A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Sexual abuse in marriage – what should a Christian wife do?

You can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead. Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.” But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him. Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does.  For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.     1 Cor. 6:13-20 (New Living Translation)

In this passage, Paul warns believers to flee sexual immorality. As believers, our bodies are parts of Christ, and we know that God values our bodies highly because he will raise our bodies from the dead, just as he raised Christ.

In verse 15, Paul says Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never!

The word ‘prostitute’ is the feminine noun porne, a word that has a masculine equivalent, pornos. When the masculine word pornos occurs in the New Testament (1 Cor. 5:9-11; 6:9; Eph. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 12:16; 13:4; Rev. 21:8; 22:15) it is generally translated as immoral person, sexually immoral person, or fornicator – without the masculine gender of the word being explicit in the English. This is standard translation practice, because Greek uses masculine nouns to denote generic (any gender) subjects.

But since our purpose here is to assist wives who are sexually abused by their husbands, let us recast Paul’s illustration in verse 15 so that the genders are reversed. Let’s imagine that rather than Paul talking about a Christian man who is being joined with a prostitute, a porne, he is talking about a Christian woman who is being joined with a sexually sinful man, a pornos.  This is a legitimate way of applying Scripture, because in many other places (for example, the marriage teaching in 1 Cor. 7, which immediately succeeds the passage quoted above) Paul goes to great lengths to make it clear that whatever applies to men, applies to women too. 

Should a woman take her body, which is part of Christ, and let it be joined to a man who is sexually immoral? Should she let her husband commit sexually sinful, pornographic acts upon her? Should she allow her husband to commit sexual sins upon and inside her body? Never! For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.” But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him. Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For a man’s sexual immorality is a sin against his own body. And when a man sexually abuses a Christian woman he becomes ‘one flesh’ with her, and so he befouls her with his sexual immorality. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So honor God with your body. And to honor God, you are not only permitted, you are urged to flee from that man who sexually abuses you.

One more point: this passage talks about how no other sin affects the body so deeply as sexual sin does. That is why it is so hard to heal from sexual abuse. It pollutes the body, mind and soul at mysteriously deep levels: the cellular level, the nerve pathways, the emotions and psyche, almost every part of the person is polluted and contaminated.

But there is healing in Christ. And in another post, maybe in a few weeks time, I’ll open up the discussion about how we can find healing from sexual abuse. In the meantime, take care of yourself, especially if this post has brought up bad memories.

And in case readers are wondering “What IS sexual abuse in marriage? What kind of acts does it comprise?” I’m giving a link here to a previous post Do You Tell Others About the Sexual Abuse? which defines and describes sexual abuse in marriage. Be aware that if you read that post, it may bring up painful memories.

You might also like to check out Aphrodite Wounded, a site which provides secular support for survivors of intimate partner sexual assault, and their supporters. It has heaps of material, including this gem:

Partner rape is real rape.
It may happen once or many times.
It may involve coercive pressure or battery and torture.
It happens in very violent relationships, or in those that are otherwise respectful.
Women
are raped by men they love.

Related posts:

Do you tell others about the sexual abuse?

The Bible’s view on pre-marital sex – is the remedy always “get married”?

Pornography as fuel for abuse

The unique nature of sexual abuse makes its abuse uniquely destructive

29 Comments

  1. This is excellent, Barbara. Another tentacle snipped off, and freedom awaits for those who read this!

  2. Never heard this scripture interpreted this way but this is essentially what I came to believe. That the more vile, the more unclean my husband became, the more offensive the physical side of the marriage became to a holy God.

  3. .
    The website of the late Danni Moss also contains
    a good deal of helpful information on the topic of
    marital-rape and of domestic-violence, in general.
    .

    http://dannimoss.wordpress.com/articles/abuse-in-the-christian-home/is-it-rape-when-your-husband-does-it/

    .

    http://dannimoss.wordpress.com/articles/abuse-in-the-christian-home/

    .

    http://dannimoss.wordpress.com/

    .

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks for the link! Yes, a great website for sure.

    • Thanks, Allpeople Gifts, for reminding me of these wonderful posts by Danni. I read them all years ago, but haven’t revisited them since then. I’ve made a comment which gives links to Danni’s sexual abuse posts on my previous post Do You Tell Others About the Sexual Abuse? – so readers can find them there too.

      As well as Danni’s post Is It Rape When Your Husband Does It? that you mentioned above, which is Danni’s own story of being raped repeatedly by her husband, I searched thru her articles about Abuse in the Christian Home and found these ones that particularly deal with sexual abuse:

      Does Rape Feel Good? (this explains that if a person has an orgasm while being raped, that does not mean they enjoyed being raped, or ‘it wasn’t really rape’)
      The ‘Not Rape’ Epidemic
      What Happens When Someone Is Sexually Assaulted, series

      I’m putting a link on our Resources page to the list of all Danni’s ariticles about Abuse in the Christian Home. Thanks once again AllPeople Gifts! We want to make this site a treasure trove of good resources, and I really appreciate your research and suggestions.

      • .
        You are more than welcomed, Barbara
        and I’m glad that you have also found
        the information on her site to be of help
        to survivors of abuse in religious homes.
        .
        Another site that I personally think is really
        quite helpful is that of ‘Luke173Ministries’
        (found at http://www.luke173ministries.org)
        — which focuses on topics such as that of
        setting boundaries and limits, forgiveness,
        Godly confrontation, healing, recognizing
        reprobates and cutting ties with them, etc.
        .
        .

        http://www.luke173ministries.org/

        .
        .

        http://www.luke173ministries.org/466787

        .

        http://www.luke173ministries.org/466823

        .

        http://www.luke173ministries.org/466805

        .

        http://www.luke173ministries.org/466825

        .
        .

        http://www.luke173ministries.org/537996

        .

        http://www.luke173ministries.org/FAQAboutAbusiveNarcissisticAndPsychopathicRelatives

        .

        http://www.outskirtspress.com/narcissisticpredicaments

        .

        https://www.facebook.com/pages/Narcissistic-Predicaments/118139498238596

        .
        .

      • Amber

        My friend’s husband, I believe, is sexually abusing her. She has wrestled with a sex drive for their 32 years of marriage. Although it doesn’t come naturally for her, she has always tried very hard. She has never withheld sex from him, and has at times done things and tried things that makes her sick at heart, all to honor her husband and to bring glory to God. He has recently gone on a rampage about her lack of drive, and has booked a hotel room for this weekend. He has purchased toys and things and is demanding that she go and be subjected to “whatever it takes” for her to desire him. I’m scared for her! She can’t stop crying! She loves him so much, but she is scared. Is this abuse?

      • If she is crying and doesn’t want to do this thing and he is not showing compassion for her pain and fear, that strongly suggests abuse. When one spouse does not respect the other’s “No” in the bedroom, that goes right against what Paul said about the marriage bed being a place of mutuality and equal authority in the marriage relationship.

        Personally, I have experienced the a difference between sex done out of fear or out of compliance with the perverted enticements of the devil, and sex done with love and trust and mutual respect. And I found that when there was mutual respect and love, sex was really pleasurable. No toys or stuff needed. Just love and respect and freedom to say yes and no as one felt so inclined at any given moment.

        Giving her that kind of freedom and love and respect is the best recipe for inclining a woman to desire sex, in my humble opinion. It can even heal the pain and skewed/fused/knotted wiring that comes from previous sexual abuse.

      • Katy

        Amber – your poor friend! I would be scared too, if I were her. Most women I know don’t have the level of drive that men do, that is not abnormal. And forcing sex on her with objects and “toys” is not the way to get her interested in more intimacy. Threats have no place in love. :(

      • IamMyBeloved's

        She needs to get away from him and get some form of intervention now. She needs to listen to her conscience. If she cannot explain this to him (because he is abusive in other ways or it would put her in danger) she needs to seek intervention. This is most certain sexual abuse and she does not need to submit to this sick and perverted man – not one more time – not one more day. His sin needs to be confronted. Perhaps you could find a way to help her out of her weekend “date with the devil”.

  4. anon

    In a couple of weeks I’m about to sign the divorce papers. The one thing I cry most about is how much the marriage bed was defiled because of adultery and pornography and sex being used a weapon against me. I was totally robbed in the area of sex in the former marriage. The one place (marriage) that I was suppose to enjoy my sexuality was non-existence. At some point i’m gonna have to stop cryin about it but the pain to way to deep. Well at least the pressure and pain of my body being used as an objective is no longer. Wish I read this article 3yrs ago. But now I know.

    thanks

    • Dear Anon, thanks for sharing, and I hope you don’t feel you have to quell your tears. There’s a great post by Lundy Bancroft about the healing power of crying, which you might like to read. It’s called A Powerful Key To Healing From Trauma.
      (((((hugs)))))
      Barb

      • anon

        I used to wear the ‘happy mask’ quite well. Was very hard to get that thing off. But I did and am now making up for the long lost tears.

    • D.Anne Pierce

      Dear Anon, I understand what you’re going through, as I lived with sexual abuse in my “Christian” marriage for 27 years. I finally left and got a divorce. I know this is a very hard time for you and I want to encourage you and let you know that there IS serenity after all of this.
      Blessings to you!
      D.Anne

      • anon

        Thank you D.Anne for the encouragement. You are absolutely right…there really is ‘serenity.’ I never looked at it that way before. Will be interesting to see how God redeems this for me. My abuse was 10yrs, can’t image 27. God bless you.

  5. Anon, there were many factors that played into my staying for so many years, at first I didn’t realize it WAS abuse and thought I was supposed to be the good wife, pleasing my husband even when it was painful or uncomfortable to me. Later the kids and our ministries kept me there, and ultimately I had to wait until God said “GO!”. He used a sermon about the Jesus at Bethesda, where the paralyzed man said he was waiting for the waters to move, waiting for someone to help him into the waters…and Jesus said “Stop waiting, just get up and go!” Later the man couldn’t really explain how it had happened, especially on the Sabbath, but he said “That guy over there, Jesus, told me to get up, and I did!”

    I just published my book on Amazon for Kindle. You don’t have to own a Kindle to read it, you can download Kindle onto your laptop. The book is “To Love and to Cherish…facing sexual abuse in marriage” by D. Anne Pierce. Cost is only $5.99, and I hope you will find it helpful.

    Blessings to you!
    D. Anne

    • anon

      I will get the book. Thanks for writing it! I totally relate with what you are saying:)

      • Hi Anon, Just wondering how you’re doing now. I believe in a prior comment you said that your divorce was almost final. I know this is an emotional time for you and I hope that the time of serenity will soon be part of your life.
        I thought soon after I left that I was healed but I have found out that it is an ongoing thing and many people and circumstances have been a part of that. I thank God for Barbara Roberts, you and others who are speaking out about this horrible thing that happens even in Christian marriages, when one or both partners are not submitting their minds and bodies to God and let worldly trash invade their minds and marriage.

        My email is serenityforanne@gmail.com if you wish to correspond. I will keep you in my prayers!
        D. Anne

      • anon

        Hi D.Anne,
        Thanks for being concerned with my well being. I am divorced now, it went through in july. I’m very relieved to say the least. I am also realizing how much healing, especially, of my emotions is a slow process. Just went I think i’m done with the tears more seem to come. It has been painful to realize how I was in a marriage where the marriage bed was constantly defiled. This is also something I cry and also get angry about!

  6. Leslie

    Interesting that this particular post has come ‘alive ‘ again. I have not seen it before, and perhaps if I did I would not have thought it applied to me then, but I’ve fairly recently discovered that it does in a deep way. I relate the the crying non stop. When I first began to understand that the sex in my marriage of over 20 years was abuse…I was in denial, shock but found myself crying for weeks as the reality sunk in. Coming to understand emotional abuse and verbal abuse was a paradigm shift but sexual abuse??? THis was an even bigger leap for my mind.
    There is nothing overt in how my ex abused me….and being a ‘good christian couple’ we waited until we were married to have sex. THerefore I had NOTHING to gage the health of our sex life by. Just keep trying harder to be the perfect wife and lover, saying , doing everything just the right way…but NEVER once was it good enough. Sex is not something I was ‘free’ to talk about with anyone, but when I finally did several months ago…the reactions of people was what made me realize that what had been the ‘norm’ was not healthy in any way. It’s liberating to talk about my sex life now…the taboo, shame filled topic where I was a constant failure. I now see that being married to a Narcissist, I could never be what he wanted, because what he wants does not exist. I’m staring to believe that was not my failure, but his. BUt it is a very deep wound to heal indeed :-(
    Placing a huge boundary around sex and saying NO…I don’t trust you and i can’t have sex with someone I don’t trust was the beginning of my healing.

  7. anon

    Scariest thing ever. Big decisions ahead of me. Dont feel alone now though.

    • I’m glad you no longer feel so alone, anon.

      welcome to the blog :)

  8. I told my councellor today about some of the sexual abuse I have experienced. When these things have happened I am mute.. I dont speak out, I do, allow but inside Im disguted and fearful of speaking out. I have a sexual abuse survivor from childhood. My councellor told me today that being mute is saying yes and it is then consensual not abusive. Sexual abuse is non consensual.
    As a child I went mute when I was abused. I couldnt speak out..

    I am interested in your views on this statement my councellor made today…

    One of the positive things she did say today was the God hates divorce but he allows it for the three A”s… adultery, addiction and ABUSE!!! Well I was very pleased to hear her say this!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Loves6 – your counsellor flunks both tests miserably. As Judith Herman notes in her book on Trauma recovery (everyone should read it), our natural instincts make us freeze up and go passive many times when we are traumatized. Like a squirrel caught in the jaws of a cat just looks totally limp and dead, but isn’t. It is well documented that rape victims can go silent and passive, almost as if in another “place.” Being mute is NOT saying yes.

      Now, don’t give the counsellor kudos for the God hates divorce thing. The moment someone pulls those 3 words on you, be done with them as a counsellor. That is a warping of God’s Word. If you have not read Barbara’s book, Not Under Bondage, get one right away and read it. And then regarding the “But God allows for divorce for the three A’s” – I cannot give your counsellor a star here either. Why? Because he/she said it in the context of just telling you that God hates divorce! So when someone says “but God allows it for…” what they are saying is, “well, you can divorce but of course that is second rate in God’s sight. It’s wrong, but He will give you a pass on it. You really are just choosing the lesser of two evils.” Nonsense!! Leaving an abuser and filing the necessary paperwork to acknowledge the abuser’s destruction of the marriage covenant is not sin – in fact is is a righteous act of which God approves.

      Dump that counsellor. You won’t find help there. Blessings.

    • Hi Loves6, I second Jeff’s reply to you. And I think your counselor needs to get some basic training in sexual abuse. Going mute does not indicate consent.

      Here is a very important saying: Consent is the YES we say when we are free to say NO.

      If you put that to your counselor and pointed out that if you said “No” to your husband there would be some very unpleasant repercussions, then she might have to rethink her stuplistic statement.

      ‘Stuplistic’ is our new word; it was given to us by BIT. It is a cross between stupid and simplistic.

      • Thank you Barb. I knew it when she said it I just needed to hear it from the experienced…. this blog. i felt it was trauma that was making me mute… fear and trauma. My husband has this view that the marriage bed is undefiled.. So the husband can do stuff and its ok. My muteness is obviously he way of thinking Im ok with it but I am not…. he knows of all my trauma, which makes this even more despicable to me honest. I have told my counsellor my fear of the repercussions of me speaking up.
        Her view is there is only one more thing I can do to save my marriage. Lay down the ‘not anymores’ .. this is not ‘acceptable any more talk’ … sexual stuff, verbal stuff and emotionl abuse stuff. I have told her that I have confronted him on it all but he is not changing. Then she went into the three A”s for divorce… I was relieved though when she said I could divorce for Abuse, even though God hates divorce (in her view) thank you Jeff for your clarification on this. . SIGH SIGH SIGH All seems to much of a mountain to climb. I am totally over it and starting to shut down.
        I have my mom looking at schools for my children at the moment. All part of the plan for my escape.
        Thank you too for your words of wisdom Barb. x

      • Her view is there is only one more thing I can do to save my marriage. Lay down the ‘not anymores’ .. this is not ‘acceptable any more talk’ … sexual stuff, verbal stuff and emotional abuse stuff. I have told her that I have confronted him on it all but he is not changing.

        I’m not in the counseling room with you, so don’t know the tone and context in which she said that, but it seems to me like she may be working from a nubmer of possible (not mutually exclusive) presuppositions —
        that you want to save the marriage,
        that you ought to want to save the marriage
        that saving the marriage is her the default goal in her philosophy of counseling, and she expects it would/should be your default goal as well.

        Like Jeff said, if she thinks that God hates divorce but allows it (as second best) for the three A’s, then it would follow that she would think that saving the marriage is the default goal in counseling.

        I wonder if it has ever occurred to her that divorce in some cases is not second best but best, and divorce is the only way to get relatively safe and to give the kids a chance to live the rest of their childhoods with at least part of their time being free of the toxicity and tension of living with an abuser. So many of our readers testify that while running the gauntlet of separation and the family court is pretty hard, their lives and the lives of their kids are, in the long term, much improved after divorce.

      • also, I’m annoyed that your counselor suggested you lay down the ‘not anymores’, when you have already told her you have confronted him on all those things, all those behaviors of his are destructive and hurtful to you. Doesn’t she listen to what you say? Is she wanting to keep the superior position of ‘expert’ so she can tell you what she thinks you ought to do, so she just ignores the fact that you have already tried all those things?

        I’ve met so many wanna be counselors who take that line. It’s patronizing. What they need to be doing is (1) affirming you for the ways you have already been responding to your abuser in trying to confront him, set boundaries, tell him ‘not anymore’, etc., and (2) validating your report that even when you tell him ‘not anymore’ he pays no attention.

  9. Thank you Pastor Jeff. Wise words you speak. :-)

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