Jump directly to the Content

Since When Does Prince Charming Carry Handcuffs?

What the Bible says about BDSM
Since When Does Prince Charming Carry Handcuffs?
Image: traveljunction / Flickr

During the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinski scandal, it seemed like the entire nation was talking about oral sex. In the same way, Fifty Shades of Grey has introduced BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism) to our vocabulary, news stories, and social media. What was once a fringe, aberrant sexual practice has become a viable option for everyday women. Almost everywhere I speak, men and women want to know if practicing BDSM within a consensual, loving relationship is okay.

First of all, let’s be clear about what BDSM is and isn’t. There is a big difference between fun sexual play and practicing BDSM. I have no issue with a couple who wants to use a blindfold to heighten sexual excitement or one person “taking charge” to pleasure his or her spouse during sex. However, BDSM involves an entirely different construct. It involves a sexual relationship in which one person is the “dominant” and the other person agrees to be totally submissive, even going so far as to sign a contract pledging obedience. The dominant seeks sexual pleasure by binding, humiliating, flogging, or restraining the submissive.

Whether “consensual” or not, BDSM represents a twisted version of sexual pleasure, and, in some cases, is outright sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. As for the issue of consent, I would argue that many women who willingly participate in BDSM do so in response to manipulation or coercion, or and in reaction to past psychological trauma.

In the real world, dominating another person for your own pleasure, whipping, humiliating, stalking, demanding, and manipulating end in further bondage and grief.

BDSM plays upon the most intense of all human experiences: fear, sexual arousal, shame, control, and authority. Many women have endured emotional, physical, or sexual trauma in which these themes were all mixed together. Instead of being loving, authority was used to harm or humiliate and sex was perhaps used as a weapon to control.

Outside of our conscious awareness, we often try to recreate past traumas. Childhood abuse victims may be drawn to those who overpower or victimize them. In other situations, they want to be the person in control, dominating or humiliating someone else. The draw to relive trauma is very powerful. Like a magnet, you can feel compelled to master the trauma or find a way to make it end differently.

Fantasies like Fifty Shades of Grey perpetuate the illusion that an abusive relationship can magically become loving. In the real world, dominating another person for your own pleasure, whipping, humiliating, stalking, demanding, and manipulating end in further bondage and grief.

While BDSM may be legal among consensual adults, is there any way in which this practice can be seen as loving? God created sex to be a passionate exchange within an intimate, safe, and loving relationship. The Bible helps us understand what “true love” actually looks like.

Many women bristle at the idea of being “submissive” to their husband. Why all of a sudden has the idea of sexual submission become attractive? Frankly, I believe it’s because it’s a counterfeit. At one level, we long to be with a man who is strong and knows his own mind. Yet we live in a world in which men are encouraged to be weak and passive. The answer to our longings is not playing with handcuffs and ordering each other around in the bedroom. What we truly long for is a healthy expression of both masculine and feminine strength.

While BDSM may be legal among consensual adults, is there any way in which this practice can be seen as loving?

John records a deeply intimate and loving interaction between Jesus and his disciples in . John said that Jesus showed them “the full extent of his love” (13:1). What did the Savior of the universe do to show his passion and affection? He humbly washed their feet. This was a sign of his willingness to serve, but also his desire to make them holy.

The apostle Paul tells husbands that they should do the same for their wives, loving them enough to lay down their lives for them and maintaining an absolute commitment to preserving their holiness (see ).

If you’re familiar with Authentic Intimacy, you’ll know that I’m all for a husband and wife exploring fun and exciting ways to spice up their love life. Seriously, I’m not shy when it comes to talking to wives about getting creative and having smoking hot marriages! However, BDSM is a road I would suggest you steer clear of, even within a marriage relationship. It is that Christ died, to free us from bondage. Why would we even play with symbols that point to domination and oppression?

Men often ask me, “What if my wife read Fifty Shades and wants me to try bondage with her?" Or perhaps you are a woman whose husband wants to try handcuffs and a riding crop. How should you respond?

Affirm to your spouse that you are thrilled to work on sexual passion in your marriage! But clearly express your concern for doing so in a way that is loving and edifying to both of you.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

Juli Slattery

Juli Slattery is a TCW regular contributor and blogger. A widely known clinical psychologist, author, speaker, and broadcast media professional, she co-founded Authentic Intimacy and is the co-author of Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making?

Free CT Women Newsletter

Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter CT's weekly newsletter to help you make sense of how faith and family intersect with the world.

Read These Next

Comments

Join in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter

Follow Us

More Newsletters

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
RSS