Religion

Does Marriage Mean Never Saying “No”?

Lest you think that the Bahamas are nothing more than a vacation paradise, check out the news that some Bahamians are protesting a proposed bill that would outlaw marital rape.

The first depressing aspect of this is the fact that they feel it necessary to distinguish between rape in a marriage and rape outside of a marriage. Forcing a person to have sex should be illegal whether you’re married or not. Agreeing to marry someone does not give that person unchecked access to your body.

The second depressing aspect of this is that the opposition quoted by the Bahama Journal all base their arguments on their unsubstantiated religious belief that women become the property of their husbands. Here’s one example, courtesy of a woman:

“I disagree with the bill because I disagree that a man can rape his wife. The Bible tells me that a man’s body is his wife’s and her body is his. How could he rape her?” asked Ms. Sweeting.

I’ve attended many religious wedding ceremonies, and quite a few of them included vows similar to these, in which the man promises to “love, guide, and protect [the woman] as Christ does His Church” while the woman’s corresponding vow is this:

I will love, serve, and obey you as long as we both are alive. Christ told us that the wife must submit herself unto her own husband as unto the Lord. For as Christ is Head of His Church so is the husband head of his wife. _____, I submit myself to you.

I’ve seen many otherwise rational women agree to this before hundreds of loved ones, possibly without understanding what it means when taken to its logical conclusion: she agrees to be her husband’s property, and to worship him. He, in turn, decides what it means to love, guide, and protect her.

These vows are taken directly from the Bible in Ephesians 5:22:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

This is followed by a request that the husband love his wife, yet still the message is clear: it’s up to him to do with her as he sees fit. If he wants sexual intercourse and decides that it falls within the framework of “love,” she literally must submit to everything he wants.

Here’s another passage from 1 Corinthians 7:1-5:

The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

At least this one is more balanced: neither the husband nor the wife gets any say (though this is more about not cheating on your partner than whether or not you’re in the mood for sex).

These passages demonstrate the Bible’s disturbing habit of demanding certain behaviors of men and women in marriages instead of encouraging communication.* How much nicer would the world be today if millions of Christians followed a book that read, “If your partner’s not in the mood, grab a dirty magazine and get thee to the downstairs bathroom,” or “Hey, even if you’re not really in the mood, maybe your partner would appreciate a little attention tonight?” Oh, and maybe one other passage reading, “Hey everybody, FYI: no one’s going to hell because of the gender or race of the person you love.”

I imagine that all this is treated by more liberal Christians as just a few of those Biblical suggestions that aren’t meant to be taken so literally. Sadly, the Christians of The Bahamas are proving that no Bible verse is too barbaric not to believe.

Hat tip to Pharyngula.

*This part originally read “These passages demonstrate a disturbing trend of demanding certain behaviors of men and women in marriages instead of encouraging communication.” I edited it to be clearer that I actually meant the Bible.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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170 Comments

  1. I thought I saw a passage in the Bible that went something like this:

    And, lo, Abraham looked upon his wife, and his servants, and saw none whom he could know. Abraham, being a manof the Lord, took not his knowledge by force, but slay an unclean pig. Abraham rejoiced as with the pig, Abraham knew himself

  2. I work at a domestic violence/rape crisis center smack in the middle of the Bible Belt, Spartanburg South Carolina.

    This attitude is rampant in this area as well. I deal with clients every day that not only have their husbands telling them this, but also their PASTORS!!!

    I often have to bite my tongue, and remember that it is not about me or my beliefs when working with clients. However, this “brand” of Christianity clearly supports violence against women.

    Side note. One of my co-workers was a victim of domestic violence from her husband for 20 years. He was a minister. She only left him when he cheated on her, because the Bible allows divorce in cases of adultery, but not abuse.

  3. This whole Bahama’s thing is revolting. It must be yet another in the seemingly endless series of final gasps of a dying ideology, i.e., religion and religion-based marriage.

    However:

    These passages demonstrate a disturbing trend of demanding certain behaviors of men and women in marriages instead of encouraging communication.

    Is not the trend actually the reverse?

    Don’t most of these church-based marriage vows have their origins in the past, often the very distant past? And have not even many religion-based marriage vows and ceremonies lightened up over the last couple of generations?

    Is it not further true, what with gay marriage on the ascendance and other forms of “non-traditional” marriage also on the ascendence, that in fact the trend is toward something less formal, more equal, less behaviour-restrictive, more communication-positive?

    The religious right in these its failing days has been garnering so much press, and so much public notice (at least in America), that surely it is just an appearance of a trend toward conservatism, at least as far as real numbers goes?

  4. @Briarking: How many times do I need to say it? Anything in the hands of evil people can be misused, even a symbol of love and commitment like marriage. A marriage doesn’t have to be like this just because there are disgusting and disturbing assholes like this in the world and getting rid of marriage will not halt spousal abuse. Believing that marriage itself is the problem here is naive and distracts from the real issue that people like this evil toad justify abusing their wives because of their religion.

  5. Between this story and the Afghan one… gah. I don’t even know what to say.

    I know humans will always find new and disgusting ways to mistreat each other, but sometimes I’d like to think we’ll figure it out someday.

    But the denial is hard to do with stuff like this around.

  6. @Briarking: Not all marriages are religious and not all are religion-based. That people use their religion to justify abusing and raping their wives is a condemnation of religion, not of marriage. Marriage may not be appropriate for everyone, and in many cases it is in fact a bad idea, but that is not true in all cases.
    Marriage should be an equal partnership with open communication. It should not be about property and ownership. Religion may instill the latter into marriage, but a secular union need not be religious even if it is termed a “marriage.”

    Don’t like marriage? Don’t get married. Don’t assume your definitions of and assumptions about marriage apply to anyone else.

    That said, for some time in the US too it wasn’t considered possible to rape your wife, though most states have laws correcting this in the last 25 years. A man I know insists to this day, however, that it would be okay for a man to “rape” his wife under NYS law -not that he would EVER do that, of course. He doesn’t use a religious excuse, he just misreads the law. (my reading of the laws, though, is that martial rape is illegal in ALL 50 states)

    disclaimer: New York is the only state that still has a complete marital exemption on the books, but this has been invalidated by the Court of Appeals of New York, which found that there is “no rational basis for distinguishing between marital and nonmarital rape.” People v. Liberta (1984), 64 N.Y.2d 152, 474 N.E.2d 567, 485 N.Y.S.2d 207. )

  7. @Catch22: Even today, there are rights and privileges afforded to married couples which unmarried couples cannot get, or cannot get without a whole lot of hassle. Insurance, inheritance, hospital visitation, medical decisions, custody of children, property rights, etc.
    That, and some people just like ceremony.

  8. Wow, that’s just wrong on so many levels. I highly disagree with that. I don’t see marriage as a way of controlling someone. To me, it’s just papers uniting two people in their State. Relationship wise, it’s really not very different from just living together. Those religious wedding vows are very silly. I know when i get married i’m not going with the traditional religious vows. No one should obey or worship anybody. People should be able to live their lives the way they want to. I think it’s a lot more creative for couples to choose their own vows. It’s also the ultimate way to express what is in your heart. I’m so non-traditional when it comes to marriage. I don’t even want a diamond ring. Another gemstone would do just fine or even just a regular ring with something loving written on it. People need to remember that love is the reason you want to be married in the first place.

  9. @Catch22: Even “Because we love each other and want to spend the rest of our lives with each other.” isn’t a “good enough” answer for you?

    I don’t want to get married myself, but marriage is a very personal thing and people get married for numerous reasons. Taxes, insurance, kids, just ‘cuz they love each other…whatever.

    It seems very silly and illogical to claim no one ever has a “good enough” reason to get married.

  10. Sometimes what is being taught in particular religious groups is much worse than what’s reported in the news. However I would say in most Christian denominations world wide the actual trend is toward a more reasonable and respectful teaching on marriage. It really is only the very conservative denominations that still teach any form of marital subjugation. Most current biblical scholars and teachers are more than willing to pass off those parts of Paul’s statements that are clearly cultural and focus on the mutual self sacrifice parts. It seems to me media headlines really are an inadequate source to understand what a particular religion or denomination is teaching in the same way understanding atheists and secular humanists would be difficult were it based on the frequent misrepresentations of the popular press.

    Also based on statistics I’ve read (in the press) the general societal trend is away from all forms of religion so I’m not sure what the notion of a “disturbing trend” is based on. Until sometime in the past ten years in Brazil a woman still didn’t have the same property rights as a man and wife/spouse beating was generally ignored by authorities. This is no longer the case with property ownership and domestic violence is being addressed in a much more enlightened way. That seems a good trend to me.

  11. Wait a minute, a couple of those quotes indicate that a husband and wife own each other’s bodies. Does that mean that a woman could, say, make her husband get a Hello Kitty face tattoo? His face belongs to her, right, so how could that be wrong?

  12. @Vengeful Harridan (Elexina): I know there are reasons… but being able to put someone on your insurance doesn’t quite seem to justify committing your life to them. Maybe I’m just funny that way. (I’ve never personally had a problem with hospital visitation, but it if there is an instance where I wouldn’t be able to decide who can visit me, it would seem that there is something wrong with the system.)

    @marilove: I misspoke a bit there… I meant more along the lines of a reason why I should get married. I certainly don’t mean that people should have to justify their reasons for marriage to me. If I want to spend the rest of my life with someone, I don’t need to be married to do it.

  13. (sigh. Shakes head)

    Damn. Some days I really despair for the human race. Who the Hell would have thought that the notion that “marriage = the woman’s slavery down to the point of allowing herself to be raped by her partner” would still be thought of as somehow reasonable in the 21st century? :-(

  14. Anyway, really, my personal views on marriage are totally off track here. The whole concept of ownership of and submission to another person that some people feel comes with being married is what really disgusts me. I can’t imagine going through life thinking “god” expects me to submit to someone else.

    (And yes, I know that is not the expectation in all marriages!)

  15. @Catch22: “I know there are reasons… but being able to put someone on your insurance doesn’t quite seem to justify committing your life to them”

    Er, why not? Some people want to commit to each other for life. Why does that need to be “justified”?

    “(I’ve never personally had a problem with hospital visitation, but it if there is an instance where I wouldn’t be able to decide who can visit me, it would seem that there is something wrong with the system.) ”

    Lucky you. What if you CAN’T decide who can visit you? What if you are in a coma?

    Go talk to a some people who can’t visit their gay partners in the hospital. It’s not exactly small potatoes.

  16. It seems to me that marriage is outmoded on the whole. It carries too much baggage from prior times (prior times in which some people, sadly, still reside) to be usefull as a concept in any sort of modern, rational society. We need a new thing.

    I don’t know what that thing is, but I support it involving the ritual purchasing of a puppy.

  17. Sara and I were talking about this sort of thing just the other night, in the context of young girls in the Middle East who are married off early to older men. Is it still rape if the woman agrees that she should submit to her husband? We decided that it is. If you are forced into having sex that you don’t want to have, what difference does it make whether you’re threatened with physical violence or with eternal hellfire?

    “Hey everybody, FYI: no one’s going to hell because of the gender or race of the person you love.”

    So essentially you’re asking for the Bible as written by Guitar Wolf?

  18. I’m surprised no one has written a bible in the way Rebecca was saying…

    “If doth man giveth much respect and kindness, perhaps doth woman open her mind to giveth some love-eth.”

    Anyways, yeah. Men owning women is horrid, and continues in the minds of many men (and sadly women) here in America too.

  19. @Vengeful Harridan (Elexina):

    That people use their religion to justify abusing and raping their wives is a condemnation of religion, not of marriage.

    Do you think that getting rid of religion would stop the abuse and rape? If religion weren’t there, I think some people would find some other justification.

    @James Fox:

    Yeah, “Christian” is a very vague term and it’s hard to find any common factor among denominations besides “believes that Jesus is the son of God”. I think the overall trend is becoming more reasonable, with some denominations accepting evolution and homosexual members, but there are still pockets of extremely conservative Christians and unfortunately, they tend to be the loudest.

    @Steve:

    Yeah, some of those passages suggest that woman could also rape her husband, but the people who take those verses seriously also tend to be the ones who believe the silly myth that women just don’t like sex. The only time this might come up is if a woman wanted to have more children than her husband, which would require sex from him.

  20. I think any man who uses the Bible as an excuse to force his wife to do anything she doesn’t want should have his penis slammed in-between the Old and New Testaments repeatedly while being told, “Look at what else is in the Bible!”

    Maybe it’s just me…

  21. @Catch22: Who said anything about committing for life? My husband and I pledged to stay together “for so long as long shall last.” And actually, we don’t share insurance because it’s too bloody expensive. But our reasons are our reasons, and I don’t impose them on anyone else. I’m just giving examples. We got married because we damn well wanted to. Luckily, we could. Sadly, too many who want to cannot.

    But you really can’t expect me, or anyone, to come up with reasons why YOU should get married. Maybe YOU shouldn’t. But just because you can’t see a valid reason to get married yourself doesn’t mean no one else has valid reasons for their own selves.

    @catgirl: Do you think that getting rid of religion would stop the abuse and rape? If religion weren’t there, I think some people would find some other justification. No, of course not. That’s certainly not what I said at all.

    It just sickens me that people use their “kind and compassionate” religion as an excuse to commit atrocities, rather than simply treat each other decently. We need to address ANY mentality that implies it is okay to rape or abuse anyone, whether religiously motivated or not, whether in the marriage context or not.

  22. @SKrap:

    I think that all people should have civil unions, gay or straight. The government will grant rights to couples (and possibly larger groups) based on a secular laws which would be fairly similar to what we already have. Each religious group (or any group) can have whatever kind of marriages they want, but laws would still apply. For example, some church could marry a man to his dog, but that marriage would have to be unconsummated because of bestiality laws. If people want to include religious things in their marriage vows, they would be free to do so, but none of that would be enforceable by law. It would also make it more clear to dumb or willfully ignorant people that their churches don’t have to honor any partnership that they disagree with, even if the state recognizes it. I think we should have civil unions for everyone and the state should just stay out of marriage completely.

  23. Maybe we do need a new thing. Maybe state-recognized unions should be completely separate from religious marriages, the way it is in some other countries. Maybe the rights and privileges I mentioned before should not be limited to those in marriages but allowed to committed unmarried partners. In some states, they are, but then you have to carry your notarized paperwork with you where ever you go. Imagine not being allowed to make end-of-life decisions for or even see your loved one in his/her last moments simply because you brought the wrong purse…

    Maybe things need to change. Or maybe people can just get over their preconceived backward notions and treat each other decently, married or not. Maybe marriage isn’t right for you. Maybe it wasn’t necessary for me. But, at the time, it made sense. And it continues to, so we continue to be married. I wouldn’t judge anyone for not getting married anymore than I would judge anyone for getting married for the right reasons. It’s people who get married for the wrong reasons that need some adjustment, not those of us who married out of love and commitment.

  24. @catgirl: “Do you think that getting rid of religion would stop the abuse and rape? If religion weren’t there, I think some people would find some other justification.”

    I think one problem is that religion and religious texts actually spell out the justification. Like, it’s right there. “Look! GOD SAID IT!”

  25. @MiddleMan: I tend to agree with both you and Kimbo Jones. Kimbo: Marriage or not is you and your spouse’s decision. End of discussion. ;-)

    Considering that these days many churches will allow you to write or modify your wedding vows, it’s kind of a non-issue in a way. The churches that won’t let you do that tend to be the ones that would tell a couple that verse must be followed that literally anyway.

    I think Catch-22 has the thought backwards. The “committing” part comes first. The insurance and all the rest follow from the original committment to the other person. Remember that in our society, that committment has legal ramifications.

    Personally, I don’t agree at all that the word “committment” implies total control of someone down to their body. That would imply that you could physically harm or kill your spouse and walk away. Uh uh. Not in any world I’d want to live in.

    As far as the Western concept of marriage goes, regular readers know that I have some serious doubts about the “one size fits all” concept that marriage has to be the way our culture currently accepts and enforces it.

    I really don’t care if some people want to have a gay marriage, “plural marriage,” polygamy, polyandry, polyamory or whatever the Hell you call it, provided the law allows that the property and children’s issues of the family are taken care of fairly and equitably for all members. (This caveat is for the benefit of society as a whole.) I don’t see how allowing that harms anyone but the religulous folks. No one says they have to to it.

    @marilove: I fully support the idea that (given advance directives in writing), anyone should be able to visit anyone in the hospital without interference, no matter their relationship. If I put on legal paper in advance that I want my mate, my relatives or Dilbert access to me in the hospital, then it’s no one else’s damned business.

  26. @marilove:

    The majority of Christians (at least in the United States) don’t accept those passages though. And the people who do follow those passages are ignoring other passages. I don’t deny that religion plays a part, but there is certainly something more than that. There are also plenty of non-religious people who rapists or abusers. It just seems to me that some people use religion as scapegoat for everything (but I haven’t seen it much on this site), but these issues are so much more complex.

  27. @adjective: If and when I ever get married, I don’t know how willing I would be not to be able to write my own vows…. I agree. A wedding ceremony isn’t “one size fits all.” I wrote our vows for our ceremony, word for word. No “obey,” no “commit,” no “god,” no “’til death.” Just good old love and trust. We wouldn’t have accepted anything different. If we couldn’t have had the wedding and reception and vows that we wanted, we wouldn’t have gotten married. Anyone who DOES get married should certainly make sure to do it on their own terms.

  28. @catgirl: It’s not scapegoating to point out that *in this case* that vile man is using religion to justify his position. It’s perfectly reasonable to point that out.

    @Vengeful Harridan (Elexina): “Maybe state-recognized unions should be completely separate from religious marriages, the way it is in some other countries.”

    Then I worry about what that would mean, legally. And what people can justify and get away with.

  29. Sickening, but not surprising. When Amanda and I filled out our marriage registration, we found out that Alberta has an optional box at the end of the marriage registration form where the wife can decline property rights to her own body.

  30. @marilove: I wasn’t talking about “some people,” I was talking about a specific person. Me. I didn’t make that clear enough at the beginning, I tried to clarify in #20, and apparently did a poor job of it. Obviously no one needs to justify shit to me.

    I also never said hospital visitation wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t want to get into it because I don’t have any personal experience with it, so I don’t really know how it works. If at some point (say, before I’m in the coma) I can’t specify who can visit, regardless of marital status, then I have a problem with the system. Seems like a problem that should be fixed with a living will or something instead of being expected to be married to every person you’d like authorized to visit you. That’s all.

    @Vengeful Harridan (Elexina): I should have been more explicit when I said it later in #20, but I was specifically talking about myself. I was not asking anyone here for reasons for anything. I certainly never said that no one else has valid reasons for getting married.

  31. @Catch22: You don’t see reasons to get married, yourself. I get that. I think you made it clear. No problem. I think we’re just trying to point out that there ARE valid reasons. Maybe the whole system needs an overhaul, sure. But I’m not going to put myself in jeopardy in the meantime when I feel it makes sense for me to be married, now in this moment. Maybe we’ll get divorced if the laws change. Who knows?

  32. @catgirl: But you can’t ignore that religion is seeped in misogyny and that it excuses a LOT of behavior. I know an awful lot of people who use religion as a reason for their sexist and racist behavior.

    “The majority of Christians (at least in the United States) don’t accept those passages though.”

    That just doesn’t seem true. Mainstream religion is still very much based on the bible which is very much seeped in misogyny.

  33. @Catch22: “Seems like a problem that should be fixed with a living will or something instead of being expected to be married to every person you’d like authorized to visit you. That’s all.”

    And I think you can do that now (create a living will). Not sure how each state differns in regard to law.

    HOWEVER, not everyone makes wills, and we do still need a default “this is who can visit and this is who cannot visit” for those cases. Right now, it’s immediate family members which includes spouses. This seems logical and fair, as long as someone is still able to make a will that can specify exactly whom can and cannot visit them.

    Now, many gay couples cannot visit their loved ones because they aren’t considered “immediate family” under the law, and that’s wrong. That’s part of the system that needs to be changed, and that includes allowing gay people to marry, among other things.

  34. @russellsugden: “When secularists marry they are lending legitimacy to the wife-as-property “ideal””

    Really??? Even when secularists marry under THEIR terms? Not in a church? The woman doesn’t take the man’s name? They don’t have children? They marry a same sex partner?

    Seems to me one of the best ways to change a problematic institution is to, well, change it by going against the so-called “rules” and doing what YOU feel is best for YOUR marriage, and not just giving it up completely. That would be leaving it only to the assholes.

  35. @Catch22: I wasn’t talking about “some people,” I was talking about a specific person. Me.

    ———–

    Here’s what happened: Briarking opined that marriage is bad. In general. For everyone.

    You responded that you were intrigued by his ideas and wanted to subscribe to his newsletter.

    Other people thought you might be interested in the general topic of whether marriage is bad.

    As to what is easier, better, whatever… marriage can be viewed as having two components, legal and social.

    If you are in a situation (if you have children, want children, wish to buy a house with your partner, etc) where it makes sense, legally, to get married, than that is a good reason to do so. To say that society would be better and more convenient with different laws is merely to express a tautology, not to address whether the current legal structure affords good reasons to get married.

    The social component can be viewed similarly. If you are in a situation where it makes sense to you to declare your commitment to another person in front of witnesses, it makes sense to do so. For example, if you want to raise children with another person, a marriage is an opportunity for the families to get together and celebrate that tiny shout against mortality. There are of course other reasons.

    If none of these things, or any other reasons to marry apply to you, don’t do it. But it is hard to imagine why your own personal situation would motivate you to subscribe to a newsletter about the general evil of marriage.

  36. @russellsugden: When secularists marry they are lending legitmacy to the wife-as-property “ideal”

    ———-

    That’s an interesting declarative statement. Here is one that is equally as valid and true, based on your evidence and reasoning:

    “When secularists marry they are taking the idea of property and ownership out of the institution of marriage, to the benefit of everyone.”

  37. @marilove:
    Yes. An institution that retains it original name can only be reformed up to a point. No matter how equitable the marriage, by being so called, it is grouped together with the most offensive form with that same name (and can be used as conveient cover for those who would retain the worst aspects of the worst type).

    The institutions which should and could be reformed are the legal restrictions and taxes breaks that, for some in some countries (not the UK) make marriage more palitable.

    Also (in response to your earlier post) do you think mysogenists are attracted to religion or do you think religion turns men (and women) into mysogenists?

    I’m in the religion-creates-mysogeny camp.

    Also, its not just the bible. Pretty much all ancient writing is steeped in mysogeny, it was just the culture that exsisted back then.

    Even as recently as the 19th Century writers were mysogenist as standard. Even Schopenhauer (an atheist) wrote that women were like children.

    Essentially the whole “Romantic” view of marriage (as opposed to the “Property Deal” view) is a recent development of the last 200-150 years, designed to make what is a terrible deal more palitable to women. As the position of women has improved the “Romance” of marriage has increased in direct proportion.

  38. Obviously you fine commenters can discuss what you’d like, but might I suggest that we focus on the fact that people are giving the thumbs up to RAPE in the Bahamas? The “marriage is evil” argument was had last month and promises to be just as boring this month.

  39. My question.. what kind of Incompetent lady clubbers are they if the only way they can get their own wives to sleep with them is through rape?

    I still don’t get why secular countries even need the Marriage structure It’d solve so much if government got out of the marriage game and just created a legal structure for domestic partnership contracts, leave the meaning stuff up to the individual (or their favorite wholesale bunk philosophy shop), and all standard laws apply.

  40. @russellsugden: I’m in the both camp. There are plenty of atheists who are misogynists. You don’t need religion to treat women like property. I think religion can and does create some misogynists, but I also think the majority of misogynists would be that way anyway, but religion gives them a great justification/reason. I also think it tends to be a breeding ground for a misogynist culture. But there are still plenty of people who don’t need religion to treat women like property.

  41. By the first bit I mean, considering she married you, how pathetic are you that you have to go strait to rape.. what about plant genitals? Non-narcotic derivatives of the Cocoa plant? Putting up with her family for an hour? All things likely to get you sex with a little timing, and in the right ratios.

  42. @russellsugden: No matter how equitable the marriage, by being so called, it is grouped together with the most offensive form with that same name (and can be used as conveient cover for those who would retain the worst aspects of the worst type).

    ——–

    Damn right. In fact, I think that physicists should stop using the word “quantum” in order to avoid being confused with Deepak Chopra.

  43. @marilove:

    But you can’t ignore that religion is seeped in misogyny and that it excuses a LOT of behavior.

    I’m not ignoring it. Recognizing that there are other factors doesn’t mean I’m ignoring this one.

    That just doesn’t seem true. Mainstream religion is still very much based on the bible which is very much seeped in misogyny.

    OK, I don’t have any statistics so I don’t know if it’s the majority, but at least a fair amount of Christians don’t think that wives should obey their husbands. I grew up in a involved in my church and I only met one person ever that said women should obey their husbands, and that woman was an outlier in my church. Even that most extreme woman did not approve of marital rape. It might be tempting to say that these more reasonable Christians don’t really count, but they are as devout as any wingnut. My point is that since some people can use the exact same Bible and still not approve of marital rape, there must be an additional factor besides just religion (although religion certainly plays a part). There’s something different between these two groups that both identify themselves as Christians.

  44. @catgirl:

    You can’t ignore the smaller stuff, either. Like this:

    http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/clearly_the_culture_war_is_not_over/#When:20:29:00

    What’s really distressing about this news – Laura Hamilton, the study’s lead author says that when respondents were asked why they thought women should change their last names, “they told us that women should lose their own identity when they marry and become a part of the man and his family.”

    That train of thought comes from religion.

    I’m sorry, but religion, as a whole, is very misogynist. The bible is seeped in misogyny. The traditions that still go on today are very misogynist.

    Now, individually, changes are being made, and I even know of some great alternative churches, but as a whole, yes, religion and religious texts are very misogynist and just because your particular friends don’t “believe those particular passages” doesn’t mean those passages don’t exist, nor does it mean that plenty of people don’t still believe the bullshit.

    I’ve known WAY too many religious people who DO believe that wives are a man’s property, or at least they believe it up to a point (“He’s the man of the house, he makes the big decisions!”) which isn’t much better.

  45. @catgirl: I think where I was misunderstanding you before is that you are defending so-called “moderate” Christians, but no one here was really saying anything bad about them (that I saw). Religion in this case was used as the justification for horrible behaviour, but that’s not the same thing as religion being the cause. What concerns me, is that people sometimes get away with some nasty stuff because of this moral relativist attitude some have developed towards religion (because people in those religions who have wacky beliefs cry “persecution”) even though there should be no circumstance under which anyone can legitimately defend inhumane behaviour.

  46. @capheind:

    It’s a little more complex than just inadequate sexual abilities on the husband’s part. Even in our own, moderate culture, it’s considered shameful for women to have sex or like sex and it’s less shameful or even good for a man to do it. In the places where the wife-property ideology runs the strongest, this double standard is also the strongest. It’s assumed that women don’t like sex, so husbands don’t even bother to try to be good. Beyond that, women have been taught all their lives to be ashamed of sex and their bodies (add on top of that our ridiculous beauty standards) and it’s hard for women to just shake off that shame as soon as they are socially allowed to have sex.

  47. If a woman is expected to submit to sex regardless, there is also the expectation that she will not enjoy it.

    In order for the man to enjoy sex with an unwilling or uninterested partner, he needs to be either complete oblivious to her reactions or derives pleasure from having power over her.

    The second definition falls more closely within the mind set of rape which is more about power and control than sex.

    The first is the definition of a bad marriage. People stay in unsatisfactory marriages for a variety of reasons.

    Judging from the responses, people seem to be confusing the two. The women seem to be justifying bad sex (as opposed to rape) within marriage by putting a bible bandaid on the situation.

    The lawmakers (and news reports) would be better served by offering a clear definition of exactly what rape within marriage means.

  48. @sethmanapio: “But we all agree that that’s totally fucked up. So what else is there to say?”

    A few interesting points have been brought up, notably on whether religion causes/encourages/excuses/ [other] this kind of misogyny. A discussion of people’s ideas about what marriage is can be interesting. What I find mind-numbingly boring is the definitive statement that because a particular person doesn’t like the way a certain subset of the population believes marriage means, therefore all marriage is evil. That kind of argument is pointlessly divisive and I’m tired of it.

    @Vengeful Harridan (Elexina): That’s exactly how it’s done!

  49. Yes, the whole situation in the Bahamas is indeed very sad. Unfortunately, here in TN, the conservative evangelical culture leads to many a marriage with the woman “obeying” and “submitting” to her husband, and I’m sure many have views on marital rape not all that dissimilar to the Bahamians. I’m so glad my fiancee (a lifelong Tennesseean) is not like that.

  50. @Kimbo Jones:

    Well, the stuff about moderate Christians is only tangentially related to this particular post. But my point is that, while religion is certainly a factor, there are additional factors that contribute to acceptance of marital rape and misogyny in general, and I think those factors are sometimes overlooked in favor of the convenient scapegoat of religion. I completely agree with you about the “moral relativism” nonsense.

  51. @Bookitty: “The lawmakers (and news reports) would be better served by offering a clear definition of exactly what rape within marriage means.

    That’s easy, though. It’s rape if you have sex with someone who does not or cannot consent.

    You can’t really get any clearer than that.

    We can’t argue logically with these people because, well, there’s no logical argument against the definition of rape. Rape is rape is rape. But you can’t argue against someone that says a wife cannot be raped because she cannot say no to sex for any reason.

    Having a clear definition of rape doesn’t help since they honestly believe a wife cannot be raped.

  52. @Bookitty said:

    In order for the man to enjoy sex with an unwilling or uninterested partner, he needs to be either complete oblivious to her reactions or derives pleasure from having power over her.

    This is something that has always, always baffled me. I just do not understand men (or the rare woman) who enjoy in any way, shape, or form having sex with a partner who is not visibly, sonically, and unquestionably not only a willing and active participant, but one who is clearly (and, one would hope, honestly) enjoying the process. Utterly baffling. Masturbation would be so much easier, and probably cheaper. In the same vein, I’ve also never understood men who can manage to “successfully” have sex with prostitutes.

  53. @marilove: Exactly, the issue is that he’s flabbergasted that the law is even being considered because [vapors] “I declare, a married woman simply cannot say ‘no’, so why bother to have a law protecting her? The Bible protects my right to do with her as I please. This law make no sense in the first place and will be mighty inconvenient indeed. Next the women folk will want to vote! Inconceivable!”

  54. @catgirl: And this is exactly why I am undermining my niece’s indoctrination into the “No sex before marriage” cult.

    It’s cruel to tell a young girl that her body is useless for pleasure until it benefits someone she hasn’t even met yet. Worse, it sets up an expectation that her adult life doesn’t begin until marriage. Marriage can be a very fulfilling between two adults but it shouldn’t be the motivating factor. What about college, a job that makes you happy, personal growth, etc etc.

  55. @Rebecca I don’t think that there can really be a blanket statement on if religion causes/excuses/enables sexual violence against women, because it seems like a very situational thing. One one hand, you get your super liberal British-style Anglicans/Catholics like my fiance’s mum where the women wear the pants in the family, everyone knows they wear the pants in the family, and if the word “obey” entered anywhere in the wedding vows, everyone basically knew it was a joke. On the other hand you get the uber scary weird Christian sects like the daughter of one of my coworkers ended marrying in to where the women have to do as they’re told and aren’t allowed to even make eye contact with the men.

    Then it sort of turns into a chicken or egg argument of if religion caused it, or if religion is being used as a justification for what these people would be doing anyway. I think certainly it has an enabling factor, since bad behavior is so much easier when you’ve convinced yourself that’s what the invisible sky daddy wants and expects from you.

    I just have a hard time believing that religion could turn a fresh-faced young feminist guy into a raving misogynist asshole. But stranger things have happened.

    I tend to think it’s more a cultural issue where religion is being used as the excuse and justification. Women were treated like property before and when the Bible was being written…

  56. @marilove:

    C’mon, Marilove. You are missing my point, even if I did not spell it out clearly. I meant, and I honestly thought this would be clear, with prostitutes who are not (as stated in the earlier description) visibly, sonically, and unquestionably not only a willing and active participant, but one who is clearly (and, one would hope, honestly) enjoying the process.

    You see what I mean? It was not in any way at all intended as a slur against prostitutes.

    And yes of course prostitues are women. And I know some prostitues are such by choice; I’ve known a few in my time. More power to them. But they are a small minority. Let’s not digress too much, okay?

  57. [email protected]SicPreFix: Prostitution is pretty much a form of masturbation except that the fantasy aspect is physical instead of mental.

    In Amsterdam, I spoke with a bunch of different guys who had been to or were going to have sex with a prostitute. Since it is legal, open and all dolled up there, it creates a fantasy that women involved are sex-crazed beauties from the planet Nympho. Even when I pointed out that most of the women were probably in it for the money, I was told that “They wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t like sex.” Pointing out that every job gets boring at some point only made them change the subject.

  58. @marilove:

    My point, damn it, is that I do not understand men who enjoy sex with people who are not visibly, sonically, and unquestionably not only a willing and active participant, but one who is clearly (and, one would hope, honestly) enjoying the process.

    Will you please stop turning my words around on their heads and into something they clearly are not and into something which I did not say!

  59. @SicPreFix: But I didn’t put words into your mouth nor did I turn them around. You clearly implied that the majority of prostitutes don’t enjoy their work and therefore you don’t understand why men have sex with prostitutes.

    But it’s way off topic, so it doesn’t matter.

  60. @SicPreFix: Prostitution is sex without strings and without any preliminary courting. To some people, the preliminaries are what make the sex fun and/or meaningful. For some people, it’s just the sex.

    So it makes sense that a guy who appreciates the preliminaries would not like to have sex with a prostitute.

    It also makes sense that some women who just like sex would be prostitutes. Even if the sex wasn’t always great, the lifestyle works for them.

  61. Wow, some people have REALLY got it in for marriage. I suppose it’s an easy conversation scapegoat when you don’t want to talk about rape. I mean, why admonish rape when I could make huge generalizing admonishments of a vague institution, and feel free to assume that everyone who ‘bought into’ said institution did so in order to re-inforce the social-engineering of a)an oppressive government, and then take down the idea that governments should do anything, or b) an outdated church, and even refuse to give a pass to secularists who got married for entirely non-religious reasons? At least we don’t have to talk about FUCKING RAPE!

    This bill, for all it’s talk about church, has nothing to do with the church, religion, the bible, or Christianity. Nothing. This is a remarkably thin veneer to protect a sexist, outdated regime institutionalizing control over half the population. What better way to assure that women stay they nutz out of the workplace then by forcing them to live under constant threat of rape by a loved one?

    Nothing to do with religion. This is about control.

  62. @Some Canadian Skeptic: “At least we don’t have to talk about FUCKING RAPE!”

    You’re quite right, I have been somewhat avoiding the subject. Mainly because of this quote from the article (bold mine):

    “Even if a woman says no to her husband it still can’t be considered rape because she is his wife. He already paid his dues at the church and she already said ‘I do,’ so from then on, even if [a man] forces sex on his wife, it isn’t rape,” he said.

    Jumping christ on a cracker! There is so much wrong with this. The implication that the woman is willingly bought, sold, signed, sealed, and delivered makes me want to puke.

    And what can I do? There are all those small acts – teaching my niece, standing up for women’s rights, donating to the proper causes, speaking my mind. And then what? The world changes?

    Sometimes the frustration of merely talking about it is too overwhelming.

  63. @sethmanapio:

    Did I say it was a bad thing? Please quote me whre I said it was a bad thing.

    Okay, all you pedants. Why don’t we just go with this:

    This is something that has always, always baffled me. I just do not understand men (or the rare woman) who enjoy in any way, shape, or form having sex with a partner who is not visibly, sonically, and unquestionably not only a willing and active participant, but one who is clearly (and, one would hope, honestly) enjoying the process. Utterly baffling. Masturbation would be so much easier, and probably cheaper.

    I made no judgment values, that I am aware of. I simply made a statement regarding behaviour I do not understand. Shame on me for being so think, I guess.

    And let’s accept that SicPreFix made a simply dreadful and evil mistake in including his misunderstanding of some men’s ability to enjoy sex with prostitutes: A Siccian error in anything you want it to be: judgement, fact, opinion, political correctnes, whatever you like.

  64. @Bookitty:

    It also makes sense that some women who just like sex would be prostitutes.</blockquote.

    Why is that men who want sex with no strings would hire prostitutes but women who want sex with no strings would be prostitutes? Wouldn’t it make more sense that women who want NSA sex would hire male prostitutes? I love NSA sex, and that’s why I wouldn’t be a prostitute. I like it that I can choose who I have sex with, and expect them to care about my sexual satisfaction. As you mentioned in your earlier post, doing anything as a career means that your fulfillment is not necessarily the top priority. I mean, I love doing chemistry, but I’d love it even more if I weren’t being paid to do it because then I do whatever experiments I want to do and not what the customers need. I think a bigger question is why there are so few male prostitutes, and fewer still ones that serve female customers. I’m sure there are plenty of people who go to prostitutes just for the sex, but I think there are many cases where there are other reasons, and a big part of it has to do with our society’s double standard on sexual enjoyment and sex-shaming in general.

  65. @docmike:

    …but there is no doubt religion is used widely to justify rape just like it was used to justify slavery and is still used to justify gay bashing.

    So what? Lots of things are used to justify rape (and war, oppression, jailing etc…), but it’s just a rhetorical device, and bears little-to-no relevance to reality, doctrine, or dogma.

    Capitalism was used to justify slavery, and quite frankly, it was a much more compelling argument than the religious one, so does that mean that capitalism is equally bad? (In my mind, yes it does, but that’s another issue, and I may regret adding that in when I don’t need to)

    Do we judge our social institutions on what messed-up people do in their name, or do we judge them for what the institutions themselves do?

    Religion doesn’t cause rape. Religion doesn’t justify rape either. Never has. People use it as a scapegoat when they want to control others.

    If the religion thing won’t work, they’ll change their tone, and it almost always goes to nationalism, and/or capitalism.

  66. On the question of how much blame can be given to religion for making people misogynists, bigots, or just general assholes, I do somewhat sympathize with Sam Harris’s point of view that it matters what you believe. The fact that the bible contains numerous passages directly demeaning women has surely contributed to women’s subjugation throughout history.

    However, the bible also contains many, many things people completely ignore and generally have throughout history, like not eating shellfish and not mixing types of cloth. Clearly, there are no movements to prevent people who eat shellfish from marrying, and no widespread violence against wearers of polyester.

    So in this vein, I agree with Katsudon (and partially with Some Canadian Skeptic):

    @katsudon:

    I tend to think it’s more a cultural issue where religion is being used as the excuse and justification. Women were treated like property before and when the Bible was being written…

    When slavery was popular, it was justified by religion. When the antislavery movement began, religion was used to decry slavery. There’s certainly no clear-cut evidence that I’ve ever seen to show that belief in the supernatural, or the bible, or organized religion is the major cause of these utterly hurtful ideas about women and rape. That being said, religion is certainly being used as one method of culturally transmitting these bad ideas to the next generation, and therefore is still a cause worth fighting against in this regard.

  67. Because being raped by a gay person is so much worse than being raped by a straight person (in the eyes of the religious right).

    Just make up the scenerio that two gay people are married, and then one of them decides to be straight and doesn’t want to have gay sex with their spouse. If marital rape were legal, then the gay spouse could force themselves on the formerly gay spouse. The idea of this would send the religous right in a complete tizzy, so they would be forced to ban rape in marriage.

  68. Actually it might be possible to get a federal ban on rape in marriage. Because gays can legally marry in a few places, if rape in marriage is legal anywhere, that gay couple could move there and if one of them becomes cured of being gay, they still risk being raped by their still gay spouse.

  69. @Bookitty:

    I just don’t see the reasoning behind thinking that a desire for NSA sex would make men hire prostitutes but wouldn’t make women hire male prostitutes, but instead make them become prostitutes. If someone wants good NSA sex, it would make more sense for them, male or female, to hire a prostitute than to become one.

  70. On the topic of whether getting married is somehow subscribing to or furthering religiously-motivated sexism (or other vestiges of a traditional marriage which we can all agree are bad), I agree in part with Sethmanapiao, Kimbo Jones, et al who say that having a secularized marriage is, in fact, a good way to push back against this cultural tradition.

    On the other hand, I think people are being at least somewhat unfair to Catch-22. I agree with his point (if I’ve understood it correctly) that (on the legal side of the issue) it speaks to me of deficiencies in current laws that people are required to get married to have hospital visitation, rather than saying anything particular about the usefulness of marriage as an institution. It’s certainly rational to do so under current laws, however.

    I have more to say on the topic, but I need to return to tending my Salmonella colonies.

  71. @catgirl: Indeed, that was an oversight. But had I decided to enumerate all the variations of men/women/NSA/sex/prostitution/marriage, I really wouldn’t have time for much else this afternoon.

    Suffice to say, I chose those that were most pertinent to my point. It was not my intent to disparage any particular human sexual experience, nor to make any generalization of sexual activity.

  72. @SicPreFix: Did I say it was a bad thing?

    ————-

    No. But my point was that equating the idea of BDSM to Prostitution to the idea of rape is pretty judgemental. They are all things that you don’t get, but only one of them is a Bad Thingâ„¢.

  73. @sporefrog: It’s more than laws. We’re people with culture. People like symbols. Who cares if there is some “good” reason for it? Emotion is “good” enough for me. Apparently it’s not for some people, but they don’t have to get married. Laws are perks, but they aren’t the only reason.

    This is one area in which I think some people’s “skeptic powers” are on needless overtime. I don’t expect that my secular marriage will necessarily push back cultural tradition. I didn’t get married to make a political statement. I got married because I love my husband. I do expect that if I make a personal choice with my husband to enter a legal partnership for reasons of our choosing, it won’t be assumed that we’re doing it because we’re “lending legitmacy to the wife-as-property ‘ideal’”. That’s ridiculous. How dare anyone judge us for a completely benign celebration of our relationship that in no way lessened me as a human being.

  74. Seems we are all essentially saying we should be able to do what we want to sexually with our selves or with a willing partner, regardless of cultural, religious or economic entanglements; and if the partner is not willing its wrong and bad regardless of cultural, religious or economic entanglements.

  75. I defer to your superior knowledge of the nuanced legal differences between different forms of sexual assault and rape, that being a field I have no experience in.

    When a women above a certain age has sex with a male below a certain age that is considered rape (as it should be).

  76. Wow! I came late to this party, and the comments are… wow! Rape is bad, right? I think (hope) we all agree on that. State-sanctioned rape is double-bad, and church-sanctioned rape is just plain revolting. This issue really has very little to do with marriage. To conflate this one particular take on marriage with the concept of “marriage” is like saying that since a type of bacteria causes staph infections, we ought to do away with yogurt.

    Women are not property, to do whatever you want with as though they were a sofa. I did not realize the Bahamas were still trapped in the dark ages. Maybe there is a problem with their humours. Someone get the leeches!

  77. @sporefrog:

    When slavery was popular, it was justified by religion…

    It was also justified with capitalism. The argument went this say:
    Industrialized North (IN): We offer our people freedom to get work wherever they want, freedom to use their abilities in their best way possible!
    Slave-owning South (SOS): Ahh! But you download the costs of food, travel, and housing onto your workers, and you effectively pay them way less than what we, slave-owners, give to our workers in terms of value! Because they cannot afford their rent, food, or travel, they have to continually work for you, and give you the product of their labour, and you pay them less than they need! We, at least give them what they need!
    IN: But your workers are not free to pursue their dreams and their happiness!
    SOS: Neither are yours!

    IN and SOS promptly start making out with each other.

    The argument of course falls apart when viewed under the rubric of liberty, but freedom, liberty and competition all have nothing to do with capitalism.

    So in other words, the argument that religion be denounced on the basis of what it can be used to justify/rationalize is a bit weak-sauce for me, because nearly every idea can be warped to oppress people. Religion does not have a monopoly on persecution by a long shot.

    This law has nothing to do with religion. It’s about a sexist regime instituting a measure of control over half it’s population.

  78. @sethmanapio:

    No. But my point was that equating the idea of BDSM to Prostitution to the idea of rape is pretty judgemental. They are all things that you don’t get, but only one of them is a Bad Thing.

    I think you’ve lost it seth. You are making no sense at all.

    If you are making the claim that I in some fashion “equat[ed] the idea of BDSM to Prostitution to the idea of rape” then you are simply either making it up (or to use your personal favourite ad hominem, “lying”), or you are just confused.

    / scratches head in confusion

  79. @Kimbo Jones:

    I often enjoy what you have to say here Kimbo, even when I disagree with you. So I scooted on over to your blog. But I must admit, when I got to: “First, fuck all of you who presume to decide what is “appropriate” for other people to do in their personal relationships…,” I just left.

  80. @Rebecca: People are giving the thumbs up to rape everywhere to the extent that religious belief, marriage, short skirts, alcohol or any other kind of lame* excuse can be can be found in the populace for justifying nonconsensual sex.
    I remember when the rape laws were reworded to codify spousal rape here, and most of the newspaper quotes were the same way. Once the law passed, everybody shut up and went home, presumably to continue behaving the way they were before.
    There is nothing in the article to indicate how prevalent those views are in the Bahamas. They exist everywhere, to the detriment of us all.

    *a redundant adjective, as there is no other kind.

  81. @Kimbo Jones: You can not judge the institution of marriage by your own example. Especially if your marriage is based on rejecting the ideas behind the traditions that the skeptical community finds problematic in marriage.

    But I am heartsick for you that you feel the need to defend what was obviously a lovely ceremony based on those lofty ideals of love and companionship that so often evade us.

  82. @Bookitty: That is entirely my point. Who gets to decide what marriage is and whether or not it’s appropriate? I’m saying, it’s the people in the relationship. Our marriage is not based on misogyny and ownership. We got married because we both wanted to. Who is someone else to say that our doing so lends legitimacy to wives being property when that has nothing to do with out marriage? If people don’t want to get married, then don’t. But don’t look down on the rest of us.

  83. @Kimbo Jones:

    I understand that it is not all about laws, which was why I said that I had more to say but had to get back to work. I was merely agreeing with you that the institution itself isn’t inherently evil and to suggest, as RussellSugden did, that,

    When secularists marry they are lending legitmacy to the wife-as-property “ideal”

    is pretty unfounded and silly.

    This is one area in which I think some people’s “skeptic powers” are on needless overtime. I don’t expect that my secular marriage will necessarily push back cultural tradition.

    But if you WERE still participating in all of the religious baggage, with all of the most overt cases of sexism and all that, THEN Russell might have a point. You aren’t (I don’t think any of us are having our fathers sell our virginity, etc etc etc) so he doesn’t. So when I say “pushing back” at the religious cultural influence on marriage, you can call it whatever you want, I just mean we’ve changed marriage a lot in these last centuries and I don’t think getting married is in any way enabling religious idiocy. I’m sure you agree with this.

    @Some Canadian Skeptic:
    I feel like sometimes people get into long, elaborate discussions to place blame that don’t really serve any purpose. Clearly many bad ideas are religiously-inspired, many are not. Surely many of these women, who feel like their husbands should be able have sex with them whenever they want, believe these things for religious reasons, i.e. that some man in the sky who controls the future of your soul says you must do X. So attacking the premise of these religious dispositions, i.e. that there is this man in the sky who cares what you do, would have an impact on the justifications people have for these laws. There are lots of other arguments, too. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that religion, none of the time, ever, can be held responsible for the things people do in its name.

    So in other words, the argument that religion be denounced on the basis of what it can be used to justify/rationalize is a bit weak-sauce for me, because nearly every idea can be warped to oppress people. Religion does not have a monopoly on persecution by a long shot.

    This law has nothing to do with religion. It’s about a sexist regime instituting a measure of control over half it’s population.

    I think your point is (and correct me if I’m wrong) that sexism is bad regardless of how it’s justified, and it has many more justifications than religion. That’s fine, and I think we all agree that we should call out and denounce sexism regardless of its justifications, but to go on to say that “religion as nothing to do with it” I think is being a bit too black and white.

  84. i agree with the other commentors that this is more about using scripture to justify bad behaviour, and less about the scripture itself.

    As a Bible-believing Christian, and a married man who tries his best not to rape his wife on a regular basis, may i offer a more moderate reading of the passage in Corinthians that you quoted?

    Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

    It’s all about the word “submit”, which has very negative connotations these days. In your reading, “submit” means “let your husband rape you”.

    So let’s look at the verses. Essentially, you are saying that it says “women, submit to your husbands – let them rape you – just as the church lets Jesus rape them.”

    Admittedly, i haven’t been to some of the more fringe churches in the world, but i have yet to find one where Jesus rapes the congregation, bodily or otherwise. It just doesn’t make sense. So your reading of the word “submit” as “give permission for another to have one’s way with” doesn’t really … work. You know? Christ doesn’t “have his way with” Bible-believing Christians. (Atheists – this is your cue to insert a jab about the offering plate. Have at it! Low-hanging comedy fruit!)

    Anyway – i’m not the biggest Facebook Fan of rape, marital or otherwise, and yet i’m still a Bible-believing Christian. That tells me there must be a more rational reading of those passages, and it hasn’t been found on your thoughtful blog – yet. But maybe give it another shot?

    You’re obviously very well-read. Is there any other reading of that passage that you could possibly venture?

    – Ryan

  85. @SicPreFix:
    I feel the need to back up SicPreFix with his comments that Marilove appears to be disagreeing with.

    It appears people are attacking one part of what SicPreFix said. His entire post:

    This is something that has always, always baffled me. I just do not understand men (or the rare woman) who enjoy in any way, shape, or form having sex with a partner who is not visibly, sonically, and unquestionably not only a willing and active participant, but one who is clearly (and, one would hope, honestly) enjoying the process. Utterly baffling. Masturbation would be so much easier, and probably cheaper. In the same vein, I’ve also never understood men who can manage to “successfully” have sex with prostitutes.

    First off, I agree that I would not personally ever get any enjoyment out of having sex with somebody who was not having fun or was consenting. I think that was the core of his statement.

    The part Marilove seems to have problems with is when he made this comparison to prostitutes. I think Marlove’s point is valid that some prostitutes probably do have fun and willingly consent and all that, but SicPreFix never said otherwise! The key here is SicPreFix’s phrase, “In the same vein.” Had he simply said that he cannot understand how anyone “successfully” has sex with prostitutes, then I would take your point Marilove. He was merely saying that, for the subset of prostitutes that do not fit this description, then he does not understand this. I do not think you can hire a prostitute under the assumption that he/she will fit SicPreFix’s description.

    Nowhere did he suggest that it absolutely never occurs that a prostitute enjoys sex.

    Nowhere did he suggest, “Are prostitutes somehow not women?”

    And then: “I just think it’s pretty assuming to, well, assume that all prostitutes are there against their will.”

    I’ve thoroughly read his post over and over, and I think you are really putting words into his mouth, Marilove.

    It seems to me like people form an opinion, either about people or about what they are trying to say often, without taking the time to clarify that they are in fact saying this. Then a whole argument ensues where one person is claiming things about another that they didn’t say or at the very least didn’t mean to say (text is by no means a complete form of communication), but someone else has already made up their mind that they did say it.

    I mean yes, RussellSugden was pretty straightforward and I think it’s a safe bet to assume he really does think anyone who gets married is supporting sexism and religion. But for the vast majority of cases, I think these debates would be a whole lot more pleasant and worthwhile if people were not so quick to get hyper-aggressive and took a little bit more time to read people’s posts clearly and take time to understand what they’re trying to say before attacking them.

  86. @untoldent: I don’t see anyone here using Corinthians to justify wife rape.
    According to the news article, some Bahamians were using the Bible to justify it. Presumably, Corinthians. There was nothing to suggest that they were a fringe cult.

    Quite the opposite, everyone is agreeing that there is no justification for spousal rape, nor any other circumstance where rape is justified.

    By all means, derive a gentler interpretation, but its not us needing a heads up. Its your more out there brethren who do.

  87. @untoldent: Sorry, but you don’t get credit for not raping your wife. Any more than I get kudos for refraining from sticking a fork in the back of my guy’s head.

    In your interpretation “submit” does not mean anything sexual. You are merely suggesting that, like Christ to the church, the man should be the ultimate authority in the house. Expecting one’s wife to keep her opinion to herself unless it agrees with yours is not rape. But it’s a hell of a way to run a railroad.

  88. @untoldent: You’re obviously very well-read. Is there any other reading of that passage that you could possibly venture?

    This was the last straw in my parents leaving the Catholic church. The priests said some bible passages were literal. Some were figurative. Some are parables. Some words don’t mean what you think they mean. Others mean exactly what you think they mean, but the context changes their import. My parents figured an omniscient omnipotent God could do a much better job of being clear and walked away.

    This goes much beyond simply trying to make sense of these passages. As others here have pointed out the vagueness and contradictoriness makes it possible for unscrupulous people to justify nearly any behavior.

  89. Skepotter – i think the author *was* actually suggesting that the scriptures (erroneously) justified marital rape. :(

    Bookitty – as usual, my sarcasm doesn’t translate well in print. But i hope you don’t think i was trying to get a high-five for not raping my wife .

    It’s interesting that although i didn’t give any clues as to my interpretation of the word “submit”, you ran with the idea that the church submits to Christ as the ultimate authority. i didn’t say that.

    Is that your understanding of the verses? That a wife should submit to her husband as the authority, just as Christ is the authority over the church?

    At my church, we call Jesus by many names – wonderful counsellor, Prince of Peace, the lamb, precious redeemer, messiah, saviour, friend. But “Big Boss Man” and “Head Honcho” never really crop up.

    Davew – multiple interpretations can be frustrating, i agree. But if you’re averse to that, Catholicism’s not a bad way to go, becasue you’re actually not *allowed* to interpret scripture on your own. The Vatican decides that for you.

    But if you’re a deviant Catholic, or not a Catholic at all, and you DO try your hand at figuring it out yourself, i think it just comes down to the character of God. Based on everything you read in scriptures, which paint a picture of God’s personality … is that picture consistent with domineering men who justifiably force themselves on their wives?

    i dunno. It’s just not the God i know. Your mileage may vary.

    Please don’t judge all Christians by the fringes or the stereotypes. Some black people have jobs. Some gay men aren’t interior designers. Some Essex girls aren’t promiscuous. And some Christians are tolerable.

  90. @untoldent: Thank you for that interpretation. Way, way back in my believin’ days, I used to say that I was a “first four books of the New Testament” Christian, (hold the Paul.) Never found a church that agreed with that definition but then again, I didn’t look too hard. Although it holds no interest now, it is good to know that it does exist.

    In the future I shall try harder to find the intended sarcasm. Mustn’t let the heebie-jeebies from a rape discussion completely annihilate my sense of humor.

    Keep on not raping!

  91. @Kimbo Jones:
    What kind of crickets you get there? I get these humpbacked spiny crickets getting in, not in infestation levels but small numbers mostly after it rains. I cant figure out how they get into my basement. I dont kill them; I catch them and put them back outside but they are fast little bastards when I get after them. Occasionally they fall in the laundry tub and I say aha got you now you SOB. At least they don’t seem to do any chirping.

  92. @JOHNEA13: Big, black, LOUD, sleep-preventing, mating ones. They are/were in the ceiling, the basement, the vents, the plumbing…everywhere. I tried Raid (useless) and being nice with catch and release, but they just kept invading so I had to get an exterminator.

  93. @SicPreFix: I think you’ve lost it seth. You are making no sense at all.

    ———

    Really? You don’t get where you said that?

    It’s really simple, Sic. First, you were responding to a comment about rape, which is a power thing. You said you were baffled by people who could enjoy BDSM sex of any kind (by description, not by name) which you characterized as more difficult than masturbation (a somewhat derogatory turn of phrase) and then said that “in the same vein” you didn’t understand how people could enjoy sex with prostitutes. So you equated BDSM to rape and rape to prostitution.

    Which is offensive as hell.

  94. seth, link to where I said anything whatsoever about BDSM, whether by description or by name?

    Here is the quote:

    This is something that has always, always baffled me. I just do not understand men (or the rare woman) who enjoy in any way, shape, or form having sex with a partner who is not visibly, sonically, and unquestionably not only a willing and active participant, but one who is clearly (and, one would hope, honestly) enjoying the process. Masturbation would be so much easier, and probably cheaper.

    Where, in that, the original text, do I in anyway at all refer to BDSM?

    I am baffled.

    seth, I think you actually may be a bit nuts. You are clearly seeing things that are not there.

  95. @SicPreFix: Where, in that, the original text, do I in anyway at all refer to BDSM?

    —————

    Well, Sic, at the part where you say that it would be easier and cheaper to masturbate than to have sex with someone who was not “visibly, sonically, and unquestionably not only a willing and active participant”. As I said before, you referred to BDSM not by name, but by description.

    Oh… wait… right. BDSM stands for Bondage, Domination and Sado-masochism. Sorry. Assumed that was common knowledge. My bad.

  96. I’m afraid I am missing something. Usually when the term BDSM is used, it is in the context of mutually permitted acts between willing partners. So I’m not quite sure how you get a reference to it from SicPreFix’s statement. Would you mind elucidating?

    This latest bit just showed up in my email. Sorry to keep dragging this out.

  97. @Bookitty: Usually when the term BDSM is used, it is in the context of mutually permitted acts between willing partners.

    ———–

    Sic didn’t mention anything at all about mutual permission or the importance of willing partners. What he actually says is that he thinks it would be “easier and cheaper to masturbate” than to have sex with anyone who is, “in any way, shape, or form” not “visibly, sonically, and unquestionably” a willing and active participant. Since the entire point of BDSM is to have a partner who is, in some way, shape, or form an apparently unwilling and certainly restrained non-participant, I don’t see how anyone could not make the connection to BDSM from this statement.

    The reason I find this offensive is that it is in context with rape. There is an equivalence that is drawn between rape and prosititution and even BDSM. Sic completely misses the point that for the most part, Rape is not about sexual pleasure for the rapist or even really about exerting power and dominance over the woman. Those aren’t the strange and alien concepts that he portrays them as, worthy of bafflement.

    To use an example, I would never just beat someone up, but I do practice martial arts. Sparring, fighting, is exhilarating. I get why people enjoy physically violent contests like football, mma, or boxing. Rebecca, for example, plays football. I’m sure people get hurt. But football isn’t the same as ganging up on someone and beating them up just to watch them bleed.

    Rape is a crime of dehumanization, not a crime of power, or dominance, or sexual pleasure. Essentially, if the Bahamanian’s pass this legislation, the official position of the island will be that women are not human beings, but some sort of lesser creature between a male and a dog.

  98. seth, you really and truly are fucked up on this one. Your insistnce that I am referring to BDSM is ridiculous, and if it were not so offensive, it would be laughable. Unfortunately, it is truly disgusting, insulting, misleading, and inflamatory. You have gone too far.

    The simple fact that I am now obligated to defend myself against what is effectively a really ugly slander not only against my character, but against my postings, my beliefs, my moral integrity, and so on, is deeply disturbing to me. I feel you have backed me into a near-indefensible corner; nonetheless, if I do not at least try to defend myself effectively against your slanders, I will be tacitly agreeing to them. And that cannot stand, for that agreement, and your claims to my meaning and intent, is wholly false.

    I am fairly certain that almost anyone who has extensive sexual experience, in that they have had several sex partners in their life, can recount instances where one of those partners was not really present to the moment; was not showing enthusiasm for the act; was not a voluble, assertive, energetic sharer of the moment, and so on. Perhaps they were bored, tired, hungover, embarrased. Who knows?

    There are almost as many ways to characterize such non-participation as there are words in the language. The fact that I chose to characterize such non-participation as “not visibly, sonically, and unquestionably not only a willing and active participant, but one who is clearly (and, one would hope, honestly) enjoying the process” has somehow enabled you to believe I was referring to BDSM.

    seth, you can and regularly do find offence in all sorts of things that people have not actually said. Your antagonistically skewed misinterpretations and distortions of others’ words is commonplace; it is a characteristic aspect of your participation here at Skepchick.org.

    Perhaps the most regularly recurring feature of your postings here is that you insist, frequently, loudly, and often with strong hostility that you know better than any one of us what it is that we, as individuals, are actually trying to say: you know our intent and our meaning better than we ourselves do. You pinpoint and focus in tightly on the smallest mistake in diction, sentence structure, argument, or presentation of fact and beat it to death with endless reinterpretations, analyses, distortions, and misleading claims of intent.

    You are a constant and somewhat gifted (and I think intuitively or instinctively rather than consciously) user of rhetorical tricks, manipulative and misdirecting language, and sophistic reinterpretations of others’ words, with the intent to corner people in a web of intricate narrative that the original poster can no longer defend. You are, in short, a very nasty piece of work.

    For their essential relevance I will respond to three of your comments:

    The reason I find this offensive is that it is in context with rape.

    That is a perfect example of one of your many disingenuous and intentionally offensive misinterpretations-with-intent to slander and redirect the focus of what I and others are talking about. A thread of conversation, such as this one or any other here on this blog, can take many tangents, both wholly on and off topic, yet also including all the gray nuance of slightly on or slightly off topic. You choose, for the sake of your neurotic need to control the conversation and dominate your opponents, to reframe digression, redirect discourse, and imbue your opponents with slanderous intent.

    There is an equivalence that is drawn between rape and prosititution and even BDSM.

    seth, I really am tired of your truly offensive assumptions in this thread. The only, I repeat with adamant insistence, the ONLY equivalence drawn between rape and prosititution and even BDSM in anything I have said in this thread is in your head. Wholly, completely, and apparently insurmountabley in your head.

    Sic completely misses the point that for the most part, Rape is not about sexual pleasure for the rapist or even really about exerting power and dominance over the woman.

    I do not, have not, never will, never have, said anything that supports that offensive and slanderous claim. Again, that truly offensive assumption is only in your head.

    Although I would like to, it is perhaps not my place to try and defend the many others whom you have bullied, slandered, falsely accussed of saying things they never said, backed into near-indefensible rhetorical corners, and so forth. Some you have driven away from this place altogether; others you just drive out of the topical thread. But it most certainly is my place to attempt to defend myself against your misleading distortions, false assumptions, ugly slanders, antagonistic mischaracterizations, and your truly skilled and well crafted rhetorical tricks and manipulations.

  99. @SicPreFix: Perhaps the most regularly recurring feature of your postings here is that you insist, frequently, loudly, and often with strong hostility that you know better than any one of us what it is that we, as individuals, are actually trying to say.

    ——-

    Bullshit. I have no idea what you were trying to say. I only know what you actually said.

  100. @SicPreFix: Unfortunately, it is truly disgusting, insulting, misleading, and inflamatory.

    ——–

    That’s great, Sic. But what I can’t find in your “analysis” is any actual fucking analysis. You know, the part where you comment on what I said, and not on my intentions, character, or simply loudly and insistently claimed that you never did what I just demonstrated that you did.

    For example, when you say this:

    The only, I repeat with adamant insistence, the ONLY equivalence drawn between rape and prosititution and even BDSM in anything I have said in this thread is in your head. Wholly, completely, and apparently insurmountabley in your head.

    it is completely at odds with your prior statement. In your prior statement, you were clear: You are utterly baffled by men (and the occasional woman) who enjoy sex that is not up to your particular standards. Those standards clearly and obviously are distinct from anything even remotely close to BDSM. Further, you were responding to BooKitty, who was talking about non-consensual marital sex in the quote that you were referring to. You equated that type of sex to sex that didn’t match your standard, which was, in your opinion, inferior to masturbation (an act done for sexual pleasure). Let’s not even get into the scare quotes around “successfully” in your prostitution comment.

    I found the whole thing, as you say, “disgusting, insulting, misleading, and inflamatory”, and I said so. Rather than explain yourself, you have loudly and blusteringly denied that the information content was in your original comment.

    Whether you meant to draw that equivalance or not, only you know. I cannot divine your intentions or motives. I only know what you actually said.

  101. Oh, and let’s be clear here. All I said originally was this: “And I don’t understand the big deal about the congress of the friendly dog and the two biscuits, but that doesn’t make it a bad thing.”

    To which Sic said: “Please quote me whre I said it was a bad thing.”

    So I did.

  102. @SicPreFix: The simple fact that I am now obligated to defend myself against what is effectively a really ugly slander not only against my character

    ———

    Really? When did I characterize you negatively? At what point did I say that you were a bad person? Did I ever say anything except that I felt that something you said was offensive? And in response, you’ve insulted me, called me dishonest, accused me of attempting to mislead, of using logical fallacy (wrongly), and claimed specifically that you knew my intentions were bad. In addition, you’ve called me neurotic, and even made the extreme and utterly false claim that I attack people’s sentence structure.

    None of which addresses the statements I’ve actually made, or any point contained theiren.

    It is, actually, the very definition of an ad hominem rant. The fact that someone would agree with this distasteful display of vitriol and malice is disturbing, and it shows how far a few misleading words can go to skew the perceptions of people.

  103. @Kimbo Jones: wholly support your analysis of his participation in this particular thread thus far.

    ——

    Then perhaps you can point out where I made a comment against Sic’s character? Or perhaps you can show where I attacked his sentence structure? Perhaps you can explain how the idea that a partner must be, in every “possible way, shape, and form,” a willing participant squares with BDSM? Please. Enlighten me.

    Otherwise, you might address the things that I said that were actually ON topic, later in that comment. And you might acknowledge that Sic picked this particular fight, in an offensive and aggressive way.

  104. I feel like this has gone a long way weird. And it may be my fault to some small degree. Now, I know that I can’t rise to the level of Sic, and accuse him of being neurotic, controlling, lying, scheming, and merely intuitively clever rather than actually articulate, but I would like to make a few of my own vile and slanderous remarks.

    This post is about a law in the Bahamas that would legalize marital rape, by removing from women the right to say no. Bookitty said this

    In order for the man to enjoy sex with an unwilling or uninterested partner, he needs to be either complete oblivious to her reactions or derives pleasure from having power over her.
    The second definition falls more closely within the mind set of rape which is more about power and control than sex.

    .

    Okay. So we have established–without any intent on my part to deceive–that bookitty is describing what she sees as something equitable to the mind set of rape.

    SicPreFix responds:

    This is something that has always, always baffled me. I just do not understand men (or the rare woman) who enjoy in any way, shape, or form having sex with a partner who is not visibly, sonically, and unquestionably not only a willing and active participant, but one who is clearly (and, one would hope, honestly) enjoying the process. Utterly baffling. Masturbation would be so much easier, and probably cheaper. In the same vein, I’ve also never understood men who can manage to “successfully” have sex with prostitutes.

    So, in direct response and while quoting Bookitty on the mindset of a rapist, Sic brings up the following ideas: people who will have sex with a partner who is not giving constant positive feedback, and people who pay for sex. The first group is inclusive of the BDSM community.

    Notice, there is nothing up my sleeve. I am not attempting to mislead you in any way, nor am I telling any lies. I have not called Sic any names and have made no sweeeping comments about his motives or intent, but merely pointed out what he said, and what he said it in response to.

    Now, Sic currently claims that he was really talking about those moments when someone is “was not a voluble, assertive, energetic sharer of the moment, and so on”, which is also exclusive of many BDSM games.

    Sic, your words exclude those who your words exclude. And if that exclusion is made in direct response and agreement, with a quote to a comment about the mind set of rape, your words agree with the idea that rape is about power and control (as bookitty said).

    I disagree with the point of view that your words describe. I think that power, control, violence, agression, submission and dominance are natural parts of sexual expression. I think that Rape is about dehumanization, and that the content of this bill is not “Women are property” but that “Women are not fully human.” And I feel that this is an important distinction to make.

  105. @SicPreFix: I do not, have not, never will, never have, said anything that supports that offensive and slanderous claim.

    ———-

    Slanderous how? To say that you have missed a point, to whit, that rape is not about power or control (in my opinion) is hardly to slander you. You may find it offensive that I think you missed a point, you may think that you do get that point, but it is hardly slanderous to say that you missed it.

    Nor is it particularly offensive to say that someone misapprehends the motives behind some crime. The fact that you can wax wroth about something doesn’t mean that you have any particular reason to wax wroth about it.

    Let me ask everyone else here: how many of you think, as I do, that Rape is a crime of dehumanization, and how many think that rape is a crime of power and control? What does the psychological community generally claim? Do you think that one of these positions is overtly offensive to people who hold the other?

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