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 manâ€™s body is his wifeâ€™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.