The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman has apologized to readers and says it will help organize a "community summit against sex crimes" after it published a column by a Wasilla pastor who contended that, from a biblical standpoint, a man cannot be accused of raping his wife if she resists his sexual approaches. Ron Hamman of Independent Baptist Church of Wasilla told The Frontiersman his "Religion Views" column stemmed from an accusation that Alaska pastors are covering up spousal rape. Hamman wrote in response:
The truth is that God has given to us physical needs we commonly refer to as a "sex drive," and he has designed for these to be met within the bounds of marriage. The trouble comes when one spouse or the other decides to exact retaliation against the other because of some offense and withholds him or herself from his or her mate. This is wickedness, and such is a violation of the spirit of marriage on the part of the withholder.
Thus, if these allegations of spousal rape are due to the wife withholding herself in attempt to control or punish her husband, she is out of line with God. And it doesn't matter how many laws are passed, it will just be another reason why God will not bless America.
In a followup conversation with The Frontiersman, Hamman agreed that a man who is, for example, drunk could be accused of "abuse" after beating his wife and forcing sex on her. If Hamman offered any further clarification of this distinction from what he originally wrote, The Frontiersman does not report it in its editorial, headlined "Rape is illegal and immoral."
Rape victims called [after publication of Hamman's column]. Men who grew up here, moved away and read the column online emailed rebuttals. Readers posted comments to the column online, and we received several letters - all taking exception to Hamman's words and our publication of them.
In retrospect, we're not sure printing Hamman's religious viewpoint was the right decision. Publishing unpopular opinions is healthy for community debate and discourse; however, Hamman's words can be interpreted as a defense for spousal rape, which is a position we would never condone or propagate. Rape is immoral and illegal, and we apologize for a decision that has offended so many.
Neither Hamman nor The Frontiersman returned calls by a KTUU reporter with questions about the controversy. Pastor Julia Seymour of the Lutheran Church of Hope told KTUU: "I felt very angry and very ashamed [by Hamman's column]. You're not biblically required to return to someone who is hurting you, putting yourself in that situation again and again -- that's not what's required."