On the Issue of Marital Rape

It has come to my attention that some individuals are justifying marital rape using 1 Corinthians 7:4 as reference. It is one thing to be ignorant, it is another to use the Bible as an excuse for violence and subjugation of another person’s will.

Paul in laying a foundation for 1 Corinthians 7, said something in 1 Corinthians 6:

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.I Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV.”

Before defining marital and conjugal rights, he first circumscribed the ambit of those rights – there must FIRST be a recognition that your body belongs to GOD and EVERYTHING you do in that body must be to the glory of God. Then, he described conjugal rights WITHIN context – the context of minimising sexual temptation outside of marriage not with a view to endorsing marital rape. (It is a contradiction in terms to be violent and insist on rights forcefully yet say you are a Christian.) He made it clear he was addressing a SPECIFIC concern the Corinthian church had written to him about and that he was appealing to them NOT commanding them. This is the full context:

“Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 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. But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. I Corinthians 7:1-9 NKJV”

If forcing a woman to have sex with you does not glorify God, you are already in error and have taken the scripture out of context to validate evil ends. It is interesting that Paul lays a similar foundation in Ephesians.

In Ephesians 5, when defining relationship principles, he lays a general foundation of MUTUAL SUBMISSION before particularising to men, women, parents, children and even workers! The passage is not exclusive to marriage and extends to the relationship between parents and children and between staff and employees. I quote:

“Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.Ephesians 5:17-21 NKJV”

My point is this: God will never go against his first principles of love and individual will & choice in setting out another principle in scripture. Those principles are the very basis of salvation therefore sex within marriage cannot be exempted. Those who rape their spouses using scripture as justification are clearly wrong and lack a fundamental understanding of scriptural context.

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