A Cry For Justice

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

Sexual Abuse – page 10 of Scriptures Describing Abuse

Four stories in the Bible tell of sexual abuse

1.  Judges 19The story of the Levite’s concubine.

2.  Genesis 38 – The story of Tamar and her father-in-law Judah.
Judah defrauded Tamar of her right to marital intercourse by withholding his third son from her (who should have married her by the levirate marriage rule).
This story shows abuse by withholding of sexual intimacy when it was rightfully due.
(See 1 Cor. 7:5)

3.  Second Sam. 13:1-18 – The story of Amnon’s rape of his half-sister Tamar (a different Tamar to the one in Genesis).
Assisted by the advice of his cousin Jonadab, Amnon deceptively arranges for Tamar to be alone with him in his bedroom (verses 11-18):

But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” She answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this outrageous thing. As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.

Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up! Go!”

But she said to him, “No, my brother, for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.”But he would not listen to her. He called the young man who served him and said, “Put this woman out of my presence and bolt the door after her.” Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves, for thus were the virgin daughters of the king dressed. So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her.

This story is the opposite of the earlier Tamar story. It shows sexual abuse (actually incest) by rape, and the violence, deception and hatred that go with it. Amnon set it up so that it would not look like rape: he thought he would get away with it entirely. Note how Tamar had a coat of many colours – there is a typological connection between Tamar and Joseph in Genesis (see ch. 11).

4.  Genesis 39:7-19 Where Joseph who was falsely accused of rape by Potiphar’s wife.

Other types of sexual abuse

Having sex when you know the woman is menstruating is forbidden by the Mosaic law (Lev. 15:19, 25; 18:19; 20:18) and is also condemned by Ezekiel (Ezek. 18:6). Also, there should be a period of abstinence after the birth of a child (Lev. 12:2-5). Having sex outside of these laws is an aggressive act, it pollutes the land, and is a perversity. This obviously sets a limit on the power each spouse has over the other spouse’s body (1 Cor. 7:4): neither may use each other when menstruation is happening.

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5 Comments

  1. Laurie

    Just a “small” note on that scripture in 1 Cor 7 concerning woman not having power over her own body but the husband and vice-versa.

    If we take the word “power” to mean right to request conjugal duties, then we can quickly get into a discrepancy. Run with me here: He wants it…so she has to give it. She doesn’t…so he has to refrain. This sets up a tit for tat system of tally keeping between husband and wife. I get it this time, you can decline (because it really does work both ways) next time…oh, wait, I am head over you so you always have to do what I say, so….Fill in the blank.

    BUT, if we take that word “power” to mean right to join with in conjugal duties, we can soon lose the score card. The verse then becomes, Husbands, you don’t have the right to join conjugally but with the wife, wives, you don’t have the right to join conjugally but with the husband.” Since Astarte, Artemis, Dianna, Eoster (Queen of Heaven) worship was rife in Corinth and temple prostitution was part of the religious practices therein (no wonder the men could chant for two hours, “Great is Dianna of the Ephesians!”) a word from God through Paul like this would set the record straight. Husband and wife join this way only, don’t let another exercise this “power” over you.

    And it makes sense to the context, also.

    • Very well explained, Laurie. And I chortled when you talked about why the men were glad to chant for two hours about the goddess Diana! I’d never thought of it that way, but it makes a lot of sense. Flesh and more flesh…

  2. There are also two other things on this blog that address 1 Cor. 7:4 in some depth.
    Sermon explaining the scripture prohibits sexual abuse in marriage.

    And my comment in another post, which I’m reproducing here to make it easy for readers:

    Many people do not realise it, but 1 Corinthians 7:4 is probably the clearest verse in the whole Bible that says a woman can say no to sex!

    For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

    The husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. This means she can tell HIS body to not do things to HER body. She has the authority to tell his body what it can and cannot to do her body!

    So if a husband says “You must let me do this to your body because I have authority over your body”, the wife can say back to him “No; I have just as much authority over your body as you have over mine, so if I say you CAN’T do that to me, you must not do it. Our authority over each other’s bodies is equal and reciprocal, so neither of us can force the other do to anything they don’t want to do!”

    Sexual is supposed to always be engaged in by mutual agreement and for mutual enjoyment. If one party does not feel comfortable with something, that thing shouldn’t be done. Sex is supposed to be about BOTH people loving and giving pleasure to each other, and never forcing one person’s will on the other or making them feel uncomfortable. There is no other way of understanding verse four.

    Women have been trained to think that they have no authority in the marital bed and that men have all the rights. But women have just as many rights and just as much authority as men in the marital bed.

  3. Rebecca

    What about the wife wanting sex and the husband does not have the right to say no and refuse to please her in the way she needs? It kind of annoys me that Christians rarely address this issue.

    • Hello Rebecca, I agree with you that Christians rarely address this issue these days. You may be interested to know that in the Reformation and the Puritan era this issue was mentioned more than it is now. Withholding of marital intercourse was sometimes named as one of the grounds that might be a valid ground for divorce. And there is evidence that the Jewish religious teachers in the centuries round the time of Jesus sometimes wrote about the appropriate way to deal with a married person who withheld sex from their spouse. You can read about that in Instone-Brewer’s book Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible. They said that a spouse who withheld sex could be warned and then financial penalties could be imposed in gradually escalating degrees in order to try to pressure the person to rightfully treat their spouse — give them what was their due in marriage.

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