I strongly disagree with you about a husband raping a wife. If the husband is not a Christian and is under the influence of alcohol, drugs or pornography, what he is doing is not respectful to his wife and not considered in agreement with Scripture that refers to the marriage bed being undefiled. If so, then anything goes in the bed, between a husband and wife, including things you do not mention, such as "oral sex", cross dressing, and other perversions (they are perversions in my opinion; I hope they are in yours as well).

I would be remiss to not also mention that what I've read of the Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Boys is very good. I look forward to reading the Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Girls soon. Thanks for the good work and effort. This topic needs to be discussed in the privacy of the home, with good solid Christian standards supporting it, such as you have provided. May God continue to bless you as you continue to seek and serve Him.

The question comes from the comments made at the end of the chapter on rape found in both books. There is article, found on this website that deals with the topic of spousal rape at length -- see "Spousal Rape" for more details.

Words carry meaning and connotations, and as such, usage of certain words bring strong emotional responses, which may interfere with a reasoned discussion of the problem. The word "rape" carries the definition "the crime of forcing a woman to submit to sexual intercourse against her will; to force someone to have sex against their will". Hence, the use of the word "rape" in the context of a sexual situatlon implies that a crime was committed. The use of the word "rape" also implies that the person being rape does not consent to the act of sex.

The problem is that this description is not one that should exist in the relationship between a husband and wife. Hebrews 13:4 states, "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge." The phrase "the bed" is the Greek word for sexual intercourse. Sex within the bounds of marriage is honorable and undefiled. Sex outside the bounds of marriage is sinful. This verse is not stating that sex ought to be kept undefiled in a marriage, but that sex is undefiled when it takes place in a marriage. Therefore, describing the act of sex between a husband and wife as a potential crime is not compatiable with the Scriptures.

Now, does this mean that a husband can abuse his wife? Absolutely not! Peter stated, "Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered" (I Peter 3:7).

The second difficulty with the concept of spousal rape is that rape takes place against the will of the one being raped. Paul tells us that one of the reasons marriage exists is to give sexual desire a legitimate and proper place in which to be done. "Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 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" (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). Without a proper outlet for sexual desire, fornication would be a rampant problem. Hence, Paul argue that sex is not to be withheld from either the wife or the husband. Notice in particular that Paul states that neither the husband nor the wife has authority over their own bodies. Consent to sexual relations is given when a person takes the wedding vows.

You allude to an objection to this conclusion by stating that it only exists between couples who are both Christians. Such is not the case. God does not give one set of rules to the Christian and another set to the non-Christian. We all will be judged by the same standard. Besides, the context of the passage shows that Paul is not limiting his comments to only two married Christians. Just a few verses later he speak to Christians who are married to non-believers (I Corinthians 7:12-14). Just because a Christian is married to a non-believe does not give the Christian the right to withhold sexual priviledges.

You also find exceptions to Paul's statement when the husband is not in full-capacity of his intellect due to drugs, alcohol, or even pornography. I certainly agree that a man in that state is hardly romantic, but if all he is looking for is sex with his wife, she is required to oblige because she picked the bum to be her husband. If in his altered state he is abusive, then other passages come into play, such as I Corinthians 7:10-11. However, the original question is whether this is rape. Since consent was given at marriage, it again fails to meet the definition of rape.

Related items on this website:

Spousal Rape
When was the spousal rape law passed?
Is sex within marriage a priviledge to be earned?
Is the Bible male oriented?
Can't a wife abstain from sex for a few days?

January 8, 2012