by Bruce Gerencser cross posted from his blog The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser
The Evangelical church is built around one inviolable belief; that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. This belief is irrational and intellectually bankrupt, but it is the one belief that binds every corner of Evangelicalism into a cohesive whole. Throw in a healthy dose of literalism and what you have is a recipe for emotional, mental and, at times, physical abuse.
Evangelicalism, for the most part, is patriarchal. God is a man (father), Jesus is a man (son), and the church is led by a man or men. In the home, the man is the head and his wife and children are to submit to him as unto the Lord. While egalitarianism has made some inroads in the Evangelical church, complementarianism is still the dominant family structure said to be approved by God. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Evangelicals are outraged over this decision. Why? Because it legalizes “sin” and goes against God’s divine order for the sexes. Evangelicals, thanks to their commitment to inerrancy and literalism, see same-sex marriage the same say they see egalitarianism; a rejection of God’s divine order for the sexes.
I think it is important to keep encouraging Evangelicals to talk out loud so the public can hear them. I hope they write lots of blog posts and opinion pieces and preach lots of sermons about same-sex marriage and the destruction of Christian America. The more they talk and write, the easier it is to show that Evangelicalism is, for the most part, a dangerous religious ideology. Let me give you an example of how dangerous Evangelicalism can be.
The man behind the blog Biblical Gender Roles, an anonymous writer who refuses to identify himself and who will now be called Coward Behind the Screen, recently wrote a post titled Is My Husband Raping Me? In a previous post titled Is a Husband Selfish for Having Sex with His Wife When She is not in the Mood, a married woman left the following comment:
“My husband and I have been married for 9 years. When I was pregnant with our first child we sat down and had a discussion about sex. I told him while I was pregnant there would be times when I probably would not want to have sex and if he did I understood and I would be willing to fulfill my duty and his desires………well it all went downhill from there.
I understand what the Bible states. I am a Christian however he is not. That being said when sex began to be painful because of pregnancy he did not care. I would receive the comment “It will only take a few minutes, and I’ll be quick.” Whatever, I took it. Did not hold a grudge. Got past it. The problem is, it has never stopped.
My husband has sex with me whether I want it or not, all of the time. It has tainted our marriage and our sex life to the point of disgust. Even when I would cry, he would still have sex with me. I can read a book and he will still have sex with me. I have tried to tell him how this makes me feel, I have begged and pleaded with him, not to do this to our marriage, that I feel like his whore, or his piece of trash, he does not care.
I have told him this is not love, this is not biblical love, I do not feel loved and he does not care. I hate when he touches me. It literally makes me sick to my stomach. I became so deep in depression because of it. I will be so sad and heartbroken after we have sex sometimes and he actually will ask, “What is your problem?”
I even went as far as to get drunk so I could have sex with him. Guess what….he thought that was the best idea ever, so he would make sure I would have enough alcohol in me to have sex. Even when I said I wanted to stop drinking, he would always make sure the fridge is full.
When I would beg to see a counselor, I would get a guilt trip of 100 reasons why I shouldn’t or cannot. Now I am so numb to it all, I put a pillow over my face, and say just get it over with. And still I am trying to be a Godly wife.
So please tell me how this is not sin. How this is not rape, or abuse of some sort. Because in my mind I feel like I am living with my molester every day. Yes he says he is sorry, he does try to get me in the mood. You can definitely tell when he want wants it, it is the only time he comes up behind me and holds me, and the nonstop sexual comments like “Why don’t you come sit on my lap?” Gross. And If I don’t have sex with him the sighing and whining is sooo overwhelming. It becomes a punishment.
When I’m upset after we have had sex, I get “You told me to do it, I don’t know why you are so upset”. I can go on and on. So as a Christian women do I just keep taking it and keep the smile on my face pretending everything is ok when it is killing me inside? And just a side note, I am not a feminist, I am very biblical when it comes to God’s way, and not being in this world but of this world. So I do get what you are saying about not denying your husband of sex.
But what do you do when it has turned into what yes I would call rape?
Coward Behind the Screen responded:
…Aside from his physically harming her by forcing himself upon her no he is NOT abusing his wife from a Biblical perspective. Even if he did physically force himself upon her – it is IMPOSSIBLE Biblically speaking for a man to rape his wife. Abuse? Yes. Rape? No. For a larger discussion of the Biblical impossibility of marital rape I refer you again to my post “Is a husband selfish for having sex with his wife when she is not in the mood”.
If he convinces her to yield her body to him, then no sin has been committed on his part. But it is very possible that even if she yields to him – there is still sin on her part. If she acts disgusted by him and acts like he has no right to have sex with her – then the sin lies squarely in her court. She needs to eliminate the terms “rape” and “molester” from her vocabulary regarding her husband’s sexual advances toward her…
…Perhaps if Christian wives in the situation described in this story would go to God and ask him to remove all bitterness in their hearts, submit themselves spiritually, mentally and sexually to their husband’s with a right heart they may have a chance of bringing their husband’s to Christ and as a result of that God can do wonderful things with their marriage…
…I have shown here that Biblically speaking this woman’s husband was not raping her. Did he sin in other ways? Yes. Is it possible for a husband to abuse his wife? Yes. Is it possible for him to rape and molest his wife? From a Biblical perspective the answer is NO. Christian wives must eliminate the terms “rape” and “molester” from their vocabulary were it references their relationship with their husband.
Anyone with a modicum of reason, decency, and respect for women should be outraged ove this man’s defense of marital rape. How can anyone defend such a belief? Simple, it’s in the Bible. Our 21st century view of sexuality, marriage, women, and family is very different from what is taught in the inspired, inerrant Evangelical Bible. Evangelicals like Coward Behind the Screen think the Bible is a timeless, perfect book, words from the very mouth of God. If the Bible says a wife is to submit to her husband, then she must have sex whenever he wants it. To not do so is a sin, a violation of the teachings of the Bible.I wish I could say Coward Behind the Screen is an outlier and his beliefs are his alone. Unfortunately, they are not. Within the patriarchal movement, such beliefs are common. After all, it is in the B-i-b-l-e:
Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.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 7:1-5)
According to the Evangelical interpretation of this passage:
- A single man should not touch a woman. There is debate within Evangelicalism over what “not touch” actually means. Some, like those in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement take it to mean that a single man should have NO physical contact with a woman before marriage. Others, allow some physical contact like hand holding or a brief good night kiss. Both think any physical contact that arouse sexual passion is a sin.
- If a man and a woman find themselves tempted to commit fornication, then they should get married. In verse nine of the same chapter, Paul writes “But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” Again, there is some debate over the word “burn.” Does it mean burn with unrequited lust or does it mean burn in hell?
- Once married, the woman is to have sex with her husband when he asks for it. The only time when it is OK for her to say NO is when, with the consent of her husband, she withholds sex so she can devote herself to fasting and prayer. Once the woman is done fasting and praying, she must return to putting out when her husbands demands it.
Remember, this passage must be read with a patriarchal filter. The man is the head of the home. He is commanded by God to lead his family and wife in the way of the Lord, and that includes reminding his wife that she is to submit to him as unto the Lord. Never mind that, supposedly, Jesus was single, never married, and never even had a wet dream. Even Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 argues that it is better for people not to marry, that marriage is not the preferred way of living. Why? Because when a couple marries:
But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.(1 Corinthians 7:32-38)
Paul seems to say that marriage is a concession to the sexual weakness of Christian men. Since the horn dogs can’t contain themselves, they need to marry so they can have sex whenever they want to. And since the Old Testament law is no longer in force, the prohibition of sex during menstruation no longer applies. The wife is expected to have sex whenever her husband wants it, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
As long as the Bible is considered the inerrant, inspired Word of God, there are going to men like Coward Behind the Screen. Some of them will be pastors and evangelists who will use the power of the pulpit to shame women into conformity and submission. No matter how some within Evangelicalism try to dress up their abhorrent patriarchal beliefs, the fact is they believe woman are the weaker vessel, inferior to men and in need of their care and protection. What’s a little inconvenient, painful sex compared to the awesome spiritual guidance and protection given to you by your spirit-filled, Bible believing horn dog of a husband.
I am sure an offended Evangelical will whine and complain that I am lumping all Evangelicals together. I am. Don’t like it? Change churches. I have no time or use for people who continue to belong to churches and organizations that promote demeaning and subjugating women, all in the name of God and his inspired, inerrant B-i-b-l-e.
Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network member, Bruce Gerencser blogs at The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser He writes from the unique perspective of having been a pastor for many years and having seen it all in churches. His journey out of being a true believer and pastor has been an interesting and informative one.
Bruce Gerencser spent 25 years pastoring Independent Fundamental Baptist, Southern Baptist, and Christian Union churches in Ohio, Michigan, and Texas. Bruce attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. He is a writer and operates The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser blog. Bruce lives in NW Ohio with his wife of 35 years. They have six children, and ten grandchildren.