One of the chapter titles in Dr. Juli Slattery and Dannah Gresh's book, Pulling Back the Shades, asks the question: "Since when did prince charming carry handcuffs?" This creative heading grabs a reader's attention by immediately raising the question about how BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism and Masochism) became popular, and what is right and healthy in a sexual relationship. And when did bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism become behaviors to which women should aspire in the bedroom?
God's gift to a husband and wife includes sexual intimacy that's intended to be an expression of love and respect between a man and woman. Although it's understandable that couples have questions about what's "acceptable" in the bedroom, all those questions can be filtered through four basic questions outlined in Dr. Juli Slattery and Dannah Gresh's book.
First Corinthians 10:23-24 reads, " 'All things are lawful,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful,' but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor." Juli and Dannah recommend that couples consider Paul's words as a filter for a husband and wife to ask themselves:
- Is this beneficial?
- Does it master me?
- Is it constructive?
- Is it loving?
Beyond their four basic questions, Juli and Dannah outline 10 black-and-white issues that they believe the Bible is clear in condemning. Some of these are:
- lustful passions
So if God's Word is clear about some basic black-and-white sexual issues, what's a believer to do with the shades of grey that are redefining sex in our culture? And what's at risk if a husband and wife choose to dabble in a bit of "grey"?
In her broadcast interview at Focus on the Family, Dannah emphatically declared that the term BDSM may be growing in cultural popularity, but she still believed the words were too intense to deserve an acronym. Although BDSM may be a quick way to reference this trendy form of sexual role-play, Dannah emphasized the weightiness of each of those four words and challenged women not to overlook the gravity of the literal message.
Juli acknowledges that in Fifty Shades of Grey, the story of main characters Christian and Anastasia is crafted to be a love story reflecting the natural longings of a woman's heart. Unfortunately, it breaks down when the hero invites the heroin to his Red Room of Pain where he is free to master, dominate, torture and abuse her. Although this book is fantasy, the world of BDSM is very real. Couples need to understand there's a big difference between sex play and BDSM in that one is respectful and relationally satisfying, while the other crosses the line by humiliating and degrading, causing physical harm and violating a free will.
Juli and Dannah write: "Reading erotica, like viewing pornography, may lead to an intense sexual reaction, but the characters are one-dimensional lies. With each page of erotica or image of porn on a computer, evil is reinforcing the lie that sex is just about physical pleasure—divorced from true commitment, unselfish love and God's holy design. You will be left with a deep ache for something more. The truth is that you were created for something more! Your sexuality was never meant to be separate from your deepest spiritual and relational longings but to be an expression of them."
Concluding with that thought, it's essential that married couples stay focused on the fact that God's gift of sex is designed to celebrate covenant love—a physical and emotional expression of the great commitment made between a husband and his wife. Sexual intimacy is so much more than just a physical experience—it's designed to reflect the relational and spiritual elements at work between a man and woman.