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Would Society Be Better If Girls Married as Soon as They Menstruated?
A Christian mother and regular reader of my blog asked “Would society be better if we returned to the standard that girls could marry as soon as they menstruated and were capable of having kids?” To ask such a question in America in the year 2019 seems patently absurd. Of course, society would NOT be better off if girls could marry as soon as they menstruated! Before we go further to address the obvious absurdity of this woman’s question here is the full email from her below.
Here is the complete email I received from a woman calling herself Rebekah:
“Long time reader, first time writer. First, I want to thank you for your trenchant insights, observations, and monologues. It’s great to find a man with such a passion for Christ and a traditional way of life. I’m a married mother with 3 daughters (12, 13, and 16) and (15) one son and my hubby and I are raising them to be good Christians and to abide by traditional gender roles.
I recently had a discussion with my husband about the expectation for marriage and we wondered, would society be better if we returned to the standard that girls could marry as soon as they menstruated and were capable of having kids? My two eldest daughters are certainly capable, and they are very motherly already.
What is your opinion?”
Why do such statements as the ones above evoke such a sense of righteous indignation from most of us in modern America and Western culture? We will discuss these reasons next.
Why Modern Society Disapproves of the Pubescent Marriage of Women
Ancient and medieval historical records can attest to the following statement that was made in an article entitled “Child Marriage – Rationale, Historical Views, And Consequences” :
“Child marriages involving only one marriage partner below the age of 18, usually the female, are also quite common. Throughout history till the 20th century, child marriages were the norm in most parts of the world. With the average life expectancy during such times being only 40 to 45 years of age, child marriages were the faster way to reproduce. Girls were usually married off as soon as they reached puberty or sometimes even prior to that.”
In the same article they mention in addition to shorter life expectancies that there were often economic reasons as well:
“Over the years, a large number of reasons have been suggested as triggers behind the practice of child marriage. Economic problems have been one of the primary factors that have forced parents to marry off their young girls. The system of dowry prevailing in many countries where parents of girls have to bestow hefty sums of money or expensive goods and ornaments to the in-laws’ families of their daughters have led to the consideration of the girl child as a burden in such households. However, the high demand of young girls in the marriage market have helped parents marry off their girl child to an older man, often receiving money in return, allowing them to overcome the burdens of dowry and even economically benefiting from the process.”
But in the same article we then find the reasons for our modern Western society’s disapproval of marriage for women of pubescent age:
“Child marriage is associated with scientifically established adverse effects to the young female child’s health. Pregnant girls below the age of 15 have a 5 to 7 times higher chance of dying during childbirth as compared to pregnant women in their twenties. Child mothers are also more susceptible to develop obstetric fistula, cervical cancer, sexually transmitted diseases and other health problems. Infant mortality rates are also 60% higher in case of children born of mothers who are below the age of 18 years. Child marriage usually deprives the female child of educational rights, leading to the loss of financial independence of the child in her future. Child brides are also susceptible to domestic violence, marital rapes and sexual abuse as they are not mature enough to protest and not independent enough to escape adverse situations in their conjugal life.”
So young mothers under 15 having 5 to 7 times higher of a chance of dying from their pregnancy should be enough for all us to oppose pubescent marriage for young girls, right?
And then what about the fact these poor young girls may be deprived of education rights which will lead to a loss of financial independence from their future husbands? And their higher susceptibility to tolerate future abuse from their future husbands?
Is this not an open and shut case against the marriage of pubescent age women?
Well before we can totally wrap up our conclusion, we need to tie up a few “loose ends”.
Putting Maternal and Infant Mortality Rates in Perspective
Two of the “loose ends” we need to tie up are maternal and infant mortality rates. Previously we were told one of the reasons we should oppose the marriage of pubescent age women is because women in this age group have higher chances of dying from child birth and their infants have a higher chance of dying after birth within the first year.
The maternal mortality rate (MMR) is the number of women who die each year at any stage of pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization(WHO) 211 million women get pregnant each year.
The sad news for us as Christians and those who value human life is that 46 million of those pregnancies are ended by the murderous act of abortion. That means 165 million women continue with their pregnancies. Of those 165 million pregnancies, 123 million will be “successful”, meaning that the mother gives birth and the child survives.
Of the children that survive in these 123 million births, 2.51 million, or 2 percent, will die before reaching their first birthday (this is the global infant mortality rate).
About 302,950 women die each year worldwide from pregnancy. That means women worldwide have a 0.2 percent chance dying from pregnancy related health problems or on the other hand they have a 99.8 percent chance of dying from pregnancy.
To put these numbers further in perspective, of those 302,950 women who die from pregnancy each year 99 percent of pregnancy related deaths occur in the developing world. And even in sub-Saharan Africa, which has the highest MMR in the world, only 500 women out of 100,000 died from pregnancy related complications.
The key numbers to take away from this section on maternal and infant mortality rates are that in total 0.2 percent of women who get pregnant and do not murder their unborn children later die as a result of their pregnancies. A total of 2 percent of infants worldwide will die before they reach their first birthday. And statistically speaking the vast majority of these deaths that occur in both these categories occur in Africa. The saddest number of all these numbers is of course the worldwide purposeful murder of 22 percent of children in their mother’s womb by the act that modern civilization calls abortion.
The Societal Impact of Economic and Social Independence for Women
Another “loose end” we need to tie up has to do with women’s social and economic independence from men. After all that is good thing, right?
For most of the history of mankind, with few exceptions, women were economically and socially tied to their fathers or their husbands and were considered the property of their fathers or husbands. Women could not own property and if they did inherit property it would come under their husband’s authority upon marriage. In divorce fathers retained full custody of the children.
The fact that women could not own property, could not easily divorce their husbands and when they did divorce, they had to leave without their children and without any property or income was a strong incentive for women to stay with their husbands.
This all changed in the mid-19th century with the rise of feminism. It began with women suing in the courts for the right to own property as men did. Then in the late 19th century the historic custom of fathers retaining full custody of their children was reversed and full custody was given to the mother. Fathers did not gain back at least joint custody rights until almost a century later in 1960s.
Now the incentives that brought women to marriage to men, and kept women in marriage to men had been all but destroyed.
It was also during this time that women began to throw of the authority of their fathers in courting and began the new practice of “dating”. Men and women entering marriage based on the historic principles of faith, duty, honor and economics gradually was replaced with men and women entering marriage simply for “love” – which was really just infatuation.
And since women had come to gain alimony, child support, and property rights there was little incentive for them to stay in marriage to a man once the infatuation wore off. This caused divorce rates to sky rocket from 3 percent before the rise of feminism in the mid-19th century to 13 percent by the time woman’s suffrage was ratified in 1920 in the United States.
Anna Howard Shaw, one of the champions of first wave feminism made the following statement in the February 25th, 1915 edition of the New York Evening Post:
“I believe in woman suffrage, whether all women vote or no women vote; whether all women vote right or all women vote wrong; whether women will love their husbands after they vote or forsake them; whether they will neglect their children or never have any children at all.”
Anna Howard Shaw summed up the goals of the political feminists’ movements of the 19th and early 20th century. The total liberation and independence of women from men no matter what the costs to society. Country, marriage and motherhood and children could all be destroyed to meet their goals. The only thing that mattered was women having complete and utter control of their lives.
And what cost did we pay as a nation? Well Anna Howard Shaw’s words came true. Women gained the right to vote and even gained the right to force men to hire them for any positions they wanted. And in 1973 they gained the right to murder their unborn children under the guise of total bodily autonomy.
The social and economic independence of women in America has directly led to rampant sexual immorality, the decline of marriage, over 60 million divorces and over 60 million abortions.
The Arguments Against the Marriage of Pubescent Women Are Faulty
Well it seems that in our effort to tie up loose ends regarding opposition to pubescent women marrying we have instead unraveled the entire ball of yarn.
Before I show how the arguments against pubescent women marrying are faulty, I want to explain some terminology I have been using. The way we label something or someone can very much affect how we view that something or someone. For instance, those of us who oppose abortion as a right for women call ourselves “prolife” while those who believe abortion is a right for women call themselves “prochoice”. Prolife advocates such as myself call the child a “baby” from the moment it is conceived while Prochoice advocates will refer to the child based on his or her biological stages of development with such words as “zigote” or “embryo” or “fetus” in an attempt to dehumanize the human being growing inside his or her mother’s womb.
In the same way when having this argument about the age of marriage for women those who oppose marriage for women before the age of 18 will call all marriage before the age of 18 “Child Marriage”. But is 16 or 17-year-old female or male human being for that matter, a child? The answer biologically speaking is no.
Human beings go through a transition phase from child to adult and this transition phase is called puberty. Children are human beings in the prepubescent stage of development. Adolescents are human beings that are at some stage of puberty. When the changes of puberty are complete the human adolescent becomes a human adult. Girls typically start puberty around the age of 11 while some start as early as 9 or 10 and they typically complete puberty by the age of 14. Boys start a little later than girls typically around the age of 12 and they finish puberty around the age of 16 or 17.
Those who say a female human being who has experienced the major changes of puberty which are the development of breasts, pubic hair and the start of menstruation is a child are stating a biological falsehood. Such a female human being is no longer a child (prepubescent human being), but rather she is either an adolescent (pubescent human being) or an adult (postpubescent human being).
This is why I have consistently referred to this argument as one being about the “the marriage of pubescent women” because a female human being who has experienced the changes of puberty is no longer a child.
When we acknowledge the fact that worldwide a total of 0.2 percent of women die from pregnancy related deaths, and that includes pubescent mothers, then the even if they represent a higher proportion of that 0.2 percent it does not make a strong case against pubescent women marrying. Instead we can respond with that fact that at least 99.8 percent of pubescent women worldwide will survive their pregnancies.
When we acknowledge the fact that only 2 percent of all infants worldwide die in the first year of their life and even if children from pubescent mothers make up more of that 2 percent than children from postpubescent women, we can rightly say pubescent mothers have at least a 98 percent chance of their children surviving their first year of life. A difference somewhere within the 2 percent range between two groups of women having their children survive is not a strong argument against pubescent women marrying.
Some may respond that these are numbers that mix the developed world and undeveloped worlds. But let me remind you of the WHO numbers which stated even in sub-Saharan Africa, which has the highest MMR in the world, only 500 women out of 100,000 died from pregnancy related complications in a given year over the last decade.
Then we come to other social reasons for opposition to marriage for pubescent women.
One of those reasons is that these pubescent women will have a “the loss of financial independence” from their husbands most likely because they do not finish high school and the college and get careers before marrying.
But based on the stats I just showed which correlate the granting of economic rights to women with the destruction of marriage by disincentivizing women to seek and stay in marriage to men is “the loss of financial independence” for women a bad thing? The answer if we believe that lasting marriages form the bedrock of a stable civilization must be NO.
And finally, what about the assertion that pubescent brides are more “susceptible to domestic violence, marital rapes and sexual abuse as they are not mature enough to protest and not independent enough to escape adverse situations in their conjugal life”? Is this a strong enough argument on its own for us to oppose pubescent women marrying?
Are there some men that truly do abuse their wives, whether they enter marriage as pubescent women or as postpubescent women? Absolutely. But again, we must put things in perspective. Just as we cannot toss out women getting pregnant because a tiny fraction of women may die from pregnancy so to, we cannot throw out marriage for pubescent women because of the sad fact that a higher fraction of a tiny percentage of pubescent women will be truly abused.
Now that I have shown the arguments against pubescent women marrying to be faulty and weak, we will now present strong arguments for the marriage of pubescent women.
Why We Should Support the Practice of Pubescent Marriage
I have previously shown from a biological perspective it is incorrect to refer to a human being that is going through puberty or one that has finished puberty as a child. Therefore, it is utterly wrong to label it as “Child marriage” when a pubescent woman enters marriage.
Before the last century human societies recognized three primary social classes of human beings. Men, Women and Children. Once children entered puberty, they were basically considered either men or women. The concept of a “teenager” is a more recent invention over the last century.
Boys were considered men around the ages of 12 to 13 and this is why it was the norm for these young men to begin their trade in their early teen years so they could save their money, buy their own land and build a home. Once they did this, usually by their late teens or early 20s, they would seek out a wife for marriage. For girls, as soon as they developed breasts and began menstruating, they were considered women and ready for marriage and child bearing.
Many will argue that just because a young woman is biologically ready for marriage and child bearing, does not mean she is mature enough mentally for marriage and child bearing.
So how do we answer the question of when a person is ready for marriage? Is it by looking to how civilizations have done things in the past? Is it by looking to current studies?
The answer, first and foremost for us as Christians, is to look to the Word of God.
“But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.”
1 Corinthians 7:36 (KJV)
The phrase “the flower of her age” refers to when a woman has her period. The Apostle Paul is telling us here that the minimum of age of marriage is when a woman has her first period.
However, we must take the complete witness of the Scriptures together to determine when is the acceptable “time of love” for a young woman – as in marriage and sex.
“7 I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare.
8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine.”
Ezekiel 16:7-8 (KJV)
So, it is not until a young girl demonstrates all the signs of puberty, the growth of breasts, pubic hair and having a period that she is ready for marriage. With most young women, their first period comes after the development of their breasts and pubic hair while in some rare cases the period may come first. But the Scriptures show us that all three of these elements are required.
In fact, in another Scripture we read that if a woman was completely flat chested and had no breasts, she would have a difficult time marrying (even if she had her first period):
“We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?”
Song of Solomon 8:8 (KJV)
The point here is that God tells us when a woman develops breasts, grows pubic hair and has her period she is ready for marriage by God’s law.
But we must also recognize that God gives a father discretion as to when his daughter is ready for marriage:
“Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.”
Jeremiah 29:6 (KJV)
“16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.”
Exodus 22:16-17 (KJV)
The passages above show us that fathers have the responsibility to prepare their daughters for marriage and be looking for suitable husbands for their daughters while at the same time they have the right of refusal for their daughter for marriage as well.
Early Teen Women Are Very Fertile
Carolyn Butler wrote an article entitled “Ovaries have not adjusted to many women’s decision to delay having children” for the Washington Post back in 2010. In that article she stated the following inconvenient biological facts for women:
“The biological reality that female fertility peaks in the teens and early 20s can be difficult for many American women to swallow, as they delay childbirth further every year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. In the District, the average age of initial childbirth was 26.5 years in 2006, up 5.5 years since 1970, the highest jump in the country…
“While we may not be mature enough to conceive at a young age, nor should we, that is still when the body is most adept at conception and carrying a baby,” says Claire Whelan, program director of the American Fertility Association. “Our biological clock has not kept pace with our ability to prolong our life spans.” Stillman agrees, pointing out that research about advanced maternal age and motherhood today is clear: The older you get, the more difficult it is to get pregnant and the higher the chance of miscarriage, pregnancy problems such as gestational diabetes and hypertension, and chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome, among other concerns…
“Society has changed, ” says Stillman, “but the ovaries will take another million years or two to catch up to that.””
Notice how she has to preface her acknowledgement of the biological reality of when women are “most adept at conception and carrying a baby” with her value judgment that “While we may not be mature enough to conceive at a young age, nor should we”.
As Christians we know that the Bible says in Genesis 1:27 that “male and female created he them”. And we know God is not going to change a woman’s ovaries to match our societal changes.
Instead our society must turn back to God so that our society matches the way he designed us as males and females both physiologically and psychologically. And the way we begin that change is in one Christian home at time.
Early Teen Women Are More Moldable
In the Scriptures we read the following passage from the Book of Jeremiah:
“1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. 4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.”
Jeremiah 18:1-6 (KJV)
In the above passage God is speaking to Israel as his wife. The phrase “O house of Israel” is used in other passages like this one below when God refers to Israel as his wife and he as her husband:
“Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the Lord.”
Jeremiah 3:20 (KJV)
Just as God sought to mold his wife Israel to be the person, he wanted her to be, so to for a marriage to be successful a woman must be very moldable just like clay in the hands of a potter.
When women are in their early teens, they typically are more moldable but as they get older into their late teens and especially early 20s, they become much harder to mold or change in their person and habits.
And make no mistake this is EXACTLY why most people today oppose women marrying very young because they know they are so impressionable or moldable at that age. They don’t want men being able to mold young women so they want to delay marriage as a long as possible pushing it into the early and mid-20s.
Christians who follow this false philosophy that young women need “find themselves” and “be their own person” before marriage are going against God’s design.
Remember that God says marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church. Does Christ mold his church? You bet he does. And he tells men to love their wives as he does:
“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Ephesians 5:25-27 (KJV)
We are often told today that if a man attempts to mold or change his wife’s behavior at all that he is “controlling” and this bad. We are told that if a man truly loves his wife, he won’t try to change anything about her.
Well I can tell you based on the authority of the Scriptures above that if a man does not attempt to mold and shape his wife to present her to himself and to God as a glorious wife in the same way Christ does his church then he is not loving his wife as Christ loves the church.
And yes, it takes a sacrifice on our part as men and courage on our part as men to “rebuke and chasten” (Revelation 3:19) our wives as Christ does his churches. But when done in the correct spirit, such rebuke and chastening by husbands is called “love”.
Rebekah so here is the answer to your question – “Would society be better if we returned to the standard that girls could marry as soon as they menstruated and were capable of having kids?”
The answer first from the Bible is “YES”. But the like many other times we can see how God’s design plays out when we follow it and also when we disobey it. No one can argue with the cold hard facts that giving women independence from men in general and their fathers and husbands in particular has been good for the institution of marriage which God designed.
By taking away women’s dependence on men we have allowed women to dominate marriage and our society. Society is now ordered around how people feel rather than duty to God, family and country.
And the invention of the “teenager” as an extension of childhood has not been good for our society. It has led to rampant immorality and a complete lack of responsibility among our young people today.
I don’t think you were actually asking if your husband could do this but just if society would be better if we all turned back to this custom of marriage for young women.
However, if your daughters have demonstrated the signs God says that mark “the time of love” for a woman in that they have developed breasts, pubic hair and have begun menstruating and if your husband feels they are mature enough and ready for marriage there would be no sin in allowing them to marry.
Believe it or not there are still 15 states that allow marriage below the age of 14:
Also, several states allow 14, and 15-year old people to marry as well.
You can find the complete list of marriage by age by state here:
Answering the Scoffers
One of my favorite scoffers, Suzanne Titkemeyer, wrote a piece the other day about my review of the Handmaids Tale. I always chuckle a little when I read her stuff.
I will cover just a few areas that I think apply to this article in regards to the age of marriage.
“Why is it always these creeps, like Vaughn Ohlman,imaging young burgeoning breasts and periods as a marker for readiness? Notice that none of them view young boys of that age as ready for marriage. When they talk of men marrying it’s always men over the age of 21, while saddling them with a much too young girl.”
Suzanne, it is not me imaging breasts and periods as a marker for readiness, but rather the word of God which clearly states it as I showed above from Ezekiel 16:7-8 and 1 Corinthians 7:36. You may reject the Bible but it is my basis for truth.
And before I knew and understood these Scriptures and studied the history of the world, biology and marriage I probably would have agreed with you that early teens is too young for marriage for women. But back then I would have been going by what you are – my feelings and my culture. Instead of looking at marriage first through the lenses of the Bible, then history and biology. All of which support young marriage for women.
Also, on your view of boys. I don’t think they have to be over 21, although I think in most cases it would be wiser for them to wait. Why? Because they have to lead a woman and their family and they have to be able to provide for and protect their family. Especially on the provision front, for most young men it takes well into their early or mid-20s until they are ready to provide for a family. My 19-year-old son who is plumber is an exception. He makes over 60 K a year and could support a family. But he has to get some other things in line first.
I know you struggle with this concept, but young men and young women are different. They are designed by God for different roles. A young woman does not have to lead a home or provide for one. She simply has to manage it, therefore she can marry much younger than a man. Besides it is a biological fact as I showed above the early teens to the early 20s are “when the body is most adept at conception and carrying a baby”. I also showed that studies arguing for higher pregnancy related deaths or other health problems are using statistically insignificant differences between pubescent mothers and postpubescent mothers.
“In the United States this age can come at a very young time in a girl’s life. Menstruation ages have dropped, meaning what Larry is proposing here is that girls as young as 9 could be married.”
No not really. I have said on multiple occasions that I like the Jewish rule of minimum age of 12. The truth is that is extremely rare for a 9-year-old to have a period but then you are leaving out several other key factors in order to build your straw-man argument. I said the minimum age of marriage requires ALL of the following things – not just a girl having her period. She must have developed breasts, pubic hair, had a period AND her father must determine she is ready.
“My own cycle started at 11 years old, and I can tell you I was nowhere near ready to marry. I was still playing with my Barbies, riding my horse, going to Camp Fire Girls meetings, and giggling over how cute Donny Osmond was. My only adult actions and responsibilities revolved around caring for my horse.
Little girls should be free to ride their horses, or play with their dolls and coloring books, not forced into lifetime relationships and sex. We’ve talked about this so much here that I’m not even going to cite the statistics again that show how early marriage harms girls in every way, physically, emotionally, financially.”
Do you know why you were no nowhere near ready to marry at age 11 including manage a home and take care of children? Because you were raised in a culture that has vastly extended childhood far beyond what cultures in the past did. If you were raised in pre-modern times, especially medieval or ancient times you absolutely would have been preparing for marriage at 11 and most likely be married by 12 or 13.
You see that is one of the many differences between your world view and mine. You believe the purpose of little girls and by extension women is to live for themselves. Have fun and do whatever makes you happy (at a particular moment, because we know that changes every five minutes).
But other people who believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, such as myself, believe we were put here for more than riding horses and playing with toys. We believe life is about duty and honor and serving God. Sure, we can have happiness along the way, but if that is our central focus, we will not serve God.
And speaking of happiness. We understand a truth that utterly escapes most secularists and you as well. We understand that happiness is not simply a feeling, but it is also a choice. We can choose to be happy in whatever circumstances life brings us. This is special kind of joy that few people know or understand. We can choose to let God and his Word lead our hearts, instead of letting our hearts lead us.
I pray one day you will come to know these truths and accept Christ and his Word as they are and not as you would have them be.
It is Not a Woman’s Consent That Matters, It is God’s
The Bible’s teachings on when sexual relations may occur between a man and a woman are in direct conflict with the American Sexual Consent ideology that sadly even many Christians believe in. Some Christians are simply ignorant about what the Bible says regarding when sexual relations may occur. Other Christians actually know what the Bible says about when sexual relations may occur and they choose to ignore such passages or explain them away as being irrelevant for our society.
If you are a Christian who knows what the Bible says about when sexual relations may occur between a man and woman and choose to ignore it or explain it away this article may do little to change your mind. I pray that you will repent – but it is in God’s hands and not mine.
But my primary focus in this article is to talk to Christians, especially young Christians, who have grown up in Churches that have abandoned the teachings of the Bible. I hope that when you are exposed to the teachings of God’s Word regarding sexual relations between a man and a woman you will open your heart and mind to what God has to say and let it change your life.
It is interesting to watch the civil war in feminism caused by the MeToo movement play itself out in feminist circles. On one side we have feminists like Christina Cauterucci at Slate.com arguing that MeToo has made “little progress” since its inception and much more needs to be done. But on the other side we have feminist writers like Daphne Merkin at the New York Times that admit to having “misgivings” about the MeToo movement and its impact on male female relationships and especially on things like flirting and how men and women enter into sexual relationships with one another.
Daphne Merkin makes the following statement in her article entitled “Publicly, We Say #MeToo. Privately, We Have Misgivings.”:
“What happened to women’s agency? That’s what I find myself wondering as I hear story after story of adult women who helplessly acquiesce to sexual demands. I find it especially curious given that a majority of women I know have been in situations in which men have come on to them — at work or otherwise. They have routinely said, “I’m not interested” or “Get your hands off me right now.” And they’ve taken the risk that comes with it.
The fact that such unwelcome advances persist, and often in the office, is, yes, evidence of sexism and the abusive power of the patriarchy. But I don’t believe that scattershot, life-destroying denunciations are the way to upend it. In our current climate, to be accused is to be convicted. Due process is nowhere to be found.
And what exactly are men being accused of? What is the difference between harassment and assault and “inappropriate conduct”? There is a disturbing lack of clarity about the terms being thrown around and a lack of distinction regarding what the spectrum of objectionable behavior really is. Shouldn’t sexual harassment, for instance, imply a degree of hostility? Is kissing someone in affection, however inappropriately, or showing someone a photo of a nude male torso necessarily predatory behavior?
I think this confusion reflects a deeper ambivalence about how we want and expect people to behave. Expressing sexual interest is inherently messy and, frankly, nonconsensual — one person, typically the man, bites the bullet by expressing interest in the other, typically the woman — whether it happens at work or at a bar. Some are now suggesting that come-ons need to be constricted to a repressive degree. Asking for oral consent before proceeding with a sexual advance seems both innately clumsy and retrograde, like going back to the childhood game of “Mother, May I?” We are witnessing the re-moralization of sex, not via the Judeo-Christian ethos but via a legalistic, corporate consensus.”
While Daphne Merkin raises many good points in the above article the point I wanted to zoom in on is her statement that “Expressing sexual interest is inherently messy…”.
And why is expressing sexual interest a “messy” endeavor today? I submit to you the reason for the messiness of expressing sexual interest lies squarely at the feet of the Free Love movement in America that begin in the mid-19th century as a theory that eventually became an American cultural reality in the 1960s’.
The majority of this article will be spent showing how the whole “sexual consent” philosophy in America finds its roots in rebellion against God. I will also show how it directly conflicts with the Biblical view of how men and women are to enter into sexual relations with one another. At the end of this article I will show why God’s appointed way for men and women to express sexual interest in one another is not “messy” like methods of showing sexual interest are today. In fact God’s way in this regard is far less complicated.
The Roots of “Sexual Consent” ideology and the Free Love Movement in America
One of the founding fathers of Feminism as well as the Sexual Consent and Free Love ideologies in America was a man named Moses Harman (1830-1910).
William Lemore West penned an article entitled “The Moses Harman Story” for the Kansas Historical Society on Mr. Harman’s life and his accomplishments.
In that article he states of Moses Harman that he “not only denounced all forms of government and religion, but added a new dimension in reform by advocating that women be freed from sexual slavery by abolishing the institution of marriage. Harman did not develop these views until comparatively late in his life.”
West also alludes to Harman’s name change on the publication he would later gain fame for:
“The publication changed title again in 1883. Harman maintained that subscribers objected to the term “Kansas” in the paper’s title because the name was local in character. His subscribers also opposed the term “liberal” since so many newspapers and journals used the term in their titles. For these reasons he changed the publication’s title to Lucifer the Light Bearer (hereafter called Lucifer). The title was selected, stated Harman, because it expressed the paper’s mission. Lucifer, the name given the morning star by the people of the ancient world, served as the symbol of the publication and represented the ushering in of a new day. He declared that freethinkers had sought to redeem and glorify the name Lucifer while theologians cursed him as the prince of the fallen angels. Harman suggested that Lucifer would take on the role of an educator. “The god of the Bible doomed mankind to perpetual ignorance,” wrote Harman, “and [people] would never have known Good from Evil if Lucifer had not told them how to become as wise as the gods themselves.”
West shows us Harman’s defining belief in “equal freedom”:
“”Yes, I believe in Freedom — equal freedom. I want no freedom for myself that all others may not equally enjoy. Freedom that is not equal is not freedom. It is, or may easily become, invasion, and invasion is the denial or the death of freedom. The Spencerian formula — ‘Each has the right to do as he pleases so long as he does not invade the equal right of others,’ tells what freedom means. It is equivalent to saying that liberty, wedded to responsibility for one’s acts, is the true and only basis of good conduct, or of morality.” — From a “Free Man’s Creed,” by Moses Harman. The picture and quotation were copied from the Memorial of Moses Harman.”
West shows Harman’s animosity toward religion and “particularly Christianity”:
“Religion, particularly Christianity, came under heavy verbal attack by Harman. He contended that religion was based on ignorance of nature’s methods and fear of the unseen powers that were supposedly warring over human destiny. Religion was dangerous, declared Harman, because “fear begets hate, and hate results in oppression, war, and bloodshed.”  Later he suggested:
Cling not to the cross of a dead god for help in time of trouble, but stand erect like a man and resolutely meet the consequences of your acts, whatever they may be. . . . Every man [and woman] must be his own physician, his own priest, his own god and savior, if he is ever healed, purified, and saved. ”
West speaks to Harman’s hatred of the institution of marriage below:
“Harman opposed the institution of marriage because he considered it an unequal yoke.  He maintained that marital rights were limited to the rights of the husband, with the wife being but a slave to her master husband.  The promises of marriage to “love, obey, and honor,” said Harman, were immoral because there was no reasonable assurance that the two persons would be able to carry out the promises.  Love and freedom were supposedly destroyed by marriage. “If love survives marriage,” alleged Harman, “it is not because of it but in spite of it.” ”
West presents Harman’s vision of a “rational” family:
“He believed that the abolition of marriage would result in the birth of fewer children since children would be welcomed and cared for by mutual affection. He looked forward to the emergence of a new “rational” family where each member would “drop to his place like stones in an arch when artificial props are removed.”  This new family would be under the domination of the mother. ”
West shows Harman’s view that women needed financial independence from men:
“On another occasion he stressed that women would never have political independence until they earned enough money to command respect. This was not possible, said Harman, because women spend most of their good years bearing and rearing children. ”
David S. D’Amato in his article “Free Love: Moses Harman” for Libertarianism.org writes that Harman’s views formed the basis of a “lexicon” for the values that Americans now hold today:
“Moses Harman was a dauntless and pioneering early voice for feminism, sexual and reproductive freedoms, and free expression. His periodical Lucifer was arguably the most important publication of the free love movement, so important a part of latter nineteenth century American radicalism. Harman’s work anticipates much of a lexicon we now take for granted in the public conversation on women’s rights and family planning.
Fighting censorship and the oppression of women, Harman finds victory today through the strength of his ideas and their legacy, even if he often lost to the forces of reaction and authority in his own time. Harman thus offers a glimmer of hope to libertarians, to a group that looks forward to a freer and more tolerant society, yet realizes that it likely waits far off, beyond the horizon. For while Harman was widely considered an insane old crank in his lifetime, he is vindicated in the present.”
Moses Harman And the Invention of Marital Rape
Wendy McElroy wrote an article for Foxnews.com entitled “Spousal Rape Case Sparks Old Debate” arguing against the historical marital rape exception that has existed in Western law until recent decades. In this article she alludes to who was responsible for first nationwide discussion of the possibility of marital rape:
“Western jurisprudence has a long tradition of absolving husbands from the possibility of rape. The first significant discussion in America of forced sex within marriage being categorized as rape, and of the need for a legal remedy, may well have been “The Markland Letter,” which was published in 1887 in a Kansas newspaper.
The letter read, “About a year ago F——— gave birth to a baby, and was severely torn by the instruments in incompetent hands. She has gone through three operations and all failed…last night when her husband came down, forced himself into her bed, and the stitches were torn from her healing flesh, leaving her in worse condition than ever...”
The Markland letter became nationally notorious largely because its graphic description of violence left little doubt that the husband was a rapist despite the law.”
The “Kansas newspaper” she alludes to was Moses Harman’s “Lucifer the Light Bearer”.
Merril D. Smith in her book “Sex Without Consent: Rape and Sexual Coercion in America” gives us some more detail on the Markland letter:
“A good example is provided by Dr. W.G. Markland who sent Moses Harman, the editor of Lucifer, Light Bearer a letter from a close female friend which described the experiences of a woman who had recently given birth. Because of the incompetence of her attending physicians she suffered lacerations and subsequently endured several painful operations to correct her condition. While she was recuperating from her latest experience under the surgeon’s knife, Markland reported, her husband “forced himself into her bed and the stitches were torn from her healing flesh, leaving her in a worse condition than ever.” Incensed by this behavior, Markland was even more irate that the wife had no legal recourse to punish her attacker. “Will you point to a law that will punish this brute?” he rhetorically asked is reader. “If a man stabs his wife to death with a knife,” he continued, “does not the law hold him for murder?” But if he “murders her with his penis, what does the law do?”” – page 214
And from this letter from Dr. Markland published in Harman’s Lucifer the Light Bearer publication a national debate was started about the possibility of marital rape. Harman would quickly receive many letters from others that would claim there was an epidemic of women across America dying as a result for forced sex from their husbands. Merril D. Smith concedes that there were many who doubted the accounts and many who believed the Free Lovers contention that “thousands” of these events were happening across the nation were exaggerations:
“Throughout the nineteenth century critics of the Free Lovers were quick to deny their claims of the prevalence of marital sexual abuse in the Victorian bedroom. In 1854, for example, Adin Ballou Argued that these sexual radicals “are prone to exaggerate the evils of dual marriage. They seem to think the best half of their battle is won, if they can only make these evils appear sufficiently dreadful. Accordingly, they harp incessantly on this string.” As part of their project to eliminate marriage, the Free Lovers clearly had a stake in publicizing these incidents of abuse. They did not, however, make them up.” – page 218
The problem with the Markland Letter case was not with its condemnation of the husband’s behavior. I think the vast majority of Christians would agree both then and now that what he did to his wife was wrong.
As a Bible believing Christian and a firm believer in God’s institution of marriage and a husband’ sexual rights to his wife’s body I can easily show that God condemned the behavior of the husband in the Markland Letter based on the Biblical principle that husbands are to care for the needs of their wife’s bodies as they do their own.
“28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church”
Ephesians 5:28-29 (KJV)
Would the advocates of the false proposition of marital rape agree with us as Bible believing Christians that what the husband in the Markland Letter did was physical abuse even to the point of possibly endangering his wife’s life? Of course, they would.
But from a Biblical perspective it is absolutely impossible for a man to rape his wife because a man can only rape a woman he is not married to.
In other words, from a Biblical perspective forced sex within the confines of marriage is not and cannot ever be classified as rape, but only forced sex outside of the confines of marriage can rightly be considered rape.
Also I need to point out something very important for Christians to understand about rape. The world says rape is immoral because it violates a woman’s consent to sexual relations but the Bible shows us rape is wrong because it violates God’s consent for a man to have sexual relations with a woman. God only consents to a man having sexual relations with a woman if he has entered into a covenant of marriage with her and then he may have sex with her “at all times” as Proverbs 5:19 commands.
However, Ephesians 5:28-29’s command for men to care for the needs of their wife’s body is a Biblical caveat to Proverbs 5:19’s exhortation for men to sexually satisfy themselves with their wife’s body at all times.
While we as Christians should reject the false construct of marital rape we should certainly recognize the possibility of a husband physically abusing his wife and this Markland Letter case shows the husband did just that. A woman’s genitals need time to heal after giving birth. Even if the surgery was for something different than complications after child birth – if a husband forces himself on his wife with complete disregard for the damage it may cause her after surgery this is a clear violation of the Ephesians 5:28-29 principle that he is to care for the welfare of his wife’s body.
The truth is that free love advocates and feminists had (and still have today) a more insidious agenda. They did not want to simply condemn physical abuses which occurred in this marriage situation or others. They wanted to condemn the entire concept of Christian marriage itself with the husband as the head of the wife as an abusive relational construct and they wanted to eliminate traditional marriage from American society.
Now that we have shown the evil roots and true agenda of the Free Love and Sexual Consent ideologies we will now look at the fruit of these wicked movements in the form of modern “Sexual Consent” teachings.
The Biblical View of Sex Vs the Sexual Consent Ideology
Planned Parenthood has an article on their website entitled “Sexual Consent” which I think is a good representation of the tenets of modern Sexual Consent Ideology. Below I will take several of those tenets they list and compare these tenets to what the Bible says about sexual relations between men and women.
Marriage is in Agreement to Sexual Activity
Sexual Consent Ideology says “Sexual consent is an agreement to participate in a sexual activity” but the Bible says Marriage IS an agreement to participate in a sexual activity:
“Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.”
I Corinthians 7:3 (KJV)
“If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.”
Exodus 21:10 (KJV)
Before You Can Be Sexual With Someone You Must Marry Them
Sexual Consent Ideology says “Before being sexual with someone, you need to know if they want to be sexual with you too” but the Bible says before being sexual with someone you need to be married to them first:
“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
Hebrews 13:4 (KJV)
The Only Sexual Consent Required in Marriage is Consent to NOT have Sex
Sexual Consent Ideology says “Both people must agree to sex — every single time — for it to be consensual.” But the Bible says both people within a covenant of marriage must agree to NOT have sex. Yes, sir and Yes mam you read that right. The only mutual agreement regarding sex the Bible speaks to is the cessation of sex for short periods of mutually agreed time and then the couple is admonished to come back together in sexual union again:
“Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.”
I Corinthians 7:5 (KJV)
A Man Has God’s Consent to Have Sex with His Wife at All Times
Sexual Consent Ideology says “Without consent, sexual activity (including oral sex, genital touching, and vaginal or anal penetration) is sexual assault or rape” but the Bible says God has given a man his consent to have sex with his wife “at all times” regardless of her consent:
“18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. 19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.”
Proverbs 5:18-19 (KJV)
Sex in Marriage is a Duty, NOT a Choice
Sexual Consent Ideology says “Consenting is a choice you make without pressure, manipulation, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol” but the Bible says sexual relations within marriage are a duty that the spouses have towards each other, not a choice (Exodus 21:10, I Corinthians 7:3).
Wives are to Sexually Submit to Their Husbands in Everything
Sexual Consent Ideology says “When it comes to sex, you should only do stuff you WANT to do, not things that you feel you’re expected to do” but the Bible commands wives to be in subjection to their husbands in everything:
“Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”
Ephesians 5:24 (KJV)
The only exception to “every thing” is Acts 5:24’s exception that “We ought to obey God rather than man”. That means if a woman’s husband asks her to participate in a threesome with another man she can rightly refuse his request because that would be a sin against God. If, however he as her husband asks her to manually stimulate him, perform oral sex on him or have intercourse or other types of sexual activity with him this would fall under Ephesians 5:24’s “every thing” clause.
The Implicit Sexual Consent of the Marriage Covenant is Non-reversible
Sexual Consent Ideology says “Anyone can change their mind about what they feel like doing, anytime. Even if you’ve done it before, and even if you’re both naked in bed” but God says sexual consent which is given in the marriage covenant is NOT reversible but rather is a lifelong commitment:
“For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.”
Romans 7:2 (KJV)
You Don’t Get the Final Say Over Your Body, God Does
Sexual Consent Ideology says “You get the final say over what happens with your body” but God says your body belongs to him and in marriage he has given your body to your spouse for their sexual use:
“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”
Psalm 24:1 (KJV)
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”
1 Corinthians 6:19 (KJV)
“The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.”
I Corinthians 7:4 (KJV)
The entire American concept of “It’s my body I can do what I want with it” flies directly in the face of a central tenet of Biblical Christianity that the world and all of us who live in it or have ever lived belong to God. This false philosophy of bodily autonomy was a foundational building block of the Sexual Revolution and also formed the basis of heinous so called “abortion rights”.
I am fine with God having authority over my life and body, but no man is going to tell me what to do!
Many Christian women have this attitude toward male headship in marriage and they refuse to see the utter contradiction such an attitude is with the clear teachings of the Scriptures.
It is absolutely true that the Bible says “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II Corinthians 3:17) and there is no doubt in my mind that the spirit of the Lord was present at the founding of the United States of America.
On June 28, 1813 America’s second president John Adams wrote these words in a letter to America’s third president Thomas Jefferson:
“The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Washington D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XIII, p. 292-294.
As we previously pointed out, one of the general principles of Christianity is that we are not our own and that God has authority over our person and our bodies (Psalm 24:1, 1 Corinthians 6:19). But many Christians reject the fact that God as our owner can and does delegate authority over us to other human beings.
Yes – God has made us free, both men and women, but we are warned not to use our freedom to serve our own selfish and sinful desires:
“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”
Galatians 5:13 (KJV)
God has not freed us so that we can serve our own selfish desires, but he has freed us to serve him. King David spoke of the relationship between the freedom God wants his people to have and the service to his law:
“And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.”
Psalm 119:45 (KJV)
What this means is – we are free to serve God and live our lives within the bounds of his law. Moses Harman’s ideology that “Freedom that is not equal is not freedom” does not match up with the Biblical teaching of what freedom actually is. Sadly a lot of American Christians over the last century or so have bought into Harman’s false philosophy that everyone must have equal rights or they are being treated as less than human or in an unjust manner.
The Bible actually teaches that there are several classes of people to whom God gives different rights. The slave class was the lowest social class and contrary to assertions otherwise God did give slaves rights(Exodus 20:10, Exodus 21:26-28, Job 31:13-15 & Colossians 4:1) .
The Bible teaches that slaves were to be taken care of and treated justly and fairly by their masters. It tells masters that just as they came from their mother’s womb, so too did their slaves reminding them to treat them as fellow human beings. The Bible condemned masters who killed their slaves and if they seriously injured their slaves they were required by God to grant freedom to those slaves.
So in this way the slave class of the Bible actually formulates basic human rights under God’s law. Every social class above the slave class has these same rights and then more rights. Other Biblical social classes include indentured male and female servants, children, slave wives(concubines), free wives and finally free men. Free men had the most rights of any social class under God’s order.
Even in the New Testament slaves are still commanded to obey their masters and the Apostle Paul even returned a runaway slave(Philemon 1:10-18). Wives are still commanded to submit to their husbands(Ephesians 5:22-24) and children are still commanded to obey their parents(Ephesians 6:1-3) clearly proving that these social classes remain as part of God’s order.
The point is that the Bible in direct contradiction to Moses Harman and the modern American philosophy that “Freedom that is not equal is not freedom” shows us that freedom is not in fact based in equality.
God calls slaves “freedmen” in the sense that they were spiritually free but yet he told them to accept their earthly position as slaves while if they could be free to take that opportunity.
“20 Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. 22 For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.”
I Corinthians 7:20-24 (NASB)
For more on what the Bible actually says about slavery see my article “Why Christians should not be ashamed of slavery in the Bible“.
But in the context of the discussion of this article – men and women do not have the same rights and freedoms under God’s law yet they are both considered to be free. God does not base our human value on our equal rights and freedoms with one another – but instead he bases it on the fact that we were created for his honor and glory and our value comes from fulfilling the role he has given us to play.
Isn’t it Selfish For a Man to Have Sex With His Wife When She is Not in The Mood?
Now some Christians at this point may be asking “Even though men and women have different rights under God’s law, isn’t it a selfish desire for a man to want sex with his wife when she tells him she is not in the mood?” One of the most popular articles I ever wrote on the blog addresses that topic and it is entitled “Is a husband selfish for having sex with his wife when she is not the mood?” I hope you will take the time to read it with an open heart and an open mind. The answer I show from the Scriptures in that article is NO it is not selfish for a man to desire sex with his wife when she is not in the mood.
The Giving and Taking of Women in Marriage
Now I will demonstrate from the Scriptures that God’s law regarding a woman’s consent to sexual activity does not resolve around her choice, but rather it is based in God’s consent and the consent of the men whom he has placed in authority over women.
We start with the fact that God has granted ownership to a father over his daughter. Under God’s law, a father could sell his daughter as an indentured servant (Exodus 21:7-11) with the possibility that his daughter could become a wife to the man or a son of the man she was sold to.
In fact, in the Scriptures there is a consistent teaching that women are GIVEN in marriage (mostly by their fathers) and TAKEN in marriage by their husbands.
God commanded men to take wives for themselves and to give their daughters in marriage and take wives for their sons as well:
“Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.”
Jeremiah 29:6 (KJV)
Jesus recognizing this principle of men taking women in marriage and women being given in marriage stated:
“For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.”
Matthew 22:30 (KJV)
So yes ladies – that cute tradition of a father walking his daughter down the isle and giving his daughter away in marriage is not just tradition – it is by the command of God and has been practiced in one form or another since the beginning of creation.
Now that we have shown the ownership of the father over his daughter we will now discuss the ownership of a husband over his wife.
The sad fact is many Christians in American society refuse to accept that the Bible is crystal clear in its language that marriage is in fact a transfer of ownership of a daughter from her father to her husband.
The Hebrew Word ‘baal’ meaning “owner/master” in noun form or “to be owned” in verb form is often used when referring to a woman’s husband and it is always used when speaking of marriage occurring between a man and woman. While there are many Old Testament examples that prove this the follow passage from the book of Deuteronomy demonstrates the noun and verb uses of ‘baal’ and the ownership of a husband over his wife:
“If a man be found lying with a woman married [‘baal’ verb “owned by”] to an husband[‘baal’ noun “owner”], then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.”
Deuteronomy 22:22 (KJV)
Ephesians 5:22-31 clearly states that God created marriage to be a model of the relationship of God to his people with man representing God and woman representing the people of God. In the Old Testament this was pictured in God’s marriage to Israel and in the New Testament this is pictured in Christ’s relationship to his Church.
The fact is that even in Christ’s relationship to his Church it is clear that he “purchased” his bride (Acts 20:28) as all other husbands had since the beginning of creation.
Many Christian feminists while proudly claiming that men should follow Ephesians 5:25’s admonition for husbands to love their wives AS Christ loved the Church then in the same breath deny what the verses in front of it just said that the husband is the head of the wife AS Christ is the head of the Church and that wives are to submit to their husbands AS the Church submits to Christ. Ladies – you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t take one part of what God says about his design for marriage in Ephesians chapter 5 while rejecting the other parts of it. You take it all or you reject it all.
A Biblical Case Study in Sexual Consent
In the book of Exodus, we find a very interesting case study into the mind of God regarding the issue of sexual consent.
“16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.”
Exodus 22:16-17 (KJV)
In verse 16 we are told that if a man entices a virgin (literally he seduces her) into having sexual relations with him we are told he has an obligation to make her his wife which would require him to enter into a covenant of marriage with her. But then in verse 17 we read that God allows the father to “utterly refuse to give her unto him”.
When you look closely these two verses handle two different situations. The first verse covers “Casanovas” or what we today would call “players”. The second verse covers the “forbidden love” scenario.
God Condemns the Scheming Ways of Casanovas and Players
When the Bible commanded that the man must make the woman he enticed into extramarital relations his wife this was civil punishment and restitution that had to be made for his breaking of God’s moral law. This covers the Casanova who tries to have that “one-night stand” with a woman. This covers the playboy who thinks he can seduce women into having sex with him outside of a covenant of marriage.
So, in this first scenario the man had no intention of marrying the woman – he just wanted to get some and he may have used all kinds of emotional trickery on the woman to convince her into having sex with him. He may even have told her he loved her and wanted to ask her father’s hand in marriage. He just wants a “taste” of the goods and then he will ask her father – or so he told her.
The next day after she naively gives herself to him he acts as if it never happened leaving her with the loss of her virginity and ruining her for other men. This is the situation God was meaning to address by forcing the man to marry the woman he had just enticed.
Most men and women would call this first man I have just described a pig. We would all be equally disgusted by his deceitful actions toward these young virgins while at the same time we must recognize these women also sinned by allowing him to entice them into sexual relations outside of a marriage covenant.
God Also Condemns Forbidden Love
But in verse 17 we see another scenario God is addressing. This is a scenario that has played out in many “romance” stories over the years. Perhaps a daughter comes to her father and tells him of a cute young man that she wishes for him to arrange marriage for her to. Her father refuses. His reason might be character issues with the man or it might simply be economic issues. The father may have told his daughter that he had a few other men in mind that were wealthier and could care for her better than this man she is attracted to. Perhaps her marriage to one of these other men will provide a political or business alliance that will benefit her father. She tells her father “but I am not attracted to any of those men and I love this other man”.
Her father puts his foot down and tells his daughter “Enough! You are not marrying that man and I will hear no more of it. I will let you know which of these other men I have chosen for you shortly.” So, the daughter decides to take things into her own hands. She decides she will go and have sex with the man she loves (lusts after) believing her father will be forced to give her to him in marriage. Perhaps this man who also wants her for his wife has planted the idea in her head that her father will give her to him rather than refuse and risk her never marrying.
So, she comes to the man whom her father has refused and gives herself to the man who has so desperately wanted her. At this point in the story most women and even a lot of men – Christian men and women would be rooting for the poor girl as she should have been able to chose the man she wanted right? WRONG. The young virgin woman had absolutely NO right under God’s law to consent to sexual relations with that man. This entire scheme would be wicked before God.
This is why God grants father’s the right of refusal even if a man entices their daughter into sexual relations which means she has freely given herself to him (she was not forced). This part of God’s law would work as deterrent to women who thought they could control their own sexuality or control what man they would marry.
This law taught women “If you give yourself to a man outside of lawfully approved marriage by your father – you might end up an old maid that never marries”. So, a woman would be faced with this scenario – “Do I want to risk my father saying no because I sinned against him and God and risk being single the rest of my life or will I simply follow my father’s wishes and marry a man I am not attracted to but at least I will not be alone and I will have a husband and children?”
Men Can Make Women’s Virginity Precious Again
The sad commentary on our time is that a woman’s virginity is no longer the precious commodity to our culture that God declared it to be in the Scriptures. Women have no fear that losing their virginity could relegate them to a lonely life with no marriage and no children as the women in the Bible feared.
We as Christians and especially young men and have allowed this to occur. In the same way we men allowed feminism to rise we gave up the preciousness of a woman’s virginity by dating women who are not virgins. Imagine if every Christian man made a commitment that he would never date or marry a woman who was not virgin unless her virginity was lost under these conditions:
- It was lost to her husband who died.
- It was lost to her husband from whom she was divorced (and she was the innocent party).
- It was lost because she was raped.
Would this not motivate young women to greatly guard their sexual purity? And yes, I know what all the egalitarians are saying – “what about the men?” Could these same rules be applied to men in order to promote sexual purity among young men as well? I think the answer is yes with the caveat that under Biblical law men may not be virgins when they marry a woman because they can have more than one wife. But that is part of a larger discussion on polygamy which I have had elsewhere. Another caveat in applying this to men is that as we have discussed in regard to young virgins living in their father’s home it is not the daughter that sets criteria for potential spouses but the father.
And just to be clear on this passage from Exodus – the man being forced to marry the woman he enticed to have sex with him and also the payment of the bride price even if the father refused were part of the civil laws of Israel. These were restitutions that had to be made for breaking God’s moral law in either of the two scenarios we just described.
That’s just the Old Testament!
There are many Christians right now that have completely tuned out everything I have just written with the following thought in their head:
“Well that is just Old Testament and we as Christians are no longer under the Old Testament so Christian fathers have no right over their daughters sexual or marriage choices! Do you still stone people for adultery and do you still eat pork? If you don’t do these things then don’t talk to me about fathers control over their daughter’s decisions with their own bodies and their own lives. These decisions are between women and God.”
If you actually want to understand how the Bible works and the difference between the moral, ceremonial and civil laws of Israel and the fact that the Jesus Christ himself asserted the moral laws of the Old Testament I encourage you to read these articles I have written on the subject.
What is the distinction between the Moral, Ceremonial and Civil laws of the Old Testament?
What are the Moral Laws of God in the Old Testament?
The sad commentary on our time is that David S. D’Amato is absolutely right that our society has almost completely embraced the ideologies of Moses Harman with the big exception of his anarchist views. Feminists and Free Lovers actually went the opposite way on government and used the power of government to impose their views on American society.
Harman’s views of Christianity, men and women, gender roles and marriage which were considered “insane” a little more than a century ago are now “taken for granted” as truths that may no longer be questioned.
In the beginning of this article I alluded to Daphne Merkin’s statement in her New York Times article that “Expressing sexual interest is inherently messy…” in our modern American culture and I said I would explain at the end of this article why God’s appointed method of men and women expressing sexual interest is not messy at all but actually it is very easy when we do things his way.
Previously I alluded to several important passages of the Scriptures that directly speak to sex in marriage and they are Exodus 21:10, Proverbs 5:18-19, I Corinthians 7:2-5 and Ephesians 5:22-24.
Proverbs 5:18-19 teaches that a husband is commanded by God to sexually satisfy himself with his wife’s body at all times. Exodus 21:10 teaches that a husband has an obligation to provide his wife sexual access to his body. I Corinthians 7:2-5 teaches that in marriage sex is both a right and responsibility for both the husband and the wife. Ephesians 5:22-24 teaches that wives are to submit to their husbands in everything and that includes their husband’s sexual preferences as long as he does not ask them to engage in sinful sexual acts (I gave the example a husband asking his wife to have sex with another man as an example of a sinful sexual request).
I also talked about God’s process for how men and women are to enter into sexual relations. I showed how God only consents to a man and woman having sexual relations in the covenant of marriage. I also showed God’s process for men and women entering into marriage after which they are allowed and are in fact commanded to have sexual relations with one another.
In modern America men have to flirt with women, flatter women or otherwise try and romance them to even have a chance of having having sex with them. It is actually a very risky proposition for men and in the advent of the MeToo era it is even riskier as it might cost you your job. It truly is a “messy” process as Daphne Merkin calls it.
But in God’s design men did not have to flirt with women, flatter women or romance them to get them to have sex with them but rather they purchased the women they desired as Christ purchased his Church in Acts 20:28.
This was the process under normal conditions. A man went to the woman’s father and expressed his interest in his daughter. If he agreed to give his daughter to the man the man would return and present the bride price at which time the father would give his daughter to the man and he would then consummate the marriage by taking her sexually as his wife. From that point on he would take his wife sexually anytime he pleased and the wife would also have sexual access to his body as well.
A little note on the bride price. While a man did not literally have to die to purchase his wife as Christ did to acquire his Church many men often had to save a half a years wages to purchase a wife. That could take them several years to save. The Bible tells us of Jacob that he purchased Rachel by giving sevens years of labor to her father:
“And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.”
Genesis 29:20 (KJV)
The Bible tells us that Rachel was a beautiful woman and her sister was something other than “beautiful and well favoured”.
“Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.“
Genesis 29:17 (KJV)
The Hebrew phrase that is translated as “beautiful and well favoured” in the KJV is not as literal to Hebrew text. In the Hebrew it it reads yâpheh[beautiful,lovely,fair] tô’ar [form, figure, shape] yâpheh[beautiful,lovely,fair] mar’eh[sight, vision, appearance]. So when we take this phrase together it said Rachel had “a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at”. In modern terms we would say “Rachel had a hot body and was easy on the eyes”.
So apparently Rachel was so hot that Jacob served not one year or two years but seven years to purchase her as his wife!
But as we can see with God’s method of men and women entering into sexual relations with one another there is no mess, no fuss and no games. Some might argue that there was in fact a game that was played by Laban when he tricked Jacob into taking Leah as his wife first. But that was a false contract and was sin before God. Regardless though Jacob being a noble man still kept Leah as his wife.
The point is it is a lot less complicated than what Daphne Merkin described as the MeToo movement’s goal of sex as “the childhood game of “Mother, May I?”.
What that means in practical terms is since I married my wife I can come touch her sexually any time I want. If I want to come up behind her in the kitchen and cup her breasts in my hands as she washes the dishes I can do that. I don’t have to ask her permission to do so. If I want to slide my hands down her thighs and touch her groin area I don’t have to ask her permission to do so. If I want to slap her on the rear end as I walk by her, again I don’t have to ask her permission to do so. And finally, if I want to initiate sexual relations with her I don’t have to ask her permission before doing so.
In the same way if my wife wants to come by and grab my groin she has every right to do so as my wife. If she wants to come by and slap me on the rear end she has every right to do so. If while I am sleeping in the morning my wife decides to get on top of me and start having sex with me she has every right to do so as God has given her sexual access to my body.
Now we also understand that there is a Biblical caveat to our sexual access to our spouse’s body in that we are to care for the wellbeing of our spouse (Ephesians 5:28-29). That means as Christians we can rightly condemn the actions of the husband who forces himself on his wife after surgery or child birth and thus endangers her by do so but at the same time we can uphold a husband’s right to have sex with his wife even if she may simply not be in the mood.
My point is if we enter into sexual relations following God’s design there is absolutely no chance of sexual harassment ever happening. It is impossible for me to grope my wife (because she belongs to me) or for her to grope me (because God has given her sexual access to my body). There is no messiness to sex in marriage when we remove the world’s evil ideas about sexual consent.
It is only when we bring the tenets of sexual consent ideology into sexual relations in marriage that sexual initiation then becomes “messy”. If a husband has his hand slapped away by his wife she is sinfully making sexual initiation “messy” for her husband and sadly many women do that today. If a husband would rather look at porn and masturbate than have sex when his wife reaches for him that makes sexual initiation “messy” for his wife.
And finally, on this topic of sexual consent – I have demonstrated here with conclusive proof that both in their origins and their agendas that the Sexual Consent and Free Love movements were founded in evil philosophies that were directly opposed to the God of the Bible and God’s institution of marriage.
God does not consent to two men or two women having sexual relations with one another even if they have given their “free” and “enthusiastic” consent to one another.
God does not give his consent to a man and woman having sexual relations with one another because they have both freely and enthusiastically given consent to one another.
God ONLY gives his consent to a man and woman having sexual relations when they have lawfully entered into a marriage covenant according the Scriptures. Once a man and woman have entered into the covenant of marriage, not only does God consent to them having sexual relations but he commands it.
As Christians we would agree with the MeToo movement that men should not be making unwanted sexual advances in the work place or implying that their female coworkers or subordinates need to perform sexual acts to get promotions or keep their jobs.
But while we agree with MeToo that these actions by men are wrong – we very much disagree as to WHY these actions are wrong. MeToo following the false Sexual Consent ideology says these unwanted sexual advances are wrong because they violate a woman’s consent. For MeToo – if the woman expressed clear consent to having sexual relations with a coworker or even her boss then there is no wrong committed by the man in responding to her.
However, for us as Bible believing Christians a man making unwanted sexual advances toward a woman he is not married to whether in the workplace or elsewhere is wrong not because it violates the woman’s consent, but because it violates God’s consent to him having sexual relations with that woman.
We can all agree that physical abuse does occur in some marriages even if we might debate what actually constitutes physical abuse. Also as Christians we can agree that Ephesians 5:28-29 condemns husbands physically abusing their wives. But as Christians we may never classify any physical abuse in marriage as rape because the false construct of marital rape implies that a wife may reject her husband’s sexual advances.
The Scriptures show that a woman may only resist a man’s sexual advances if she is not married to him and in the case of the man not being married to her she is required to resist his advances. That is why from a Biblical perspective a woman’s consent to sexual relations is really an oxymoron. Before marriage she has no choice but to say NO and after marriage she has no choice but to say YES.
It is not the woman’s consent that matters, it is Gods.
Does the Bible allow a husband to spank his wife?
Most Christians, and for that matter most Americans, are woefully ignorant of any history beyond the last 20 years. It might surprise many modern Americans to know that for a man to physically discipline his wife was historically considered by societies and courts to be “within the matrimonial privileges of the husband” up until the mid-19th century with rise of Feminism.
Below is a late 18th century account of an Irish Judge ruling on the issue of a man beating his wife with a “switch”:
In the London Quarterly Review of Legal cases Vol 136, published in 1874, we read of a case that is referenced from a century earlier which established the right of husbands to spank their wives with switches:
“A Similar doctrine had been laid down by Dr. Marmaduke Coghill, judge of the Prerogative Court in Ireland, who in a suit by a wife for divorce on the ground that her husband had given her a sound beating, delivered a well-considered opinion that, with such a switch as the one he held in his hand, moderate chastisement was within the matrimonial privileges of the husband”.
In the famous Mississippi case Calvin Bradley v. State in 1834, the court ruled:
““By the ancient common law, the husband possessed the power of chastising his Wife…let the husband be permitted to exercise the right of moderate chastisement”
Then in 1850, Tennessee became the first state to outlaw wife beating in the United States. Other states would soon follow in passing laws outlawing wife beating.
But still some courts disagreed with the new trend of outlawing a husband’s right to “chastise” his wife. In 1864, the North Carolina Supreme Court gave the following decision in State vs Jesse Black:
“A husband is responsible for the acts of his wife, and he is required to govern his household, and for that purpose the law permits him to use towards his wife such a degree of force as is necessary to control an unruly temper and make her behave herself; and unless some permanent injury be inflicted, or there be an excess of violence, or such a degree of cruelty as shows that it is inflicted to gratify his own bad passions, the law will not invade the domestic forum or go behind the curtain.”
In the infamous 1871 Alabama case of Fulgham V. State the court ruled as follows concerning all physical discipline of a husband toward his wife:
“Since then, however, learning, with its humanizing influences, has made great progress, and morals and religion have made some progress with it. Therefore, a rod which may be drawn through the wedding ring is not now deemed necessary to teach the wife her duty and subjection to the husband. The husband is therefore not justified or allowed by law to use such a weapon, or any other, for her moderate correction. The wife is not to be considered as the husband’s slave. And the privilege, ancient though it be, to beat her with a stick, to pull her hair, choke her, spit in her face or kick her about the floor, or to inflict upon her like indignities, is not now acknowledged by our law”
Even after these rulings the practice of wife spanking continued to be common practice in America well into the 1950s. It was portrayed in old films and TV shows right up to the 1970s. It was during the 1960s and 1970s with second wave feminism that the “Domestic Violence” movement attempted to eradicate wife spanking completely from American society. Wife spanking would of course return as as sexual type of fun, but it was never to be used as actual discipline by a husband toward his wife.
So as we can see from the rulings above, the practice of a husband physically disciplining his wife was considered an “ancient” privilege until western society began rejecting it in the mid-19th century. So the question is were they right to do so?
The Bible, not Culture, Should Determine Our Morality
Even though wife spanking was practiced in most cultures for most of human history that does not automatically make it right. Culture, or the majority view on whether something is right or wrong, does not make it right or wrong. For us as believers we must measure every thing we think, do or say by the God’s standard of right and wrong which is the Bible.
When we look at the Bible and not our feelings or what our culture believes as our starting point it will literally transform our view of this world. We will see things we never saw before.
The Bible tells us:
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Romans 12:2 (KJV)
So, we are told that we are not to be conformed to what our world or our culture thinks is right but rather we are to renew our minds according to what God thinks is right. But then how do we know what the will of God is? How do we know what is moral by God’s standards?
“10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
Acts 17:10-12 (KJV)
“4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4 (KJV)
The answer to the question of knowing what is the will of God is to look to his Word found in the Bible. We need to be as the Bereans who searched the Scriptures daily for the truth of God’s Word and once we find that truth we need to apply it to our lives no matter if it conflicts with our cultural upbringing or not.
What does the Bible say about Wife Spanking?
The Bible does not specifically speak to the situation of wife spanking and some believe because this is the case then wife spanking is forbidden.
But we must be careful when we come to the Bible and it does not address a specific case of behavior with either a positive example or a command. In these cases where we do not have a situation specifically addressed we must be careful of two extremes. One is the extreme that we can do anything we want if it is not specifically addressed and the other is if it is not specifically addressed than we cannot do it. Both extremes are wrong.
Instead we must look for general principles the Bible does teach that we can then apply to specific situations the Bible may not speak to.
For instance, the Bible does not say anything about phone sex and web cam sex. So, would we say it is ok for a man’s wife to have virtual sex through a web cam or phone with another man because the Bible does not address this specific situation? Of course not.
Instead we would look to this general truth taught in the book of Hebrews:
“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
God only honors and allows sexual relations between a man and woman within the covenant of marriage. We don’t have to physically touch one another to sexually relate to one another. We can sexually relate to one through things like web cams, phones, texting and emailing as well. Any type of sexual relation that is not that of a man and woman within the covenant of marriage is not honored by God, but rather it is condemned.
Another area the Bible does not specifically speak to is physical abuse in the family. We don’t see the Bible specifically condemning men punching their wives or children in the face but we have this condemnation of masters toward their male and female slaves:
“26 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake. 27 And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.”
Exodus 21:26-27 (KJV)
How would a person get their tooth knocked out or their eye permanently damaged? In most cases it would be their master either punching them in the face or shoving them to the ground where they knocked their head on something causing the injuring. This tells us God does not approve of punching and shoving as acts of discipline.
So, while this passage in Exodus 21:26-27 does not specifically speak to marriage we can apply this as a general truth to marriage and the family. If God condemns masters doing these things to their slaves then he certainly condemns husbands and fathers doing these things to their wives and children who have more rights under God’s law than slaves.
Now we need to apply this same method of searching the Scriptures to this area of wife spanking.
Two Biblical Principles That Allow for Wife Spanking
While the Bible does not specifically speak to wife spanking (either specifically allowing it or specifically condemning it) we must ask the question “Are there general principles of the Scriptures that would speak to this issue?” The answer is YES.
Principle #1 – Husbands Have a Right and Responsibility to Discipline their Wives
The Bible tells us that husbands are the head of their wives “as Christ is the head of the Church”:
“23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”
Ephesians 5:23-24 (KJV)
Not only are husbands the head of their wives as Christ is the head of the Church but God created marriage to model the relationship of Christ to his Church. Husbands are to model Christ’s headship over his Church by loving their wives as Christ loves the Church. One of the primary ways in which Christ loves his Church is in his spiritual washing of her:
“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Ephesians 5:25-27 (KJV)
This spiritual washing by Christ of the spots and wrinkles of his Church is discipline. Christ alludes to this same concept in the book of Revelation after rebuking his seven Churches:
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
Revelation 3:19 (KJV)
So, it is clear from the Scriptures that if a husband is modeling the relationship of Christ to his Church with his wife he has not only the right, but also the responsibility of spiritual disciplining his wife.
Principle #2 – God Allows Physical Punishment As A Form Of Discipline
The Bible tells us that God approves physical punishment as a form of discipline in the following passages:
“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”
Proverbs 13:24 (KJV)
“13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. 14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.”
Proverbs 23:13-14 (KJV)
“If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. 2 And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. 3 Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.”
Deuteronomy 25:1-3 (KJV)
“Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.”
Proverbs 19:29 (KJV)
“A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.”
Proverbs 26:3 (KJV)
As we can see from these passages of the Scripture – not only is physical discipline approved by God for children but it is also approved by God for adults.
When we take these two Biblical principles together we see that God has given men both the right and responsibility to discipline their wives and God approves of physical discipline for adults. Therefore, we can rightly conclude from these two Biblical truths that God allows men to spank their wives.
Objections to Wife Spanking
The primary objection to wife spanking is that such an action infantilizes women, or in other words it treats women as children. I receive comments like this one I did today all the time:
“Women are no more sinful than men, no less intelligent and shouldn’t be treated like naughty children. If a husband has authority to discipline his wife than a wife should have authority to discipline her husband. They should treat each other with love and fairness. Both are adults; none is a lesser being. A marriage should be a loving partnership.”
There are several false presuppositions in the statement above.
Spanking no more infantilizes a woman than a speeding ticket from a police officer infantilizes a man. Adults can and do discipline other adults all the time.
But some will answer my police officer giving a ticket analogy with “a speeding ticket is a piece of paper and the officer is not bending you over his knee and spanking you”. The reason for this kind of answer is because in our modern culture we look on any type of physical punishment with disdain. We think physical punishment, especially toward adults is “uncivilized”. But such thinking is at odds with the Bible.
Another problem we have is that we think wives are immune from discipline in the home because our culture teaches the false ideology of partnership marriage. Discipline in the home we are told is strictly reserved for children. So it is easy to understand with these false beliefs about physical punishment and discipline how many people might think wife spanking infantilizes women.
However, the Bible makes it clear in passages like Ephesians 5:22-33 and I Peter 3:1-7 that marriage is not a “partnership” but rather a patriarchy. It does not get any clearer than “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23).
The fact that “both are adults; none is a lesser being” or in other words that both husbands and wives are fully mature human beings is irrelevant.
Does it matter that at my job my boss is an adult and I am adult? The fact is the owner of my company who is an adult has put my boss whose is an adult in charge of me an adult. It does not even mean that my boss is necessarily smarter than me. It does not mean I am less of a human being than my boss but rather it means I have a lesser POSITION than my boss.
And the fact is that the Bible is clear that as Christ is the head of the Church so too God the owner of humanity has put male human beings in charge of female human beings in marriage. It really is that simple.
I also agree that “Women are no more sinful than men” but that is not why God has placed men in charge of women. Read I Corinthians 11:1-16 and Ephesians 5:22-33. Really read it. These passages show it was no accident and it was not because of sin or God just rolling some cosmic dice that he placed men over women in marriage. These passages show that God created women and the institution of marriage to help men fully image God as husbands and fathers.
God made man to image him and by doing so bring him glory (I Corinthians 11:7). In order to help man fully image God’s attributes as a husband and father he created woman and by extension marriage for man (I Corinthians 7:9). God created marriage to create a model of the relationship of God to his people and in the New Testament era of Christ to his Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). Just as Christ loved his Church by giving himself up for her to wash her spiritual spots and wrinkles with the Word of God so too husbands are called to wash their wife’s spiritual spots and wrinkles, in others words they are called to discipline their wives (Ephesians 5:25-27 & Revelation 3:19).
No Scriptural principle or command forbids a man from using physical discipline as method of discipline with his wife. In fact, the Scriptures show God allows physical punishment of adults as a form of discipline in Deuteronomy 25:1-3, Proverbs 19:29 and Proverbs 26:3.
I have received many emails over the years from Christian women who willingly allow their husbands to use spanking as a form of discipline. What they have in common is that they have told me this is a humbling experience for them and reminds them of two things. It reminds them of their position before their husband that God has placed them in. It also reminds them that their husband truly loves them as Christ said of his Churches in Revelation 3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
I know a lot of other women who truly believe in Biblical gender roles and try very much to submit to their husband’s leadership and even non-physical discipline. But they struggle with this concept of wife spanking because in our modern culture spanking is only associated with children so they believe it is a husband treating his wife as his child instead of his wife.
I would encourage such women to reconsider these thoughts and not conform their thinking to the culture they have been raised in. I would encourage these Christian women to renew their minds according to the Word of God.
If you as a husband are interested in learning more about how to implement Christian domestic discipline (wife spanking) into your marriage in a safe and effective manner which stays within the bounds of God’s law please consider subscribing to my podcast site. At BGRLearning.com, I have hundreds of podcasts about the teachings of the Bible related to gender roles including the podcast “A Husband’s Guide to Implementing Domestic Discipline” which you may find very helpful. There is also a companion episode for in the Christian women’s subscriptions entitled “A Wife’s Guide to Receiving Christian Domestic Discipline and Rough Sex“.
A Word of Caution to Christian Men Regarding Wife Spanking
But I want to close this with some words of caution on this subject of wife spanking.
Am I saying a man can do anything he wants to his wife and call it physical discipline? Absolutely not! See my article on “What Does The Bible Say About Abuse?” for more on that subject.
But even if wife spanking is not practiced in an abusive way we as Christian husbands need to exercise caution in this area. I have stated multiple times in this article that the Scriptures show that husbands have that right and responsibility to discipline their wives. But as in many other areas in life there is more than one way to skin a cat. The Bible does not command men that the only way they may discipline their wives is through spanking.
We as Christian husbands who are trying to being faithful to God by fully exercising Biblical gender roles need to realize there is a great persecution going on against God’s design of gender roles and those who would exercise them. I believe that because of the “present distress” (1 Corinthians 7:26), in other words the persecution of those who would fully exercise all their rights under the doctrines of Biblical gender roles, that we should do as Paul did and forgo exercising some of those rights (1 Corinthians 9:1-15).
I am not in any way saying we as Christian husbands should forego exercising our spiritual headship over our wives including disciplining them. In fact, if we don’t discipline our wives in one way or the other we are failing to image Christ in his relationship with his Church. Christ does not leave his church uncorrected or undisciplined and neither should we as husbands leave our wives uncorrected or undisciplined. But there are non-physical ways that we can discipline our wives. See my article “7 Ways to Discipline Your Wife” for non-physical ways that you can still exercise this right and responsibility as a Christian husband.
I think in this area of wife spanking that we as Christian husbands need to heed Christ’s admonition in Matthew 10:16 to be “wise as serpents”. While we do not need our wife’s consent to spank her anymore than we need her consent to discipline in her in any other way we need to realize that the wicked culture we live in is completely hostile to the teachings and exercise of Biblical gender roles. If you were to try and physically force your wife to receive a spanking you may accidentally cause serious harm to her in the process of forcing her to receive a spanking. Even if you can physically force her to receive a spanking without bringing any harm to her the fact remains under our legal system you could be arrested and brought up on charges if she were to report you.
So, my final word on this subject is this. Wife spanking is within the rights that God has granted to a husband as his wife’s spiritual head. I would never condemn any man for engaging in wife spanking as long as he did not engage in truly abusive physical behavior toward her. If wife spanking is done in a loving and controlled manner as all discipline should be done then this is holy and righteous before God.
Note: This article has been completely rewritten as of February 18, 2018 from it original posting on September 20, 2016. Because of this I have removed the previous comments and invite new comments on this updated version of the article.