so if she experiences any issues with it. (And realistically, her husband should be patient with her if she has to resolve any issues with pain during other sexual activities and that he should see what he can do to alleviate any pain that she’s experiencing. Pain during vaginal intercourse can be indicative of severe health problems or a form of sexual dysfunction.) I don’t think that I can make the argument that it’s sinful, but I do agree that it shouldn’t be pursued any further if it harms the wife. I say “if” because I do have a good female friend who has a very happy, successful marriage and sex life and enjoys anal sex. (Not just because it feels for good for her husband but because it also feels good for her.) So, while I’d contend that anal sex would be a harmful component to many married couple’s sex lives since it’s riskier and typically isn’t as nearly enjoyable for women as vaginal sex, I do think that there are some cases where it improves it.

  25. Hi Alex. I’m going to copy what BGR does when replying to people so they I can reply to you accurately.
    Here goes.
    Your Statement:
    ” As I said in my comment to Stephanie, I think that woman should be able to stop anal sexual activity if it’s too painful for her and even more so if she experiences any issues with it.”

    I agree. However certain men in Christian circles would then say that the woman in not being submissive enough. Lets go back to a part of Jonadabs statement.
    “1) A wife is to submit to her husband unless doing so is in clear violation of law of God.
    2) A wife’s emotional reaction is not equated to the law of God, but her submission is required by the law.
    3) I am not persuaded that anal sex is a clear violation of the law of God. Some men and women may be repulsed by the idea, but their reaction does not equate to the law.

    Jonadab is a Christian who is not convinced that anal sex is contrary to god’s law. He also believes like you and most on this thread that wives are to submit to their husbands. So knowing this I am sure that he would side with the abusive husband in your post who pressured his wife to have anal even after she had injuries. This is why I emphasized the rectum being an exit. It is also why I called him out on his comparision of doing anal to eating pork.
    I hope I was clear. Now I’m sure that Jonadab will reply to me and say that he emphasized that husband should consider the sanctity of his wife. Which I admit to his credit he did do. However You surely must realize that many Christians would give a woman who refuses to anal all sorts of grief for not being submissive.

  26. @Jordan,

    I see your concerns, and I think that those concerns illustrate why it’s important to have these conversations, even if others might see them as purposefully looking for a “get-out-of-jail-free” card. Really, I don’t fantasize about my husband giving me an anal fissure or trying to force me to have a threesome so that I have an opportunity to say, “No,” to him. In this case, I’m mainly concerned with women’s physical well-being.

    My own belief is that it doesn’t matter if anal sex itself is considered sinful. The scriptures admittedly aren’t clear on the issue. But they are clear that causing your spouse physical pain and injury is sinful. (BGR’s laid out good reasons why in his post on why men and women can seek divorce in cases of physical abuse, and I believe that pretty much everyone commenting here agrees with him on that issue.) A husband who continues to insist on anal intercourse even though he knows that it causes his wife pain and that it’s caused her injury and who won’t take proper precautions is physically abusing his wife. She can certainly tell him, “No,” in those cases, and I think that she could even pursue divorce if he won’t. I believe that she could also divorce him for sexual denial if he won’t have vaginal sex with her anymore because he’s become overly preoccupied with anal. Most scriptural interpretations agree that 1 Corinthians 7:4 refers specifically to vaginal intercourse. Besides that, the verse makes it clear that husbands are also supposed to be attentive to their wives’ sexual needs and desires, so insisting continually on sex that’s painful and unenjoyable for her is violating that scripture.

    I don’t think that Jonadab was saying that he’d side with the abusive husband in my anecdote, but he’s the better source for explaining what he meant. So I’ll leave that to him to clarify his meaning.

  27. @Jordan and Alex

    I never intended to say this much about anal sex, only that I didn’t see it as a clear violation of God’s Word and therefore not a justification for a woman to charge her husband as asking her to sin. It was not a fitting example for BGR’s point. But since we got on this bus let’s follow it to the stop.

    There are often dilemmas in Christian ethics that are not black and white and this is one of those. I believe that a man who forces is wife to have sex is sinning, even though the authority over her body belongs to him. She must willingly and joyfully engage in sex or she is also sinning. (I might add that if the wife is asking her husband to provide her with anal sex the same principles apply and I’m sure that happens too.) More often than not there are two sinners not just one, and if only one repents there is still sin present that is polluting the situation. A husband demanding sex (anal or otherwise) is in my opinion a sin and an abuse of his headship, a wife refusing is also a sin, unless there is a clear scriptural prohibition. Sex can easily become a tug of war for control and then it is no longer holy in keeping with Heb 13:4.

    IN response to ethic of pain, not all pain and discomfort is bad, even in sex. Pain often contributes to a greater good, the Lord’s discipline is painful, exercise is uncomfortable and yet both lead to a greater good. There are activities in sex that some may find slightly painful but the discomfort leads to a highly intense good experience of pleasure. (Spanking or light bondage come to mind) But no matter the comfort or discomfort at the moment, injury and resentment are always to be avoided. .

    So to the husband I would say it is not a sin to enjoy anal sex, deep throating, bondage play, light spanking, hand jobs, etc. with his wife, but he should not appeal to his authority to force her. By the good use of pleasure and trust of both people, the marriage bed cultivates and celebrates oneness and covenantal union . A husband’s number one job is to protect his wife, so her safety is always a priority. So he must first ask is this activity a threat to her or to her sanctification? (One real threat to her sanctification is that she elevates her desires and feelings as equal with special revelation) Wisdom, not black and white one size fits all advice is needed in ethical dilemmas. Just because something is not a sin does not mean that it is helpful to your mission in marriage. (Eph 6:12) The husband is accountable to God to apply God’s Word to his particular situation for he and his wife. Change the players or the situation and a different ethical decision is possible.

    To the wife I might also say, do not refuse a good-hearted request from your husband. A little anxiety can make for an especially intense experience and bring you closer to each other. Some sexual variations can lead to greater trust and a deeper sense of the giving of ourselves to the other, so be slow to react negatively. If your husband suggests something that you find distasteful or causes anxiety, it may be God’s instrument to challenge you to a greater degree of trust and a deeper submission. Do not react to your husband with disgust or contempt, but voice your concerns and trust that your husband who loves you will make the right call. It is ok to provide him information, it is not ok to give him an ultimatum. Same thing if it is you are making the request of him, he may not see your desire for some variation as enjoyable at first either, trust submit and communicate to him with honor, that’s your best chance to keep the marriage bed undefiled.

    Is anal sex always a sin? – I think not.
    Can it sometimes be a sin? – Definitely!
    Should christian ever have anal sex? – Depends.
    Should a wife submit? – Absolutely!
    Can a husband force his wife to have sex? – Not without sinning. Even if she is sinning against him, he would only compound the sin by adding his own to use force and pressure. Lording it over her is not an approved leadership protocol in the marriage.

  28. @Jonadab

    The objection I have to anal sex is the nature of its impact on health. As you know anal sex have a high risk in damage to a vulnerable part of a person that is not designed for sex but for evacuating solid waste. As well as the fact that it is a general petri dish and incubator of disease in comparison to the vagina that is better designed to handle invasive bacteria.

    It may not be sinful but it may be in many cases harmful. And should be generally avoided.

  29. @infowarrior1

    You are free in Christ avoid anal sex. You do however make a prejudicial argument when you speak of design. God has designed many parts of the body with a primary function and many secondary as well. For instance, the mouth is used for many functions such as eating speaking, breathing etc. If I said that the mouth was designed for eating so you should not kiss with it, you would probably disagree. It is fallacious to say the anus was designed to eliminate waste so it can serve no other function. The very same argument of teleology or design was used by fundamentalists against oral sex just a couple of decades ago. We are not free to add to the law or assume the exhaustive purposes of God when He has not revealed such.

  30. So…if my husband wants to attend a church that has management policies with which I strongly disagree such that abiding by the policies is a violation of my conscience – i.e., in a Romans 14 context – I have no recourse? I have to submit to the policies (since the church has made such submission a prerequisite to full participation in the life of the Body) even though they jeopardize my safety and that of my children? Or is it that I just have to go and suffer through the church services (which is all I’d be able to do without submitting to the policy) without being a full participant in church life? Can I freely let him attend without recrimination and simply stay home (i.e., not find a different church home)?

    If you say I have to submit to the church policies if that’s what my husband says – again, even though doing so jeopardizes my safety and that of my children – you’re saying that the sin is not on me anymore…that it’s on him instead? Fine and good – but what about the temporal ramifications (i.e., possible harm coming to me and my children via the church policy)? Those consequences would fall to me in the here and now – not just to him spiritually in the by-and-by.

    I am asking these questions seriously – not in a flippant way. I’m in a very real situation here and I am completely torn up about it.

  31. E. Stewart,

    I think you would have to be much more specific as to what “management policies” of this church “jeopardize my safety and that of my children”.

    Obviously if your husband is placing you or your children in an unsafe situation that is not something you have to submit them or yourselves to. However with people really misusing terms today like “abuse” and “unsafe” I would really need to hear specifics of what you think is “unsafe”.

    If you don’t feel comfortable sharing it here publicly in the comments you can email me privately at biblicalgenderroles@gmail.com.

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