The elephant in the room | Marriage Monday

Almost a year ago, I stumbled across a blog post dealing with the issue of marital rape, and whether a husband is in the wrong for insisting on sex even when it is painful to his wife. Frankly, the post along with a number of comments — and pretty much everything I read on the blog — is so problematic and disturbing that I don’t even want to link to it.

Even though other comments have been approved since then, mine is still awaiting moderation, about eleven months later:

This is what I see as the major issue — the elephant in the room that no one is fully addressing, although a few have hinted at it.

We cannot expect an unbelieving husband to want to love his wife as Christ loves the church. But the real elephant in the room? Most Christians have no idea what love means. They think it means leadership and a skewed, worldly view of authority. We gloss over the part where a husband is to lay down his life sacrificially for his wife, or we romanticize it by saying he should take a bullet for her should armed intruders ever enter their home.

Really? What husband in his right mind would do that if he is unwilling to forego sexual pleasure when his wife is in pain? But it’s nice to pretend he would, nice to pretend he would be a hero — because he knows the likelihood of that scenario is next to zero.

Our culture has made an idol of sexual pleasure, especially male sexual pleasure, and in order to avoid the appearance of bowing to the same idol, we have enshrined this as a need. We have bought into the lie that sex is mostly about meeting this all-consuming NEED on the part of the husband, rather than about unity, intimacy, and procreation.

Men no longer see sex as the physical expression of the sacrificial gift of themselves that they give to their wives in marriage. If they did, they would not avoid true intimacy (emotional and spiritual) in marriage, and they would abhor the very thought of asking the wife they love to give them a blow job while she is recovering from childbirth.

Sometimes the sacrifice men might be called to give to their wives is a foregoing of selfish sexual pleasure. But we don’t want to hear that.

The elephant in the room is that we have no idea what love means. We may sing songs about amazing grace and the love of Jesus, but our hearts remain hard, selfish and idolatrous. That is why our lack of compassion is so painfully obvious to everyone but us, why we can demand wives submit to demeaning and painful sex, and why we criticize women who suffer pain during intercourse for being selfish, childish, and refusing to go to doctors. (An aside: such statements betray woeful ignorance. Sciatica and chronic coccyx pain — just to name two potentially debilitating and devastatingly painful conditions off the top of my head — are not easily fixable.) We teach husbands that their compassion should be limited and fleeting, and should run out if their wives suffer ongoing pain. After all, the idol of sexual pleasure rules our hearts, not love.

May God have mercy.

Why it’s daft to marry a convicted serial pedophile | Marriage Monday

In following the recent controversy regarding Douglas Wilson (that he still sees nothing wrong with performing the wedding of a convicted serial pedophile) it’s easy to think certain people have lost all common sense. Surely no sensible church elder would respond to a young woman in search of “Mr. Right” with, “I know just the guy! Lucky for you, he got off easy for molesting children and didn’t have to serve out his life sentence, so he’s available — which obviously makes him Mr. Right!” Surely no mature, sensible woman would agree to marry such a man after their second date. Surely no sensible pastor would perform the wedding for such a marriage, especially if the serial pedophile openly declared his intentions to father children. Surely no sensible people would rise up in defense of pedophiles marrying: but doesn’t the poor pedophile deserve to be happy? Doesn’t he deserve the right to marry? After all, he said he was sorry for molesting toddlers and young children…and for his peeping tom shenanigans right after he got out of jail…and we should forgive and forget! What about grace? Give the poor guy a second chance!

We all know that sometimes starry-eyed young women who are madly in love don’t like to think of much beyond the excitement of planning the wedding — probably all the more so if they have fallen for the charms of a young predator well-practiced in manipulation and deception.  That is why it is essential that those with level heads urge the would-be bride to consider the serious and enormous consequences of marrying a sex offender. If nothing else, she needs to realize that not everyone may share her enthusiasm for having a convicted child molester in the family or around children — and she needs to know why. Too much is at stake to get caught up in the giddy excitements of a young couple “in love”. Heaven help us if we cannot depend on the pastors, elders, and older women of the church to advise wisdom and prudence.

So, for those lacking in common sense, and for those bewildered souls at a loss because they can’t find a verse in the Bible expressly forbidding pedophiles from marriage, would you please allow me to suggest a few reasons for caution before you rush off and marry a convicted serial pedophile or encourage your daughters to marry one?

1. His criminal past will never “go away”. He will be required to register as a sex offender and his information will appear online in easily accessible databases (Easily search for Steven Sitler here.) There will no doubt be conditions of his parole. There will be lifelong restrictions on his activities and interactions with children.

2. Everyone — church members, neighbors, parents, children, his former victims, vigilantes — will be able to discover his status as a sex offender, along with all the information they need to find him, should they search for him by name or search for sex offenders in his vicinity. (Search by zip code or location here.)

You might argue that #1 and #2 do not trouble you in the slightest, and that you have no qualms being forever publicly identified as the wife of a convicted child molester — in fact, that and every thought of your beloved fills you with delight and joy because you are oh so very much in love!! If so, provided you make certain you will never be able to have children with this man, you can probably stop reading at this point. The rest of my cautions are in regards to having at least one child.

3. Your husband may never be allowed to be with your child unless he is under the direct observation of a court-appointed supervisor/chaperone. If so, this means you will never have a normal family life. You will someday have to explain to your child the odd, unrelenting, and draconian measures you have to take in order to ensure his father does not have access to him or her while you are sleeping, talking on the phone, using the bathroom, brushing your teeth, putting on make-up, doing household chores, changing clothes, or showering. You will have to explain why his father cannot take him to the bathroom at home or in public. You will have to explain why your child can never be alone with his or her own father, even for a minute…why your child will never be able to have a private one-on-one conversation with his own father…why there can never be a normal father-child relationship between the two of them. (Even more overwhelming than the many awkward explanations will be the unrelenting stress of living this out. It would be far easier to have your husband reside elsewhere and pay him visits without your child.)

Note: if you are the court-appointed chaperone or supervisor of your husband, you must give up the idea that your marriage can be either patriarchal, complementarian, or egalitarian in practice. You will be responsible to the court to make sure you and your husband implement the court’s decisions and instructions — or else another, more responsible person will have to be appointed to be present whenever your husband is around your child.  Your husband must not be allowed to get by with trying to pull the “father rule” or “wives submit” cards in these matters, or even the “but we didn’t mutually agree that I can’t spend time alone with my own child” card. You will be his supervisor. At times you will no doubt feel like his warden, jailor, or parole officer.

4. You will have to explain to your child why his father cannot volunteer for any activities that involve children or that might put him in contact with children.

5. You will have to explain to your child why his father cannot accompany him on father-child outings at church or school unless you or another chaperone is along and never lets him out of their sight. Even then, the church or school may not allow it.

6. You will have to explain the precautionary measures taken by you, your child’s school, your church, and others in order to supervise your child’s father and make sure he never has the opportunity to be alone with a child or vulnerable person.

7. You may have to explain the ongoing involvement of Child Protective Services in your child’s life.

8. You will have to explain why other parents will not allow their children in your home, or your husband in their homes. You may have to explain why your husband is not welcome at family gatherings (holidays, reunions, weddings, funerals) when children are present. 

9. You will probably have to explain, much earlier than you had hoped, what people mean by “child molester”, “pedophile”, “baby rapist”, “degenerate”, and “pervert” — and why they use these words to describe your child’s father. Your child’s sex education may include hearing from others — or reading on the Internet — the exact acts his father forced upon other children.

10. You will have to explain to your child why you thought a convicted serial pedophile would make a good husband and father. 

11. Worst case scenario #1: you may have to explain, if your child discloses sexual abuse by your husband and you believe your child, that you thought you were being vigilant every second…or that you thought you only let your guard down for a moment…or that you made a terrible mistake in trusting your husband. You will have to explain why you chose, knowingly, to put your own child at such dangerous risk by marrying this man in the first place — why your happiness was so much more important to you than any child’s safety and well-being. You will have to admit that there is nothing you can possibly do to undo the pain, damage and harm your foolishness and selfishness has caused to your innocent child. If you have any shred of decency left, you will have to repent, and beg your child’s forgiveness — and give him the freedom to withhold it from you. You will have to explain what you will do from then on to seek justice, healing, and safety for your child. You will have to face the very real possibility that you may lose him or her. You will have to live with the knowledge that your decision to father a child with a convicted serial pedophile  has caused your child irreparable harm…but your the pain of your regret is a drop in the bucket to the devastating pain and struggle your child has to live with.

12. Worst case scenario #2: Your husband sexually abuses your child but intimidates, manipulates or threatens him or her into silence. You cannot understand that your child is reacting to trauma, so you cannot understand what might be his troubled behavior, his sullen attitude, his personality changes, his fears and anxieties, his anger or depression. You may never figure out why he “rebels” or “acts weird”. Perhaps he or she engages in self-harm, withdraws from other people, and spends much of his time escaping into over-activity or mindless entertainment. Perhaps he or she has unexplained injuries and illnesses, seems accident-prone, wets the bed, has recurrent nightmares, is jittery and jumpy, has meltdowns, does poorly at school, is clingy, stutters, acts out, runs away, shoplifts, engages in promiscuous sex and risky behavior, ends up on drugs or in jail. Perhaps he or she even attempts suicide. You will either not be able to figure out what is wrong or will be reluctamt to face the truth. You will prefer to think your son or daughter is the problem, not that he or she is falling apart because of the sexual trauma your husband — the man you chose to father your child — inflicted. Should he or she in desperation try to tell you the truth — or you begin to suspect it on your own — the convicted serial pedophile you married will be quick to point out how foolish it would be to take the word of such a troubled, immature, and sinful child over that of your godly, upright, repentant husband. He will probably be convincing because serial pedophiles are master manipulaters and deceivers of adults. That’s how they gain access to the children they prey upon — they groom adults to trust and believe them. That’s how your husband married you.

One more reason to avoid marrying a convicted serial pedophile? To prove that you are not the foolish Bible-thumping ignoramus some accuse us of being — to prove you are not the sort of person who protects children in the womb only to hand them over, once they are born, to be raised by known child molesters.