I was surfing the Internet and happened upon your site. I am a Christian, a woman and having read Chapter 11, take this opportunity to express my belief that the final sentence of the final paragraph of this page, appears to draw a conclusion that is not scriptural and simply wrong.
I assume that the paragraph that I find offensive is informed by the marital principles expressed in the Corinthians?
I disagree with the author's conclusion that if a woman "withhold(s) sexual privileges from her husband" he may force her and that this would not be rape "From the Bible's perspective, it is not possible for a husband to rape his own wife." This is a wrong conclusion to draw.
It may be wrong for a woman to "withhold" sexual favors, which to me suggests a deliberate and contrived act, not just that she is sexually unreceptive because of some marital discord between herself and her husband; however, if the husband has sex with his wife without consent, he has raped her.
The biblical (levitical) law may not address this scenario. Does this then mean that a man is justified or without sin before God for raping his wife? I think not.
This "omission" may simply be a matter of the practical evidentiary issue of the availability of witnesses. In the marital bedroom there is likely to be only one witness to what transpires there - the Lord, Himself. In most cases He will be the only witness.
Interestingly, the example afforded by Tamar's rape. I do not recall any formal complaint being made by her, although she did tell her brother where she took refuge for a few years, no trial. She would have been raped within proximity to people. But if she did not cry out, if no one heard her protests there would have been no witnesses and no actionable rape case.
A distinction needs to be drawn between the requirements for actions for redress under the law and the commission of sin.
The standard for a man's conduct towards his wife is the example established by the Head of the Church - Jesus Christ.
When we as Christians, compromise our relationship with the Lord, when we are disobedient, rebellious or unwilling to surrender to His direction for our lives, and in so refusing deny a deeper intimacy with Him, an experience that requires trust, surrender and obedience, does He force us? Does He override or deny our will? Does He rape us? No. What does He do? He reasons with us, ministers to us, instructs and admonishes us, but never does He force us.
I think in providing spiritual guidance to the flock one must be careful not to make statements or draw conclusions that will be applied to justify the commission of evil or create a psychological shield for perpetrators.
Just thought I would share a few thoughts. and I commend your efforts in addressing this issue.
Personally, I have never heard a sermon on rape, which is unfortunate as it is a very prevalent crime in society and represents one of the greatest evils of the Enemy and it no doubt occurs in equal frequency in the church as it does elsewhere along with many other forms of abuse.
I find it interesting that you assume that forced sexual relations is permitted because I stated that rape cannot exist in in a marriage. I did not appreciate your insertion of your opinions into the middle of my quotes as if that was what I stated or was thinking.
Though you accuse me of doing otherwise I am very careful about my word choices. I just don't buy into social restructuring and redefinition as you do.
Thanks for your reply. It seems you are considering rape in a legal context. It may be useful to make this clear in Chapter 11.
The word "rape", outside of legal definitions which is usually very specific to the context and act, is understood to mean forcing (usually) a woman to have sex when she does not consent to the act. Admittedly, the concept of what constitutes sex is variable in the minds of many. Generally, sexual intercourse (not sodomy) is the act most widely understood to comprise rape. In the social context sodomy is often thought of as a form of rape; primarily, I think, because the psychological trauma to the victim is the same as that sustained in a rape (vaginal penetration).
Many jurisdictions, for example, make a legal distinction between these acts as separate criminal offences, i.e. sodomy or buggery as opposed to rape. These are legal definitions setting the requirements for making a case for the purpose of prosecution.
From a legal perspective, many jurisdictions exclude marital rape because of the evidentiary problems it posed. This did not mean that rape, as a social concept i.e. forcing someone to have sex against their will, did not occur within marriage but rather that it was not a crime for which the law would give any redress.
If Chapter 11 is dealing with a narrow legal definition of rape under biblical law (as distinct from sin) I think this needs to be expressly stated.
In the absence of such clear understanding I think, as I had expressed, many persons will feel justified in engaging in "forced sexual relations" as somehow not being rape as understood in a social context.
The damage to the victim and the intentions of the perpetrator in "forced sexual relations", i.e. which I now understand from you to mean marital rape, is identical to "rape," which I understand for you means forced sexual relations with a man who is not the woman's husband. These are legalistic distinctions.
Interestingly, if memory serves in the examples given regardless of gender of the victim the bible uses the same language, that of knowing the person. Clearly, anatomically knowing the stranger as opposed to his concubine may not contemplate the same physical act.
I note in one of your responses you refer to the stigmatizing effect of using the word "rape" to describe sexual violence of a husband towards his wife.
It seems strange to me that a man would be described as a rapist if he forces a woman who is not his wife to have sex with him and yet if he does the very same act to his wife, he is not a rapist but has engaged in "forced sexual relations" to avoid the "unhelpful" stigma associated with using the word "rape?"
I accept that not all ills can be remedied under the limitations of the law and it is for this very reason the Word had to be made Flesh, that the Lord Jesus Christ came to fulfill the law, being righteous before the law and holy in His heart. I draw solace in the just judgment of our Lord.
Any husband who feels himself justified or excused in forcing his wife to have sex with him or that he is somehow not as bad as or is not a rapist because his victim is his wife is deceived.
He may well be in an even worse position morally than the "stranger rapist" because of the gross violation of trust and covenant; i.e. he promised to love her as his own body, to be willing to die for her as Christ died for His Church.
I still think that the discussion of "rape" in Chapter 11 has a very specific legalistic meaning and that this is not made sufficiently clear to your readers.
I only use the common definition of rape that has been in existence for thousands of years, not the current definition that came about because of feminism. Rape is defined as illegal sex without consent. Though it is typical for nonconsensual sex to be forced, force alone isn't what defines rape. From a legal dictionary you can find: "Historically, rape was defined as unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman against her will." By that definition rape cannot exist in a marriage under both accounts. Sexual intercourse is lawful within marriage (Hebrews 13:4) and consent was given when the couple married (I Corinthians 7:1-8). And yes, a Bible study workbook is discussing biblical law and principles; few Christians are interested in man-made moral laws.
This discussion started with a charge that what was mentioned in the workbook was "not scriptural and simply wrong." Actually, from a Christian's viewpoint those two ideas are not independent. Wrongful things are unscriptural. I originally noted that you hold very little regard for the teachings found in the Bible, since you worded your arguments with phrases like, "It may be wrong for a woman to "withhold" sexual favors ..." Given that Paul stated, "Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time," your use of "may be wrong" is in opposition to what God has taught.
While you spent a good deal of time arguing against sexual abuse, which I never said was allowable, you never proved your point. You claim that rape can exist in marriage, but upon what biblical evidence, since you supposedly found my statement to be unscriptural? Instead, you had to twist the standard definition of rape to be merely non-consenting sex (ignoring that marriage is consent) and dropping that it had to be illegal sex (fornication or adultery). You admit your lack of evidence when you claimed that it wasn't made a crime in the Bible simply because it was too hard to prove. If that were true, then why have people changed the definition of rape?
The definition for "rape" you are blindly following is a modern-day creation. From the same legal dictionary, "Beginning in the 1970s, state legislatures and courts expanded and redefined the crime of rape to reflect modern notions of equality and legal propriety." There is a reason why feminists want to change the definition and it has nothing to do with abusive behavior.
If a husband is abusing his wife, sexually or not, it falls under the laws for abusive behavior, not rape. This has always existed. An abused wife always had the ability to make charges of abuse if such were the case. But feminism wants to undermine the concept of marriage. They want to deny that marriage is a case of two people becoming one. They want the wife to assert independence from her husband and the threat of a rape charge is just one method railroaded through the courts and legislatures.
As I pointed out in other answers rape carries heavy connotations. That is why feminists were not content with "mere" charges of abuse. Rape sounds far harsher and makes it appear that married couples are hiding serious problems in their home.
You have been completely wrong about about rape without witnesses being unpunished under the Old Testament law. The workbook pointed it out if a man raped a woman and there were no witnesses, he died, but she was presumed innocent. "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" (Deuteronomy 22:25). In the Mosaical law it takes at least two witnesses to carry out a death penalty, but what most people don't realize is that physical evidence is counted as a witness. This the woman's word plus any other physical evidence that sex took place was enough to lead to a man's conviction and death sentence.
If rape could be punished in the case where no one else saw, then it was possible to hold married couples to charges of rape, if rape could exist in a marriage. God has never made things right or wrong based on how easy or hard it was to obtain a conviction. He has always defined things as they are. Yet, somehow you think God didn't go far enough.
The problem is that you are taking a stance which violates Christ's law. "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 ..." (I Corinthians 7:3-5). You ignore the sin that occurs when one marriage partner withholds sex from the other. Instead, you tell the sinner that they have the right to withhold sex and that they can threaten the other with rape. How absolutely perverted in thinking!