Is Marital Sex Solely Based Upon Whether or Not There is Consent?
Yesterday, I did a YouTube entitled, “Should Wives Have Sex With Their Husbands If They Don’t Feel Like It?’ On my Facebook page, there was a lot of discussion on the topic. Here are a few comments in particular and reading Christiana’s responses to these comments was like a breathe of fresh air! It’s wonderful to read the words of a wise woman who isn’t influenced by the feminist thought that pervades even the churches today.
LeAna: “You had me until you said a woman waking up to her husband having sex with her wasn’t rape. She said no. She did not consent. That’s rape. Of course, she doesn’t want to throw her husband in jail. That doesn’t make it any less a rape. You said rape happens with someone you don’t know. I knew my rapist. Is that any less rape since I knew him? You can say no to sex in marriage. A man isn’t going to be hurting too bad after missing sex one time. That’s not depriving him of anything.”
Christiana: “There are many problems with your premise, LeAnna, even from a secular perspective.
“According to our current culture, at least, whether or not sex is rape is determined solely by whether or not there was consent.
“What is consent in marriage (or out of it, for that matter)?
“Clearly, it cannot be a specific, ‘Yes, I will have sex with you’– are you going to tell me that you expect married couples to give explicit ‘consent’ in that way every time they have sex? Hah! Of course not. That would be stiff, weird, and ruins the moment entirely. And by that definition, every married couple who has ever had spontaneous sex without stated agreement has engaged in rape.
“Are you going with some strange and vague notion of ‘implied’ consent? Because we all know how that goes down in court. Basing ‘consent’ on the man sensing that the woman was ‘into it’ because of her body language, expressions, etc. has gotten men thrown behind bars because she didn’t expressly STATE consent. Clearly, we cannot expect men to be mind-readers and somehow intuit whether or not a woman agrees to have sex with him, as she can easily say later that it was not consensual.
“What, then? Especially in marriage?
“There is no such thing as marital rape because marriage IS consent. Why haven’t we all burned our Bibles if we don’t believe them when they say that neither the husband nor wife own their own body? Do we believe that, or don’t we?
“I am far more inclined to agree with the wise commenter somewhere above who made the point that rape involves stealing sex that does not belong to you. In marriage, the other person’s body DOES belong to you– at least, if we believe Scripture. Furthermore, it is definitely impossible to rape someone (wife or otherwise) who offers their body willing. So, why should wives not offer their bodies willingly? This is precisely what Lori is teaching.”
Brittany: “I don’t think a wife should just say no for no reason, but there needs to be a conversation. A husband demanding sex is also not fulfilling his role. To love his wife. Ephesians 5:25 ‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,’ and verses 28&29 ’28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.’
“If I’m in legitimate pain due to a pregnancy or have a migraine (both occur fairly often) my husband is loving and doesn’t demand anything. We have a loving marriage where we seek to fulfill each other’s needs and not put each other in pain.”
Christiana: “Brittany, I do wonder why you jump to exceptions like this in order to excuse the rule.
“But, that aside, why do you point out the husband’s role? That’s none of a wife’s business. A wife is responsible to God for her own actions. She can’t make her husband do what he ought to do, unless it’s to influence him through her good and right actions.
“You may argue that a husband shouldn’t demand things of his wife, but a wife shouldn’t be depriving him, either. A wife can only do what she ought to do… not point the finger at what he ought to do.”
Kim: “I find myself wondering why all you ever talk about is submission and giving your husband all the sex he wants. When a husband nurtures his wife and loves her as he loves himself, sex naturally follows.”
Christiana: “Absolutely not! I know men who treat their wives with consistent Christlikeness and loving sacrifice, but their wives use sex as a weapon and are brats for their own reasons (upbringing, self-righteous hypocrisy, rebellion, etc.). Try turning your statement around to see what an inaccurate and unbiblical point you’re making. Would you also guarantee with such presumption that when a wife makes sure her husband is sexually satisfied, a nurturing and selfless, loving husband naturally follows?”
Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
1 Corinthians 7:3-5
33 thoughts on “Is Marital Sex Solely Based Upon Whether or Not There is Consent?”
Well, since he doesn’t always want to do what you like, but does it because it makes you happy, why can’t you do the same for him? In a married relationship, it’s about your partner’s needs, not yours 100% of the time. If he can do things important to you that aren’t really all to exciting or fun for him to make you happy, then it’s not fair to deny him what makes him happy too even if you aren’t so crazy about it.
Men growing up in this younger generation of broken homes are realizing that most women intend to bring almost nothing to the table in a marriage, except for their pre-used sexuality which they intend to ration as a manipulation and control mechanism. Then they can steal your kids, money, home, future earnings, and get you thrown in prison with rape & domestic violence allegations, when they’re done using you. They’d have to be half crazy to agree to that deal, and usually that is sex crazed. SO they’ll be doubly disappointed when their wife shuts off the sexual intimacy based upon her own selfish manipulations and exhibits complete ingratitude for the “life ending” risk every man takes in this age, just by getting married. The culture will change, and not necessarily for the better. Men will give up the natural use of the woman, the Bible says.
So how many husbands are actually beating their wives yelling, “Time for you to pay the marital debt? I DON’T CARE IF YOU’RE THROWING UP AND RUNNING A FEVER, I WANT SOME!!” I know that there are indeed husbands who hurt their wives, but I do not believe such are the majority–or even large minority. The much more prevalent problem is wives chronically denying their husbands sex, or behaving as if sex is some unpleasant chore to do.
It would be deeply unpopular for me to say that rape is not possible in a marriage, but I think it’s true because now the husband has ownership over the wife’s body (as the wife has ownership over the husband’s body). This does not mean, however, that a husband who mistreated his wife as described above isn’t sinning; he certainly isn’t loving her as his own body, and he may be guilty of assault and battery.
If a wife wakes up to her husband having sex with her, well, she may be annoyed that he woke her up–but crying “rape” in such a scenario is wrong.
I remember a woman writing to a secular Jewish columnist wondering if her husband was raping her every time they had a few drinks together and then had relations; the advice columnist was horrified and told her to divorce her husband so that he could have relations with someone else who wouldn’t call the cops on him; although I don’t think this is the correct thing to do, it is notable that even a nonChristian thought that this woman was redefining “consent” to an unacceptable extent.
One more thought: I cannot think of a time that I have ever regretted having sex with my husband. Never. It’s one of the good things about being married to your sexual partner–you don’t have to worry that you’ll look back on sex with regret. Even if it isn’t one of your best times together, it’s still a nice thing to do, and there really are few things that redeem one’s time better than cementing the bond between you and your spouse.
Men like to give their wives sexual pleasure- so unless they ill or in pain, why not lie back and let him give to you? nothing is being demanded of you, except to let him make love to you.
if you love him and you are not ill or in pain then just let him enjoy himself. you may end up enjoying it! why deprive yourself of that??? it is unloving to your husband and to yourself (remember we are to treat others with same love we have for oursleves) to deprive each other of what could be fun and relaxing way to spend half an hour?
While the world trains wives to deny their husband sex and to give it grudgingly, it is positively enthusiastic about pornography, formication, adultery, masturbation, homosexuality, and pedophilia.
They love evil, and hate what is good.
A godly man must endure, withstand temptation, and trust that if he places his affections above, and not on the earth, Gods will will be done.
It’s a mistake to think marriage is the lot of all men and women.
At 39, I’m positively ecstatic that I’ve never been married. In California, I dread pondering what being married to one of these beautiful Sirens/Feminists would be like. It would likely be horrible for children, that’s for sure, as a wife who grudges basic sex to her husband is likely to grudge affection, love, and guidance to her children as well.
If the men in a society refused to pursue women who dress immodestly, think sex is a negotiating tool, are promiscuous, and who view children as a burden, the women would get their act together yesterday.
Great and needful post, Lori.
The only people who hate you for telling the truth are those who are living a lie.
A Lady of Reason puts it very well- marriage is about giving to each other and that means allowing your husband to enjoy your body and you to enjoy his. it is unselfish and seeks the good of the other person. I honestly don’t think the odd night of having a headache and not feeling well enough amounts to sexual deprivation but if women were always depriving their husband of sex (and vice versa) for no good reason then the husband’s feelings might really be hurt. Why hurt his feelings?
What if it’s the husband depriving his wife of sex? Is that justifiable? Does he have a right to deny her based on her lack of appropriate submission or disapproval of her appearance? Should the wife persist in requesting physical intimacy?
I’m deeply honored to be quoted here. Continually grateful for you and your courage to speak biblical truth in love among such ridicule!
Oh, you have a blog, Christiana! I look forward to reading your writings.
Here is a post for women who have higher sex drives than their husbands:
In a normal marriage, of course there is no such thing as marital rape. The Bible is quite clear that our bodies belong to our spouses and that it is a sin for us to deny each other.
But where it becomes a bit more unclear is when the marriage strays from normal. When alcohol abuse leads to violent, forced sex. When perversions lead to forced violent sexual activities or anal sex etc. that the woman doesn’t want, but the man forces on her anyway.
Husbands who force themselves on their woman who just gave birth to a child – as in just that very day – or forcing their wives into sex before they have fully healed from childbirth (doctors recommend waiting 6 weeks for a reason!)
But a man pushing for sex when his wife “isn’t in the mood” or “has a headache” is NOT rape! And this madness about withdrawing consent after the fact is appalling.
This was written by a Christian man. You might find it interesting.
You are right, many men do. However, the women who I know who have fallen into long spans of a sexless marriage are married to men that don’t. It’s one the reasons they were never too interested in sex in the first place. Some husbands do not care about their wife’s pleasure, unfortunately.
There is a wonderful Ed Wheat book I recommend for new husbands and wives. It helps teach the husband and wife (together) how to explore eachother’s bodies for pleasure.
Marriage is not consent to violence or abuse but it is definitely consent to normal (capable of procrastination) sex.
Excellent article Laurie.
Great comment Heidi.
I don’t mind at all if my husband imposes himself on me when I’m sleeping. I was only upset that he ripped a good night gown the last time he did it. I told him I would wear a robe to bed next time he was working late to make it easier for him!
Dixie, yes, a wife should desire and expect a fully satisfying sex life. God did not bless women with clitorises, a body part solely made for pleasure, for nothing.
Here is a simple motto for a satisfying sex life in marriage…. ready?
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
I find it appalling that there are well-meaning Christians still promoting the idea that marital rape cannot exist, because consent was given with the “I Do.” Was consent given to every sexual activity a husband decides he wants to do? What if he’s drunk, abusive, cheating on her and has a sexually transmitted infection? What if he sees something in porn and decides to “take it out” on her?
The idea that someone would not want to jail her offending husband is completely reasonable when you consider such factors as the abuser/abused relationship, the impact that jailing him could have on her children and/or finances, the retaliation that he might take. Have you really never sat and listened to the story of a wife who was indeed raped by a husband who had turned from a pursuing boyfriend into an abusive husband over the years? When you sit and listen to such a woman weep over the forcefulness and disregard of her body, you cannot help but feel that she has been genuinely wronged and that this is “missing the mark” (aka sin).
While there is an obligation to foster sexual intimacy in marriage according to 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, the primary point is that sex is to be MUTUAL in marriage. That means it should be desired, pleasurable, and intimate for BOTH spouses. Sex is not just for him; God created sex for her too. That is what we should be teaching, along with helping those wives who are attacked in the most vulnerable way by the person they should be able to trust the most.
No, the point of the passage isn’t that it will be “mutual.” The Apostle Paul never states this. You have made this up. Sometimes one spouse will have sex with their spouse because they love their spouse and know this is commanded by God even if they don’t feel like it or are not in the mood. We live our lives in obedience to God’s commands not by our feelings and moods. “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency” (1 Cor. 7:4, 5). The only scriptural reason for depriving one’s spouse is for a short time of prayer and fasting.
If you are referring to the example I spoke about in my video, this was a one time thing for this woman. A husband having sex with his wife as she sleeps one time or even several times or often is not marital rape! This is absurd to think so. She never mentioned that he was physically abusive to her in any way.
In your first paragraph, you are speaking about women who are being physically abused and yes, I know this is a real thing and these women need to seek help and get protection from their abusive husbands and yes, they should go to jail. This is nothing like the woman I shared in the video. She was not being abused in any way. If she were a godly woman, she would have freely participated with her husband as commanded by God.
I have not made up my interpretation of that Scripture. If you read the surrounding context and recognize what situation Paul was responding to, you know that he was making the point that sex should be mutual—both spouses willingly involved, meeting one another’s needs, and stopping only by mutual consent. But that doesn’t give one spouse permission to violate every other command about how to love one another. How about 1 Corinthians 13:5 stating that love is not self-seeking? Meaning that you don’t have sex with an unwilling spouse. Rather, you make every effort to convince your spouse to willingly have sex with you.
And of course, both spouses should be dedicated to making love as often as possible, except for the prayer / fasting exception you mention, and if that’s not happening, it should be addressed. But not through entitlement by one spouse and pressure or force to the other.
And if her husband was a godly man, he would obey Scriptures like:
“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.” (Ephesians 5:28)
“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.” (Colossians 3:19)
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” (1 Peter 3:7)
What about the verses about these verses:
From Ephesians 5 –
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.” (Col. 3:18)
“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, OBEDIENT TO THEIR OWN HUSBANDS, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” (Titus 2:4, 5)
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” (1 Peter 3:1, 2)
“Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” (1 Peter 3:6)
“She that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” (1 Cor. 7:34)
Do you ever teach women these verses? I don’t teach men. I only teach women. Therefore, according to all of these verses, when her husband was having sex with her in the night, she should have willingly submitted to him and pleased him. What is so hard about this? The feminist mindset is SO strong in our culture that it turns something like this into marital rape and abuse. This situation isn’t either.
I don’t know why you presume I’m a feminist. But I am complementarian in my theology, meaning I recognize the husband as the head of the family. Yet I think we’ve each made our positions clear, and I doubt we’ll convince one another.
Meanwhile, I pray for couples to understand the generosity of God in His design for sex in marriage and for husbands to truly love their wives and wives to respect their husbands, all to the glory of Him.
So do you teach those verses I listed on a frequent basis to women? A husband is actually called the “head of his wife.” It’s unprofitable to teach women how their husbands should treat them since they have no power to change their husbands and we aren’t called to teach men. The only “power” wives have to win their disobedient husbands is without a word and by living in subjection to them with godly behavior as commanded in 1 Peter 3:1, 2.
Really, Lori? I just gracefully bowed out, and you want to challenge me again. Fine. Of course I teach what the Bible says to women, including those verses. But I don’t pound those verses and those verses only on them, as some seem to do, as if our godliness is entirely about obedience to our husbands. And to reduce sex to such admonitions is to ignore such beautiful examples as the couple in Song of Songs, where you can clearly see the mutuality of desire and intimacy, the love, respect, and admiration husband and wife have for one another.
Marital rape exists, whether you want to acknowledge it or not. Because every husband is not well-intentioned and loving to his wife. And sometimes the right role is for a wife to oppose rather than enable sin.
I am sorry if I offended you, J. This was not my intent. Of course, our godliness isn’t entirely about obedience to our husbands but an outflow of our love for the Lord. If we love Him, we will keep His commands. The Song of Songs is beautiful but a wife can’t force her husband to be the way that she wants him to be. A wife trying to change her husband is destroying her marriage. The commands to us on this topic are clearly explained in 1 Cor. 7 and wives are commanded to not deprive their husbands sexually. (Like I said, I don’t teach men; for women are forbidden from teaching men the Word of God.)
A man who is physically abusive needs to be dealt with as I explained earlier. A wife with an abusive husband needs to seek help and protection. All the other wives who are married to decent men need to be taught to not deprive their husbands. I know many are depriving their husbands on a regular basis and they need to be taught that they are in sin unless it is for a short time of prayer and fasting.
Finally, I found the first post on your site about submission when I put “submission” in the search engine. You teach mutual submission. There isn’t one verse in the entire Bible that specifically commands husbands to submit to their wives but quite a few about wives submitting to their husbands as I shared above. Yes, it’s a whole lot easier to teach mutual submission rather than wifely submission but it’s not biblical.
Thank you for your apology. No, you likely didn’t find much on submission on my blog, because I write almost exclusively about sex in marriage and such concepts are woven into other topics. For instance, I’ve written that ongoing refusal of sex is a sin, that sex should be prioritized, and that our husbands’ sexual desires are good and should be valued (although there are plenty of higher-drive wives too, by the way). I just don’t believe God values women’s sexuality any less than men’s, meaning pressure and force are no more okay than neglect and refusal.
I have never written that pressure and force are okay and I don’t think either spouse has to ask for sex every time. That’s a sure way to get rid of all romance in a marriage!
My husband and I ask each other all of the time when it’s nearing bedtime. It doesn’t take romance out of our marriage-it keeps lines of communication open and allows us to check in with each other. I love when I’m in the bathroom brushing my hair before bed and my husband comes up and wraps his arms around me and whispers “Do you wanna have some fun tonight?” That’s quite romantic and playful for us! I don’t need the spontaneity of sex to enjoy my husband, and I’m not a fan of flowers/cards/chocolates/candles/“guessing when I’m in the mood” kind of romance. Romance isn’t a one-size-fits-all. I prefer direct, straightforward communication and my husband does too.
There certainly isn’t one mold for everyone is this area.
I think this topic is a non issue in healthy marriages. If people want to discuss abusive situations that’s a different story. It just seems so weird for a regular marriage to be thinking in these terms.
Coming from a situation where I was taken advantage of as a child in my sleep, when I watched this video today I immediately shut down and felt alarmingly vulnerable. Forget about the matter of the term “rape”, the situation seemed inappropriate and I couldn’t understand how you or anyone else could justify the man’s actions. I tried to think about if I were in that woman’s position and my husband did something like that, but I couldn’t because it put me in a bad state of mind. I thought perhaps I was an exception because of my past, so I tried to think about your point of view and couldn’t. I would rather be woken up than to have the aforementioned situation occur, EVER. But coming to read the posts and comments here, I have a better understanding of why you and others didn’t seem to classify it as I thought you should. I never thought about what marriage actually entails when you say your vows. This gives me something to seriously think about and an important conversation to have with the man I marry, if it is the Lord’s will for me to have a husband.