Sometimes, my inspirations for blog posts come on very suddenly. I didn’t intend, for instance, to write yet another post about Christians and their sex “tips” today. I was actually thinking about writing about Cobra Kai, the awesome YouTube web series that was just added to iTunes. It’s based on The Karate Kid, which I saw in the movie theater when I was 12 years old. Most kids of the 1980s saw that film and I am LOVING the snarky reboot. It would have been more fun to write about Cobra Kai than marital rape. However, when my mind and fingers itch to write about something, I have to indulge. It gets me into trouble sometimes.
Anyway, this morning’s post is inspired by a four year old blog post that was shared in the Life is Not All Pickles and Hairspray Group. The blog post is entitled “Is my husband raping me?” It appears on a blog called Biblical Gender Roles, written by a man who graduated from a Protestant Christian high school, has “some college” and technical skills, and filled in for his pastor when he was in his first marriage. He claims that while he doesn’t have formal theological training, he has a “love for God’s word” and “a gift for teaching”. He writes that he and his first wife had five children together and divorced after “she committed adultery”. He has remarried and shares custody of his children with his ex wife. He and his second wife attend a Baptist church.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you probably already know I am not a very religious person, even though I was raised Christian. I don’t make it a habit to read the Bible, attend church services, or even read blogs about Christianity. I am more interested in reading about wacky beliefs than I am trying to be religious myself. However, I do consider myself spiritual and there are some aspects of religion that I enjoy. I mostly like the music… and sometimes, if I happen to hear a particularly talented pastor who is a gifted orator and doesn’t say stupid or blatantly offensive things, I might even enjoy a church service now and then.
I don’t pretend to know all there is to know about Christianity or the Bible, although I do know that people interpret scripture in various ways. The blog I referenced is obviously penned by someone who has very definite ideas about what Christianity is, and how the Bible is supposed to be interpreted. This person also seems to think that one must adhere to the Bible at all costs, even though the Bible is full of contradictions, and some of what is written within it doesn’t have relevance today.
A poster left an anonymous comment on an earlier post on Biblical Gender Roles entitled “Is a husband selfish for having sex with his wife when she is not in the mood?” She wrote that she’d been married for nine years. She’s a Christian, but he’s not. When she was pregnant with their first child, she told him that sometimes sex was uncomfortable for her, but she’d do her best to “do her wifely duty”. She stated that after they had that conversation it “all went downhill” and her husband showed a complete lack of concern for her feelings regarding sex.
She wrote that she felt like “his whore”, and that even if she was trying to read a book, her husband would have sex with her. It didn’t matter if she was in pain, feeling sick, tired, or simply uninterested. It did not concern him if she was crying. He’d tell her he’d “be quick”. She writes that she now feels disgust toward him. She hates it when he touches her; it makes her feel sick to her stomach. She doesn’t feel loved, especially when he asks, “What is your problem?” She also wrote that she’d try to deal with the constant requests for sex by drinking alcohol. Her husband would actually encourage her to drink so he could have sex with her without any complaints. When she wanted to see a counselor about their problems, her husband came up with reasons why they shouldn’t get counseling.
Her anonymous post, which was “cleaned up” of spelling and grammatical errors for the follow up post, was full of questions for the blogger. But the most important question was, “Is my husband raping me?” The short answer the blogger provided to this poor woman is that, no, she wasn’t being “raped” by her husband. The blogger explained that according to the Bible, marital rape is “impossible”. The blogger instead conceded that the woman might be “abused”, but as a wife, she can’t be raped. At least not according to the Bible. The blogger then went on to explain that the wife was partly at fault for having a bad attitude. And then, the blogger put it on the wife to try to “lead her husband to Christ” by being a better example of a “Godly” woman.
I was pretty flabbergasted and sickened by this post. I shared it with Bill, who was also horrified by it. Bill has studied the Bible a lot more than I have and I think he respects it more than I do. Both of us were revolted by and appalled at the so-called biblical answer to this poor woman’s question. I can’t imagine why any person would want to have sex with someone who’s in pain and crying. In fact, no decent person would want to do that.
What is rape? Simply put, rape is any act of non-consensual sexual penetration. The unwanted sexual contact does not have to be violent to be considered rape. All that needs to happen is that the victim said “no”. While the blogger on Biblical Gender Roles added a couple of Bible verses to support his idea that there is no such thing as “marital rape”, the laws of most civilized countries would beg to differ that marital rape doesn’t exist. Marital rape is sexual assault and domestic violence. It’s against the law in many countries, including the United States. However, marital rape has not been illegal for a very long time. It wasn’t until the 1970s and 80s that societies started to define rape within a marriage as “legitimate” and worthy of prosecution.
I’ve read enough about devout Christians to know that many of them don’t appreciate feminists or feminism. It was the feminists who pushed forth the idea that a married person could be raped by a spouse. Before the feminists emerged into modern culture, wives were considered not much better than their husband’s property. That attitude continues in some Christian circles today, hence comments by people like Michelle Duggar, who claim that wives should always be “joyfully available” to their husbands, regardless of how they’re feeling. When her daughter, Jill, was getting married, Mrs. Duggar famously said:
“And so be available, and not just available, but be joyfully available for him. Smile and be willing to say, ‘Yes, sweetie I am here for you,’ no matter what, even though you may be exhausted and big pregnant and you may not feel like he feels. ‘I’m still here for you and I’m going to meet that need because I know it’s a need for you.’ ”
According to Mrs. Duggar and her ilk, it should not matter if a woman is hugely pregnant, feeling really hot or sick, or simply too tired for sex. She’s expected to just get on her back and spread ’em. Sorry to put it that way, but that’s how it comes across to me. There’s nothing pleasant, loving, or genteel about it. Frankly, I don’t think it’s a particularly Christian attitude, either. Christ encouraged kindness, compassion, and empathy. Or, at least that was what I learned when I went to church regularly for so many years.
I’m sure Anna Duggar was “joyfully available” to Josh Duggar whenever he wanted to have sex. She’s currently pregnant with their sixth child and she’s only about 30 years old. And yet, despite obviously being willing and able to do her “wifely duty”, Josh still cheated on her and was caught red-handed with an Ashley Madison account. So even if the commenter feels that being a good Christian woman means being always available to her husband, it’s doubtful it would matter to him. Josh Duggar was held up as a model Christian for a few years– until the truth came out about what a scumbag he really is.
The anonymous poster is not even married to a Christian, so any rules coming from the Bible don’t really apply to him. He doesn’t even pretend to care about how she feels, and in fact, it sounds like he uses her Christianity as an excuse to force her to have sex with him. She makes it clear that he’s not interested in anything more than satisfying his own selfish desires. Even when he initiates sex by making overtures that she used to enjoy, she now feels disgusted and sickened by him. She doesn’t make it a secret to him that she finds him repugnant. He has sex with her anyway. That’s not Godly behavior, although in fairness, the commenter did write that her husband isn’t a Christian, so I wouldn’t expect him to try to be “Godly”.
It’s obvious to me that the commenter is/was in a terrible marriage and, first and foremost, should get a divorce– especially since her husband wasn’t interested in getting counseling. I understand that many Christians would not see it this way. However, since the commenter is a Christian and her husband isn’t, and apparently has no desire to be, I think she’d be within her rights to get out of the marriage. I also think she’d be within her rights to press charges against her husband the next time he touches her sexually without her consent. No one has the right to force another person into sexual intercourse, regardless of whether or not they’ve signed a marital agreement. When someone makes it clear that he or she doesn’t want to have sex, they have not given consent. Sexual intercourse without consent is rape. It doesn’t matter if they’re married.
I think it’s disgusting that so-called Bible experts are promoting the idea that married women are to be used as sex toys by their husbands, whenever their husbands feel the urge and regardless of how their wives feel about it. However, I was glad to read the blogger’s concession that the anonymous poster was being abused and that it wasn’t wrong to ask for a “delay” in sex. But then he followed up with blaming the poster for having a “bad attitude”, being selfish regarding her husband’s “needs”, and for “not leading her husband to Christ” by setting the right example. Someone in the Duggar group wrote that the Biblical Gender Roles site is a “trolling site”, but if it is, I’d be surprised. I see a lot of people have left positive comments for this male blogger who doesn’t believe in “marital rape”. Granted, he writes that he often doesn’t publish negative comments, so there’s no telling how many people have written to him telling him how full of shit he is.
Anyway… he obviously never watched The Burning Bed, an excellent 1984 TV film that effectively illustrated why marital rape and domestic violence are real things. Shame on that blogger for not pulling his head out of his ass and writing something that is actually helpful. I truly hope the commenter was able to get out of that situation and is happier today.