The truth is that God has given to us physical needs we commonly refer to as a "sex drive," and he has designed for these to be met within the bounds of marriage. The trouble comes when one spouse or the other decides to exact retaliation against the other because of some offense and withholds him or herself from his or her mate. This is wickedness, and such is a violation of the spirit of marriage on the part of the withholder. Thus, if these allegations of spousal rape are due to the wife withholding herself in attempt to control or punish her husband, she is out of line with God. And it doesn’t matter how many laws are passed, it will just be another reason why God will not bless America.
Once again, there is nothing in this passage where Pastor Hamman justifies marital rape. He merely points out that some wives will withhold sex from their husbands to punish them, and that he considers this a violation of the spirit of marriage and contrary to God's word on the subject (the applicable scriptures he used, which also condemn similar behavior by husbands, are published in my previous post on this issue). Perhaps Pastor Hamman should have anticipated that many people would overreact, and added a short statement also indicating God's condemnation of rape.
KTUU Channel 2 news video:
KTVA Channel 11 news video:
Public Reaction: Official reaction has now been recorded from representatives of other local churches and from some other sources.
-- Pastor Julia Seymour of the Lutheran Church of Hope (ELCA): Pastor Seymour said “I felt very angry and very ashamed. You’re not biblically required to return to someone who is hurting you, putting yourself in that situation again and again, that's not what's required.” She added that some pastors do interpret the bible literally, but she believes what were published are Bible verses taken out of context and misused. Pastor Seymour published a more detailed response on her Faith, Grace, and Hope blog.
-- Dan Jarrell, a pastor at ChangePoint: Pastor Jarrell emailed the following statement to KTVA: “Christian husbands serve their wives in love and are never forceful with them. Christian wives trust their husbands to treat them with honor and respect. When these biblical principles are ignored or neglected the results are always horrible and sometimes criminal."
-- Scott Somers, a member of New Grace Christian Church: Somers told Alaska Dispatch that Pastor Hamman's opinion represented fringe views and that it gives Evangelicals a bad name. He believes Hamman has twisted scripture to his own ends.
-- Standing Together Against Rape (STAR): Lead advocate Erin Patterson explained, "We're satisfied that the Special Victims Unit looks at these cases open-mindedly, just like other cases that come in. We know that the statutes don't discriminate based on marital status. There's nothing in our statutes that say if you're married, then it's ok." She also noted that Hamman's column has made STAR's job tougher, undermining their efforts to promote accurate information on the rights of victims to report sexual violence regardless of their marital status.
-- Mat-Su Frontiersman: Editor Heather Resz e-mailed KTVA saying that the reaction to the column has led to planning for a public summit on sex crimes. However, she declined to comment on the decision to publish Hamman's July 18th column. Since this post, the Frontiersman published an editorial entitled "Rape is illegal and immoral", in which they apologize for the fact that Pastor Hamman's July 18th column offended so many.
-- Pastor Hamman: Would not respond to media enquiries. However, one commenter to the Alaska Dispatch story noted that in response to his own e-mail, Hamman fired back, saying "the lost will hate God's word".
Interesting that the media failed to solicit reaction from some of our more patriarchally-organized churches, such as the Roman Catholic archdiocese, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Anchorage Baptist Temple. The LDS Church clearly states that "The Lord condemns abusive behavior in any form — physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional. Abusive behavior may lead to Church discipline". They further state "Victims of abuse should be assured that they are not to blame for the harmful behavior of others. They do not need to feel guilt. If they have been a victim of rape or other sexual abuse, whether they have been abused by an acquaintance, a stranger, or even a family member, victims of sexual abuse are not guilty of sexual sin".
Obviously Pastor Hamman does not need to apologize for preaching God's word to the best of his interpretation. But in his next column, he should elaborate further and firmly state that the Bible does not justify rape in any form, using appropriate verses to support this contention. It would also be useful for him to explain that the verse about a wife’s body belonging to her husband and his to hers really means that a spouse should treat the other spouse's body as sacredly as his own.