1579. Can fully devoted Christians partake in a BDSM relationship?

A BDSM relationship is a form of a sexual relationship that involves:

B: Bondage
D: Discipline/Dominance
S: Submission/Sadomasochism/Sadism
M: Masichism

From Wikipedia:

Bondage: Bondage is the tying, binding, or restraining of a person for the sexual, aesthetic, and/or psychological pleasure of the parties involved. Rope, cuffs, bondage tape, self-adhesive bandages, or other restraints may be used for this purpose.

Discipline: Discipline is the use of rules and punishment to control overt behavior in BDSM. Punishment can be pain caused physically (such as caning), humiliation caused psychologically (such as a public flagellation) or loss of freedom caused physically (such as chaining the controlee to the foot of a bed, for some misbehavior). Note the issue of legal consent which may or may not represent a defense to criminal liability for any injuries caused.

Dominance and Submission: Dominance and submission (also called D&s, Ds, and D/s)[1] is a set of behaviors, customs and rituals involving the giving by one individual to another individual of control over them in an erotic episode or as a lifestyle.

Sadomasochism: Sadomasochism is the receiving of pleasure—often sexual—from acts involving the infliction or reception of pain or humiliation. A subset of BDSM, practitioners of sadomasochism usually seek out sexual gratification from these acts, but often seek out other forms of pleasure as well. While the terms sadist and masochist specifically refer to one who either enjoys giving pain (sadist), or one who enjoys receiving pain (masochist), many practitioners of sadomasochism describe themselves as at least somewhat of a switch, or someone who can receive pleasure from either inflicting or receiving pain.
Let me begin by saying outside of marriage, any type of sexual act is sinful. Far too often, people think of themselves as virgins if they haven’t had sex the ‘proper’ way, where you can get pregnant, but that is not true. The Bible defines sexual immorality as any kind of sexual contact outside of marriage. And sex is the one element that is unique. It is unique in that sex can be a horrible sin, or a wonderful pleasure. It is not a definite sin as something like murder is always a sin. Sex outside of marriage, which includes oral and anal sex, is sin. But God is the one who created sex, and it was designed solely for use within marriage, and God actually knew what he was doing when he designed it that way, as sex outside of marriage comes with great risks, such as pregnancy, an extreme risk of STD’s, and it can even lead to death. In fact, far more people die from Herpes, through acts of oral and anal sex, than die of HIV and AIDS. For more information on all of that, check out:

http://sethdavidmiller.com/2011/01/16/love-sex-and-relationships-part-3-the-shocking-truth-about-stds/

Now, as for what is allowed to be done sexually in marriage, the Bible says:

Hebrews 13:4
4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

The Bible never says what a couple is allowed and not allowed to do. Basically, there are no precise limitations. However:

1 Corinthians 7:5
5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

The Bible does make it clear that couples are to maintain sexual contact throughout their marriage, unless there is mutual consent. And the main purpose for that is so that evil sexual temptations will not fall on the couple. That, and of course, because God designed sex to be fun and pleasurable, and God wants you to be happy. Here is a very common question, with the response taken from Mark Driscoll’s book, “Porn-Again Christian,” (which I highly recommend and is free to download here).

Question: My wife and I are new Christians and we want to have sex according to the Bible but we’re not sure what things we’re allowed to do?

Answer: The Bible is, quite frankly, more liberated on the matter of sex than most Bible teachers. In the Song of Songs alone, we see the condoning of marital kissing (Song 1:2), a sexually aggressive wife (throughout the Song of Songs), a wife who likes to perform oral sex/fellatio (Song 2:3), masturbation performed on one spouse by another (Song 2:6, 5:4–6), massage and petting (Song 4:5), a wife who enjoys her husband performing oral sex/cunnilingus (Song 4:12–5:1), a wife who performs a striptease (Song 6:13b–7:9), a husband who enjoys his wife’s breasts (Song 7:7–8), erotic conversation (throughout the book), and ongoing variety and creativity that includes new places and new positions such as lovemaking outdoors during a warm spring day (Song 7:11–13). The bottom line is don’t sin, but have fun. Douglas Rosenau has also written A Celebration of Sex that would be a helpful read for you and your wife.

So as for certain sexual acts specifically, couples should only do what is mutually agreed upon. One partner shouldn’t force the other to do something that they are not comfortable with or think is wrong. But if the couple wants to try new things sexually, and they agree upon it, than they are more than welcome to do it.

However, there is much more to be said in regards to BDSM. Here’s a great article specifically on the topic:

Question: “What does the Bible say about BDSM?”

Answer: BDSM stands for bondage/discipline/sadism/masochism. The term can refer to the subculture of people who are interested in dominance/submission and sadomasochism, or it can refer more simply to a couple who incorporates some dominatrix/submissive role-playing as a part of their sexual relationship. Needless to say, the Bible does not mention BDSM, whether as a part of sexual relations or separate from it.

In regards to the “marriage bed” (Hebrews 13:4), the Bible does not give many restrictions to what a married couple can do sexually with each other. Beyond adultery (threesomes, swapping, etc.) and pornography, which the Bible clearly and explicitly identifies as sin, a good principle seems to be the “mutual consent” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:5. If a husband and his wife are in full agreement, with neither being forced or coerced, God has given married couples freedom in regards to what takes place in the “marriage bed.” Could this freedom include black leather costumes, non-violent bondage, and role-playing? There is nothing in the Bible that explicitly restricts such activities.

With that said, there are definitely dark aspects to BDSM in which a Christian should have no part. Receiving sexual pleasure through the giving or receiving of pain is not in agreement with what the Bible says about sex. Sex is to be an expression of love, affection, passion, gentleness, selflessness, and commitment. Sex is to be the literal/physical expression of a married couple being “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). To bring pain, degradation, or humiliation into the sexual relationship distorts what it is supposed to be, even when it is consensual. The more extreme aspects of BDSM reek of Satanism/paganism and are definitively ungodly and perverted.

In regards to the BDSM subculture, the need to dominate and/or be dominated in a relationship, whether sexual or non-sexual, reveals a psyche in need of being redeemed by God through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ died to set us free from sin and its consequences (Luke 4:18; Galatians 5:1). Jesus Christ always demonstrated servant leadership, not dominance, in His relationships with others (John 13). The need to dominate and the desire to be dominated are spiritually unhealthy. Even if some “innocent” or fun aspects of BDSM are allowable within the context of marriage, the vast majority of what takes place in BDSM is absolutely not Christian or Christ-like in any sense.

http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-BDSM.html
I’m going to continue answering this question by a chapter in Mark Driscoll’s new book “Real Marriage.” The chapter is entitled “Can We _______” and is meant to shed light on what the Bible says in regards to what Christians can or should do within marriage.

Role-Playing

Role-playing is when one or both spouses assume roles to act out in character as part of their flirtation and lovemaking. For some couples, this includes not only essentially functioning like an actor or actress playing a role, but also dressing up to heighten the sense of fantasy.

Question 1: Is it lawful? Since the Bible does not speak directly to this issue, it is technically lawful, as neither biblical nor governmental law forbids it.

Question 2: Is it helpful? There are some reasons role-playing could be helpful to some, though not all, couples. Some couples with good imaginations find it fun. For example, a couple we know has a background in theater, and this is the kind of thing they find mutually fun. If one or both spouses are shy but want to be adventurous, this kind of fun play can help. With the desire to stay faithful to each other for the entirety of their lives, admittedly things can get sexually predictable, and this kind of play can keep things interesting for a couple. Role-playing can also be an unhelpful part of married sex. If either or both of you are fantasizing about anyone else during role-playing, then you are committing the sin of lust. This includes having your spouse dress up like someone else. Spouses who feel dirty or uncomfortable sexually because of sin they have committed or that has been committed against them sometimes disassociate. This means they mentally “check out” during sex with their spouses. For such people, role-playing could be a means by which they are neglecting working through their issues to have normal and healthy sexual relations with their spouses, and it is therefore sinful. It should never be used to avoid oneness with who you each truly are.

Question 3: Is it enslaving?

If role-playing becomes too frequent, a couple is likely in trouble. If they are more likely to connect sexually in a fantasy than in reality, they need to determine why. While this sort of thing may be an acceptable part of their relationship, if it becomes too frequent or the primary way they become sexually aroused, then this could be a sign of it becoming inordinately central to their sex life and therefore unhealthy.

Driscoll, Mark; Driscoll, Grace (2012-01-03). Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together (p. 193). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Now…I’m taking a shot in the dark here, but I’m sensing that this question may have come up as a result of reading or hearing about the book series, “50 Shades of Grey.” The erotica series is infamous for employing these exact acts of BDSM, and making it sound sexually appealing to many women. This is very dangerous, and if you have read it or considered reading it, I STRONGLY encourage you to read my post about it from a bit back:

http://sethdavidmiller.com/2012/07/12/50-shades-of-magic-mike-mommy-porn-is-no-better-than-daddy-porn/

I hope all of this helps answer your question!

Ask me anything.

  • Joe

    What is your definition of a “fully devoted” Christian? For comparison, do you have a definition of a “partially devoted” Christian?

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  • JIM J

    I would like to say a few things about BDSM as a warning: most bdsm’s happen with another person or spouse. They live a double life. Treat this as a warning: My estranged wife got involved in this type of relationship with a Old High school teacher 12 years ago. I never even knew this type of sex exist, I don’t think she did either. She told me what happened when I found out. She told me she and her partner were to go to there grave with this secret. I was sick to my stomach. This has been the fruit of her affair since 12 years ago, again take this as a warning being a child of God: 1. We had a miscarriage 8 yrs ago, We had a still born child that was as healthy as any new born out there. Died on delivery day. She has now been diagnosed with SCHIZOPHRENIA , her grown up children have no contact with her. If you think you can get over on God’s laws think again. I cannot prove or say biblically that this is hers/my just punishment. Please think before you go out and have a BDSM relationship