“My husband has begun to practice your “7 Ways to Discipline Your Wife” plan on me because I will not participate in the BDSM activities that he desires. I want to have sex with him! Just not with BDSM.” – This is part of an email I received from a Christian wife who calls herself Olivia.
So is refusal to participate in BDSM activities as a form of sexual foreplay the same as sexually denying one’s spouse?
What is BDSM?
This is the definition of BDSM according to Wikipedia:
“The term BDSM is first recorded in a Usenet posting from 1991, and is interpreted as a combination of the abbreviations B/D (Bondage and Discipline), D/s (Dominance and submission), and S/M (Sadism and Masochism).”
This is another definition of Bondage from Wikipedia:
“Bondage is the practice of consentually tying, binding, or restraining a partner for erotic, aesthetic, and/or somatosensory stimulation. Rope, cuffs, bondage tape, self-adhering bandage, or other restraints may be used for this purpose.
Bondage itself does not necessarily imply sadomasochism. Bondage may be used as an end into itself, as in the case of rope bondage and breast bondage. It may also be used as a part of sex or in conjunction with other BDSM activities. The letter “B” in the acronym “BDSM” comes from the word “bondage”. Sexuality and erotica are an important aspect in bondage, but are often not the end in itself. Aesthetics also plays an important role in bondage.
A common reason for the active partner to tie up their partner is so both may gain pleasure from the restrained partner’s submission and the feeling of the temporary transfer of control and power. For sadomasochistic people, bondage is often used as a means to an end, where the restrained partner is more accessible to other sadomasochistic behaviour. However, bondage can also be used for its own sake. The restrained partner can derive tactile pleasure from the feeling of helplessness and immobility, and the active partner can derive visual pleasure and satisfaction from seeing their partner tied up.”
So in summary BDSM is when one person consensually allows themselves to be tied up and possibly punished by another person and may even endure physical pain either for their own pleasure or for someone else’s pleasure. BDSM may or may not be used as foreplay for sex.
Before I give my response to Olivia’s dilemma here is her full statement to me.
My husband has begun to practice your “7 Ways to Discipline Your Wife” plan on me because I will not participate in the BDSM activities that he desires. I want to have sex with him! Just not with BDSM. He says my unwillingness to submit to BDSM practices is a form of sexual denial and I’m not fulfilling my Christian duty if I don’t do this for him. We have been married for 18 years. I have followed his desires and tried to even initiate sex for all our 18 years of marriage. I even tried the BDSM stuff a few times to see if I could do it. I hate it! Every possible scenario. Sex doesn’t happen until he has finished “the game”. I’m done!
I want a normal (whatever that is) sex life. No more “games”. Just us in the bedroom with nothing but skin. Mad passionate sex! Yank each other’s clothes off, can’t wait to touch you, sex – which has never happened. I’m going through menopause, he says I don’t have any sexual desires right now. I do, it’s just not what he wants. I have prayed, cried out to God for wisdom, we went to marriage counseling, nothing has changed. And now he sends me links to your site and gives me the ultimatum.
He says his “needs” aren’t being met and I’m sexually unavailable for him. I’ve already gone through the steps you have given on what to do. Talked with our pastor (with him), counseling, confront him, pray. I’m not an outspoken kind of person, just someone who is trying to save” her marriage. He is a good man, he has some control issues, but most of his actions are from a Godly heart. Any help would be great.”
My Response to Olivia and the issue of BDSM as it relates to Christians
Requests for BDSM come not only from some husbands as is the case in Olivia’s story, but sometimes they actually come from Christian wives too. I know of a Christian man whose wife left if him for another man because he refused to practice BDSM as sexual foreplay. She wanted to be tied up and gagged with a ball in her mouth and she wanted to act out rape fantasies with him. She wanted him to be rough with her and choke her during sex. He thought this was disgusting and refused to act out these fantasies with her. So she found another man who would and eventually left her husband for that man.
So how should a Christian husband or wife respond to requests for BDSM from their spouse? I believe the answers are clear when we understand the Biblical associations of bondage and pain.
Christians should not seek pleasure through bondage and pain
The Bible associates bondage and pain with this world that has been corrupted with sin.
“Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
Romans 8:21 (KJV)
“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?”
Galatians 4:9 (KJV)
“To the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
Genesis 3:16 (NASB)
No Christian ought to take pleasure from being bound or binding someone else. No Christian out to take pleasure from causing themselves pain or causing pain to others.
Christians should embrace liberty and healing
Rather than seeking enjoyment through bondage and pain, Christians should seek freedom and healing both for themselves and those around them.
“18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Luke 4:18-19 (KJV)
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
Revelation 21:4 (KJV)
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
Galatians 5:21 (KJV)
What about fluffy handcuffs and silk ties?
When I talk about Christians not submitting themselves to bondage for sexual pleasure I am not talking about a wife playfully taking some clothes and tying her own hands around the bedpost or using fluffy handcuffs that she can easily get out of it. These are playful things. Just check out those links above and you will see the disgusting types of bondage activities I am talking about (warning some images on Wikipedia regarding BDSM are graphic).
What if my spouse refuses to have sex with me without BDSM?
I am not sure but I believe this may be the case with Olivia. If your spouse refuses to have sex unless you engage in BDSM foreplay then it is they who are in fact sexually denying you. If this is the case and you are a husband I suggest you follow the steps outlined in my article “8 Steps to confront your wife’s sexual refusal”. If you are a wife and this is the case then I suggest you follow the steps outlined in my article “4 Steps to confronting your husband’s sexual refusal”.
Get counseling for people who have BDSM fetishes
If your spouse is willing to –encourage them to seek out a good Biblical Christian counselor who can help them overcome these sinful desires. In many ways people who have BDSM desires are really no different than those who have homosexual or bisexual desires. These desires are all sinful corruptions of the natures that God gave us.
“If you don’t think wife’s can refuse sex to their husbands you must be into BDSM!”
I can’t tell you how many times I have been accused in emails of being a person who enjoys BDSM with my wife because of my view that a wife cannot sexually refuse her husband. Let me be perfectly clear. I have never nor will I ever engage in BDSM practices with my wife.
People write me on almost a daily basis with statements like “Why would any man want to have sex with a woman who does not want to have sex with him?” My answer to them is simple – no normal man wants his wife to be refusing him for sex. No normal man enjoys sex with his wife when she does it grudgingly in the way he enjoys it when she gives herself freely to him. But he realizes that sex must occur in marriage for many reasons even when his wife may not be in the mood. This is not the optimal situation and this is not what a loving husband wants.
But let me be clear that a husband accepting his wife’s grudging and reluctant consent to sex and then engaging in sex with her under those conditions is not the same as a man who takes pleasure in forcing BDSM activities on his wife.
In the first case – the husband gets no pleasure from acting against his wife’s will, in the second case the majority of the husband’s pleasure actually comes from acting against his wife’s will.
And just for all the rape accusers out there. When I say a husband “acting against his wife’s will” I am talking about her mood and desire for sex. I have said it repeatedly on this site that while I do not believe that Biblically speaking there is such a thing as “marital rape” I do believe that a husband who physically forces himself sexually on his wife is engaging in physical abuse and he is abusing the authority God have given him over his wife. When I say a husband is “acting against his wife’s will” in the first case – it is where she reluctantly or grudgingly gives CONSENT to sexual relations, but make no mistake consent is given.
And sorry rape accusers – consent does not have to be “enthusiastic consent” or its rape as you like to say. Grownups realize that whether it is comes to sex, or going to our jobs or doing many other things in life – sometimes we consent do doing things unenthusiastically because we know we should even though we don’t feel like it.
If your spouse tries to do what Oliva’s husband has done and attempts to say you are sexually denying them because you refuse to participate in BDSM activities as foreplay to sex you need to let them know your conviction that these acts violate your conscious and you feel that God would not want you as a Christian participating in them. Be sure to be loving when you do this. Especially if you are a wife you need to really do this with a great deal of respect and reference for your husband.
What Olivia so longs for with her husband – “Just us in the bedroom with nothing but skin. Mad passionate sex! Yank each other’s clothes off, can’t wait to touch you, sex” is a desire that has been given to her by God and she should feel no shame in that. Her husband on the other hand, needs to realize that his desires for BDSM foreplay with his wife are not desires that God gave him. They are a corruption of the original nature God gave him and he needs to recognize them as such and repent. He most likely needs to seek out a Biblical Christian counselor to help him to deal with these sinful desires to cultivate a natural sexual desire for his wife as she has natural sexual desire for him.
If her husband refuses to have sex with her until she agrees to BDSM as foreplay to sex then she practice the steps outlined in my article “4 Steps to confronting your husband’s sexual refusal”.
And just a closing note to husbands like Olivia’s. Never on this site have I ever told men they can divorce their wives for sexual performance issues – only sexual denial. Those are completely different things. I have men all the time writing me asking me things like “If my wife won’t perform oral sex on me can I divorce her for sexual refusal” and I always answer them with a resounding NO!
Many men and women may lack in the sexual performance area but just because your spouse won’t perform sexual acts (outside of intercourse) does not mean you can leave them. You need to first examine if what you are asking for is Biblically acceptable sexual behavior. If it is then speak with them gently about it. If they refuse then pray for them.
In other words as Christian husbands we should NOT punish our wives because they won’t do certain things like wear lingerie, act in sexy ways toward us or perform oral sex on us.
However I do believe that we can use positive reinforcement to encourage our wives to act outside their comfort zones in the area of sexual performance. Basically you let your wife see by your actions (not your words) that when she “steps it up” in the bedroom by doing things outside her comfort zone that in response you “step it up” outside the bedroom by doing extra nice things for her.