YOU DECIDE...Should she or shouldn’t she?
(from PAL V3N6)

Editors note: Each "You Decide" is followed directly with reader responses.

Dr. Bob Smith is a medical doctor who is also a leader in the biblical counseling movement. He is a board member of both the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) and the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF). Smith counsels at Faith Baptist Counseling Center in Lafayette, Indiana.

Smith presented a workshop titled "Sexual Dysfunctions" at the 1991 NANC conference. We attended the workshop and also purchased the tape so that we would not have to rely on notes and memory. The following is taken from the tape.

Smith says that "the goal [in sex] is to satisfy the spouse," and, "When there is suspected infidelity . . . we trust God." Smith goes on to say, "I’ve known of situations where the wife with those goals has contracted sexually transmitted diseases." He then raises two questions: "Why did God let that happen?" and, "Where is God in this whole situation?"

In response to his questions, Smith says:

We cannot see any of those situations apart from a loving God who’s in control, using all those difficulties for our benefit. Romans 8:28,29 never can be set aside in those situations. I don’t have any other answer except to say I can trust God more than I can trust my knowledge of that person’s being free of sexual diseases.

In the case of AIDS, Smith says: "There are things that can be done to use the protective barriers and those things need to be done." But, he insists that the couple MUST "still satisfy each other." Smith states categorically that it is a "biblical command." And, it must be done "even at risk to ourselves." So even if a wife would put herself at risk through her developing a sexually transmitted disease, including AIDS, she must submit to her husband’s sexual desires.

Because many biblical counselors, including pastors, have heard Smith’s message, it is possible that the end result of their counsel would be a wife who "submits" and becomes HIV positive and consequently develops AIDS.

Should she or shouldn't she?

Readers’ Responses to "You Decide" (from PAL V4N1)

How loving could it be for an AIDS husband to "demand" sex with his vulnerable wife? Maryland

What a counselor thinks is not important, but what God’s Word has said as a whole, not just a single verse.

1 Cor. 6:13; The body is intended for the Lord FIRST and should be consecrated to Him.
1 Cor. 6:19-20; Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, a gift from God to be cared for because He indwells it.
1 Cor. 3:16-17; One should do nothing to cause hurt or harm to God’s temple, for there is great consequence. California

The purpose of marriage for the Christian should be that its focus is to glorify our heavenly Father as we point others to Christ. In today’s society we are so obsessed with self that even Christian marriages are formed with the intent to satisfy self—especially in the area of sex. . . . The Bible teaches that husbands are to love their wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. When men truly put this verse into practice, the woman does not have to decide whether "she should or should not." The question is answered for her by "The Head" of her family in a manner pleasing to the Lord. Alabama

She should trust God re: Romans 8:28,29, as should the rest of us. The fact that it is possible for a seemingly bad result to follow an act of obedience to God does not prove the action to be out of the will of God. Read Hebrews 11 if you have the problem of arriving at the presupposition that you are smarter than God. Suffering, even that which could result in an early death, can possibly be in God’s will. Phil. 1:29 indicates that God "gives" both faith and suffering, "for Christ’s sake," If the believer is "crucified with Christ" (Ga. 2:20), and he is, suffering can be pleasing to him. Paul was told that he "must suffer for my name’s sake" (Acts 9:16). It is possible, for example, that God could use the wife’s contraction of disease to convict the unfaithful husband and his subsequent salvation could start a chain of blessing for centuries to come. The wife could then rejoice that the will of God for her life was to suffer disease and die early. (What is bad about rushing off to heaven, if in the will of God?) Florida

. . . upon studying the Scriptures, I realize now that a wife is to submit to her husband only if it does not go against God’s Word. But submitting sexually to an unfaithful husband (an adulterer and a whoremonger), she is not doing her part to keep the marriage bed undefiled (Heb. 13:4). True, God will judge the husband, but she must make sure he doesn’t defile her. The man who forces himself on an unwilling wife does not give her honor, and is not showing the love for her that Christ has for the church (Eph. 5:25-30). The wife is admonished in verse 24 to submit to her husband in everything, as the church is subject to Christ. In Eph. 5:11, Paul tells the church not to fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather rebuke them. Certainly adultery and spreading disease are among such works! . . . In Romans 8:28 we see that those who love God and are the called according to His Purpose will see all things work together for good. God’s purpose for the wife is to lovingly serve her husband—not give in to his selfish desires and contaminated body! May God help those who are victims of such situations! Illinois

. . . God does not require spouses to "satisfy each other." It is not a Biblical command. If you are going to be concerned with Biblical commands, clearly the adulterer is to be stoned. . . . Any woman that would go ahead and knowingly contract venereal diseases, exposing her whole family to a possible death sentence, is not being Biblical. California

First of all shouldn’t we question Dr. Smith’s premise that "sex is to satisfy the spouse"? Isn’t the sexual act the physical manifestation of the absolute oneness that our God calls for between married couples? A oneness that has Him as its source. Momentary physical satisfaction of either spouse is not the goal but rather one of many benefits. . . . A couple who responds to tragedy and stress in their relationship by drawing nearer to God will most surely be held up and empowered by our loving Father. And, it is doubtful whether the answer to their problem will be found in gratification of the flesh at no matter the cost. As a matter of fact the Bible is full of examples whereby spiritual growth occurred only as a result of a heartfelt determination to deny the flesh and opt for God. . . .Oregon

Why is the whole responsibility put on the wife as if the husband had none?

. . . To make sexual gratification a must is to put it on a higher plane than the command that a man love his wife as Christ loved the church. . . . New Jersey

In whatever we do in this world, our ultimate focus must be to glorify God. How sad that Dr. Smith apparently has lost that vision and relegated what God planned as a great gift of total and true communication to the level of animalistic sensuality. Massachusetts

I believe Jesus had something to say to those such as in "You Decide" (Nov/Dec 95). He said, "If you had known what these words mean, I desire mercy not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent" (Mt. 12:7). In the context of the passage Jesus is showing us that mercy is the higher law and even legalism that would seem justified is not higher than mercy. If her husband does indeed have an STD, he and her pastor should be merciful toward the innocent wife, not legalistic. Montana

A man with AIDS should not be willing to put his wife’s life in jeopardy, not if he truly loves her (Eph. 5). And, if he has children, he should also be concerned that fulfilling his own desires might leave them orphans, or their children with no grandparent to enjoy. If he has been unfaithful to his wife, he has no right to expect her to keep her vows when he has broken his. If he has innocently contracted the disease, he might consider the warning of God’s Word in 1 Cor. 3:16-17. If it be wrong in his eyes to relieve himself of his "tension," how can it be right to put the ones he loves at risk? And, if he does not care for God’s Word on this matter, then what about Matt. 19:10-12?! At least the wife should care enough to keep herself pure because of 1 Cor. 3:16-17 and 6:13. . . . The only reasons given in Scripture to jeopardize one’s own life are for the sake of the gospel truth or in the endeavor to save another’s life, which the wife, in this case, cannot do for her husband by submitting to his carnal desires. North Carolina

PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110

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