There is only one happiness in life – to love and be loved
~ George Sand
Some people question the institution of marriage and think that it an anachronism in today’s society, because they feel that the power of males and females should be made equivalent, and their roles made interchangeable. Furthermore, some people feel that marriage needlessly limits their sexual expression and spoils their erotic fun.
The word “monogamy” has come to have overtones of “boredom,” “straight-jacketing,” “repressiveness,” etc. This type of relationship has therefore been under attack in our culture, and has been declared by some to be dead and buried. Therefore, what follows may seem to be a curious exercise in paleontology – exhuming the bones of traditional male-female dynamics that are said to be fossilized and petrified, but finding they are very much alive and kicking, like Mark Twain’s famous quote, “rumors of my recent death are greatly exaggerated.” Far from being merely a historical curiosity, this type of relationship, properly understood and entered into, provides the most happiness, satisfaction, and stability of any possible form of male-female coupling.
An enlightened return to monogamy is the best thing not only for relational aspects of male-female couplings, but for the sexual ones as well. In other words, marriage has the potential of providing the most satisfying relationship and the best possible sex. Many couples are wondering where the magic went and how they can get it back (or how they can get it in the first place). They want a loving, long-term intimate relationship, they want their home to be a fun and a peaceful haven, and they want sexual ecstasy and fulfillment. Enlightened monogamy is where it can be found.
Art and entertainment, which are expressions of our cultural soul, from time immemorial down to the immediate present have routinely played off this theme. Consider the male-female relationships in the recent movies Waterworld, Titanic, Braveheart, Last of the Mohecans, Dances With Wolves, Indiana Jones, True Lies, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Princess Bride to name just a few. The male-female dynamic is the central drama of life. Many are tired of tiptoeing around these issues, are disgusted with the continual attempts to recast people into opposite sex roles, and are weary of the deception of our society that denies and degrades the positive reality of masculinity and femininity. This is therefore a ringing affirmation of the power and beauty of relationships that are constructed upon a traditional male-female dynamic.
With all of the above be said, it must also be acknowledged that monogamy can be and has has often been boring, straight-jacketing, and repressing. This is true for at least three reasons: 1) there have been forces at work in religion and culture that have corrupted sexuality and made it seem evil and/or wrong (see the following for more details: Religion and the Corruption of Eroticism); 2) the sexes are very different and efforts must be made to fully understand and appreciate the opposite sex; and 3) individual couples have destroyed relationships by focusing on their own selfish desires and ignoring their spouse.
The solution for #1 and #2 above is personal education, but #3 requires much more – that we change self-centered ways and start living for our partner. That can be very hard, but also very rewarding work.
What is said here comes from the Bible and from Christian teaching/philosophy. When some people hear the word “Christian,” what comes to their mind is a media-generated picture of a bigoted, small-minded person whose views have no connection with the reality that everyone else experiences, but despite this apparent un-connectedness, they nevertheless want to force their perspective on everyone else. Furthermore they are supposedly anti-fun, and sexual prudes.
Like many stereotypes, this picture is true of some Christians, but as a generalization, it is totally false: 1) Although it may disagree with popular culture at various points, Christianity as a philosophy and a practical guide for living has the widest and most profound answers to the essential questions of life of any philosophy that has ever existed; 2) the notion that Christianity is somehow against women or sees them as inferior is totally wrong. The Bible sees men and women as fundamentally distinct, and having different roles to play – therefore each sex will be superior and inferior to the other in certain areas, but have equal value in the eyes of God; 3) the notion that the Bible is anti-sex is totally wrong – in fact it is quite the opposite.
Many people think of “Christianity and sex” as an oxymoron – two incompatible things. But on the contrary, sex is glorified in the Bible when it is practiced within the boundaries of monogamy. After all, God designed and invented the whole concept of gender and sex – masculinity, femininity, orgasm, and romantic fascination are all of divine origin. Therefore, it makes excellent sense for us to discover God’s perspective and to follow his advice. As indicated above, religion and other cultural forces have corrupted sexuality, and we must therefore put aside “religion” and focus instead on the Bible. Religion is an organized set of doctrines and practices which are a human attempt to reach God, and therefore can be empty and meaningless. However, the Bible is God’s attempt to reach humanity and teach us how to live.
The Bible is a very sexy book in some places and teaches us how to conduct a marriage relationship in ways that result in satisfaction and even ecstasy for both partners. A key portion of the Bible in this regard is the Song of Solomon, a book dedicated to teaching about romance and sex: Commentary on the Song of Solomon
Marriage and the Male/Female Dynamic
Biblical teaching in general and The Song of Solomon in particular calls man and woman back into a loving partnership where the differing strengths and capabilities of each gender are used and enjoyed to the full. The story of the Song of Solomon details the initial delights, trials, separation, and finally the re-commitment of a man and a woman, and makes a number of points about the general nature of male/female relationships, as follows:
- Monogamy and long-term commitment is the best and highest form of male/female relationship. It does not, of course, guarantee happiness or satisfaction, but if the partners understand and are committed to each other, it provides the best possible framework for the development of an optimal relationship.
- Polygamous or serial relationships are typically unsatisfying, and the partners won’t experience the depth of intimacy and sexual/relational satisfaction that is possible in a monogamous union.
- Sexual fulfillment is a very important aspect of the relationship.
- God designed sex, and fully approves of eroticism in the context of a monogamous relationship. God is not mentioned directly in The Song, but there is a very interesting verse at the exact midpoint of the original text where the most important theme would be stated, and where God seemingly speaks to the couple. Immediately after the man has sexually taken and possessed the woman, Song 5:1 says, “Eat, friends; drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.”
- Fulfilling romance and sex will not come automatically—they must be cultivated by both partners. Sex can be ecstatic at the beginning of a relationship, but the excitement quickly wears thin unless the relational elements are also present: understanding, trust, care, affection, concern for the partner, etc.
- Men and women are different, and have different perspectives and desires. In order to have the best relationship, each gender must understand what the other wants and needs, and must endeavor to meet those desires. The man wants to enter and possess the woman, and he typically desires that she respect and honor him as her leader. The woman wants the man’s long-term commitment, as well as his love, care, devotion, and respect, and for him to appreciate and affirm her.
- Problems can and will upset the balance and destroy the union, even in the case of the most attractive and well-adjusted couples.
- Forgiveness will restore the union, but if the partners are unfaithful to each other, the resulting jealousy and feelings of betrayal may not be redressable.
- Families should be especially concerned with how their children marry, and with protecting their daughters.
- Sexual activities are ideally very intimate and powerful, and are potentially the most ecstatic experiences that two people can have. Therefore, sex must be delayed until the couple is mature enough, and is ready to assume the associated relational and parental responsibilities.
- The partners are, in most respects, unable to change each other. It is a mistake to enter a relationship thinking: “I will change him or her to be more like what I want/need.” Such attempts usually backfire and push the partner further away. Rather, each partner needs to focus on what they can control, which is him or herself, and draw the partner to us, and more to the point, consider carefully the character of the other person before starting a relationship in the first place.
The nature of the relationship between the man and woman in The Song is very different from today’s feministic paradigms of pure equality and interchangeability of the sexes. It presents a view of male/female relationships more along the lines of traditional sex roles. In this paradigm, the male role is primarily that of leader and lover, and the female role is primarily follower and nurturer. This lifestyle recognizes and celebrates the propensity of males to be dominant (i.e., masculine) and females to be submissive (i.e., feminine) in varying degrees.
This means dealing with the dreaded “s” word – submissiveness. This word immediately raises the hackles of some people, to whom the terms “submission” and “traditional marriage” are an anathema, and supposedly represent a return to some kind of relational dark ages. There is, perhaps, no other single word that could so bring a hush to a dinner party or other group and produce such visceral reactions, either for or against it.
But lest anyone think of this as advocating the suppression of women or calling for a universal return to traditional sex roles by government directive, it is important at the outset to disabuse the reader of such notions. Our generation unfortunately tends to associate the word “submissive” with “incompetent” or “less-competent.” In large part this is due to the relative values that our culture has placed on various aspects of life. In contrast to other societies and former generations of Americans who placed a high value on children, family and community, we have unfortunately placed our highest value on careers, financial success, and athletic prowess. We have also trivialized child rearing and are increasingly fobbing the responsibilities off to day-care centers, schools, and other government-sponsored organizations, to our own detriment. Over time this has reduced the worth and value ascribed to feminine things and increasingly caused women to seek status in what were traditionally male pursuits. Everyone needs to see themselves as valuable, and it is hard to feel affirmed if the culture tells you that you are inherently less competent, and that your natural characteristics render you less suitable than others for the society in which you live. Rising above this deceptive propaganda and affirming natural femininity requires considerable insight, as well as a strong sense of direction and self-worth.
In a number of places the Bible explicitly instructs wives to submit to husbands (e.g., Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:5, and I Peter 5:5). The Greek word used in the Bible for “submission” is “hupatasso,” from “hupa,” meaning “under,” and “tasso,” meaning “to arrange” or “to place.” The word was originally a Greek military term for someone who was placed under the authority of a commander, or one who placed him or herself under such authority. Some Bible scholars have attempted to do away with female submission and indicate that it was never meant to be that way. Their arguments are as follows:
- In Ephesians 5:21, Paul indicates that we should submit to each other, and therefore the specific directives on wives submitting to husbands should be ignored and/or downplayed.
- The Greek word “hupatasso” should be interpreted as “support” rather than “submit.”
- The submission of wives to husbands is purely cultural and done in earlier times, but now that we have supposedly become more enlightened, female submission should be abandoned.
- All submissive women are supposedly weak, co-dependent children, in need of psychological counseling.
- The Apostles Peter and Paul were misogynist pigs who feared women and wanted to hold them down in whatever way they could. While other parts of their epistles and teachings may be acceptable, we should ignore whatever they say about male/female relationships.
However, all of these arguments fall apart on closer examination:
- The Bible does indeed teach mutual submission and humility, but that does not void or negate the specific directive for the wife to submit to her husband. The corresponding instruction given to a husband is to love his wife, not submit to her. Furthermore, there are no exceptions given to the wife’s submission – she is to submit in “all things.”
- Interpreting the word “hupatasso” as “support” is a deceptive attempt to redefine the clear meaning of a word.
- Human nature has not changed — men are still men and women are still women. Like all Biblical teaching, the practical aspects need to be adapted from one culture and era to the next, but the underlying principles are timeless because human nature is timeless.
- Submissive women have a strength of character and purpose that feminists do not understand or appreciate. That a wife could be in submission to a man and love it, which many do, is deeply threatening to feminists, because it destroys the entire basis of their argument. This is why housewives were so bitterly attacked and condemned. Any psychological counseling that demands a feministic approach is warped and should be discarded.
- The Apostles were certainly men of their times, which are different than ours, but what they said was for the benefit of women, not to keep them down. It is ironic that Paul is called a misogynist even through he is the one who called for mutual submission. Furthermore, female submission is taught in many places in the Bible, not just in the New Testament epistles. It is only the twisted nature of today’s society that sees all types of female submission as evil.
The issue of dominance and submission is, of course, one of the most incendiary topics in our culture; everyone who reads this will, no doubt, have strongly preconceived ideas about it. Some will rejoice and say, “Finally someone is speaking for what I have felt all along!” whereas others will roll their eyes and say, “One more male chauvinist trying to put women back in the kitchen!”
Some will therefore immediately jump to the conclusion that this teaching is “misogynistic,” or “anti-female,” but the reality is the exact opposite. The criticism here is directed not at females, but at the women’s movement. The latter claims to speak for all women, and has an unfortunate penchant for employing censorship, deception, and totalitarian measures to support its agenda. Therefore in feminist eyes, anyone who criticizes the goals or methods of the women’s movement is, ipso facto, a misogynist. But both claims (that they speak for all women, and their dismissal of critics as misogynistic) are, of course, pure hype, because many women have entirely different goals, and consider the women’s movement a serious threat to their own well-being and that of their families. The stereotype of a feminist (e.g., Nancy Pelosi) is a person who is strident, biased, overbearing, and closed-minded, who denigrates male power, despises homemakers, considers abortion rights to be sacred, and wants to inflict his or her vision on everyone else (ironically this is similar in some ways to the media stereotype of Christians mentioned above). Many non-feminists therefore see feminism itself as misogynistic, but nevertheless are willing to let feminists be, if they would be willing to return the favor.
So before passing judgment, it is essential to understand that there is no universal or “one-size-fits-all” Biblical pattern about how leadership should be carried out in marriage. The above texts do not indicate the exact manner or the extent of the submission. Therefore, there is a wideness in what the term “hupatasso” can mean and how it should be interpreted in the case of a given marriage, and it is left up to individual couples to determine what will work for them. In cases with a strong-willed wife and a retiring husband, leadership and power could be in the woman’s hands (as a way of acknowledging the husband’s lack of leadership abilities) or shared in a more-or-less equal way, whereas in the case of a more submissive wife and dominant husband, more of the leadership aspects of the marriage would naturally devolve on the man. In other words, it is wrong for someone to claim Biblical authority when indicating exactly how a wife should submit to her husband, regardless of whether their view is liberal or conservative.
No two couples are exactly alike, but all of us, both liberal and conservative, tend to think that our own viewpoint is normative, and that everyone else should do just as we do. We try though various means to foist our view upon others. But a more reasoned look at the Bible demonstrates that the principles stated allow for latitude in interpretation. It does *not* supply any basis for a conservative to thunder that “all wives belong in the kitchen,” nor does it give a liberal any basis for shrill claims that “absolute equality is essential, and submission is tantamount to wife abuse.”
Therefore, the mental images that we have from the past associated with traditional sex roles do not need to bind us to any specific way of relating to each other, and even less so should the feministic roles of the present. We are thus free within the confines of the general paradigm to construct a relationship that is mutually satisfying, and in which the specifics vary from couple to couple. If God is the creator of all peoples, then His counsel on a topic as fundamental as marriage must surely take in account the normal variations in human reality.
This raises another issue that can be very difficult to grapple with – the degree to which we can alter our own personality and mindset. Can a woman who basically has a submissive orientation change and become more dominant, or vice-versa? Clearly people can change to a degree, but to what degree? Would she want to, and would it make her more happy and fulfilled in the long run? Perhaps, or perhaps not. This is murky psychological territory, and the dynamics differ on an individual basis. For example, if a person with a submissive orientation (male or female) was placed in charge of other people, he or she will probably be miserable and unable to cope. They may even be educated in the techniques of management, but if they have no desire to be there, it will be an exercise in frustration. People can change to a degree, but typically the change is along the lines of their real orientation. Individuals may have repressed their true nature (especially women because of feministic pressures), or may be in the process of discovering it, but once they do so, their psychological orientation shines through, and they will be happiest when they are involved in activities and relationships in accordance with their basic personality.
In his powerful book Please Understand Me, psychologist David Kiersey provides essential guidelines for understanding personality and the degree to which it is mutable. He uses the analogy of a computer, and indicates that all individuals have elements of both “hardware” and “software.” The hardware is a person’s temperament – a unique composite of the four personality types that makes the person different than others. These were first identified in antiquity as the Sanguine, the Choleric, the Phlegmatic, and the Melancholic, but which Kiersey has renamed: the Artisan, the Guardian, the Idealist, and the Rationalist. Being part of our hardware, temperament is an immutable inborn trait, and cannot be changed even by the individual himself. However, we also contain elements of software, which is mutable. Kiersey indicates that the software aspect of personality is our character – our behavior and the ways in which we express our temperament. Character can therefore be changed and improved; it is the element of personality that can be controlled, and for which we are therefore responsible. For example, it is futile for a parent to expect that a child who is sensitive and interested in music and the arts (elements of temperament), can somehow be changed to love athletic competition. But if that same child tends to be moody and selfish (elements of character), the parent can and should try to help the child improve.
Conservatives may state that “most of our societal problems are due to the failure of wives to submit to their husbands,” and liberals may ridicule that statement. The problem with the statement is not that it is false, but that it is only half true. We must include the responsibility of men, and the statement has left out the “failure of husbands to love their wives.” When the latter portion is included, then we do indeed have the major cause of social pathology.
Male/female relationships are complex and nuanced. It is like dancing the waltz in which the man normally leads, but at times he exchanges roles with the woman and she leads, and both of them are needed in order for the dance to proceed. Following are some of the “masculine vs. feminine” elements of the Song:
- Leadership. Throughout the story the man leads the woman, and the woman expresses a desire for him to take the lead (e.g., Song 1:4, Song 2:3-4), but the woman leads as well (e.g., Song 8:2), and she is not at all shy about expressing her desires. In other words, she submits to him eagerly, but still retains a strong sense of her own identity and personal worth. She also takes the lead at times, and he enjoys having her do so. There is no need for suspicion or resentment because the leadership is bathed in love, and is not a selfish power grab, or a means to get even with each other. There is nothing wrong with female leadership, but there is also nothing wrong with the woman surrendering to her man and encouraging him to lead.
- Roles. The woman belongs to the man throughout the story, and many of the terms used for the woman depict her as such. She is his “garden,” his “vineyard,” and his “spring.” All of these terms imply that he owns her in a deep and intimate way. Furthermore, she doesn’t resent this or see it as an imposition, rather she views it as being the natural order of things, and the fulfillment of her nature as a woman. She rejoices in belonging to him, and understands that being his spring, garden, and vineyard is a role that she must freely choose for herself. The man sexually takes her, but also regards her as his partner and responsible companion (expressed in the story as being his “sister”), and she clearly relishes both the roles of partner and possession. In the paradox of femininity, the woman “wins” by “losing” – she conquers the man by surrendering to him. She harnesses his energies to serve both her and their children by freely and eagerly giving herself to him. As she submits, she helps him to achieve his basic desires – both to have her, and to sacrifice himself for a great and noble purpose – caring for her and for his family. One of the major problems of all human societies is channeling male aggression in positive directions, so that its young men build the society up rather than tear it down. The only known and reliable way for this to take place is for each man to have a woman, and to dedicate himself to taking care of her and their children. The man is thus infused with a quintessentially masculine desire of protecting, caring for, and leading his family, so that he becomes the “chief of his tribe.”
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
These roles resonate in the deep yearnings and the romance of our heart — the male desire to be a knight who finds and leads the fair maiden, and the female desire to be the fair maiden who is found and led. These passions are celebrated in thousands of poems, stories, movies and songs, in untold permutations and variations, and are the most common and basic theme in all of art.
- Positive Communication. The man compliments the woman and her body in very frank sexual terms, and it is clear that he loves seeing and caressing her. She frequently expresses desires to be caressed (e.g., Song 2:6, Song 4:16), and she enjoys his compliments and praise. But the man always expresses this in a noble and poetic way—he is never gross or tasteless, and he always builds her up and makes her feel good about herself. He never belittles her. Likewise the woman compliments the man and makes him feel good about his appearance and his efforts to lead and provide for her. She builds his ego, treats him as her leader, and indicates that she wants to follow him, which is a powerful medicine for a man’s ego and his sense of self-esteem. With such a woman, a man has no need to seek other females.
- Trust. In contrast to the throwaway relationships of our culture, here the woman gives herself to the man in exchange for his commitment to stay true to her. In Song 8:6 she says, “Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, and jealousy is as severe as the grave.” The woman’s surrender is directly related to her level of trust in the man—how can anyone truly surrender to another person that he or she does not trust? Therefore it is incumbent on the man to be worthy of the woman’s trust.
- Mutual Surrender and Humility. This type of relationship requires surrender, humility, and maturity from both man and woman, but in different ways. The woman surrenders, allowing the man to lead her. The man must also surrender, but what he must give up is his desire for non-commitment and independence. He must humble himself so that he can truly lead the woman in a way that affirms her and makes her feel loved and cared for. True leadership demands the sacrifice of the leader and the abandonment of self for the benefit of those he leads. In other words, love is a call for both male and female to give up selfish ways, and truly serve and satisfy their partner. It directs them more fully into their own masculine and feminine nature, and thus it is satisfying and fulfilling to both. Mutual surrender creates a self-reinforcing relationship of potentially total trust and deep intimacy. Consider one cinematic example: in the movie Titanic, the highborn girl Rose Bukater (Kate Winslet) falls in love with Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), a poor artist from the third class section who had saved her life when she attempted to commit suicide. When the ship goes down, Jack helps her get into a boat and inspires her to live on with visions of what she can do, echoing the theme song of the movie, “My Heart Will Go On.” But there is no place left in the lifeboat for him, and slipping below the waves, he dies in the icy waters of the Atlantic. Even though they were never married, she takes his last name, calling herself “Rose Dawson,” and in the final scene of the movie she drops her diamond necklace, “The Heart of the Ocean,” into the Atlantic in honor of him. If he had lived, would their love had persevered? Yes – if they would have practiced the principles of The Song. See the following Shania Twain video for a beautiful picture of how this can work: Forever and For Always
Regardless of the above statements about traditional sex roles, this is not an attempt to keep women in the kitchen, and it does not presuppose any particular division of labor between men and women. There are several points to be made here:
- The type of relationship described in The Song does not dictate any given household work arrangement — that is entirely up to the couple. Assuming that they have children, both man and woman could be employed outside the home with a mixture of full and part-time work according to their financial needs and child care requirements. However, most couples will probably find that the traditional model or a modified form of it works best because, a) it provides the most income and satisfaction for both (the man primarily on the job and the woman primarily at home with the children); and b) it prevents super-mom burnout, where the woman works full-time, and then has to come home, do all of the housework and care for the children as well.
- In regard to housework, and women’s perennial complaint that men never do their fair share, it has been found that in homes where the wife is openly submissive, her husband will help her more, because when she adores him and satisfies his needs, he will want to serve her and will be motivated to do so. Men tend to treat aggressive, dominant women as they do other men—as competitors—and typically have little interest in treasuring, cherishing, supporting, or helping such women.
- This general form of relationship conforms more closely to the reality of masculinity and femininity, and therefore it will be the most satisfying to the majority of people. Most men are masculine and most women are feminine, to greater or lesser degrees, and approximately 98% of the population is heterosexual. But there are thousands of different forms and variations of these qualities in individuals, and the dynamic of the marriage relationship therefore needs to be adjusted accordingly, as stated above.
- The couple in the story enters into their relationship with desire, passion, and joy. There is no dread or fear involved until they start disappointing each other, but after they have forgiven each other and been renewed, the joy and passion returns. In other words, forgiveness is essential, and whatever the exact form that a relationship takes, it is also essential that it be done from joy and desire, and not from fear or coercion.
Marriage has long been scorned and attacked, but it has survived. It is an amazing institution that provides the possibility of companionship, trust, deep intimacy, and intense eroticism. It can also provide children and potentially an ideal environment in which to raise them. However, these benefits are only possibilities, and require the application of the principles described above in order for them to be fully realized.
All of the above is not meant to trivialize marital problems or to claim that they can be solved simply by reading an essay. Many couples have deep-seated problems caused by years of neglect and/or hurtful behavior which may require much time and possibly outside counseling in order to heal. The point is that the relationship dynamics typified in the Song of Solomon and discussed above are the direction in which couples ultimately need to move, and they should take whatever steps are necessary in order to move in that direction.
The production of sexually-oriented pictures and materials is a huge and growing industry, especially through the internet. With the exception of email communications, sex is by far the #1 internet interest with thousands of web sites devoted to every possible type of kink. Pornography is primarily targeted at males because men are visually oriented, and seek to use women to satisfy their desires for sexual conquest. It also caters to the male impulse to have sex with multiple women without having to commit to any of them. Women have their own form of pornography, better known as romance novels and soap operas, in which they fantasize about relationships. In accordance with the female nature of being less visual and more relationship-oriented, pornography for women is largely literary.
Men who have indulged in pornography and especially if they have taken the next steps of going to strip bars and seeking out prostitutes, know that it is never fulfilling and always leaves the individual frustrated and wanting more, like the Stones song I Can’t Get No Satisfaction. Pornography therefore is often highly addictive, titillating a person with the promise of satisfaction, but never delivering. Therefore it can easily become a mental addiction – crack cocaine for the mind – that moves a man away from involvement with a real woman and gets him hooked on unrealistic mental dalliances.
Both the male and female versions of pornography are therefore mental selfishness and uninvolvement that damage relationships, and leads away from true sexual satisfaction, which can only happen in a real male/female connection.
Much of the sexual advice in women’s magazines and current sex books urges women to “take control of their sexuality.” But women who wish to satisfy their male partners as well as experience truly great sex and mind-blowing orgasms, would be much better served by giving themselves to their men and letting him take control, because orgasmic sexual ecstasy for the woman requires surrender to the man. Consider the following quote from Dr. Marie Robinson, a woman doctor who specialized in the treatment of female frigidity:
There is a tremendous surging physical ecstasy in the yielding of itself, in the feeling of being a passive instrument in the hands of a man. Your body is stretched out supinely beneath him, delighting in his dominance and responding in further surrender. You give your body and will over to him and are taken up by his passion as leaves are swept up before a wind. One woman described it as “a sensation of such beauty and intensity that I can hardly think of it without weeping.” Another said, “it’s like a mounting symphony, rising in tremendous and irresistible rhythms till your whole being feels as though it has been swept away.”
Orgasm in the woman requires an absolute trust in one’s partner. In sexual intercourse, as in life, man is the actor, woman is the acted upon. Giving oneself up in this passive manner to another human being, making yourself his willing partner to such seismic physical experiences and allowing yourself to be sexually conquered, means one must have complete faith in him. There can be no crossed fingers about such yielding and no reservations in such a submission. There must be a sensual eagerness to surrender, because in the woman’s orgasm, the excitement comes from the act of surrender.
The untrusting woman is frightened of the totality of such an experience, mistrusts her husband’s love, and has to feel that she is “in control” all the time. The trouble with that position is that in a real orgasm, a woman must be out of control, and must willingly, delightedly desire to be so. With his pleasure in mind, she now seeks out more and more those things that please him, and her exploration leads inevitably to the discovery that what pleases him most, outside of his own sensations, is her pleasure and the giving of herself to him. In other words, he is most pleasured when she is most fully surrendered and given over to him and actually desires to be so. This mutual spiraling of feeling ultimately climaxes in her decision to give him the greatest psychological pleasure of all, the total surrender of her body to him and the delights that it can bring.(italics, mine)
In other words, there is a complete congruence between the Biblical directive of female submission, the quality of orgasm that women who practice it will have, and the sexual satisfaction that the man experiences by conquering the woman and inducing her complete surrender to him. Having sex like this on a regular basis binds a couple together with bonds of desire and love in a way that nothing else can—the woman’s surrender generates devotion in the man, and in turn, his devotion provides an environment of trust and acceptance that allows her sexuality to flower. Here is Solomon’s advice to men on the subject of sex:
Drink water from your own cistern, and fresh water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be yours alone and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress, and embrace the bosom of a foreigner?
This passage instructs a man to stop chasing other women and focus on his wife, which is what her heart desires—a man who will focus his entire attention on her. But what is often missed is the corresponding instruction given to women—to freely surrender her body to her man so that he can “always satisfy himself with her breasts, and always be exhilarated with her love.” The magic only happens when both the man and woman both play their parts.
In regard to the erotic possibilities of marriage, consider the following:
To put my cards on the table, I am rather stick-in-the-muddish, and am sold on the institution of marriage, as it might be, if not as it is. This does not mean that I am opposed to having affairs. I am highly in favor of it. I am particularly in favor of having them with one’s wife.
A remarkable fact about marriage, seldom explicitly noted, is that it consists of one man and one woman. That is very sexy, to say the least. What a fantastic opportunity for intricate and delightful sexual experiences. The man and woman have each other all to themselves and their pleasure. They are free in a socially accepted institution to contrive the most exquisite enjoyments for each other. The heights of their pleasure are limited only by their own imagination.
Marriage is an extremely sexy institution. There is no reason one should fail to take advantage of it…Marriage is filled with diamonds and glories. It is literally fantastic in what it could offer, and in terms of what it could be. Before you read further, agree tentatively, to put from your mind the familiar platitudes of what marriage is supposed to be. It is up to you, not another, to define what it shall be.
To be sure, the grim outside world, the society, will try to reach even into their home…with its instructions for suitable, standard, repetitive, routine relations between men and women. To a large extent the contagion of their loathing, centuries later, still infects and emotionally disfigures millions of human beings, depriving them of precious ecstasies.
Very few screen actors (beyond Valentino) convey anything of the simple appreciation of how fantastic women are. To be sure, Valentino could portray the looming dark male menace, dangerous, and intent upon her sexual subjugation, but too, he could exhibit a thrill and delight in holding a woman in his arms. Women were not, to those of his generation, chicks, foxes, and broads. His was a more romantic generation. Women in his day, pale, proud, and beautiful were thought to be worthy prizes, worth capturing and carrying off. Today it is not clear that there is that much point in bothering…It was not known at the time of publication of the book (The Sheik) upon which the movie was based that the author was a woman, and it caused something of a stir when it leaked out. Furthermore this makes clear that the fantasies of men and women tend to be similar, save for the difference in perspective. Men often fantasize adventure and sexual capture, and women do as well. The men think of themselves as doing the capturing, and the women, by some coincidence, are the ones who are captured. There is a set of congruent fantasies! All a husband and a wife have to do is put together their fantasies and get ready for a corking good time!
One of the most beautiful sights in the world to a man is a woman you love in the throes of an orgasm which you have induced in her. There are few things in the world that can so fill a man with a sense of power and joy as seeing his beloved female yielding herself helplessly to him.
When two human beings can give each other such exquisite and mind-expanding excitements, it is natural for them to grow very close. They realize that such a partner is not simply another interchangeable unit of which most of our marriages seem to be composed. He or she is a jewel.
A child conceived as a result of such an incredible and intimate experience will be all the more loved and cherished because the child represents the passion of the parents. He or she is the parents’ legacy, and will go on after the parents have passed away. Furthermore, couples who have a positive marital and sexual relationship will have more desire, energy, and self-sacrificial love to pour into their children.
Christianity and Sexual D/s
What is being presented here is a “D/s” (male dominant, female submissive) relationship dynamic. D/s is the reestablishment of the “feminine mystique” that feminism has tried to tear down. Rather than eliminating the distinctions between the sexes, D/s is a celebration of the differences, in a way that ennobles both men and women and calls both to a higher standard. It is a renewing of the vision of females as princesses and queens, and males as princes and kings with all of the glories and responsibilities that those positions entail. In essence, it is the flowering of our gender and the fulfillment of our sexuality. It is the reestablishment of the true basis for male-female intimacy—the mutual satisfaction of desires in the context of a committed relationship.
To put this in picture form, it is the attempt to enter into and live out in your own way the most powerful and enduring of all human fantasies, that have been celebrated in story and song since the dawn of time, in thousands of variations and permutations—the lord and the lady, the white knight and the fair maiden, the sheik and the dancing girl, Cinderella and Prince Charming, the cheerleader and the football star, Dudley Do-Right and the damsel in distress, Beauty and the Beast, the rajah and his concubine, the Princess Bride and the Dread Pirate Roberts, etc., etc., etc. It doesn’t matter if the man is not built like a line backer, and if the woman is not cheerleader material. If they are devoted to each, then he will be her Prince Charming and she will be his Cinderella.
The goal is transformation. It is redirecting a man away from being a selfish boor into a white knight, who can fire the romantic imagination and sexual surrender of his woman, and continue to inspire her for a lifetime. It is redirecting a woman from being an inhibited, nagging mom into a passionate, surrendered lover that her man will want to be with, and who has a richness of feminine character that will delight him. D/s is therefore psychological dynamite.
The D/s lifestyle may or may not include a number of sexual practices (e.g., bondage, spanking, forcefulness, oral sex, etc.) and it is entirely up to each individual couple as to what activities they will engage in. However, there is abundant evidence that engaging in sexual practices such as these can dramatically increase the pleasure of both man and woman, along with their level of intimacy and commitment to the relationship, provided that everything is consensual.
Some people will read the above and take offense because they feel that the women are being presented as too submissive and the man too dominant. Others will read it and feel that it is too tame, and will want something deeper and more extensive. The point is to find your own level, not be constrained by cultural dictates, and avoid criticizing others who are at a different level.
In recent years various BDSM groups and web sites have become very popular. The term “BDSM” is a clever contraction of three different but overlapping lifestyles and expressions of sexuality, as follows:
- “BD” – Bondage and Discipline. The incorporation of physical bondage (tying with rope, scarves, chains, etc.) and various aspects of discipline (spanking, being under authority, etc.) into the sexual and, in many cases, the relational aspects of a relationship.
- “DS” – Dominant/submissive. The recognition of one partner in a relationship as being dominant (leading, making decisions, directing sexual expression, etc.), and the other as submissive (following, providing feedback, nurturing, and surrendering, etc.)
- “SM” – Sadomasochism or Sex Magick. The use of pain to give pleasure, where one partner enjoys administering the pain/pleasure (the sadist), and the other partner enjoys receiving it (the masochist).
The BDSM community, while still generally thought of as being “extreme,” has gained some degree of acceptance in contemporary culture. There are at least three reasons for this: 1) it is pan-sexual; it treats hetero-, homo-, and bisexuality as equivalent and equally valid and acceptable; 2) BDSM relationships are often transient; monogamy and non-monogamy are therefore equivalent and equally valid and acceptable; 3) the movement has lobbied for acceptance on the grounds that it tolerates all forms of sexual expression, and is just one more lifestyle choice among many.
Those in the Christian community have wondered if BDSM is compatible with Christianity and the Bible. Following is a Christian critique of BDSM:
- The Bible does not concur with the pan-sexual approach of BDSM, and indicates that a heterosexual relationship is God’s ideal for humanity.
- The Bible does not concur with the non-monogamous nature of some BDSM relationships, and marriage is presented throughout as the ideal. There is a plethora of scientific evidence upholding monogamy as being the best and highest form of male/female relationship from many perspectives — trust, affection, personal security, sexuality, and parenting. The thrust of Biblical teaching on marriage is maledom/femsub, and this is offensive to some who insist on the equal validity and acceptability of all forms of sexual expression. But the Bible’s position is that all forms of expression are NOT equally valid and beneficial; monogamous heterosexuality is the best and highest form of sexual expression. This does not justify condemnation for those who engage in other lifestyles, but at the same time we must not encourage people to enter them. Monogamy does not, of course, guarantee any of these positive results. It merely provides the best framework for a couple to achieve them.
- Aside from the issues of pan-sexuality and non-monogamy, the Bible encourages couples to engage in whatever sexual practices bring them mutual pleasure and fulfillment. In other words, “anything goes” as long as both partners enjoy what they are doing. The “DS” portion of BDSM is probably closest to Biblical teaching, but as discussed above, each couple is unique. Some will have a passion for bondage, submission, and other DS activities, while others will consider them extreme and out-of-bounds. Find your own level.
The idea here is for the wife to be her husband’s pornography and sex object, as well as his partner and companion. She does this in return for his commitment to dedicate himself to her, and to take delight in their relationship. Is this idea scandalizing? Perhaps so, but it is important to remember that our bodies, minds, gender, and sexuality were given to us by God, who declared them to be good. After all, God was the one who created sex, designed gender, and invented orgasm. Consider the following Biblical passages:
Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
You will make known to me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy, and at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love.
My beloved is to me a pouch of myrrh, which lies all night between my breasts.
Song of Solomon 1:13
Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, which feed among the lilies. Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away, I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense…You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride. You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes, with a single strand of your necklace.
Song of Solomon 4:5-6, 9
Awake, O north wind, and come, wind of the south. Make my garden breathe out fragrance. Let its spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits!
Song of Solomon 4:16
How beautiful and how delightful you are, my love, with all your charms! Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I said, “I will climb the palm tree, and will take hold of its fruit stalks.” Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine!
Song of Solomon 6:6-9
Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, come my beloved and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.
Song of Solomon 2:17
Eat, friends; drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.
Song of Solomon 5:1
 Christopher Lasch, Haven in a Heartless World: The Family Besieged, New York: Basic Books, 1977, p. 220
 Marie Robinson, MD, The Power of Sexual Surrender
 John Norman, Imaginative Sex
 Many are attracted to the “D/s” (Dominant/submissive) lifestyle and to using various BDSM-related practices in marriage, and there are a large number of internet resources on this topic.
 A key question here is whether homosexuality/bisexuality is inborn and unchangeable, or learned and mutable. Gay advocates demand that we see gayness as being exclusively genetic and unalterable. However, the current scientific answer is that some are born with gay inclinations, but for many and probably most it is a learned behavior. There are organizations who work with gay individuals seeking to go straight, and depending on the degree of personal motivation, they have demonstrated many cases of successful transformation from homo to hetero.