Anyone with a basic understanding of the Bible and, in particular, the New Testament, will quickly understand that marital rape is not an issue to a true believer who operates according to what Jesus said and what the Bible reiterates repeatedly.
If we begin with the words of Jesus, the case is so clear, it needs little explanation. If we look further into the New Testament writings, it is again crystal clear. Jesus made a simple statement that explains the New Testament. He indicated that the New Covenant was different and explained it this way in Matthew 7:12: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Another version states, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Jesus explained to the disciples and to the Pharisees that in the Kingdom of God, it is a principle that you treat others the way you would want to be treated. If we look at numerous teachings of Jesus, it is clear that he would in no way condone violence or rape because he is our Creator and did not design us to be abused. He spoke about: “Blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are the meek.” Sexual violence has no place in the teachings of Jesus.
If we move to other scriptures, it is also clear that abuse is never condoned. In the book of Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul explains how a husband is supposed to treat his wife. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her, that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word. … So, husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.”
The clear instruction to husbands is that you love your wife, prefer her, treat her right and if you mistreat her, it is as if you are hurting your own flesh. No sensible man under the authority of God and the scriptures can justify abusing his wife.
One scripture that some might have misinterpreted is found in 1 Corinthians 7, “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
There is a clear indication in this scripture that consent is important. It says that neither has authority (or the right to withhold) and encourages both to not withhold except where there is consent. Nowhere does it tell a man to rape his wife or that rape is acceptable. This would go against the first scripture mentioned from Ephesians 5. Husband and wife are supposed to willingly provide for each other sexually in the context of a loving marriage.
It is barbaric and against Jesus’ own words and many scriptures to force yourself on your wife. A true Christian (Kingdom) marriage is based upon preferring one another and submitting to one another in a loving, caring environment. Here is another example of this in Romans: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.”
Rape of any kind is not a good thing and is an affront to human decency. A husband should simply not rape his wife. The Bible clearly states that the husband is considered the head of the home, but what is interesting is that it also states that husbands and wives are supposed to submit to each other. Ephesians 21: “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” It tells the wife to submit to her husband and yet it also says to submit to each other, meaning that from an authority perspective, the man is the head but he is not her overlord. They both have to be submitted to God and submitted to each other as is needed in the marriage. There are times when the wife submits to the husband and there are times when the husband submits to the wife as needed. There is the clear principle of mutual submission.
There are many other scriptures we can refer to that make it even clearer but the important issue here is that a Christian (Kingdom-based) marriage is one of love and respect under the authority of God and involves caring, submitting to one another, willingly providing for each other’s sexual needs and preferring one another and treating each other they way each would want to be treated. In the words of my friend Dr. Myles Munroe, “Where purpose is not, know abuse is inevitable.” That means where purpose is known, abuse is impossible. The purpose of marriage is for a loving relationship that is mutually beneficial and uplifting where spiritual, emotional and sexual needs are provided for without duress and disharmony.
• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to email@example.com. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.