Barrington H. Brennen, MA, NCP
Marriage and Family Therapist
Nationally Certified Psychologist
Ordained Minister of the Gospel
just want to remind everyone that rape is not sex. Rape is violence and
violence is a crime. Why is that so difficult to understand? Rape is
forced, unwanted sexual intercourse. It is a misuse of power and control.
Rape is also called sexual assault. Rape can also be defined as any action
or behavior that violates another sexually even when sexual intercourse is
myriad of responses to the proposed Amendment to the Sexual Offenses Act to
include marital rape has revealed to me that too many either refuse to
understand and accept that martial rape actually occurs in our country or
are being misguided by so-called spiritual leaders that a husband cannot
rape his wife. This misguidance is creating a toxic faith that gives a bad
name to Christianity. This kind of spiritual or religious abuse is prevalent
in our country.
Why is it so difficult to understand that many of the laws we have inherited
from the colonial days are not based on biblical teachings of equality of
the genders but on the unscriptural notion that women are the property of
men? An example of this is the description of marriage found on the legal
books of some countries more than 150 years ago which read: “The husband and
wife are one and that one is the husband.”
Sin has really messed us up. Christ came to level the playing field that was
made uneven by sin. However, many still want to keep the playing field rough
or as an uneven terrain so difficult that only certain people (men) can
maneuver or climb. Too many are uncomfortable with the “smooth surface” for
all to walk on.
Christ died and was resurrected so that both men and women can stand, on the
“smooth surface,” at the foot of the cross, together, side by side, shoulder
to shoulder, looking up with equally dependant eyes to a loving, caring, and
merciful savior. This is what it’s all about. It is not about sex. It is not
about marriage. It is about equality and accepting that God created both men
and women to have “dominion” or power of the earth and not over each other.
I am proposing that if we understood and accepted fully gender equality as a
God-given right for all, there would be no debate on the proposed marital
rape law. On the other hand, we need the law to protect everyone from those
who refuse to treat others with respect and love.
Understood correctly, Christianity is the only faith in the world that
teaches that both men and women have equal voice, vote, and power.
Ironically, it is the religion that has done more damage and waged more pain
on its people than any other faith. Today, this is evident in our debates
about the proposed amendment to the Sexual Offenses Act.
Why is it so difficult to believe the stories of real pain and misery
experienced by so many wives in our country? Why is it so difficult to
accept that many of the mental health professionals (including myself) and
sometimes pastors, often listen to the painful stories of wives who have
been raped by their husband? We see the tears. We see the wounds and
sometimes life-long emotional scares. Many of the raped wives have been
laughed at by (some) police, family members, friends and spiritual leaders.
Are the tears not enough? Are the visible scars insufficient evidence to
convince you of the reality of this most painful violent act — marital
rape? What is it going to take to convince you?
I’ve seen the tears as they flowed down the saddened cheeks of countless
women who felt trapped and confused. I’ve heard the wailing, painful cries
of many women whose husbands treated them like trash and mere sex objects.
The sad part is that many men have been educated and socialized to believe
that women are to be used, hence they are not aware of their own abusive
behavior. How sad!
BEGINNING OF THE LIBERATION
About 150 years ago, on
July 19, 1848, a political and social movement was born. Three hundred
persons, including 40 men traveled by horse-drawn wagons and by foot, from
up to 50 miles away, to Seneca Falls, New York, to protest the legal bondage
of American women and to demand full equality. It was the first women’s
right convention to demand greater civil liberties for women, including the
right to vote and to get an education.
came together to rewrite the United States constitution and to sign the
Declaration of Sentiments which proclaimed that all men and women were
created equal. During this occasion the Declaration of Sentiments presented
a list of evils against women. Here are a few of the facts stated in the
Declaration of Sentiments 150 years ago. (Elizabeth Cady Stanton speech on
July 19, 1848
He has compelled her to submit to laws in the formation of which she had
He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and
degraded men — both native and foreigners.
He has made her, if married, in the eyes of the law, civily dead.
He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education —
all colleges being closed to her.
He allows her in church as well as state, but in a subordinate position,
claiming apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and
with some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of
These statements revealed 150 years ago how women were treated.
Unfortunately today we are still dealing with the residue of such sentiments
and practices. They seem to be embedded in our psyche. The one institution
that should be able to solve this dilemma, the church, is at the heart of
the problem of wife abuse is one of evil, the church can no longer avoid
taking sides. A love which intends to be effective in terms of God’s kingdom
cannot avoid taking sides,” says theologian Jose Bonino. “In fact the church
will be in collusion with evil if it does not stand on the side of the
victim. Only when it becomes an advocate for the oppressed can it fulfill
its prophetic role.” — Alsdurf.
Three of the most shocking statements I’ve heard by those who oppose the
proposed marital rape law are “my husband can take it whenever he wants;”
“The Bible says my wife’s body belongs to me so she must never refuse me;”
and “a husband cannot rape himself.” All of these statements are based on a
false concept of the value of women and a misinterpretation of scripture.
When a husband says in his defense against the proposed marital rape law
that “the Bible says my wife’s body belongs to me so she must never refuse
me” he is giving a number of negative messages. First, that his wife has no
control over her body and that she is the property of her husband. Second,
the sex drive is the dictator to one’s behavior and not reason. Third, that
his opinions and feelings are always more important that those of his
When a wife says “my husband can take it whenever he wants” suggests that
she has been mesmerized and duped in the teaching that she is only a piece
of property. And also she has not been painfully raped by her husband.
When a husband in his defense against the proposed marital rape law says a
husband cannot rape himself, he is misunderstanding the meaning of oneness
in marriage. He is suggesting that the “one flesh” in marriage takes away
the identity of a woman. He forgets that there could only be a marriage when
there are two distinct individuals. He forgets that a loving marriage can
only exist when the two individuals remain distinct and unique. That’s the
only way there can be reciprocal love. If the wife becomes non-existent
after the marriage vows then the relationship becomes akin to a slave and a
SHE CRIES RAPE
When a wife charges her husband with rape, it is usually after many years of
abuse and feelings of hopelessness. If it is the first time he raped her,
the rape is often at the end of many years of emotional, psychological and
sometimes other kinds of physical abuse and intimidation. Remember that rape
is not sex. It is violence.
Husbands, if you are so enthralled by sex that you cannot understand or
observe and appreciate your wife’s own pain and discontentment in the
marriage then you are acting like an animal without reason — only instinct.
Several years ago one of my father’s female dogs died. Why did she die?
One day when she was “on heat” more than a dozen dogs came around after
being attracted by the scent she was giving off. They all lined up for their
chance and one by one she obediently allowed each one to climb on and “mate”
her. It was as though they were acting like robots, animals with no brains.
At the end of the day she was so exhausted and weak that she died. My father
buried her with no funeral rituals. Too many of our men (sometimes women)
are acting like these dogs — men who are “on heat” — men who are not
allowing reason to guide them, but hormones and unguarded passions instead.
Martial rape is real. Let’s put and end to it. Men, let’s control ourselves.
Let’s stop acting and thinking of our wives as sexual property. Let’s love
them with a passionate, Godly love, that elevates and does not destroy.
Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your question or comments
to P.O. Box 13019 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit
www.soencouragement.org or call 1242 323 8772