Biblically Justified Rape

Neil has very cleverly titled post, and I was perusing it when a line struck me sideways (emphasis mine):

Aside from the verses below and the fact that the Bible never claims perpetual virginity for her, it would have been a sin for Mary not to have sex with Joseph.

Genesis 2:24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

1 Corinthians 7:5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Sex in marriage is not sinful!  To put such emphasis on the myth of her perpetual virginity is to be make Puritans look downright worldly.

I think Neil is dead on in his interpretation here.  The Christian Bible is clearly stating that once married one must have sex if one partner wants to.  Even if one partner does not want to.  How is that not Rape?

Now imagine the separation of Church and State dissolving, and the Bible becoming a legal text.  Would a theocratic United States amend laws against rape to exclude married couples?

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5 Responses

  1. Hi Dan – I’m not sure why the link didn’t show up at my site. Maybe it is just delayed.

    I think we clarified your misunderstanding in the comments section. I also changed the original to read, “it would have been a sin if Mary had never had sex with Joseph.” I realize the original was a little unclear. As Bubba and others noted, the Bible is obviously not saying a spouse can force the other to have sex at any time.

    I hope that clears things up.

  2. P.S. Glad you liked the title, but I gotta give The Simpsons credit for their clever church sign.

  3. the mutual insinuation is for both the “deprivation” and the “coming together”, this is not sanctioning rape.

  4. Hey Neil,
    Sorry for the late reply. I don’t think it clears things up entirely. The problem is that the text brings forth this idea that sex is a duty, a responsibility of marriage. A sexless marriage is one that, personally, I don’t think works at all. But making it a religious responsibility to have sex is a view that can be problematic, and create situations where sex is coerced or forced. It is precisely a problem with how people view the text, but given how some folks interpret things literally, it opens up some nasty possibilities needlessly.

    molecularshyness, that’s not how the passage reads at all. Only the deprivation is governed by the word “mutual”. And that directly suggests that non mutual deprivation is wrong, and that is the source of my conundrum.

    Another way of looking at it is in the context of Jewish culture and fasting. “so that you may devote yourselves to prayer” suggests that deprivation must occur within the context of prayer, as a sexual fast. In other words, making yourself available sexually is the norm, unless both partners, for the express purpose of prayer, decide to abstain.

  5. The problem is that the text brings forth this idea that sex is a duty, a responsibility of marriage.

    In law, we often talk about duties that one owes to another person, but another person cannot always enforce against the doer. Basically, “A should do x, which benefits B” does not mean that B has a legal right to require A to do x.

    Sometimes, as with third-party beneficiaries of contracts, there is no right to sue for what one is owed. I find it significant that the Bible does not include language which allows for that enforcement mechanism – it is a duty to the marriage, not necessarily to the spouse.

    A quick question: how do you read “deprive?” I would not think of it like a parent not giving a child dessert after dinner every night – you would not say that child is deprived of dessert. If, however, you never allowed your child any sweets, you would be depriving your child. Marital intercourse is the same thing: if you are sick, or on vacation, or whatever, you aren’t “depriving” your spouse. If you never let your spouse touch you for years on end, you are depriving that person.

    Read some of the “gossip columns” (Dear Abby, Annie’s Mailbox) – they have stories about people whose spouses literally will not touch them for years on end. Considering that the Bible says “deprive” and not “refuse” – and let’s be honest, the language still alllows a spouse to refuse intercourse – I think that it was aimed at those who are cruel to their spouses by withholding affection.

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