Fifty Shades and BDSM: A Biblical Perspective

171976248_2e47577f6e_oWith the release of Fifty Shades of Grey this coming Friday, we can expect one of the largest audiences for a film of such risqué material in a very long time. Far from the sexually charged films of the past, this is a movie that will primarily draw women who will bring their (all too willing) boyfriends and husbands.

As a card-carrying member of conservative Christianity, I am fascinated as I see the church responding to Fifty Shades of Grey. It seems that most of the church is quietly ignoring the film, hoping it will go away. Another segment is quietly planning to see the film as a guilty pleasure. A final group is vocally calling the film out.

Let me be clear, Fifty Shades of Grey is high budget pornography. The film quality will be good, the artistic merit will be higher the most porn, and the harm will be that much greater because of it. A full twenty minutes of a one hundred minute film is sex scenes. To pretend this is anything but pornography is to practice an amazing level of self-deception.

Take it from an expert rationalizer.

In my own thinking about the film, I have seen some reaction from Christians that has not attacked the graphic nudity and blatant sexuality on a screen, but rather the bondage itself as evil. It made me wonder, is there a biblical case against BDSM (Bondage, Domination, SadoMasochism)?

While the topic of BDSM is  broad one and I couldn’t address every specific case (nor would I want to), from here on out, let me refer specifically to the bondage part of BDSM as it seems to be the most common sexual practice that falls under the term BDSM.

As I’ve considered the actual teachings from the Bible, I have noticed that the focus of the sexual morals in scripture are focused on who I have sex with (only my wife), when I have sex (only after marriage), but not how to have sex.

It seems that God has left the specific practices of sex to the consciences and preferences of the husband and wife. I find no case against use of ropes and candle wax and gags. While these practices are by and large distasteful to me, I would be unable to make a case that another husband and wife should not do them.

Then a caution arises. While the scriptures do not specifically say how to have sex, they have a lot to say about what our motivations and desires should be.

As a husband, I am going to speak to husbands now. Not to say these commands don’t apply to the ladies too, it’s just that I feel that the bulk of the sin here lies with us men. It is also my practice to police my own team first and guys, you are my team!

Your Body is Hers

The husband should fulfill 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. 1 Cor 7:3-4

Far from saying her body is yours, the focus is on how you can serve her. This is not a weapon to force an unwilling spouse to uncomfortable sexual situations, this is a call to serve in the bedroom.

So be careful that when you might desire to use a little rope or blindfold, that your first priority is to serve her. What can you do to make her experience better? If these tools help her enjoy your sexual relationship more, then good. But be careful of your deceptive heart.

Submission in the Bible

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Eph 5:21-23

Yes, submission is in the Bible. Submit to one another. Far from forcing unwanted sexual experiences, we need to submit to each other. Gentlemen, we tend to get what we want in the bedroom (the ladies, not so much), let’s be careful to submit to our wive’s requests. Submission is the action taken by a serving heart.

Make sure your wife is safe

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Eph 5:25-28

The main point of this verse is that husbands should love their wives sacrificially because Jesus loves his church sacrificially. With that is the instruction to love you wife like you love your own body. Part of loving her is making sure that what you are doing sexually is safe. Many of the BDSM practices can injure and sometimes kill.

For example, there is a part of the BDSM community that uses asphyxiation (placing plastic bags over their head to heighten an orgasm). This can and has killed before. It is not loving to risk your wife’s safety.

Does it serve your wife spiritually

There are many women out there that have an unhealthy view of themselves as somehow deserving to be humiliated or shamed. These ladies might take part in bondage because they see it as fitting and not because they would naturally enjoy it. A thoughtful husband would not encourage a harmful view in his wife of herself.

When Jesus loves the church, he makes her feel special and deeply loved. Jesus washes away our insecurities by demonstrating that he will love us as we are. We aren’t loved because we are just that great, we are loved because he is that great.

If bondage hurts your wife spiritually or emotionally, then avoid it. It is far better that you demonstrate restraint for yourself to serve her.

Will it enslave you

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 1 Cor 6:12

Just because something is enjoyable and not specifically banned by scripture does not make it good. Even if all of the conditions above are met, would bondage start to dominate you. Would you get to the point of being unable to enjoy sex without ropes? Would your wife become and object to be used and not a person to be loved? Would you enjoy sex and forget about the God who made sex to be enjoyed?

Of course, there are a million ways our heart enslave us. For some, these practices would be a delightful way to enjoy their spouse and that enjoyment is a great good. For others, it is another trap they need to avoid.

BDSM practices are never specifically mentioned in scripture and, in my opinion, should be used with caution. Those who say they are banned by the Bible have no case that I know of from scripture. Whatever you believe, be careful to love your God and love your wife. It is hard to go wrong by fighting hard to please your wife and your God and it is impossible to go right if you only want to please yourself.

-Chip

The image above is courtesy of Zaphodsotherhead and is used with permission. Also, Zaphodsotherhead is such a wonderful Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference!

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My Challenge to Older Men

old-man-talking-to-two-young-boysNever have generations been so different.

The older generation grew up in the depression and in the 1950s. They are hard working and frugal. They grew up in churches and were mystified by the sexual revolution. They were stunned when the cultural changes of their children came.

Most of them relied on the stable institutions of culture to reign in the exuberant change among their children and grandchildren. But, unlike in generations past, the change didn’t slow, it accelerated. With growing knowledge and technology we became both smarter and more foolish. My generation rejected the wisdom of the past. We didn’t need it, we didn’t want it.

Many institutions that tied older and younger men together were crumbling. With increased travel, grandchildren were further separated from their grandparents. The dinner table because less important. In churches, Sunday School separated into grades which further isolated generations from each other. With the advent of the internet, my generation became one of the most isolated in history.

In our foolishness, we not only became isolated, we celebrated it. We pretended that our Guild Leader in World of Warcraft was our friend. We lied to ourselves by saying we have hundreds of “friends” on Facebook. By only becoming close with people of our own generation. We pooled our ignorance and have become idiots in everyone’s eyes except our own.

Older men, that’s why we need you.

We don’t know how foolish we are but we do know how lost we feel. We need you to bridge that gap.

I know I am asking something extraordinary of you. The differences between the generations is so significant that it is more like crossing cultures than crossing the street. Despite the barriers, it is so important to serve the young men who aren’t in your churches. They are the leaders of tomorrow and they are the least likely humans to be in a church.

The current and coming crisis of your men is heartbreaking. My generation of men are a mess. They are terrible fathers, husband, friends, and lovers of God. While I am part of them and suffer from many of the same weaknesses they do, I am often exhausted to see the rampant foolishness they have.

We as a church need to ask the older men to sacrifice their preferences to serve the lost generation of young men. We desperately need those stately old men to engage with younger men and challenge them to better things. One of the great sins of the older generation is that they have not worked to bridge the gap to us younger men.

We need you.

One day there won’t be any of you older men left. You will have died and my generation will be the ones left to guide the ones after us.

God help us all.

We are not prepared for this. I’m begging you older men to reach down to us younger men and guide us. We are a generation of runaways who don’t like to be pushed or challenged. It will require extraordinary patience on your part to chase, encourage, correct, and love us. We are not so different than you.

Think about it, when you were young, you were foolish and stupid, just like us. What if no men had helped and supported you in that time. Where would you be now? We have grown up without fathers to show us the way. We need you older men to invest in us.

So, to the older men. Please love us enough to get past our smart phones and video games. We are crying out for someone to show us the way. We are lost and need guides. The choice is yours. You can abandon us or you can love us enough to break down the barriers we have put up.

Please choose to love us.

-Chip