I am honored and blown away to have the opportunity to write a guest post for Ezer Rising. Ezer Rising is an amazing community of people advocating and creating space for equality of women and men in church, marriage, relationships, family, and society. Check them out on Facebook and on Twitter @EzerRising.
Your Husband Doesn't Have a Right to Sex
TW: Marital rape, domestic violence
After almost getting a divorce in the first year of my marriage, and then deciding to do marriage “God’s way,” I was desperate to learn everything I could about God’s plan for my marriage. I wandered to the vortex of the “good Christian wife” corner of the internet. I learned about homemaking, peacekeeping, submitting, cooking, mothering, keeping my husband happy both in and out of the bedroom, and how to idolize the “Proverbs 31 Woman.” Of course, most of what I learned was a grave twisting of Scripture. But the greatest perversion I learned was that wives must never say, “No” to sex with their husbands. It doesn’t matter the reason—suck it up, and get into it. This horrible, destructive, false teaching warps 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 into a mandate leading to shaming, blaming, and raping women. No, your husband doesn’t have the “right” to have sex with you whenever he wants, despite what some Christian teachers want you to believe.
I am one of the lucky ones, who even though I believed the people who said it was my responsibility to have sex with my husband whenever he wants it, my husband never pressured me into it. And I mostly didn’t force myself to do it if I didn’t want to—I just felt horribly guilty and shameful about it. That lie wreaked havoc on our sex life. A thick layer of shame coated everything related to sex for me. Shame about my past premarital sexual sins. Shame that I wasn’t emotionally or physically available every time my husband made a move. Shame that I was being disobedient to God and a terrible wife. Do you know what shame and pressure do to a person’s sex drive? They kill it. The more we didn’t have sex, the more shame and pressure I felt. The more shame and pressure I felt, the less I wanted to have sex, and then the more shame and pressure I felt (pressure from myself and the lies I believed) – around and around it went for years.
We just celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary, and it’s only been in the last year or two that I’ve begun to gain a healthy understanding of sex in marriage. And let me tell you, releasing the guilt, shame, and pressure is making a world of difference!
Beyond shaming women, this terrible lie leads to blaming women for their husband’s sexual sins. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard women blamed for their husband’s affair or pornography addiction. If only she would have been more available … if only she would have done that thing he wanted to do in the bedroom … if only she’d taken better care of her body, then he wouldn’t have watched porn or cheated on her. If you are a woman whose husband was unfaithful to you either by sexual contact with another person or with a screen, please hear me: It is NOT your fault.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911. If you have been sexually assaulted or raped you can get help by calling 1-800-656-4673 or texting HOME to 741741.