Father, wash your wife's feet, too
Last month, Father Sean Major-Campbell stated in his published speech at Christ Church Anglican Church, "And while men are also victims of abuse in marriage, since we are on the subject of rape, I made sure to tell my wife, if she ever tries it, I will personally have her reported! I will not stand for it." (The Gleaner, December 10, 2014).
We can be assured that the Father was not joking since rape is no laughing matter. The title of his speech was 'Something wrong with your version of God'. The occasion was a public worship service to which he had invited ladies who sell sex with the intention to wash their feet.
Major-Campbell's version of justice seems unbalanced. He would report his wife apparently to the police for raping him, but ladies who sell sex would not be reported, though it is a criminal offence. Why couldn't Father forgive his wife and wash her feet after she has raped him rather than bring criminal charges against her?
DEALING WITH FORCED SEX
There are persons who want to make marital rape a criminal offence with a mandatory sentence of 15 years in accord with an international treaty to which we are signatories. However, there are other ways to deal with forced sex in a marriage. For example, they could go to counselling to ascertain what the problem is, and if there is no repentance, then there could be divorce. This could be a special divorce in which the wife or the husband would forfeit the right to 50 per cent of the assets.
It is not in all circumstances that we should be quick to criminalise actions. WADA, the world anti-doping body, has argued not to criminalise athletes found guilty of using illicit drugs. If ordinary citizens were guilty of using these drugs, they would be charged with a criminal offence. Similarly, in a football game, one person could so tackle another with such force that the person breaks a limb. The offender would likely get a red card and suspension. However, he would not face criminal charges because it happened on a football field, but a similar action in the public space would be a criminal offence.
Marriage is a special institution which enjoys certain privileges. Marriage is intended as a lifelong commitment for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health. It is total commitment to another person. It is a partnership of equals who will plan, play and pray together.
In marriage, the couple becomes one flesh. And the Bible expounds on the implications of being one flesh. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 states: "The husband should fulfil 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 except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time."
There is, implied, a duty to sexually satisfy each other in marriage. More important, this passage makes sexual intercourse a matter of consent and not one party alone making the decision. It is not for one partner to withhold sex without reason. If there is going to be a hiatus, it has to be for an agreed time.
Obviously, Major-Campbell is a man who washes his wife's feet, and should she rape him, he should, just as he did for the ladies who attended the church service, wash her feet at a public worship service, rather than reporting her to the police and perhaps God will be pleased with him.
Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.