Earlier today, I read a blog post by Ashley Easter called Coercive Sex in Marriage: Her Story, where Ashley cites a close friend who anonymously wrote down a part of her heart-wrenching story that includes a form of marital rape not often talked about, and often perpetuated, in Christian circles.
Here is a part of that story:
I was told that in order to heal my marriage I had to have sex.
I was told that “withholding” was against God’s will.
I was told that I needed to have sex every night so God could heal what man had broken.
I said no and was accused of having an affair. I said no and was told I wasn’t respecting the covenant…
I was told that he had needs. That my refusal was ungodly. That my desire for every other night, or my occasional desire to wait even longer, was not according to God’s will.
I was told that he would be nicer to me if I had sex. I was told he would be more helpful with the children if I had sex…
I hate this. So much. Not because this is my story, but because it could have been. Easily.
The things that this blogger’s friend share from the depths of her aching soul about what she thought was expected of her and “right” in the eyes of God when it came to marital sex are things that, sadly, I have heard before. Not from my husband, praise God, but from powerful influences in my formative years and even now.
Yes. These words are spoken to me even now. Which means that others must be hearing them, too.
I am blessed beyond measure to have married a man who would never treat sex this way.
But others are not. And they hear these words from high places or from people they trust that men have urges and needs that we as their wives are required to fulfill if we are to keep sacred the covenant of marriage. Refusing to do so might mean disobedience to God, or worse, a cheating husband that, presumably, no one could blame.
These teachings are not, cannot, be biblical. They cannot be Godly.
Marital rape is a thing. A horrible, damaging, debilitating thing – as is all rape.
And teachings like this make it harder for Christian women to see past its absolute evil, as if they are expected, even commanded by their Creator, to simply let it happen.
We cannot permit our precious loved ones – our daughters, our sisters, our wives, our best friends – to believe that sex is a man’s right in marriage even more so than it is a woman’s, or that his desire for it trumps any hesitancy or resistance she may have, for any reason.
Sex in marriage is important. For sure. But don’t for one minute let anyone convince you that it is the most important thing. It’s not.
Communication. Respect. Love. Service. Forgiveness. These are among the most important things. In no particular order, and in no gender-based hierarchy of importance. These things, from both partners, constitute a healthy marriage.
Sex comes later. After communication. After respect. After love. After service. After forgiveness. Never before and never in place of.