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In a now-deleted sermon video, Dr. Burnett L. Robinson, the senior pastor at Grand Concourse Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Bronx (New York), told men that it was acceptable to rape their wives because women were commanded to submit to their husbands.

At least one person got a clip of that sermon before the church tried removing all traces of it:

Wives, you must submit yourself to your husband as unto the Lord. And in this matter of submission, I want you to know up front, ladies, that once you get married, you are no longer your own. You are your husband’s. You understand what I’m saying about you?

And I emphasize that, because I saw, in court the other day on TV, where a lady sued her husband for rape. And I would say to you, gentlemen, the best person to rape is your wife.

But then, now, it has become legalized — rape. I don’t understand, “oh, you belong to somebody,” and they are… all right…

(I don’t understand the last lines without more context.)

I’d love to offer a best-case interpretation of his words, but there isn’t one. He’s preaching complementarianism and telling women that they lose any sense of independence one they’re married — and that extends to the use of their bodies. If a husband wants to have sex with them — or violent abuse them, apparently — the woman just has to give in. That’s what God wants for them. It’s what God requires of them.

This Christian rule isn’t unique to this church, Seventh-day Adventists in general, or this pastor. It’s the sort of thing white evangelicals have been preaching for a while now, as noted by Religion News Service:

The passage [from Ephesians] made news headlines back in 1998 when the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, amended its statement of faith to include a declaration that a woman should “submit herself graciously” to her husband’s leadership.

In 2018, one of the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention came under intense criticism after he suggested that wives abused by their husbands should focus on praying and not seek divorce. That leader, Paige Patterson, was later fired from his position as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, for allegedly lying about and mishandling complaints of student rape.

If Christian leaders are disgusted by these kinds of comments, then pastors have an obligation to tell their congregations that abuse is never acceptable, that divorce is always an option, and consent still matters even in the context of marriage. They need to denounce any conservative teaching that tells women to submit to their husbands as if the husband alone rules the family. They won’t. But they should. Instead, a lot of pastors talk about the female submission bit while only mildly implying that the rule also applies in the other direction.

There’s a petition calling for Robinson to resign, but it’s hard to imagine that going anywhere. It appears to have been created by an outsider to the church, and the church has shown no signs of disciplining Robinson for saying what plenty of other Christian pastors have said (in slightly different language) in the past.

(Featured screenshot via YouTube)

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.