Tag Archives: The Bible and sex

Q&A with J: Is BDSM Okay in Marriage?

BDSM comes up from time to time. If you don’t know what that is, let me (somewhat sadly) educate you: It stands for Bondage – Discipline/Dominance – Submission/Sadism – Masochism. The activities range in intensity, but they are all categorized together because they involve shifting of power in the sexual act.

Another single reader contacted me about these practices. Here’s his question:

“I’m a 23 year old student who’s single, but I have found myself struggling more and more with being kinky. Or at least feeling as though I’m kinky. I don’t know I’m confused. When I talk about being kinky I am specifically talking about bdsm – sadomasochism and domination and submission.

“The problem is that I feel somewhat predisposed to those activities… (E.g., I used to have quite bad depression…and one time I tried to hang myself and I was aroused by it.) I guess my question is, is it alright to be like this? And if I ever do get married would it ever be permissible in God’s eyes to try anything like that? Or is this stuff generally best to leave alone?”

My answer gets a bit graphic, so this is my NSFW (Not Safe For Work) warning. Also, not safe to read with kids hanging over your shoulder.

Is BDSM Okay in Marriage

Yes, you should leave this stuff alone. Why? Because it really doesn’t match up with God’s descriptions of love among his people, and the intimacy of the marriage bed. You might want to check out: Married, Consenting Adults: Whose Okay Really Matters?

But that’s not enough to tell you. Because now you have to figure out what to do with all of those feelings! You can’t just shut them off with a click. You might want to start by understanding why people pursue kinky sexual interactions that involve pain.

For one thing, God made us so that when we experience extreme pain, our bodies respond with numbing and feel-good chemicals to counteract our discomfort. Those who engage in BDSM capitalize on that connection by inflicting pain that heightens awareness and brings forth a counterbalancing reaction. However, God intended sex to include the pleasure without the pain, and that is entirely achievable.

Others engage in these behaviors basically because of the power trip. Power is very exciting for many people, and power in the bedroom can be even more so. But how is a power imbalance what God intended for married couples experiencing His gift of sex?

Unfortunately, people with backgrounds of sexual abuse also find BDSM intriguing, because they lacked control in their first experiences of sex…and this gives them a sense of control. That’s true whether they are the one in power (dominant) or the one in submission (submissive), because one calls the shots and the other practices “safe words.” But surely, our notions of sexuality shouldn’t come from misuse of God’s gift of intimacy. Sex isn’t about control, but about love and connection and generosity.

By the way, the connection of hanging and arousal is known as erotic asphyxiation. That you responded in that way does not mean this is something you are truly attracted to doing. It can be a natural response to the brain’s lack of oxygen and increase in carbon dioxide, which causes feeling of giddiness and heightened sensations. In fact, public hanging victims were sometimes observed achieving erections as they died. But a continuing fascination with this activity, or engaging in it on purpose, is listed as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of American Psychiatric Association.

So what needs to happen now? It’s not just about getting rid of one thing (interest in problematic sexual practices), but replacing it with far better (God’s intent for marital sexuality). My suggestion? You’ve got to sit down and talk with a Christian mentor, counselor, or therapist and see why this is an issue for you. Then you need to find ways to combat erroneous thinking and replace those messages with what God desires instead.

I’m hoping you have some resources to do this, but you can also connect with online ministries. I suggest asking around or looking up options. They’re not the only ones, but I am aware of XXX Church; although I’ve not had direct interaction with them, I’ve heard good things.

Above all, remember Philippians 4:8 (NLT): “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Focus your thoughts on the higher things of God, including His plan for marital intimacy.

See also: Has the Mainstream Embraced BDSM? Should You?

Q&A with J: Can Sex Be Used as Comfort? Yes, But…

I’m back again for another installment of the Summer of Q&A with J. Here’s today’s question sent to me from a husband. He describes a conflict he had with his wife:

I have been giving a lot of thought to a recent disagreement on sexual intimacy. We had been through some tough things over the prior week, and one night I said how much I wanted to make love and feel her in my arms and forget the world for a while. And she got upset with me. Really upset.

At issue was the idea of using sexual intimacy as “comfort.” She was adamant that sex should not be used as “comfort” at all, ever, and felt that my request was inappropriate.

My question is this: Is it ok to consider sexual intimacy as a “comfort” in a marriage? When would it be appropriate? When would it be inappropriate, when would it be “using” rather than “sharing”?

Can Sex Be Used As Comfort? Yes, But...

Let me point this reader and others to a post I wrote on 4 Ways Sex Can Comfort in Crisis or Grief. Specifically, consider these verses from the Bible:

“Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her” (2 Samuel 12:24a).

“Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (Genesis 24:67).

Thus, my answer is an unequivocal yes — sexual intimacy can absolutely be comforting in marriage. I’ve certainly experienced it myself.

HOWEVER, before you all bring out your thick Bibles to thump your spouses, the issue is more than who is right or wrong. I’m rather curious what the wife thinks sex is for — what are her “appropriate” reasons to engage in sex in marriage.

Some wives who don’t engage in sex frequently in marriage don’t feel listened to and valued, so here’s an opportunity to demonstrate you care about her thoughts and feelings. Ask what she thinks about sex: What purpose does it serve in marriage? Why did God include create it the way He did? Why is there an entire book about marriage and sex in the Bible (Song of Songs)?

Now don’t corner the poor girl and drill her like you’re the hard-nosed detective in the last cop show you saw. In The DNA of Relationships, marriage researcher and author Gary Smalley talks about how we draw close and open up to others when we feel “safe.” He defines as a safe environment as “no one has to worry about being shamed or rejected or punished or attacked for stating personal beliefs and feelings.” Then he notes, “In a place like that, heartfelt communication can bloom and grow.” Ask open-ended questions, invite conversation, and affirm your wife. Listen and rephrase what she says to make sure you understand where she’s coming from.

It’s perfectly fine for you to feel sex is comforting; it’s obviously in the Bible. What’s at question here seems to be her view of sex altogether. Who knows what beliefs about sex she’s learned or ingrained over the years? Some of us have loads of sexual baggage or received negative messages about sex.

When a big disagreement breaks out over something seemingly innocuous, that’s a red flag that you have hit a sore spot. Instead of digging in your heels further, as we are all tempted to do when we’re right, it could be a time to tread lightly and make extra effort to create that safe environment.

By the way, you won’t be able to do this on your own. That’s my heartfelt, been-there-tried-that opinion. I cannot achieve this kind of extravagant love in my own strength. Because yeah, when your spouse fires back at you, you’re wounded and the last thing you want to do is to put aside your pain and minister to your spouse.

Still, that’s what we’re called to do. Extra prayer is warranted. James 1:5 says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” You’ll need wise words, so ask for them. I also like finding verses that remind me of the kind of person I want to be in that circumstance and try to memorize them. For instance, I wish every married person had 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 memorized, so they could recall to mind what agape love really looks like. But if you’re struggling specifically with compassion or patience or gentleness, find those scriptures and arm yourself accordingly.

In summary:

  1. You’re right: Sex can definitely be comfort in marriage.
  2. Being right isn’t the same as being good: Be careful how you approach your spouse when you’re right and they aren’t there yet.
  3. Foster a safe environment: Better conversation and problem-solving will happen when you both feel safe to express your thoughts and emotions, whether they make sense to your spouse or not.
  4. Ask for God’s help: No one has the power to love perfectly at all times — no one but God — so ask for His help as you work through sexual issues in your marriage.

What do you think about sex as comfort? Have you faced similar conflicts in your marriage? What advice would you give?

Making Love When You Have Teens in the Home

Although many parents’ nightmare is being discovered mid-sexual encounter by their children, the reality is that if your young children were to hear something, they likely wouldn’t have a clue what they heard. I even wrote about how one of my kids, younger back then, mistook some intimate noises for cat meows. Yep, that’s right, kid — it’s the cat! *wink-wink*

But what about when your kids become teenagers? Assuming you did your job, or assuming they’ve ever left home and interacted in the real world, they know about sex. If you have sex while they’re home and they hear something, they might well put two and two together and realize you’re in there becoming one flesh.

How can we ever make love when our teens are in the house? And awake? Because have you noticed they also stay up way later than those toddlers and elementary kids? So much for waiting until they fall asleep.

Starting with my guide in all things sex, the Bible — yep, that’s right, the Bible — I have to say it’s a little disappointing there’s no verse in the Song of Songs where the Beloved says, “Hey, Lover, if you want to have sex, we need to do something with these kids!”

But I think there are parenting principles that can be applied even to the bedroom.

A Do No Disturb sign on a white door + blog post title

If they know you make love, they better understand godly marriage. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). We parents have heard this one, right? I bet you never thought about applying that verse to how you model intimacy in marriage.

Of course, you’re not actually training your child to have sex, but our best teaching comes through modeling. Our kids are watching us. Their most prevalent example of what a marriage looks like is the one they see every day between the parents in their home. If they see you date, see you flirt and touch, see honesty and respect, and note that sometimes you disappear to the bedroom for alone time, that’s all good stuff. They’re getting a good sense of what God intended for this covenant relationship called marriage.

So relax when you consider that your teens might actually know you have sex . . . because that’s a good thing. Of course, we don’t want to share details — making love is a private matter between husband and wife — but the idea of it happening in their home is a good example to set. It trains them in the way they should go: realizing marriage is the place where sex should happen and intimate beauty awaits when they follow God’s plan.

It’s not their house, it’s yours. Proverbs 19:14 says: “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.” What does that have to do with sex for your marriage when you have teens in the house? The verse says that houses are inherited from parents — as in the house does not belong to your kids now. They can have it later. Right now, it’s yours, and your name is on the mortgage and/or deed. It’s time to be that prudent wife and remember you own every inch of that house, not your teens.

Sometimes we parents tiptoe around this issue and our kids so much, we almost feel like we need to squeeze ourselves into the very back corner of our house away from everyone to enjoy a little nookie. But I felt a massive mental shift when I remembered that we own the house, pay the bills, and provide everything our children need on a daily basis — including a bedroom to retreat to. Moreover, they have headphones to plug into this, that, and whatever, effectively drowning out whatever noise might be occurring in their home. Frankly, if we wanted to claim the living room for the next half-hour for a wild encounter of “hot monkey love,” the people who need to leave are our children. They didn’t pay for that space, we did.

Would I do that? No, of course not! But that realization freed me up to decide that making love in our bedroom was not infringing on their space. If they somehow realize something’s going on or even hear noises, they can go to their bedroom or shove on headphones and effectively ignore it.

Be courteous and private. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Although this verse refers specifically to fathers, we moms can take this important advice too.

Yes, your kids should see you demonstrating love and affection. Yes, it’s fine and good for them to know you make love. Yes, you have every right to have sex when and where you want to in your own home. But no, you shouldn’t knowingly make life more difficult for your teenagers.

How many of you had an up-close encounter with your parents’ sex life growing up? In fact, raise your hand if you figured out, or (heaven forbid) saw, an intimate moment between your parents — and have the cringe-worthy memories. My hand is up. Thankfully, however, it was a small thing, an accident — and awkward, not exasperating. But if parents are constantly announcing they’re going to have sex or screaming like banshees in the bedroom, that can reach the level of annoying, rude, and exasperating.

Be courteous and private. Go to your bedroom or another tucked-away place for the heavy affection. Lock the bedroom door, and establish a policy of no interruptions except for blood, vomit, or fire. Turn on music or white noise or some other sound cover. If you need to wait a few minutes for your teens to be otherwise occupied (like starting the movie they’re about to watch) or to go to bed, just wait. Take advantage of alone times in the house. (Church youth events have been a real boon to our marital intimacy!) Don’t stop making love if they’re in the house, but practice courtesy and privacy.

Don’t give up being sexually intimate with your spouse because you have teens in the house. Talk regularly to them about what true sexual intimacy should be, and they’ll likely assume you’re practicing it in your own marriage. Then when you want to make love, they’ll probably cooperate enough to get out of your way. They want you to be happy in your marriage, but yeah, they don’t want to know the details.

What have you found works? How can we remain sexually intimate in our marriages when we have teens in the home?

A Marriage Movie: My Review of THE SONG

On Saturday, my husband and I went to see The Song, a movie described on its website as follows:

Aspiring singer-songwriter Jed King is struggling to catch a break and escape the long shadow of his famous father when he reluctantly agrees to a gig at a local vineyard harvest festival.  Jed meets the vineyard owner’s daughter, Rose, and a romance quickly blooms. Soon after their wedding, Jed writes Rose “The Song,” which becomes a breakout hit. Suddenly thrust into a life of stardom and a world of temptation, his life and marriage begin to fall apart.

Song Movie WallpaperThe advertisements say that the movie is inspired by the Song of Solomon. And it is. However, more accurately, it’s inspired by the life of King Solomon. This story is something of a modern-day retelling, and the movie is saturated with scriptures from Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.

Going into the theater, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d seen other faith-themed films, and they’ve varied in quality and popularity. So while I dared to hope, I wasn’t walking in with great expectations.

I was surprised by the structure of the film — the sequence of protagonist Jed’s life and the way a narrator integrates Bible verses into the scenes. To me, this film struck an intriguing balance between biblical foundation and real (and sometimes messy) life. This is not a family, feel-good film. But it is a very real portrayal of how our choices in love, work, and faith impact our lives.

This film gets a thumbs-up from me. My husband and I both smiled at the humor and the tender moments in the film. We tensed when the characters began making poor choices (because we remember how that feels in a marriage and what bad consequences can come). We ached and even wept when things fell apart. We yearned for a happy ending. The story drew us in, tugged at our hearts, and reminded us of what matters.

As I said, the story is real — so yeah, there’s some sinful stuff on the screen. I didn’t think it was egregious, but it’s there enough to make the point. The acting is superb, and at times the performances hit close to home. (Honestly, if this wasn’t a biblically based movie, I wonder if lead actor Alan Powell would be up for some acting awards.)

Alan Powell & Ali Faulkner in the lead roles

Alan Powell & Ali Faulkner in the lead roles

What I appreciated most was both husband and wife were flawed. There are many lessons spouses could draw from this movie. It’s the husband’s story, so we follow him more. But you can see how these people slowly slide into a terrible situation and, once there, don’t know how to get out. In fact, there was one scene that channeled certain feelings from my past when my own marriage was a wreck — when we were both in such emotional pain that we just wanted the pain to stop. And we sent ourselves further into hurt before God pulled us out of the pit.

I also related, very sad to say, to the temptress in the movie. The way she flirted was familiar from my long-ago days of premarital promiscuity. So I believe the filmmakers cast her character in a believable light as well.

Some time ago, I wrote about avoiding adultery, based on Proverbs 5. My post aligns well with this movie, since the progression was displayed right there on the screen. (However, intimacy after an affair is more than possible when God becomes the focus of your situation.)

Of course, adultery isn’t the only seemingly insurmountable problem in marriages. My own marriage has never experienced adultery, but at one point, we were hanging on by a thread. Yet I still saw the trajectory of my marriage in The Song — the neglect and pain, the choices and consequences, the heartbreak and redemption.

Let me assure you that — thank God — my marriage has a happy ending! A very, very Happy Ever After!

As for The Song, you’ll have to see the movie for yourself.

I’m glad for all the Christian voices out there proclaiming what God’s Word says — that marriages often have problems, yet “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Hot, Holy & Humorous is one of those voices. And so is The Song.

I pray that we reach out to people through as many means as we can. Movies can be especially powerful. And maybe some of those unaware that the Bible speaks into marriage and sexuality will see this movie and discover the modern-day relevance of God’s Word.

Have you seen The Song? If so, what did you think? And what questions do you have for me about the movie?

3 More Great Bible Stories about Sex

In my last post, I talked about 4 great Bible stories involving sex. Specifically, I discussed Adam and Eve, Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, Hannah and Elkanah, and David and Bathsheba (not the adulterous part, the better part).

There are many Bible stories about sexual sin, some of them quite awful indeed. However, the above four and the following three are my favorite ones that teach us something important about God’s gift of sexuality to marriage.

Bible with light glowing from it

1. The Lover and the Beloved. You had to know this one would make the list! But what’s the story exactly? Beyond all those flowery passages, like how her “navel is a rounded goblet” (Song of Songs 7:2) and his “arms are rods of gold” (5:14)?

Well, there’s an interesting story in Chapter 5, in which the husband comes home late and wants some nookie. (Okay, it’s worded more sophisticated than that, but you get the gist.) And what does the wife do? Yeah, she does what a lot of us wives have done at least one time or another: “I have taken off my robe—must I put it on again? I have washed my feet—
must I soil them again?” In other words, “You want me disrupt my sleep and make some big effort for sex? Come on! Not tonight!”

But what’s inspiring about the rest of the story is this wise wife realizes pretty quickly she’s missed a golden opportunity. She gets up and searches for her husband, desiring him to return to bed with her.

Why? Because they love each other, and sexual intimacy is worth some effort. Once you make the decision to engage, you may find yourself saying, as the Beloved wife says, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he browses among the lilies” (6:3). Translation? We’re in love and gettin’ it on. (More or less.)

2. Hosea and Gomer. So Gomer’s not really my favorite person, what with all the running away and adultery. But God commands Hosea to marry her, to pursue her, to make love to her, and to bring her back when she wanders.

I don’t believe this story suggests a spouse should put up with a callous pattern of adultery, because God had His own purposes and points to make with this story. However, it’s enlightening how far God is willing to have a husband pursue a wayward wife.

If your marriage has been struck by pornography or adultery or emotional unfaithfulness, you need to do all you can reasonably do to heal the relationship and create a safe space for holy intimacy in your marriage. Yes, you can leave, biblically, and some situations indeed call for that step. But our culture now leans the other way — walking out as soon as infidelity has occurred. Maybe we could use a little more Hosea in our hearts.

3. Joseph and Mary. So Joseph was betrothed to Mary and found out she was pregnant. Yikes! Thankfully, an angel appeared to him and explained: “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. . . . When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus” (Matthew 1:20-21, 24-25).

When I was halfway through one of my pregnancies, I was diagnosed with a condition that required my husband and I to abstain from sex for four months. I think those four months are like dog years to a husband, because it felt like a reeeally loooong time before he could be intimate with his wife.

While I’m all over the have-sex-often plan, sometimes you can’t. Military couples separated by tours of duty, spouses going through health issues, long-term work separations, etc. can cause an absence in sexual intimacy. And yeah, it’s tough. But you know what, Joseph did it. He waited until Mary had delivered God’s son, Jesus, and then made love to his wife.

Do I think they avoided affection or even arousal? I don’t know. I suspect not. He’d waited for a long time for Mary, loved her, and wanted her as his wife. Yet he was patient when he needed to be, sexually intimate when he could be.

So there are three more stories in the Bible that involve sexuality in some way. Maybe I shed a different perspective on one of them. Maybe I didn’t draw the same conclusions you did. Maybe we can gather in Heaven someday and hear these stories straight from the people who experienced them.

In the meantime, what are some of your favorite Bible stories? What have you learned about marriage or sexuality from them? What is your take on any of the stories I’ve shared?