The issue of rape is topical at the moment and unfortunately Christian couples are been dragged into the discussion as it is rearing its head in the church. People are asking questions and someone asked at the last interactive session on MONEY,LOVE AND MARRIAGE;CAN WE HAVE IT ALL if “a husband also be accused of raping his wife?” A 'yes’ or ‘no’ answer was insufficient despite efforts by the anchors, hosts, participants and guests effort at thrashing the issue. To start with, what is rape? ”Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person’s consent.
”Marital rape is considered a form of domestic violence and has been illegal since 1992.
In the United Kingdom, according to Nick Titchener, DIRECTOR & SOLICITOR ADVOCATE, a woman cannot be charged with marital rape as it requires non-consensual penile penetration, and the offence can be committed outside of marriage by cohabiting partners. Sentences generally range from four to fourteen years’ imprisonment, but life sentences can also be given where aggravating factors such as premeditation, weapons or the use of alcohol or drugs to facilitate rape. A woman cannot be charged with committing rape, as this specific offence requires penile penetration without the consent of the individual.
However, if a woman commits a sexual act without the consent of her spouse or ex-spouse, or she commits a sexual act against the will of her spouse or ex-spouse, she is committing a sexual offence under UK law. In this instance, a woman can be charged with:
Causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent
In Nigerian Criminal Code, Section 357, “any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent, if the consent is obtained by force or by means of threats or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act, or, in the case of a married woman, by personating her husband, is guilty of an offence which is called rape.”
Legally speaking, a husband cannot be accused of raping his wife in Nigeria, going by this definition of rape. Also in most African traditions, it will be ludicrous for a wife to accuse her husband of rape. Even the family that the woman came from will wonder if their daughter is sane. It is believed that once a man pays a woman’s bride price, he has all rights over her, including conjugal rights. In fact, some see the wife as a property. It takes a reasonable man to realize that his wife is not a piece of furniture, but a human being with a mind of her own, feelings, emotions and moods.
In Christian marriages, rape of a wife should not arise if the spouses follow the Christian teachings and their marital vows. In I Corinthians 9: 3-5, Paul wrote: “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other (sex) except perhaps by mutual consent…” When taking marital vows, spouses promise to love, honor and cherish each other.
Now this is my take. In marriage, sex should be freely given and taken. Where it is not freely given, under no circumstances should it be forcefully taken. An unsatisfied sexual urge has never killed anybody and it will not kill you.
Granted that an unsatisfied sexual urge does not kill, why should you deny your spouse his or her conjugal rights? Yes, it is a right, an entitlement. Some spouses deny their spouses sex because they are angry. As Christians, should anger be used as a weapon ?At the recently concluded interactive session on Couples Koinonia last conference theme of LOVE,MONEY AND MARRIAGE, many of the participants aired their views on this very cogent area of marriage where couples are suffering in silence.
But spouses must act in love and be considerate when dealing with the issue of sex. For instance, if your spouse comes back from work and he or she is exhausted, if you ask for sex and your spouse explains to you that he or she is very tired, you should be reasonable enough to let him or her be. There is always another time, which can be as soon as five hours later or another day. The only time it becomes a problem is when it is a regular no go area.