Question:

Question

Answer:

Does rape within a marriage lead to the marriage ending in divorce?


If by "rape within a marriage" you are referring to the recent concept of spousal rape, then I must object to the terminology. By the definition of the word "rape," it cannot take place between a husband and wife. See the following for more information:
Spousal Rape
When was the spousal rape law passed?
Is sex within marriage a privilege to be earned?
Can't a wife abstain from sex for a few days?

However, if a husband dishonors his wife by forcing sexual intercourse, it will destroy the relationship between the husband and wife. This is one reason why the apostle Paul tells Christians not to use withholding of sex as a weapon between husbands and wives. "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" (I Corinthians 7:2-5). Withholding of sexual intercourse will lead to temptations and those giving into temptation will destroy their marriages.

Now if a wife chooses, right or wrong, to leave her husband because he demanded sexual intercourse when she wasn't interested, it doesn't give either her or her husband the right to marry someone else. "Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife" (I Corinthians 7:10-11). The only exception ever given for the ending of a marriage prior to death that allows remarriage is when fornication has been committed. "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery" (Matthew 19:9). Forced sexual intercourse within a marriage is wrong, but it is not fornication because the sexual activity is taking place within the bounds of a marriage covenant.

If by "rape within a marriage" you mean that your wife was raped by another man, then we must consider who has sinned. Under the Old Testament law, the following regulations were given in the case of a woman engaged to be married: "If a young woman who is a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry out in the city, and the man because he humbled his neighbor's wife; so you shall put away the evil from among you. But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter. For he found her in the countryside, and the betrothed young woman cried out, but there was no one to save her. If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days" (Deuteronomy 22:23-29). There was difference in treatment based on where the sex took place. If it occurred within a city, the relationship was assumed to be consensual because the woman did not cry out. Both the man and the woman lost their lives because they had committed adultery. If it occurred outside of a city, the intercourse was assumed to be an act of rape because there would have been no one to rescue the woman when she cried out. In this case, only the man is killed. The woman is assumed to be innocent.

If a woman is raped, then she is innocent because she was not a willing partner. Since she is not guilty of fornication, her husband has no right to divorce her. If he does so, he might become an accessory to future sin by placing temptation in her path. "But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery" (Matthew 5:32).

March 15, 2005