Nowhere does the Bible condemn by explicit command or even by general principle a man using force to make his wife have sex in marriage. In other words, the Bible does not recognize the 19th century feminist invention of “marital rape”.
A woman going by the handle @_DearSister_ has an Instagram page where she teaches a conservative and Christian patriarchal view of marriage to women.
On that page she recently had a discussion about marital rape, and specifically the idea of some feminists saying that if a wife does not give verbal consent to her husband with each sexual encounter that the sex that follows is to be considered rape.
In other words, what they are saying is, if the husband just starts trying to have sex with his wife and she allows it but did not say yes – this is rape.
I came on her page and went further than she did. I said the Bible does not recognize that rape can occur within marriage. In other words, Biblically speaking – “marital rape” is an oxymoron.
What follows is a discussion I had with another woman on @_DearSister_ page who goes by handle @chellechristiansen. We had some discussion before this point. But it was these comments from her that drove my more detailed response. I will show a screen shot her comment and then give my response that I have to her below it (of course for Instagram I had break up my response into a lot of small pieces). And if you are not following me on Instagram (@biblicalgenderroles) – I highly recommend you do as the vast majority of my new content is there or on my podcast site (BGRLearning.com) and I slowly work it back here to my blog.
I have had this discussion with liberal women for years and they always go to the same tired humanist and feminist arguments. But the discussion I had with chellechristiansen was interesting because it was with a very conservative Christian woman who believes in submission and actually thinks Christian wives saying no to sex is sinful (a breath of fresh air). She just thinks it is wrong for a husband to force his wife to have sex even though she is sinfully refusing.
So my conversation with her was intended to reach other Christian women like her who are actually much closer to the truth on this issue of how sex should happen in a Biblical marriage.
My Response to chellechristiansen
I realize in my last comment I said I was done and would give you the final word in our discussion. I did not want to go round and round about the same arguments. But as I have pondered your last comment here the for a few days – I realize there are some different questions from you here and a slightly different argument that you are making against a husband forcing his wife to have sex in marriage.
I know what I showed you before and the new facts I will show you now may not change your mind. 10 years ago, I would have agreed with every word you are saying here because I did know about the history of humanism, feminism and the invention of “marital rape” by feminists in 19th century. I did know the history of how the early church fathers and later medieval chivalry codes changed our views on the acceptable treatment of wives by their husbands.
I did know that up even into the 19th century that courts including English and American upheld the Biblical principal that husbands were masters and owners of their wives in keeping with 1 Peter 3:5-6 and that they upheld the husband’s right to use force and discipline to compel his wife’s obedience “in everything” (Ephesians 5:24) just as Christ compels the obedience of his church through discipline in Revelation 3:19. They even referred to these rights as ancient rights of men practiced in all cultures.
I don’t even need Deuteronomy 21:10-14 where God expressly allows men to take captive women and force them to be their wives to defend the position I am taking here. There is a larger position I am taking which goes beyond forced sex in marriage. And that is that husbands have not only right, but the responsibility to use all means at their disposal to compel their wives’ obedience just as Christ uses discipline to compel their obedience of his church.
Now as someone else pointed out here in this thread, men no longer have these “ancient rights” as one court referred to them. Feminists have won many court battles over the last century and convinced legislatures to strip men of their mastery over their wives and their ability compel their wives to obey by use of force.
In other words, a man in our modern age who simply attempts to follow the Biblical example of God in disciplining his wife (as God did Israel and Christ did the church) could land himself in jail. This is why I do NOT recommend that most Christian men use physical force of any kind in our day in age with their wives. However, there are a small minority of Christian wives still raised with these ancient Biblical truths and if they are then their husbands can exercise these rights in marriage.
You asked about me saying there is no such thing as marital rape and yet saying marital rape is expressly condoned in the Bible in Deuteronomy 21:10-14. I apologize for not being precise in my language. Before the 19th century, the English term “rape” did mean “forced sex”, but rather it was a more precise term that meant “forced sex outside of marriage”. Then 19th century feminists invented the concept of “marital rape” and eventually just the word “rape” meant all forced sex whether in marriage or outside of marriage.
A good way to understand the difference between forced sex and rape is to compare it with beating someone. Are all incidents of one person beating someone immoral according the Bible? The answer is no. In fact, the Bible expressly condones both adults and children being beaten as chastisement in these passages (Deut 25:3, Prov 26:3).
And lest you think this only Old Testament, Christ condoned physical chastisement of adults in Luke 12:46-48 and so does the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:18-20. And in for course the Bible expressly prescribes physical discipline for children as well in Proverbs 23:13 and Hebrews 12:5-11.
As I have shown from the previous Scripture references, the Bible expressly allows and even condones the beating of adults and children by their authorities. As Christians then we should call beating someone unlawfully “assault” while biblically we must call a God ordained authority beating someone as discipline – “chastisement”. It is the same with forced sex. Forced sex Biblically speaking should be called “rape”, only if that forced sex was of a man who was not a woman’s husband.
So, to be clear, what I am saying is the Bible expressly condones forced sex within marriage in Deuteronomy 21:10-14 and it also implicitly condones forced sex by making the husband responsible for compelling his wife’s obedience as her ruler and master and as Christ compels his wife, the church. (See Gen 3:16, 1 Peter 3:5-6 and Rev 3:19).
You argued that a husband forcing his wife to have sex, even when she sinfully has said no, is a violation of the fruits of the spirit. But is it really? First and foremost, Galatians 5:22-23 listing of the fruits of the spirit is not exhaustive. Jesus Christ exhibited another fruit of the spirit – righteous anger when he fashioned cords to make a whip and beat the money changers, turned over their tables and drove them from the temple in John 2:13–17. Paul also exhibited this righteous anger when he asked the disobedient church at Corinth if he needed to bring a rod to discipline them in 1 Corinthians 4:21.
Could a man be violating the fruits of the spirit in some cases of forcing his wife to have sex? Yes. If his wife is ill, just had surgery, has just given birth or has some other condition like this then yes this would be a lack of self-control, seeking his own at the expense of her need (selfishness). If a man always forces sex on his wife (as some men actually sinfully prefer) and is never gentle with her – this too would be a violation of the fruits of the spirit.
Should there be some room also for mercy for the wife? That even at times when she sinfully says no (as opposed to graciously asking for a rain check when she is ill) that even in this sinful situation he shows mercy and does not force her? Yes.
But if a husband allows a pattern of willful sin on the part of his wife, where she can say “no” to sex with no fear of any consequences – such a man is derelict in his duty before God to discipline his wife as Christ does his church (Rev 3:19). And yes, forced sex by a husband can absolutely be a form of discipline in marriage.
You said at the end of your comment “Let her be in sin and guide her to repentance”. This is utterly unbiblical. God did not let his wife Israel remain in sin, but rather he disciplined her to try and bring her out it. Christ does not allow his wife (his church), to remain in sin, but rather he disciplines her to try and bring her out of it.
And it is this false philosophy of “Let her be in sin and guide her to repentance”, which originates in faulty think of Christians from the medieval chivalrous period, which actually laid the foundations for 19th century feminism. And now we have as Western civilization reaped the consequences of two centuries of undisciplined wives. Men are expected to wash their wives as Christ does his church (Ephesians 5:25-27) as well as rebuke and chasten them as Christ does his church (Revelation 3:19).