For years, I showed all the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse. Pull up the list, check them off twice. Over time, I came to believe I must have been abused as a child and just couldn’t remember. It never, ever occurred to me that a man could sexually abuse his wife. In fact, I would’ve said it wasn’t possible. After all– two adults, man and woman, way beyond the age of consent.
This morning, a new comment came in over on the post, Sex in an Abusive Marriage, Part 1. Not surprising, that series gets plenty of traffic. The nice lady who left a comment used the one key word that set the wheels to grinding. Below is a portion of her comment and my response:
“Oh my word! I’m reading my life, at least part of it. To know I’m not the only one is immense! This needs to be discussed in the church.”
I’ve got a few thoughts on the subject–Abuse occurs when there’s an imbalance of power. For instance, an adult cannot have sex with an underage child because the child cannot really say no. The adult holds all the authority and power. Professor and student. Preacher and church member. Boss and employee. The one in the subservient position feels coerced. Its why we have laws on the books and the reason people are fired even when the victim is an adult.
In marriage, people say you cannot be sexually abused. Why? Because you have two adults who can both say no, right?
The *church* is saying that the wife cannot refuse and invoking the authority of scripture and using God’s name to back them up. The church is causing the imbalance of power by teaching a false doctrine of submission. The church creates an atmosphere where sexual abuse can occur and thrive where none should exist in the first place. All that to say, I doubt they’ll be discussing this in churches anytime soon. Instead, they simply deny the reality that women are being sexually abused by their husbands.
The Floor is Open
Goes without saying that this does not apply to every church on the planet. It does, however, apply to many if not most conservative, fundamentalist, and patriarchal variations thereof. Many of us here swallowed these teachings and doctrines whole and suffered accordingly.
So let’s discuss.