Is forced sex in marriage wrong? If you are like most American Christians your gut answer would be YES! Of course, the Bible says it is wrong! Up until very recently I used to think the answer was YES as well. But as God began to peel back my American cultural presuppositions I realized the answer might be something other than what I was comfortable with.
In my last article entitled “It is Not a Woman’s Consent That Matters, It is God’s”, I proved from the Scriptures that God does not allow a woman to say YES to sexual relations to a man she is not married to and he does not allow her to say NO to sexual relations to her husband whom she is married to.
But this raises another question for those Christians who accept that the Bible calls it sin for a woman to sexually refuse her husband. What if a woman does refuse her husband? Can the husband under God’s law physically force himself upon his wife who sinfully resists him?
Here are some answers I have given on this blog in the past. In one of the most popular articles on this blog entitled “8 steps to confront your wife’s sexual refusal” I wrote this:
“I have not, nor would I EVER advocate for a husband to force himself physically upon his wife or to physically abuse her in any fashion. The issue being discussed is how a husband can confront a wife who chronically or willfully denies his sexual rights in marriage without just cause (be it legitimate health or mental conditions). He has the right, both under Biblical law, as well as under American law, to reason with his with his wife and try to convince her to willingly(even if grudgingly) yield herself to him, and thereby fulfilling one her most important duties in Christian marriage.”
And in my article entitled “The Rape Straw Man” I stated:
“Biblically speaking, there is no such thing as “marital rape” – HOWEVER, there is such a thing as physical abuse. While the Bible does not speak specifically to this case of a man forcing himself on his wife, I believe it is a case of physical abuse.
So what others call rape, I call abuse. In the same way that when someone is wrongfully killed it might be first degree murder, second degree murder or man slaughter what we call “physical abuse” and what we call “rape” is dependent on the relationship between the man and woman in question. There is no doubt a wrong has been committed. But what we call it, and how it is punished or dealt with is very different depending on the circumstances.”
My Change in Position on Forced Sex in Marriage
The emergence of the MeToo movement lead me to restudy and reconsider my understanding of what the Bible says about sexual consent. I have been pouring over the Scriptures for the last couple of months really asking God to reveal to me any presuppositions or cultural biases I might have on this subject and I have written many articles related to sexual conduct from a Biblical perspective recently. My last article “It is Not a Woman’s Consent That Matters, It is God’s”, not only traced the wicked origins of modern American sexual consent ideology but more importantly it laid the foundation for a Biblical view of when God consents to a man and woman entering into sexual relations.
Because of what God revealed to me through his Word in that study as of today I am officially changing my position on the issue of forced sex within marriage. My new position is as follows:
Forced sex within marriage by a husband toward his wife is not in and of itself a sin but it can be a sin under certain circumstances. The “Markland Letter” case which I addressed in my article “It is Not a Woman’s Consent That Matters, It is God’s” where the man forced sex on his wife after surgery would be an example of a husband sinfully forcing himself on his wife.
Now a lot of Christians at this point are shutting me down. But I want to encourage you and challenge the view you have been raised with in our culture with what God’s Word actually says on this very controversial subject.
Is All Forced Sex in Marriage Domestic Abuse and Sexual Abuse?
In their article entitled “What does the Bible say about spousal/marital rape?” GotQuestions.org states:
“Spousal or marital rape is a form of domestic violence and sexual abuse. In spousal rape, sex is forced on one spouse by the other. While the Bible does not specifically deal with spousal rape, it has plenty to say about the husband-wife relationship and its representation of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32)…
and God never condones rape.”
I want to quickly address the terminology I am using here. I am using the phrase “forced sex” and gotquestions.org is using “marital rape” or just “rape”. The reason I am using the term “forced sex” instead of “rape” is because the term rape in our language and culture not only denotes an action taken, but it also implies a moral condemnation of that action. Calling “forced sex” rape in our language and culture would be like referring to every instance of killing as murder. I am going to speak more to the term “rape” later on in this article.
Biblically speaking all instances of forced sex are not considered rape any more than all instances of killing are considered murder. It is the context which determines if a particular instance of forced sex is rape just as it is the context which determines if a particular killing is murder. The only forced sex the Bible ever condemns is forced sex OUTSIDE of marriage. The Bible actually addresses forced marriage and as a result of marriage forced sex in the book of Deuteronomy.
God Condoned Forced Sex in Marriage
God granted the right of men to take women as one of the many spoils of war as long as they were not one of seven forbidden nations in which everyone was to be killed:
“But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.”
Deuteronomy 20:14 (KJV)
In the next chapter God details the process by which men could take women as spoils of war:
“10 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the Lord thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, 11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;
12 Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;
13 And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.
14 And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.”
Deuteronomy 21:10-14 (KJV)
So in summary God allowed men to take by force women as captives of war. However, unlike the nations around them – they were not allowed to have forced sex right there on the battlefield with their captive women. Instead God had a higher standard. God made the Israelite men wait one month to allow the woman to mourn the death of her loved ones.
Even after the month – the man had to take her as his wife, not simply his sex slave as other nations also did. God commands them “thou shalt go in unto her” which is a euphemism for sex in the Bible. Now some might say “Well that does not say forced sex, it just says sex” and that is absolutely true. A man “going in unto a woman” does not denote whether it was forced or not. However there is a key phrase at the end of this passage that DOES indicate forced sex: “because thou hast humbled her”.
God’s Definition of Rape
There are many euphemisms for sex in the Bible. Men “knew” their wives, they “lay” with their wives and as we can see here they “went in unto” their wives. However there is another euphemism for sex in the Bible that specifically denotes “forced sex” and that is the “humbling” of a woman by a man.
This same phrase is used when speaking of actions the Bible actually considers to be rape (as opposed to our modern understanding that all forced sex is rape):
“23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; 24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you. 25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die.
26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:
27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her. 28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.”
Deuteronomy 22:23-29 (KJV)
In the above passage from Deuteronomy chapter 22 we find God’s definition of rape as opposed to our modern definition of rape. What does God call rape? Does he say it is simply when a man humbles (has forced sex) with a woman? The answer is NO. Instead we find that rape in God’s eyes is when a man has forced sex with a woman who is he not married to. The Bible covers both a betrothed (or married) woman and also virgin woman. In a follow-up article to this one I will be specifically addressing God’s command that a rapist had to marry the woman he raped.
My point in showing Deuteronomy 22:23-29 is twofold. First it gives God’s definition of rape which is the when a man has forced sex with a woman who is not his wife. Secondly in the context of the rape discussion God uses the term “humbled” to denote forced sex.
This English word “humbled” in these passages is a translation of the Hebrew word “anah” which means to “afflict”, “humble” or “force” in most instances.
Anah is used in reference to two famous rape stories in the Bible. The first is regarding the rape of Dinah, the daughter of Leah and wife of Jacob:
“1 And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. 2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled [anah] her.”
The second is the rape of Tamar by her half-brother Amnon:
“Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced [anah] her, and lay with her.”
2 Samuel 13:14 (KJV)
And again why was the ‘anah’ or humbling and forced sex of these women considered to be true rape and thus immoral? Because they broke God’s law in Deuteronomy 22:23-29 that condemned a man having forced sex with a woman that was not his wife.
The Humbling of a Woman in Marriage
And a final note on Deuteronomy 21:10-14 and the humbling of the captive woman who was taken by the divine allowance of God. Some have tried to say this humbling had to do strictly with the woman shaving her head. What these same people do not realize is that it was common in ancient Middle Eastern cultures for both men and women to either pull out their hair or shave their heads when horrible tragedies struck. I believe the loss of one’s entire family would qualify in this case.
Also saying that the humbling of the woman by the man does not refer to forced sex takes a very naïve approach to the situation. Can anyone with a straight face say they think most captive women after only one month would want to willingly and consensually have sex with the man who may have killed their family or at least was part of the army that did? The reality is we all know in this situation that in the vast majority of cases even after one month the man would be having forced sex with his new bride. That is just reality.
So we can as Bible believing Christians rightly say based on Deuteronomy 22:23-29 that God never condones rape which HE defines as a man having forced sex with a woman he is not married to. But we can equally say that God does in fact condone forced sex in marriage based on Deuteronomy 21:10-14.
Biblical Sex is Not Just about Giving, But Also about Taking
In their article entitled “What does the Bible say about spousal/marital rape?” GotQuestions.org states:
“Some people believe that a wife must be agreeable to sexual relations with her husband at any time and that she has no say in the matter. They often misuse 1 Corinthians 7:3–5 to support the erroneous view that a wife can never tell her husband that she would like to defer having sex for a time. Some men believe that the husband has a God-given right to just “take it,” in spite of his wife’s objections…
It is clear from the Bible that mutuality reigns in the bedroom. According to 1 Corinthians 7:1–5, a husband should provide sexual satisfaction to his wife, and a wife should provide sexual satisfaction to her husband. A wife does not have authority over her own body, and a husband does not have authority over his own body. They belong to each other. Does this mean that a husband can force himself on his wife anytime he so desires? Definitely not. What the passage teaches is that each spouse is to willingly, freely, lovingly submit to the other. The passage is about giving satisfaction, not demanding it. The focus is on pleasing one’s spouse. There is no selfishness involved. Forcibly taking what has not been offered is wrong and plainly against the Bible’s commands on love and marriage.”
I would not call GotQuestions.org a raging feminist site as they do speak on submission in marriage, even if at times they water it down quite a bit. However the term “mutuality” they use in this article is a favorite of Christian feminists. In fact some Christian feminists use this passage in 1 Corinthians 7:1–5 to try to cancel out all the Bible’s teachings on male headship in marriage and they say marriage is a “mutual partnership”.
I am not denying that there is not any mutuality taught in this passage as there clearly is. But it is a limited mutuality, not an all-inclusive mutuality.
The first part of this passage from I Corinthians shows that a husband and wife have a right to sexual access to one another’s bodies:
“3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 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 7:3-5 (KJV)
The English word “power” here is a translation of the Greek word Exousiazo and can refer to authority or the right to do something. If we try and say here that God is saying a wife has literal authority over her husband’s body then this contradicts with the Scriptural teaching that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church and the wife is to submit to her husband in everything as the Church is to submit to Christ in everything (Ephesians 5:23-24).
In the programming world in which I work we would call this an infinite loop. If a husband can command compel his wife to give her body to him yet she can command him not to give his body to her we can see where this ends up.
So when we take the whole of the Scriptures and especially Ephesians 5:23-24 into account we understand that the “power” of I Corinthians 7:3-5 actually refers to “the right”. A husband has the right to sexual access to this wife’s body and the wife has the right to sexual access to her husband’s body.
Are Christian Husbands Wrong for “demanding” Sex From their Wives?
GotQuestions.org claims “The passage is about giving satisfaction, not demanding it. The focus is on pleasing one’s spouse” and I don’t deny that this passage does reference giving one’s self to one’s spouse. When it uses the word “render” that is our duty as spouses to GIVE our bodies to our spouses for their sexual satisfaction. However it also talks about the “power” or “right” of the spouse toward their spouse’s body – this is clearly the power to TAKE or seek sexual satisfaction in one’s spouse’s body. GotQuestions.org does not like “take” to be anywhere in the conversation of sex but in this passage the giving AND taking aspects of sex as God designed it are clearly on display.
Finally as far as “demanding” sex is it is true that the wife can no more demand anything of her husband than the Church can demand something of Christ. Can she request sex from her husband as the Church can request various things of Christ? Yes. But she cannot demand anything of her husband. However, can and does Christ demand obedience from his Church in “everything” as Ephesians 5:23-24 shows? The answer is yes. Therefore since a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his Church he can demand obedience from his wife (including in the sexual arena) just as Christ demands obedience from his Church.
Do Wives Have to be “agreeable” to Sex at “at any time”?
GotQuestions.org claims that some Christians have an “erroneous view” that “that a wife must be agreeable to sexual relations with her husband at any time and that she has no say in the matter”. I would agree that I Corinthians 7:2-5 never specifically mentions sex on demand “at any time” from a wife. But there is another passage of Scripture dealing with sex in marriage that DOES:
“15 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. 16 Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. 17 Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee. 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 5:15-19 (KJV)
The Scriptures command husbands to “drink” or take pleasure from the sexual well that is their wife’s body. They are command let her breasts (symbolic of her whole body) satisfy them AT ALL TIMES or in the words of GotQuestions.org “at any time”.
Besides Proverbs 5:15-19 there is any even more powerful principle of Scripture that dictates what a wife’s response is to be to her husband in all matters:
“Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”
Ephesians 5:24 (KJV)
So as we can see, the Bible commands that a wife should be “agreeable…at any time” to anything her husband asks her to do whether it is cleaning, cooking, paying the bills, putting children to bed and yes having sex with him. The only Biblical caveat to this would be if he asked her to do something sinful against God and then she has to obey God rather than her husband (Acts 5:29). It really is that simple.
But God never forces himself on his wife!
Some will take the relationship of Christ and his Church and claim “we never see Christ forcing his Church and therefore husbands may not force their wives”. Others will conflate salvation with marriage and say “God does not force us to come to him salvation, therefore a husband cannot force his wife to have sex with him.”
Let me address the latter claim first and then I will address the former. Two of the primary ways that God pictures our relationship to him is as a father and then as husband. Our relationship as individuals to God is pictured as that of a child to their father. Our relationship to God as a group, as the people of God, is pictured as that of a wife to her husband.
When God invites us to become his children this is presented as a choice:
“While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.”
John 12:36 (KJV)
Now of course we understand there is a consequence of that choice. If we do not choose to obey the Gospel of Christ this is what awaits those who disobey his Gospel:
“7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power”
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 (KJV)
But in the context of God’s relationship to his people as a whole he sometimes compels obedience by force. In the Old Testament the relationship of God to the nation of Israel was pictured as a marriage with God as the husband and Israel as his wife. When Israel rebelled against God just after making their marriage covenant with him the Bible tells us he humbled Israel:
“2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble[anah] thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. 3 And he humbled[anah] thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.”
Deuteronomy 8:2-3 (KJV)
Remember that in the context of the relationship of a man and woman when he humbles her this is the man forcing himself upon the woman. God forced Israel to yield to him and to learn that concept that “that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live”.
But Christ Never Forces His Church!
Some will say – “Well God’s relationship with Israel was different than his Church and Christ never forces his Church to do anything”.
Earlier I said the reason I don’t use the term rape in the context of marriage is because it is like using murder to refer to all killing. Only unlawful killing (unlawful by God’s law) is considered murder. Killing in self-defense or to save others is not wrong. Even in the case of wrongful forced sex in marriage like the Markland Letter case, such action is not rape but rather physical abuse.
But now I want us to look at the definition of rape. Here is the Webster’s 1828 dictionary definition of rape:
“In a general sense, a seizing by violence; also, a seizing and carrying away by force, as females.
In law, the carnal knowledge of a woman forcibly and against her will.
Privation; the act of seizing or taking away.”
Now someone reading this might say “See right there even in the old definition of rape it talks about a man taking a woman against her will!”. And that is very true. However as I explained earlier it is God who defines what rape is – not us. But I want you to zero in on the first definition where it says “a seizing and carrying away by force”.
Now let us turn to the New Testament. Before I give the next Scripture I want to set the stage a bit. In the Old Testament the marriage of God to Israel is pictured as a full consummated marriage after which Israel commits adultery with false gods and God divorces her for this.
In the New Testament the Church is pictured as a betrothed bride to Christ whose marriage has not yet been consummated:
“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
2 Corinthians 11:2 (KJV)
The “consummation” of the Church and Christ’s marriage is described in the passage below:
“16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (KJV)
The event described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 is what is known as the “rapture” of the Church.
Bible.org gives a brief background of the word “rapture”:
“Regarding the term rapture and its use in theology the following should answer your questions. It is taken from Ryrie’s Basic Theology, Electronic Media from Parsons Technology.
Our modern understanding of rapture appears to have little or no connection with the eschatological event. However, the word is properly used of that event. Rapture is a state or experience of being carried away. The English word comes from a Latin word, rapio, which means to seize or snatch in relation to an ecstasy of spirit or the actual removal from one place to another. In other words, it means to be carried away in spirit or in body. The Rapture of the church means the carrying away of the church from earth to heaven.
The Greek word from this term “rapture” is derived appears in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, translated “caught up.” The Latin translation of this verse used the word rapturo. The Greek word it translates is harpazo, which means to snatch or take away. Elsewhere it is used to describe how the Spirit caught up Philip near Gaza and brought him to Caesarea (Acts 8:39) and to describe Paul’s experience of being caught up into the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2-4). Thus there can be no doubt that the word is used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 to indicate the actual removal of people from earth to heaven.”
Ryrie’s definition of harpazo actually leaves out a very important part of the definition. It is not simply to snatch, seize or take away – it is do these things “by force”
“Strong’s #726: harpazo (pronounced har-pad’-zo)
from a derivative of 138; to seize (in various applications):–catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force).
And if we look at the word origin of our English word “rape” we read:
“early 14c., “booty, prey;” mid-14c., “forceful seizure; plundering, robbery, extortion,” from Anglo-French rap, rape, and directly from Latin rapere “seize” (see rape (v.)). Meaning “act of abducting a woman or sexually violating her or both” is from early 15c., but perhaps late 13c. in Anglo-Latin.”
The Greek word which describes how Jesus Christ will take his church is harpazo which means to seize or take something or someone by force. When the Bible was translated into Latin (which Jerome finished in 405 AD) the word rapturo which was derived from the Latin word rapio (meaning to seize by force or snatch) was used to translate the Greek harpazo. Then in the 14th century the English word “rape” was created from the Latin rapio to describe a man forcing a woman to have sex with him. But rape was limited to a man forcing himself upon a woman NOT his wife. Both the civil courts as well as the church leaders up until the 20th century held it was impossible for a man to rape his own wife.
In her post for Medium.com entitled “Whose Property? Women’s Bodies and Marital Rape“, Sara Butler wrote the following:
“The church’s policy on the conjugal debt served to reinforce this attitude. Marriage was understood as a remedy to sin: in the words of Saint Paul, “it is better to marry than burn.” Accordingly, when one spouse was feeling amorous, it was the other’s spouse’s obligation to reciprocate. Failure to do so might lead the randy spouse into fornication, the very sin that marriage was designed to prevent. This applied even when one’s husband became violent: canonists declared that a husband was not capable of raping his wife, because when she agreed to marry, she simultaneously granted consent to all future instances of sexual intercourse.
It is noteworthy that even after the Catholic church faded into obsolescence in English society, this position was taken up by common lawyers. Sir Matthew Hale, author of the seventeenth-century History of the Pleas of the Crown (published posthumously in 1736), describes the situation as one of contractual consent. He writes: “But the husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto her husband which she cannot retract…
This history lays the foundation for modern America’s approach to sexual assault. Until the 1970s, rape was habitually defined as forced sexual intercourse by a man with a “female not his wife,” a powerful reminder of the longevity of Matthew Hale’s “marital rape exemption.”
So let me put this all together for you. As we have previously shown, 1 Thessalonians 4:17 tells us that Christ will return and ‘harpazo’ (Greek word meaning ‘seize by for force or snatch’) his wife, his church. And our English words ‘rapture’ and ‘rape’ are derived from the Latin ‘rapturo’ and ‘rapio’ which also mean to ‘seize by force or snatch’ and ‘rapturo’ was used to translate ‘harapzo’ in Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. Does this mean we are saying Christ will come back and rape his church? No. Because as civil courts and the church recognized for centuries – it is impossible for a man to rape his wife. And the church is Christ’s wife. Christ will rapture his church, take by force his church which his wife, but it would be impossible for him to rape his church. To say Christ seizing his church is rape would be blasphemy.
Some may contend “Christ will not be having sex with his wife, but he will simply be taking her to heaven”. And that is true. Christ’s relationship with his bride, the church is a spiritual relationship, not a physical, earthly relationship. But the Bible tells us in Ephesians 5:23 “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church…”. The earthly and physical relationship of the husband to his wife was designed by God to picture the spiritual relationship of Christ to his church and Christ will seize his church by force according to the Scriptures. So the burden is on those who want to say it is ok for a husband to seize by force his wife as Christ does his church as long as it is not seizing her by force in a sexual manner.
Is “Forced Sex” in Marriage an Oxymoron?
Now that I have proven from the Old Testament that God “humbled” or “forced” Israel to bend to his will and that Christ will actually rapture (take by force) his Bride which is the Church I want to come back to the address the following assertion from GotQuestions.org on this subject of forced sex in marriage:
“The truth is that sexual expression was designed by God to be an act of love within a marriage, and violence or coercion should never be a part of it. Forced sex is not love”
When God humbled Israel would we call this anything less than an act of love on his part? The answer is we would indeed call it an act of love. Did God use violence on Israel when they disobeyed him in the dessert? You better believe he did. Did he use coercion to compel his wife to yield to his demands? You better believe he did. It is right there in the story of the marriage of God to Israel all throughout the Old Testament.
Even Christ when rebuking his Churches states:
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
Revelation 3:19 (KJV)
Therefore we can conclude based on the example of God himself as a husband that forced sex in marriage is NOT an Oxymoron.
Forced Sex Scenarios
Now I want to give some scenarios with force to try and help you understand this concept better.
Forced Sex Scenario #1
Let’ say a husband comes home from a long trip, his wife has no idea when he will arrive. He comes in through the door as she is working in the kitchen, he picks her up in his arms and takes her to their bedroom. He tears through her clothes as fast as possible and has sex with her.
Now this was definitely a matter of force – he did not ask her permission or even say a word to her. But if she complies willing with his forceful gesture most people would say there was nothing wrong in that scenario. In fact some women would even find it romantic. In fact the picture I have just painted would be similar to what the Scriptures paint as the rapture of the Church by Christ who is her husband.
However, if during his attempt at forced sex his wife resisted in anyway now our modern society is up in arms. “He has violated her consent!” we are told. But from a Biblical perspective as we have shown in this article – if the wife resists her husband in the above scenario and he continues to force her to his will who has sinned? The husband, the wife or both? Biblically speaking it is the wife who has sinned and the husband is not sinning by forcing her to yield to his lawful demand.
Now if the wife resisted the husband in this scenario – if he loves her – is that what he wanted from her? Of course not. He wanted to be able to pick up his wife in his arms and for her to willingly give herself to him no questions asked. Just as Christ wants his Church to willing embrace him at the rapture. But make no mistake – Christ is not going to take “I am not in the mood today” from his Church when he comes. He is taking his Bride by force!
Forced Sex Scenario #2
Let’s say a man takes a woman as his wife who clearly did not want to be his wife. In the Bible this could be a scenario where a father gives his daughter to a man she does not want marry or it could be a man captures a woman as a captive during war. So on their wedding day he goes to have sex with her and she resists him. So he holds her down and forces her. In Biblical terms he has justly “humbled” his wife.
Again who is the one sinning in this scenario? Is the wife who sinning by resisting or is the husband sinning by forcing himself on his wife? Or is it both? We know the Biblical answer is that it is the wife who is sin and the husband is right and just in forcing his wife to have sex with him.
And once again – do men who truly love and have affection for their wives want it to be this way? No. We as men want what God wants from his wife – willing obedience, but if obedience is not given willfully we follow God’s example with Israel and humble our wives and take it by force.
Forced Sex Scenario #3
I was asked in a recent comment on my blog what I thought of the scenario of a “husband shoving his member down his wife’s throat”. In other words a husband forcing his wife to perform oral sex on him – is that a sin?
So a husband and wife are having sex and he decides to take his member up to his wife’s head for her to perform oral sex on him. She resists and turns her head away so he takes her head and forces her to perform oral sex on him.
We have given several principles in this article that answer this question.
The I Corinthians 7:2-4 principle teaches that a wife has a duty to render her body to her husband and it also gives him the right of sexual access to her body.
The Proverbs 5:18-19 Principle says a husband is to satisfy himself (literally drink his fill) of his wife’s body AT ALL TIMES.
The Ephesians 5:24 Principle says that a wife is to submit to her husband in EVERYTHING.
The Deuteronomy 8:2-3 Principle shows us that God humbled his wife Israel and forced her learn obedience to his will.
Therefore we can conclude based on the witness of the Scriptures that it is NOT a sin for a man to force his wife to perform oral sex on him as she has a duty to render her entire body to him to fulfill God’s command to him to satisfy himself with her body at all times. She is to submit to him in everything, not just the things she feels like doing or is comfortable with.
Ladies – I know for some of you this is a hard one to swallow (pun intended) but scripturally speaking the Bible does not condemn such actions by a husband toward his wife.
But Forced Sex is Selfishness!
The selfishness card is often used to dismiss not only a man forcing himself on his wife but also a man allowing his wife to consent to sex when she really is not in the mood. The reasoning goes – “if you see your wife is not in the mood for any reason, then if you were being selfless you would give up your desire or need.” Others have even tried to argue that if sex is ever desired in anyway other than to give pleasure to the other person it is by definition selfishness.
However the Biblical definition of selfishness is not simply doing things for one’s own benefit or desire. But instead it is when a person ONLY does things for their benefit or desire and never considers the needs of others.
“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
Philippians 2:4 (KJV)
The key phrase there in that verse which is also in the Greek is the word “also”. This verse is not saying it is wrong to look to our own needs or desire, but that we must ALSO look to the needs and desires of others well.
And I would remind anyone who says it is selfish for a man to have sex with his wife when she is not in the mood or to force her to have sex that this is selfishness to look to Proverbs 5:15-19 which commands a man to satisfy himself with his wife’s body “at all times”.
But Doesn’t Forced Sex Violate the Husband’s Duty to Care for his Wife’s Body?
It is absolutely true that Ephesians 5:28-29 teaches men as husbands that they are to care for their needs if their wife’s body. That is why what the husband did in the Markland Letter case was wrong because he violated this principle in causing severe damage to his wife’s body after surgery by forcing himself on her.
But outside of extreme conditions where a wife has not just had surgery we have to ask ourselves does forced sex in marriage by the husband toward his wife violate the Ephesians 5:28-29 principle? The answer I think in most cases is NO.
In most cases forced sex in marriage will hurt the woman’s pride, or in Biblical terms “humble her” more than anything else.
Some might ask “What about the risk of tissue tearing, bruising or rashes and other discomforts caused by forced sex?” Is there a risk of these things occurring? Yes. But who is it that is causing this risk? Is it the husband by exercising his lawful right to compel his wife to have sex or is it the woman who is causing this risk to herself by resisting her husband’s lawful demand?
Let me give some examples to illustrate what I am saying.
If a police officer pulls you over and asks you to produce your license and registration and you refuse and you refuse to get out of the car – can he use force to make you obey his lawful order? You better believe he can. And if you resist the officer in the course of his lawful actions and in the process you smack your head on the ground or get scrapes and cuts who was it that put you at risk? Was it him or was it you by your resisting his lawful actions?
If a parent goes to spank their child and in the process of resisting the child gets bumps, bruises and tears who was it that put themselves at risk and brought these injuries on themselves?
If a police officer has a warrant to enter your home and you resist and as he enters the home by force you or your home are damaged whose fault was that?
Am I Telling Husbands to Go Home and Force Themselves on Their Wives?
The answer is No. But you might be thinking – “Wait you just said spent this entire article telling us it was not a sin for a man to force himself on his wife!”
As you catch your breath let me explain a simple principle regarding Biblical rights. Just because we have the right to do something, does not mean it is always wise to do something.
Paul said that he had the right to take a wife yet he chose not to exercise that right:
“5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?…15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.”
1 Corinthians 9:5 & 15 (KJV)
He goes into more detail as to why he did not exercise his right to take a wife in the passage below:
“I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.”
1 Corinthians 7:26 (KJV)
So, Paul was saying because of “the present distress”, the horrible persecution of the church, he felt it was better for a man not to exercise his God given right to take a wife.
In the same way because of the present distress of feminism and the utter hostility toward Biblical marriage I personally do not think it is always wise for a husband to force himself on his wife even though it is his right as her husband, her head and her master to force her compliance to God’s commands in this area of sexuality.
Christ admonished us to be “wise” in a world which hates the God of the Bible:
“16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.”
Matthew 10:16-19 (KJV)
Gentlemen there is more than one way to skin a cat. If you use force against your wife, it may be right and just before God – but because of the wicked society we live in you run a very high risk of going to jail for violations of domestic abuse laws or the remove of the marital rape exemption in all 50 states. All your wife has to do is make a phone call.
Instead you need to be wise as serpents as Christ admonished us to be and use other means to discipline your wife. See my article “8 steps to confront your wife’s sexual refusal” for ideas on non-physical ways in which you can discipline your wife. These are all non-physical methods of discipline that you can never be prosecuted for (despite feminist fantasies to the contrary).
For instance, no police officer anywhere is going to arrest a husband for spending less time with his wife because she refuses to submit to him sexually. No prosecutor is going to prosecute a case where a husband refused to pay for kitchen upgrades because his wife refused to sexually submit. No jury will convict a husband of marital rape because he refused to buy his wife some jewelry she wanted because she would not sexually submit to him.
If a woman complains about these non-physical things her husband is doing to a law enforcement officer they are going to tell her “If you don’t like it get a divorce”. I have had multiple police officers and others write me since I wrote that article (“8 steps to confront your wife’s sexual refusal”) confirming this for me.
Using non-physical methods of discipline are ways that you can communicate your displeasure with your wife’s sinful attitudes but at the same time you can shield yourself from a world that is hostile to Biblical male headship.
A Final Exhortation to Christian Wives
Christian wife this all goes back to how you view yourself in God’s design of marriage.
“13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings”
Philippians 2:13-14 (KJV)
Imagine if you actually followed Ephesians 5:22-24’s admonition to submit to your husband “as unto the Lord… in everything”. Imagine if you submitted to your husband working in your body both to will and do of his good pleasure without grumbling or resisting him?
If you were to follow this pattern with your husband then the issue of forced sex in marriage would really be a non-issue.