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Christian BDSM: Christian? Yes. Vanilla? Not Necessarily.

By Lavender January 30, 2009

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I just have been on a trip through an alternate universe. It was interesting and educational.

It all started innocently enough. An article in Utne Reader (January-February, 2009) dealt with “Sexing Up the Religious Right.” According to the article, religious conservatives have realized sexual prudery is not a concept that’s going to attract the masses in today’s world. So, they now busily are weaving together the concepts of God, traditional marriage, and fantastic sex into what they hope will be a winning package. The article makes the point, however, that some devious, deceitful, and repressive things are going on underneath the surface. It warns us not to be fooled.

Well, your humble columnist asked himself, I wonder if anyone is equating BDSM with Christianity? No, of course not, I replied to myself—look at all the Christian groups that for years have been trying to shut down BDSM events.

Nevertheless, I tried an experiment: I typed “Christian BDSM” into my favorite search engine. I hit the jackpot: The search engine returned more than 65,000 results.

The very first hit was a blog at <scottishboomerang.wordpress.com/2007/08/18/christian-sado-masochism-a-biblical-view-of-marriage-or-the-sign-of-a-subculture-gone-mad/> that talked about evangelical Christianity in America as a parallel “Christian Republic” existing next to, but divorced from, the secular American society created by the separation of church and state.

Apparently, that Christian Republic has some folks into BDSM and other kinds of alternate sexual expression, because further down the list was <christiansandbdsm.com>. After a page proclaiming that the creators of the site believe in Biblical inerrancy, subsequent pages discuss “The Christian Marriage” and “The Christian Husband” before going into “Christian D/s”; “Christian perspectives on Master/slave and Master/sub relationships”; and “Christian BDSM.”

On the latter page, the authors of the site offer the following conclusion: “We have not found within Scriptures any condemnation of sexual behaviors or acts of B&D or S&M when practiced by a man and woman within marriage for the purposes of sexual arousal or gratification. Nor do we find these behaviors defined in Scripture as unnatural, abnormal or perverse.”

Next on the hit list is <sexinchrist.com>, as well as a page on “Bondage in Christ—BDSM in a Christian Marriage,” the first paragraph of which ends: “A BDSM relationship between a dominant husband and submissive wife is actually the ideal of marriage set out in Ephesians 5:22-26 taken to its logical conclusion!” Ephesians 5:22 is the familiar verse: “Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.”

The remainder of the page explains, Bible verse by Bible verse, how BDSM can be part of a Christian marriage. The page’s authors even make the point that it can be Biblical for the husband to submit to the wife in the bedroom—as long as there is “an explicit understanding on the parts of both the husband and wife that they will adopt ‘natural’ roles in the rest of their daily lives. We would counsel against couples living the wife dominant/husband submissive roles ‘24/7,’ as this could lead to spiritual confusion.”

Other articles at <sexinchrist.com> include: “Anal sex and God’s Will”; “Oral sex and God’s Will” (in which an eloquent case is made for swallowing); “Fisting and God’s Will”; “Masturbation—God’s Great Gift To Us”; “Threesomes Within a Christian Marriage”; and several more.

In some instances, the Bible doesn’t mention the activity (and therefore doesn’t prohibit it). In other instances, the Bible actually mentions an activity in a desirable way (mostly in poetic form in the “Song of Solomon”).

The revisionist theology in all the articles gets high marks for creativity. (I just wish the site were a little less homophobic.)

According to these sites, you see, it isn’t the activities themselves that are scandalous. What’s scandalous is when they’re done outside the bonds of holy matrimony.

Even here, the “Threesome” article mentioned above twists itself into pretzels trying to make a three-way sexual encounter not un-Biblical. If it’s a man, his wife, and another man, that could be a problem, because any time you have two guys together in a sexual situation, it might have homoerotic overtones. A man, his wife, and another woman, on the other hand, might be OK. This is because what the Bible says about lesbianism could be interpreted as prohibitions against women being too butch. As long as the lesbianism is the lipstick variety, it is presumed to be permissible.

A few things to note: First, unlike the examples in the Utne Reader article, I don’t think the creators of these sites are trying to use sex to win converts to Christianity. Second, while some of the theology on these sites may be challenging, their understanding of BDSM values seems commendably orthodox. Finally, these ideas are not that new: Parts of christiansandbdsm.com date from 1998.

If we as a community are trying to decriminalize BDSM, and get BDSM activities removed from the list of mental illnesses in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), here is a whole new group of people to work with. They are obviously ready to argue with conviction that, according to the Bible, nothing is wrong with many of the things in which they, and we, take such pleasure.

6 Responses to Christian BDSM: Christian? Yes. Vanilla? Not Necessarily.

  1. Michele says:

    Great article. Thanks!

  2. Lily says:

    This is just like “Christians” who believe they can truly be gay AND a Christian. It’s like, have you not read your bible???!!! The truth is all over the place. I just don’t get it. It’s sickening.

  3. perfectlyhis says:

    Heads up, if we are to call being gay a sin, then I would say that you CAN be gay and a Christian because to say that there is one sin that Christ’s death cannot cover is to say that He was not the perfect to atone for our sins.

  4. Marion Wilson says:

    Heads up also, who are you Lily to say who is Christian and who isn’t? Even when Paul condemns homosexuality, he does not imply that homosexuals choose that lifestyle for themselves. He more implies that it has come about as part of the fallen world we live in, and that we all have sinned, so I suggest you shut your mouth.

  5. aimhigh4once says:

    Never throw stones when you live in a glass house. We all fall short of the glory of God. It is time to take God out of the box. He loves all of his children. Whether it is BDSM, gay, straight or bisexual. God loves us all and yes he lives within these communities. It is time for the right to stop judging others. Oh wait isn’t that a sin too?
    It reminds me of a time when I was attending a church in Indiana and the preacher was speaking on fornication and sin. He said that living together before marriage is a sin. (which is not biblical) God states that once you have laid with a woman you are married. Everything else is mans rules. It is sad because he actually ostracized a few parishioners who left the church. Is this what God wants to drive people away from God? The pastor was actually puffed up about it and acted like he didn’t care. Jesus drew the sinners to him and forgave them he didn’t push them away.
    It’s time for the churches to wake up and realize they need to love their fellow man. A sin is a sin is a sin in God’s eyes. How much more will he judge those who have judged others?

  6. A few points of clarifications – there is no way to make a legit argument in favor of any kind of a three way. Titus and Timothy both talk about being a man in control of his home and being a man of but one wife. Sex with or in the presence of another woman not your wife is clearly sin.

    Second, the author speaks of the site being ‘homophobic’. This label is poorly given. It isn’t that Christians are afraid of homosexuals so much as they know that such behavior is clearly abhorrent to God; that God does not, did not create gays but rather being homosexual is a result of choices, small ones to be sure, but choices nonetheless.

    Third – can one be gay AND Christian. Yes, however, if one is gay and continues to live the lifestyle, even after becoming “born again”, then the Bible teaches us that they are not Christian (by their fruits shall ye know them) meaning that their actions will show who they are, and are not. Thus living an unrepentant life of sin, knowing that it is a sin, calls into question one’s salvation.

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