It’s quite an interesting thing to compare contemporary sexual ethos to those of early twentieth century America. Throughout the last century, there has been an extensive shift in views of human sexuality. Easy access to contraception took away the natural consequences of sex, and the practice of abortion has made it easier for one who was not responsible enough to even utilize contraception to continue to push off the natural consequences of sexual acts. The results have been numerous: sexual liberation, increased divorce rates, and high birth rates from unwed mothers. Among the many ways in which human sexuality has been perverted in contemporary Western culture is the ever-increasing normalization of BDSM.
50 Shades of Grey is not promoting anything new. Society (and the media along with it) has continued to push for a “what happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom” mentality, as if sexual practices between two “consenting” adults has no other repercussions in human life. It’s simply a fun and easy action with no consequences. Naturally, among other practices popularized in various media, bondage and masochism has been normalized. But, as Christians, how do we respond to these kinds of things? Do we just buy into the sexual ethos of our culture, arguing that as long as two consenting adults are involved, no harm can come to anyone?
BDSM, like other deviant sexual practices, is essentially a distortion of the created nature of the sexual union. People were created to live in harmony with one another, and to function responsibly in various stations in the world. One of the most foundation of these stations (if not the most foundational) is marriage. Sexuality was to remain within this particular sphere: marriage. And this sexuality expressed the love and intimacy of a husband and wife. Every sin that exists within relationships and sexuality is essentially a distortion of this intended relationship. Sex is either divorced from this sphere, or the roles of husband and wife within this sphere are confused.Man was created as the head of woman. God created things with a particular order, and within that order, male and female have their unique roles. In an ideal, and unfallen world, man would do all things for the good of his wife, and the wife would submit to her husband with the knowledge that such decisions were made with her good in mind. After the fall, this relationship was distorted, and males and females have abused and distorted their own roles within family. This is the reason why BDSM and sexual abuse are so common. It is a distortion of man’s created intent to be the leader of a household. Rather than serving for the good of his wife, the man abuses his power, becoming tyrannical and domineering. He leads, not as a compassionate and loving person who cares for his wife’s life more than his own, but as a power obsessed tyrant.
It doesn’t matter if a woman “consents” to such abuse any more than it would matter if someone consented to my murdering them before the act was committed. Any sexual act where the man treats a woman, not as a precious and beloved creation of God, but as a thing to be mastered, beaten, or abused, is a violation of God’s created order. As Christians, we must oppose anything which opposes God’s created order, and results in the harm, rather than welfare, of our fellow human persons. When it comes to 50 Shades of Gray and the popularization of BDSM, there really is no question as to the proper Christian response.