Perverse Submission

woman in charge

Some Christians have hangups about role play, bondage, and other arrangements wherein the man is in a submissive, weak, or helpless posture before the woman. This, they reason, is a perversion of the God-ordained relationship between a man and a woman; a man should never submit to a woman, especially his wife.

Admittedly, the Bible does paint a pretty clear picture of a godly marital relationship wherein the wife does subject herself to her husband, though this is hardly a one-sided arrangement. In truth, the masculine mantle of stewardship of the home involves a heavy responsibility for the man to submit himself to the woman on a far deeper level than is required of her. Even still, it’s possible to imprecisely depict this positional relationship as an authoritarian arrangement, as the husband is ultimately responsible to answer to God for his stewardship of the family, and the woman is ultimately responsible to answer to God for her submission to her husband.

With that in mind, some consider it a perversion of this natural order to have a man directly submit to a woman under any circumstances and in any way, even in the undefiled marriage bed. If my wife ties me down and has her way with me, if she cracks a whip across my back, or if we have some sort of sex slave role play scenario, I’m in egregious sin according to this philosophy. Even temporarily, I’ve permitted her to usurp my position.

Is there any merit to this perspective?

Feeling Okay

Personally, I feel safe for a number of reasons.

First, as I’ve said, the required submission is not a one-way street. The mantle of leadership/stewardship I wear is more positional than authoritative. As with Christ’s relationship with the church, it is the result of a willful act of spiritual surrender to a master, or lord, not some subjective authoritarian concept that is so fragile it is threatened by any action taken in a marriage bed.

Second, that action of temporary sexual “submission” exists within the context of a larger, permanent relationship built on that “natural order” of a wife submitting to her husband and him to her, per biblical instruction. There is no facet of our play wherein that relationship is truly compromised. It is, after all, play, not reality.

This temporary sexual “submission” exists within the context of a larger, permanent relationship built on that “natural order” of a wife submitting to her husband and him to her, per biblical instruction

Third, there is always a way out. If I were to feel my position somehow threatened, I can stop everything with a request (or a safe word). Then, it’s back to where it needs to be. That’s part of the safety net of trust on which a healthy Christian marriage is built.

Last, there is an element of submission to her that I’m biblically commanded to have. My body is submitted to her according to 1 Corinthians 7:4. In fact, in the very verse that precedes Paul’s command for wives to submit to husbands, he tells us to submit to each other (Ephesians 5:21). The command to wives is merely an elaboration of that point. In fact, the word “submit” doesn’t even appear in the later verse; it literally reads, “Wives, to your husbands as to the Lord.” It’s even borrowing the verb from the previous statement, though our English translations tend to gloss over this.

I find that reasons one through three reveal I could only consider short-term sexual submissiveness a concern from a highly legalistic standpoint built on a shoddy interpretation of biblical instruction, and reason four reveals that legalistic angle is shaky at best.

Keep Checking for Checks

To me, these activities fall into the blanket license of the undefiled marriage bed, so we’re good to go.

That said, I also feel no checks in my spirit. If I did, even if the Word didn’t support them (but also failed to refute them), I would be wise to heed that still small voice. James 4:17 tells me I’m accountable for doing anything when I know better.

For now, though, tie me down, babe!

Photo credit: eolithphotography / Foter / CC BY-NC
About Phil (251 Articles)
Philip Osgood is a Christian husband, father, and writer who considers himself a passable video game player, fiction reader, camping and hiking enthusiast, welder, computer guy, and fitness aficionado, though real experts in each field might just die of laughter to hear him claim it. He has been called snarky, cynical, intelligent, eccentric, creative, logical, and Steve for some reason. Phil and his beautiful wife Clara live in Texas with their children in a house with a dog but no white picket fence. He does own a titanium spork from ThinkGeek, though, so he must be alright.