Does The New Testament Endorse Marital Rape?

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In this piece, we seek to analyse a very disturbing New Testament verse. The verse before this gives instructions to Christian households, mainly to woman how to conduct themselves with their husband’s. The verses read:

I Corinthians 7:3-4

3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.
4 The WIFE DOES NOT HAVE authority over her own body but HER HUSBAND DOES. …

The verse was understood by classical and modern exegesis that the husband should give his wife her ‘conjugal’ rights, same goes for the wife. This verse (v 3.) is not disturbing. It is the right of the wife for her needs to be met. However, the disturbing and I would say ‘evil’ part comes from verse 4, let’s read:

“4 The WIFE DOES NOT HAVE AUTHORITY over her own body (private part), but HER HUSBAND DOES. …” – I Corinthians 7:4

This verse commands that a Christian wife has no authority over her body. The ‘body’ part mentioned here is in reference to her ‘private parts’. Basically, the husband has full right to have sexual relations with his wife even when she refuses. The Christian husband can have forceful sexual intimacy even if the wife refuses. For the wife to refuse this, is a major sin. This in modern terms would be called ‘marital rape’.

Furthermore, the wife in Christianity cannot divorce her husband, even if her husband beats her, and rapes her. There are a number of verses in the New Testament that reiterate, and directly command that under no circumstances can divorce take place (only if the husband dies is the wife free).

“For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress.” Romans 7:2-3

“A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord” 1 Corinthians 7:39

This command is also taught by Jesus himself, if divorce were to take place, the woman would be called an “adulteress”:

“But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.” Matthew 5:32
“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19:9

“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Luke 16:18

“When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” Mark 10:10-12

In these verses, under one circumstance can a wife get divorce, that is if the husband is caught cheating, being unfaithful i.e., committing adultery. Under no other circumstances is divorce allowed.

This may be hurtful for some our readers to read, but we would go as far as to say that continual rape, beating your wife senseless, none of these evil actions would by the Law of Jesus, allow for divorce.

There is only one time when wife gets rest, even this is very vague, this rule only applies to praying (1 Corinthians 7:5). Christian scholars here argue that not even prayer could stop the husband from enjoying herself. He can still go into her wife immediately after the prayer.

Coming back to I Corinthians 7: 3-4, the exegesis from the past to present day have reiterated that the wife has no right over her private part. The husband can go into her any day, any time he pleases. When the wife got married, her right to her body is longer binding, this right is passed to the husband. The following commentaries are from Christian scholars, commenting on the verse.

Pastor and Bible teacher David Guzik:

“b. On the same idea, also the wife to her husband: The wife is not to withhold marital affection from her husband. Paul strongly puts forth the idea that there is a mutual sexual responsibility in marriage. The husband has obligations toward his wife, and the wife has obligations toward her husband.
i. Render to his wife: The emphasis is on giving, on “I owe you” instead of “you owe me.” In God’s heart, sex is put on a much higher level than merely the husband’s privilege and the wife’s duty.
c. The wife does not have authority over her own body: In fact, these obligations ARE SO CONCRETE, IT COULD BE SAID THAT THE WIFE’S BODY DOES NOT EVEN BELONG TO HERSELF, BUT TO HER HUSBAND. The same principle is true of the husband’s body in regard to his wife. …”
(David Guzik Commentary on the Bible – online source)

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges:

“Verse 4
4. οὐκ ἐξουσιάζει. A.V. hath not power. Better, HATH NO RIGHT. ἐξουσία sometimes stands for power, as in Revelation 9:3. But the more usual sense of the word is AUTHORITYτοῦ ἰδίου σώματος. OVER HER OWN BODY. Because in everything connected with the duties of married life each should consult the comfort, well-being, and happiness of the other before their own, and should be especially careful that they do not, by any selfishness on the part of either, ‘cause their brother to offend’” (Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges – online source)

Heinrich Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament:

“Verse 3-4
ἡ γυνὴ τοῦ ἰδίου σώμ. κ. τ. λ(1073)] Explanatory of 1 Corinthians 7:3. THE WIFE HAS NO POWER OVER HER OWN BODY, NAMELY, AS REGARDS COHABITATION, but THE HUSBAND HAS THAT POWER; likewise ( ὁμοίως) also, on the other hand, the converse holds, so that “neutri liceat alteri conjugale debitum poscenti denegare,” Estius. Corresponding statements of the Rabbins may be seen in Selden, uxor. Hebr. iii. 6, 7. Bengel says happily respecting ἰδίου, that it forms with οὐκ ἐξουσιάζει, an elegans paradoxon.” (Heinrich Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament – online source)

Henry Mahan’s Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament:

“1 Corinthians 7:3. ‘Let the husband render unto the wife all the offices of love – tenderness, kindness, provisions, protection and respect.’ But the chief reference here is to the marriage BED AND HER SEXUAL NEEDS. Likewise, the wife is to be aware of the needs of her husband and to meet those needs willingly; otherwise, she is called by the ancient writers ‘A REBELLIOUS WIFE.’ According to the Song of Solomon, this relationship, when properly understood (free from traditional guilt and false piety, and knowing it is ordained of God with his blessings), ceases to be a duty and becomes joy and pleasure.
1 Corinthians 7:4. A WIFE DOES NOT HAVE EXCLUSIVE AUTHORITY OVER AND OWNERSHIP OF HER BODY TO REFRAIN THE USE OF IT FROM HER HUSBAND, to give it to someone else, to neglect it, nor to abuse it. THE HUSBAND HAS A POWER OVER AND RIGHT TO HER BODY. The same is true of the husband’s body, to which the wife has certain rights. Better to recognize this as a joy rather than a duty or an unpleasant task. Happy are the wife and husband who find delight in pleasing each other with an attractive, clean and loving person and personality.” (Henry Mahan’s Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament – online source)

Albert Barnes’

“Verse 4
The WIFE hath not power … – By the MARRIAGE covenant that power, in this respect, IS TRANSFERRED TO THE HUSBAND…” (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible – online source)

Adam Clark:

Verse 4
The wife hath not power, etc. – Her person belongs to her husband; her husband’s person belongs to her: NEITHER OF THEM HAS ANY AUTHORITY TO REFUSE what the other has a matrimonial right to demand. The woman that would act so is either a knave or a fool. It would be trifling to attribute her conduct to any other cause than weakness or folly. She does not love her husband; or she loves some one else better than her husband; or she makes pretensions to a fancied sanctity unsupported by Scripture or common sense.” (Adam Clarke Commentary – online source)

Thomas Coke:

Verse 4
1 Corinthians 7:4. Also the husband hath not power, &c.— The woman, who in all other rights is INFERIOR, has here the same power given her over the man, that the MAN HAS OVER HER.
(Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible – online source)

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible:

“Verse 3-4
The DUTY OF COHABITATION on the part of the married. due benevolence — The oldest manuscripts read simply, “her due”; that is, the CONJUGAL COHABITATION due by the marriage contract (compare 1 Corinthians 7:4). (Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible – online source)

John Dummelow:

3. Due benevolence] RV ‘her due’; i.e. PRIMARILY, COHABITATION(John Dummelow’s Commentary on the Bible – Online source)

Matthew Henry:

“f3Porneiascf0 – Fornications, all sorts of lawless lust. To avoid these, Let every man, says he, have his own wife, and every woman her own husband; that is, marry, and confine themselves to their own mates. And, when they are married, let each render the other due benevolence (1 Corinthians 7:3), consider the disposition and exigency of each other, and render CONJUGAL DUTY, which is owing to each other. For, as the apostle argues (1 Corinthians 7:4), in the married state NEITHER PERSON HAS POWER OVER HIS OWN BODY, but has delivered it into the power of the other, THE WIFE GIVES HERS INTO THE POWER OF THE HUSBAND…”(Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Bible – online source)

And:

“Women’s rights advocates lobbied during the 1977 Oregon legislative session and secured the passage of a law that allows a wife to charge her own husband with rape. This law was tested in the Rideout case and, although the husband was acquitted in December 1978, the law was allowed to stand. By April 30, 1988, all fifty states had similar laws that made it a crime for a man to rape his wife. Under these laws, the husband was treated like any other man who forced a woman to have sex. But some, about twenty States, later made some allowances, which made wife rape a lesser crime than rapes. The ancient custom as explained by St. Paul states: ‘The wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does…’ (1Corinthians 7:4). And by Moses ‘… Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. Genesis 3:16). The prevalence of marital rape is estimated between 7 percent and 14 percent, and the women are just as likely to suffer psychological problems as those raped by strangers. (The Sex Offenses and their Treatments: The Problem–The Solution—Commentary [Author house, 2004] by Victor T. Cheney, page 54)

The church in Bahamas said there is no such thing as ‘rape’ within marriage:

“…’CAN A SPOUSE WITHIN MARRIAGE BE FOUND GUILTY OF RAPE AS AN OFFENCE PUNISHABLE BY LAW?’ … However, THE CHURCH IN BAHAMAS SAID, NO. Some POINT TO ST. PAUL IN 1 CORINTHIANS 7:3-5 where he says, ‘Let the husband render to his wife the affection or benevolence due to her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does.’ … Paul’s statement served as the foundation of the Common Law, in both the United States and the United Kingdom for hundreds of years, these jurisdictions have expanded their interpretation on marriage to say that marital rape is a reality vis-a-vis domestic violence and should now be criminalized. Obviously, this position was not arrived at easily or overnight…” (Capital Punishment In The Bahamas: The Privy Council’s Moratorium – Culture, Politics, Religion [Author house, 2013] by Dr. Michael D. Toote, page 107)

What we have gathered from the above commentaries on 1 Corinthians 7:3-4 is, that a Christian woman has no right over her own private part. She is commanded from the Bible to give herself to her husband anytime he wishes, even if that means, she may dislike it. The husband, on the other hand, has full rights over her, to the extent that he could have forceful sexual relations and there would no sin on him. [1]

Related Article:

(1) – America – “These 13 States Still Make Exceptions For Marital Rape” (* *)

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Note: This article by no means is to disrespect our Christian brothers/sisters or their faith. We only endeavoured to write this article because of some extremist Christians who lie and charge the Islamic faith with rape – that Islam as a religion sanctions or endorses rape, a claim which has no backing from our Islamic sources. We have already responded to these claims in the following Link: “Islam on Rape

Reference:

[1] “Forced sexual activity within an intimate-partner relationship is a relatively new crime in the United States. From the seventeenth century through much of the 1980s in both the United States and Britain, it was a legal impossibility for a husband to be charged, prosecuted, or convicted of raping his wife.” (Encyclopaedia Of Rape,[Greenwood Press, 2004] by (Editor) Merril D. Smith, page 21, online source,
https://archive.org/stream/EncyclopediaOfRape#page/n49/mode/1up )

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5 Responses »

  1. Awesome!! You just turned the table. I have also refuted marital rape lie against Islam in my blog. Have a look at it.
    https://blogginginterfaith.wordpress.com/2015/03/15/marital-rape-lie-refuted/

  2. Honestly, I can’t tell if you are being deliberately dishonest in your application or simply are so blinded by the lack of understanding that you would come up with this argument.

    You quote the verse itself, the wife belongs to the husband, but ignore the reverse application – because it is inconvenient for the point you are trying to make?

    And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5

    So according to your interpretation the wife is free to rape the husband at any time as well.

    Jesus lays out very clearly what the greatest commandment is – love God, the next greatest is love one another. The relationship of the husband and wife is based always first on love and as christians it is specifically supposed to be a self sacrificial love.

    Rape is not loving – Rape is not honoring God who outlaws rape so accoridng to Jesus you have broken the greatest commandments.

    We are also directed to love our wives like Christ loved the church even giving our lives for the church – nothing rapey there either. Jesus asks us to follow Him out of our own free will – not out of compulsion. The Corinthians verses are coming from the same perspective – out of your own free will choose to serve your wife or husband out of love.

    The marital rape argument is just silly.

  3. I suggest you look at acryforjustice.com because scripture twisting happens on both ends of a spectrum. Rape is abuse of possibly the worst form and no one I know who is Christian is cool with any form of abuse only some crazy Doug Wilson types and Paul cites divorce for desertion and abuse is a form of desertion the worst form and logic would tell you Jesus saying divorce for adultery would include worse things than adultery. This article was out of context.

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