NOTE: This is an article I wrote about 8 months ago but forgot to publish. Other than a couple minor edits, I left it unaltered. I may visit this topic more in the future if I detect a need.
This article is intended to give husbands a new perspective on how they might help their wives heal from past sexual abuse.
I discovered this by accident (or by providence) one day while discussing Proverbs 5:19 with my wife. Surprisingly, I’ve never heard anything like this from any sexual abuse “specialists” (Christian or secular).
After five years of struggling to find a solution for my wife through counseling and therapy books, a spontaneous 20 minute conversation immediately flipped a switch of such powerful healing that I was baffled why it took me so long to find it. It certainly didn’t solve every practical problem at once, but it was a fundamental breakthrough unlike anything I had seen before. In retrospect, it seems obvious. But if you don’t know what to look for, it remains hidden.
In order to avoid revealing anything to personal and hopefully make the point more obvious, I’m going to explain what I discovered through an analogy that men might find more relatable.
Pretend that you’re living in an alternate world. This world is almost exactly like our own world except for one thing: Whenever men get together, a common conversation theme is how “repulsive” it is when women wear revealing clothing. But other than that one difference, everything else is the same. You still have the same biology and women still act and dress the same.
As a “sexually awakened” teenage boy in this alternate world, you begin to wonder if something is wrong with you. Based on the conversations you hear, you conclude that it is wrong to be aroused by seeing a woman’s cleavage or the curves of her body. After all, it is “disgusting.” You hear that “sex is good”… it’s just women’s body parts that are gross.
But you can’t help feeling the way you do. You get aroused by women’s body parts. What is wrong with you?
When you become a young adult you decide to marry. After all, marriage is good. It’s the only way your sexuality can be purified.
Unfortunately, your problems don’t go away. You are unable to become aroused enough to “do the deed.” It seems that the only way you can be turned on is when you see your wife’s body parts. But you know that is wrong. That’s part of your of your corrupted sexuality that needs to be put away. So you stuff it down and don’t give yourself any opportunity to act on it.
You begin to despair. Why is sex so difficult? What caused you to be this way?
After doing some research, you think you’ve found the answer. You were sexually abused. You’ve tried to repress the memory but it’s coming back to you now…
When you were a 12 years old, your aunt touched your penis. Actually, it was more than just a touch. You were confused. It awakened a thrilling sensation inside of you that you didn’t know your body was capable of. And yet, you knew it was wrong. Your brain couldn’t make sense of the experience. So you buried it.
But now you read that it’s common for boys who’ve been abused to have similar fantasies about women that you are having.
That must be it! You’re a victim. It’s not your fault.
Now if you can only heal from this past experience, you’ll be made a whole again… and all those gross fantasies you’ve been having about women’s bodies will go away.
The Hidden War on Women
I hope you can see the absurdity of this story. The boy was perfectly normal. His biology was simply functioning as it was created to. Even when his aunt inappropriately touched him, the excitement he felt was a natural response. And it certainly wasn’t this inappropriate touching that triggered his fantasies.
As absurd as the story may seem, this is exactly the sort of thing our society does to women. The only difference is women have a different sort of fantasy.
It’s well documented that “rape fantasies” are one of the most popular sexual fantasies among women. And yet our culture spends a disproportionate amount of time talking about how wrong it is for a man to “have his way” with a woman. A woman is not a “sex object” we say.
On the surface, this “anti-rape” hysteria seems to be an attack on men. But I’ve now come to believe it is primarily a subtle attack on women.
Imagine a woman growing up in such a culture while secretly having such sexual fantasies. She’s practically forced to respond in at least one of three ways:
- Accept that she’s broken beyond repair for some unknown reason
- Speak out against rape in attempt to signal to others and herself that she is “normal” (The SJW)
- Find some other person or event to blame for these “dirty” fantasies she has (The Victim)
Even when we try to help sexual abuse victims, in our naivity, we often do more harm than good. For what do we tell them? “What he did to you was wrong. You are NOT a sex object. You are a wonderful person.”
Yet the real message she receives is “Rape is bad. You’re a disgusting person for fantasizing about being a man’s sexual object. People think that you’re a good person so don’t let them know about these gross fantasies you’re having.”
But is this what the Scripture teaches?
Beastly Passion in the Bible
Consider Proverbs 5:19:
Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe;
let her breasts satisfy thee at all times;
and be thou ravished always with her love.
The scripture compares sexuality to an animal. Most modern translations hide the animal-like passion by saying a “graceful” doe… implying that the woman is to be elegant like some sort of fancy ball from a Jane Austin novel. But the Hebrew word used is chen which literally means to “find favor in the eyes of someone” (e.g. a sexually charged man.)
Dalrock described it well when he said the proverb is “exhorting husbands to approach their wives with the same kind of passion a rutting buck has for a doe.”
“Ravished” is translated from shagah. This is the same word used to describe someone who sins or strays from the right path without knowledge. The idea is that the wife is so irresistible to her husband that the husband literally loses control of himself without even realizing what he is doing, acting purely on instinct like the “rutting buck.”
“Always” is translated from tamiyd. This word is used to describe something that is constantly available. The same word is used to describe the “bread of the Presence” that the Lord commanded Israel to set before him in the tabernacle at all times. The idea is that the woman is available at anytime for her husband to ravish.
When this proverb is explained, it sounds an awful lot like a woman’s “rape fantasy.” It’s closer to a trashy erotic novel than the gentle “relationship-centered” sex found in marriage advice books.
Furthermore, it seems that the key to igniting this sexual passion is less about the man developing seduction skills and more about the woman embracing her fantasy for unbridled, almost rape-like sex.
If this is the case, the man is not responsible for getting his wife “in the mood.” Rather, he is to take responsibility for his wife’s well being by confronting her and showing her from the Scriptures that she has been deceived and needs to embrace her God-given sexuality…even if society says it’s wrong.
The Path to Healing
Yes, rape and sexual abuse is wrong. But not in the way our society tells us. It is not wrong because of the act itself. It is wrong because of the context. When it is done outside of a marriage, it is harmful.
But within the context of a marriage, there is no such thing as rape. As far as I can tell, God only gave us two rules to govern sexual passion:
- Don’t have sex with anyone who’s not your spouse
- Don’t do anything that might put your spouse in the hospital (as a general courtesy)
A woman’s “rape fantasies” are not unscriptural. In fact, they may be closer to the biblical model than anything else. A woman who’s been victimized through sexual abuse (and anti-rape propaganda) will not be healed until she recognizes and embraces her God-given sexual passion.
So if nothing else is working, try this path:
- Show your wife that it’s not demeaning to be a “sex object” (Proverbs 5:19)
- Teach her that there’s nothing wrong with having “rape fantasies”, and even to embrace them within the context of a marriage
- Teach her that what was done to her in the past was wrong, but there’s nothing wrong with her… her supposed “damaged” sexuality is a myth
- Teach her that even if she’s not a “Perfect 10”, that you are still turned on by her body. After all, you married her because you wanted to have sex with her!
- Teach her to take small steps to act out her sexuality towards you. This will drive out fear. (1 John 4:18)
- Remind her of the above truths whenever she falls into old habits and thoughts