Warning:. People who have experienced physical abuses, sexual violence, or rape in their past may not be able to relate to the forms of sexual expression described here. If you in any way feel uncomfortable with the idea of control play in the bedroom, please do not read this.
“I am my lover’s, and my lover is mine.”
Poetry from THE Book. Yup. THE Bible. (New Living Translation here, verse 7:10).
As many of you know, the Song of Solomon is a very erotic book of poetry in the Bible, describing the interactions and physicality between a man and a woman in love. I have not researched in detail why the powers that be decided that this sexy book should remain as part of Holy Scriptures. Inasmuch as the book of Job is the “anti-Bible” (for all of it’s woe and pathos and doubt and smiting and Devil-challenging-God to test a good man’s faith), Song of Solomon is erotica.
The Bible speaks to relationships between men and women in several places: most notably Genesis, Colossians and Ephesians. For the most part, it’s man and woman becoming one. It’s analogous to Christ’s love for the church, His bride. It’s husband’s headship over the wife, wife’s submission to the husband, with mutual respect and love at the foundation. It’s even telling us not to withhold sex from one another, and that the wife’s body belongs to the husband and the husband’s body belongs to the wife.
Never once will you come across verses in the Bible that speak to spicing up your love life, much less how to conduct it specifically. “Kinky” is not condemned, it’s not condoned. As a matter of fact, there is precious little detail in the Bible just how a husband and wife give themselves to each other. I think our Creator left those details up to the individuals in the marriage, with parameters about how we are to treat one another.
Violence is condemned in the Bible, as is abuse. Having your way over the will of another is also not loving. Yet submitting to leadership is mentioned, even in the husband-wife relationship.
Most romantic love stories, whether in novels or movies, play out with tender and caring lovemaking. The woman feels cherished. The man is sweet, soft, and romantic (in some cases, contrary to the character of manhood). Sometimes there’s a little bit of naughty, but generally we’ve been conditioned to think that “swept away in gentle and sweet passion” is the guidebook to good loving. And, this is something many couples relate to and can wrap their head around, and enjoy a satisfying sex life. End of story. Sweet, basic, Vanilla loving. Nothing wrong with that; no bad pizza.
I like my back scratched, from the time I was a little girl. My husband likes a feather-light tickle over his back. I like to be hugged firmly and hard, and I hug others that way. My husband isn’t one to hold a hug with anyone for more than a nano-second, although he has made an exception for me. Up until recently, he never hugged his father, just offered a gentlemanly handshake. In recent years, after my having mentioned it in contrast to our son and him (it hurt to watch our grown son seem to want to hug his father, to be met with a handshake), I think my husband realized that despite being brought up in a family that wasn’t very touchy-feely (ironically, nor was I) and a tad homophobic, his octogenarian father (and his teen son) cherished a warm hug.
The science of sensory input has blossomed over the past decade. In relation to children, more are being diagnosed with “sensory processing disorders.” I initially dismissed all this as hogwash, but then I considered everyone I knew. Even our 3 children. One child seemed to shy away from physical touch initiated by anyone else, it seemed to make her jumpy… yet she’d lay her vulnerable head in my lap into her 20s, wanting me to run my fingers through her scalp and hair and trace the features on her face. Her twin wants nothing to do with that type of intimate touch, but will readily give a warm hug. Our eldest was about the cuddliest kid I’d ever known, and for a time I worried he might get teased that he wanted to hug and kiss his mommy beyond the age most little boys are “done” with that stuff. I later regretted feeling that way, when around 15 he stopped being cuddly and was quite prickly and cold. He’s come around in his 20s, and will give Mom a decent heartfelt hug. We are all wired differently. Some of us need firm touch and cringe at soft touches, and vice versa. We all are sensory in different ways.
Back to the bed of a husband and wife…
Along the way of being conditioned that lovemaking should be soft, sweet and gentle, a few of us who enjoyed harder or more “impactful” touch began to think we were deranged to have desires to be firmly loved and “Taken in Hand.” We didn’t necessarily want violence or anything non-consensual, but we “liked it rough,” visceral, bone-jarring. We wanted to be held firmly, perhaps pinned down, or restrained. And we beat ourselves up over these sensory desires. Equally, men who’d been raised to be gentlemen and treat a woman softly, had difficulty coming to grips with the desire to possess their wives firmly, dominantly, roughly.
Some “modern” women will strongly disagree with the following statements. I know these women, who like me at one time, scoff at the idea of dominant husbands and submitted wives.
Many women want to feel pursued, chased, subdued, overpowered, and/or taken by their men. It’s as primordial as the beginning of time. It makes us feel loved, and safe, because only the strongest male can do this. The male pursues, the female surrenders. Life is created and the species is continued. Humans have enhanced this basic model of “sexual claiming” to be consensual. No man has the right to force sex, even certain sexual acts, on any woman, even a wife. Christians have further been taught that sex is to be in the context of a mutually honoring covenant union between one man and one woman, a marriage.
But some of us wives “like it rough” and like it “edgy.” Unpredictable, roller-coaster thrilling, surprising, and intense. In some circles this may be called “Taken in Hand,” “This Thing We Do” (TTWD), Dominance/submission (D/s), and even BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism, masochism). And most honest men out there have to admit to some unspoken desire to have a woman respect, trust, and surrender to them, completely. There are hundreds of blogs out there devoted to how people have come to terms with these relational desires in their marriages, and how marriages have improved (and there are sites/blogs by people outside of a marriage covenant… I don’t recommend reading these, they aren’t always God-honoring, and at times abusive). There are Christian women who like to feel they “belong” to their husbands, heart, soul, and body. With mutual consent, all things are permissible in the marriage bed.
In college I was attacked, pushed down to the ground, and rape seemed impending. I kicked and screamed and scratched and punched, and thankfully escaped. It was terrifying, and thinking of it to this day leaves a hollow feeling in my stomach. I was also date raped once–a popular frat guy who apparently felt it was due him, my “payment” for his accompanying me to a Sorority formal. It was horrible and mean and carnal, a violation of my will, not enjoyable in the least, but as is the case for many women, we blame ourselves, feel embarrassed, and never report it or pursue justice.
Nor are we necessarily marred or scared or attracted to sexual violence because of such experiences. My sensory desires long pre-date these events.
SJ and I recently watched a movie, The Little Death, a comedy about the secret lives of five suburban couples living in Sydney revealing both the fetishes and the repercussions that come with sharing them. Role play was a big theme. In one case, the woman claimed she had a rape fantasy. Her man was crestfallen at the implications. As he shares it with a friend, he’s assured it’s a “normal” fantasy women have. Ultimately, the couple is held up in a parking garage and rape seems impending for the young woman. [warning, spoiler alert] She struggles with all her life to fight off the rapist… who actually has been paid by the husband to stage the mock rape to fulfill his woman’s fantasy. As he takes the place of the would-be-rapist, his wife good and soundly trounces him, breaks his nose and causes quite a bit of damage, and essentially knocks him unconscious before realizing it’s her husband.
Women don’t want to be raped.
But some women confuse the desire to have a man act dominantly in consensual sex with rape. The huge difference is consent, love, and respect.
Some wives have found it extremely arousing and bonding to give their husbands something called “consensual non-consent.” In other words, giving full trust and consent for a husband to lead and explore many facets of sexual pleasure with her, between them, perhaps without her “in-the-moment consent.” There is a thrill of the unknown that is hard to describe when you trust another human this much, and an indescribable bonding. It is surrender, submission beyond what you’d EVER consider giving to another human being. And always, there are pre-set ways to communicate when something is heading beyond a limit. Communication is essential. No one is ever forced. Domination isn’t enslaving, coercing, brutal or harmful. A Dominant Gentleman-husband is always a gentleman, and never forces his way.
Everyone is different, and as we mature, we all have appetites that vary. Some like red meat, others like sushi. Most of us are not happy eating the same thing over and over again, even if it’s our favorite filet mignon or California roll. Same old thing gets boring. We like variety and we often like some spice to our meals. Sexuality is the same. Couples who keep it new and varied and spicy in the bedroom appear to enjoy their sexuality more frequently, more intensely, and longer– and feel more connected and bonded outside the bedroom.
If you have a fantasy, or something new you’d like to explore in the bedroom, talk to your spouse. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed, or think you are the only one who may feel this way. Be willing (and perhaps surprised) to hear your spouse’s fantasies. Discuss how to test the waters of new expressions in your sexuality, which honor each other and enhance your love and trust. Talk about what each of you consent to, and what are limits.
When I finally trusted that I could talk to my husband this way, trust him so intensely, our marriage and our relationship blossomed. I had a physical need to feel surrendered to him before I could fully go there emotionally and relationally. That’s just how I was wired, and I thank God my husband understood this. I had spent years hoping my husband would read my mind, and I think the same was true for him too. Yes, it was initially awkward talking about it (as we had not practiced the language of love and sexuality), but we are so happy we did.
There is no shame in how a husband and wife choose to enjoy sex together. I am my lover’s, and he is mine.
(I went out on a limb here in sharing this topic, and I know that what I’ve written will not meet with the approval or even understanding of all. I ask you to please take a moment to breathe, to park your judgment and opinions (and possibly fears), and consider the concept of loving consent before commenting, with respect!)