Sexual abuse in marriage is not something that the church has, overall, been willing to talk about. It is hard to discuss simply because of what it is. It’s embarrassing. It’s awkward. We’re rightly uncomfortable talking to others about their sexual lives, and we are rightly hesitant to share the details of our own lives. That’s as it should be. But sexual abuse in marriage is a sin and, as such, it needs to be addressed. But how do we do so without causing more pain? Or without venturing into territory we have no right to go into? Even those intimately affected by sexual abuse in their marriage frequently don’t want to admit it. It’s humiliating and shameful to have to admit that your husband uses your body to fulfill his most base and vile desires—sometimes even against your will. It’s hard to even admit that to yourself, let alone to anyone else. This is especially true if the sexual abuse has gone very far.
But there are things that need to be said. Sexual abuse in marriage needs to be discussed. Some woman somewhere, perhaps even within your church, is hurting right this very moment because the man who stood before God and man and promised to love and cherish her has instead been using her to satisfy his most base desires. This is wrong. This is sin.
Sexual abuse in marriage isn’t just about whether or not a man rapes his wife. Marital rape is wrong, and it’s most certainly abusive, but there are other forms of sexually abusive mistreatment that are often overlooked. It’s wrong for a man to do, say, or force participation in, activities that are vile, disgusting, painful, and humiliating. It’s wrong for him to force his wife to engage in sexual activities that she doesn’t want to engage in. It’s wrong of him to force her to do, view, say, or participate in things that are designed to arouse his sexually but that make her spiritually, emotionally, sexually, or physically uncomfortable. Some examples of these kinds of activities might be stripping her against her will, dripping melted wax on her bare skin, calling her sexual or vulgar names, forcing her to watch or view pornography, trying to recreate pornographic images he’s viewed, forcing her to do chores, etc., while in a state of undress or while dressed in a way he insists upon with the idea of getting sexually aroused by her state of undress.
Sexual abuse, like any abuse, is always about an abuser gaining and maintaining control and domination over his victim. Sexual abuse, in any shape, form, or fashion, is a corruption of the gift of sexual intimacy. A man who engages in these activities is sinning against his wife, and, ultimately, against God. Sexual abuse in marriage isn’t about love. It’s not about romance. It’s about one partner inflicting pain and humiliation on the other in order to satisfy their own twisted vile lustful desires. Such a man is depraved.