Sexual abuse in marriage isn’t just about whether or not your husband rapes you. Marital rape is wrong, and it’s certainly abusive, but there are other, more subtle, forms of sexually abusive mistreatment. It’s wrong for anyone to do things to you, force you to do things with him, or force you to do things to him, that are painful, or humiliating, or that make you spiritually, emotionally, or physically uncomfortable. These actions might be harder to define than rape is, but that makes them no less abusive.
I’m not talking about having differing views of what’s fun or acceptable in the bedroom. There are widely differing views even among Christians about what a husband and wife should, or shouldn’t, engage in as far as sexual play goes, and discussing them isn’t the point of this post. In a good marriage with open communication, those things can be discussed. In an abusive marriage, the abuser—usually but not always the husband—demands his way while disregarding his wife’s feelings.
You are important. What you want matters. Your comfort, belief, and desires should be considered before you are asked to do anything. Your husband has no right to demand anything of you. That’s not submission; that’s abuse. God never commanded the man to force his wife to submit or obey. Submission is something God tells the wife to do; He never commands the husband to make sure she does it. God also tells the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church, to love her as he loves his own body. If a husband is doing this—if the wife has absolutely no doubt whatsoever that her husband loves her, and will protect her heart, her mind, and her body—it becomes much easier to submit to him. A wife gives submission in response to her husband’s love. If a man loves his wife, he won’t even consider asking her to do something that makes her uncomfortable. He certainly won’t demand it of her.
Sexual abuse, in any shape, form, or fashion, is a corruption of the gift of sexual intimacy. It is a sin against the wife, and—as all sins are—ultimately a sin 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 an effort to control and dominate in order to satisfy their own twisted vile lustful desires. Such a man is depraved.