Soapbox

Trigger warning: rape, abuse, sexualized violence. 

One of my blogger-jokes is that I like to think about and write about the stuff we don’t usually discuss in polite company – things like marriage and religion and politics, for instance. But I have to say I’ve never in my life considered or entertained the idea of writing about a topic like this. To those of you who need to avoid this topic or to click away because it will violate your peace of mind or heart, please do so with my complete understanding.

But my conscience won’t allow me to remain silent, I’ve got a fire in my bones today.

I read it. Oh, yes, I read it. I read Jian Ghomeshi’s statement about his firing from the CBC. I have loved Q for years. My sister and I both listen to it and we swoon regularly over the opening essays, over the thoughtful and deep interviews, over the brilliance of the contributors and, of course, the host, Jian Ghomeshi.

So when Ghomeshi was fired from the CBC this weekend, we were stunned. And let’s be honest: it takes something incredibly horrific to be fired from the public broadcaster. Don Cherry has enjoyed immunity for 35 years even though he’s offended everyone at least twice on matters of race and politics and sexual identity. So for CBC Radio’s golden boy to be fired, well, this was a big deal. We all knew it.

I read Ghomeshi’s statement from the standpoint of a dedicated and long-time fan, someone who was inclined to give the benefit of the doubt. And the further I read, the more my heart sank: it reads entirely like abuser rhetoric and gas-lighting. It was raw and emotional, yes, but it was textbook justification. Of course an employer has no place in the private or sexual lives of its employees – this was clearly not that.

Then came the article in the Toronto Star this morning, detailing conversations with four separate women who allege that Ghomeshi did, in fact, abuse them without consent. So much for the “jilted ex-lover” defense. And they will likely never come forward to press charges or make public accusations because they fear Internet retaliation. A very real and very terrible reality, one I completely understand. I have experienced my own share of violent threats for being a woman online: one needn’t exercise much speculation to understand why these women would shy away from public court cases or lawsuits or accusations. It’s dangerous enough to be a woman these days, let alone a woman who dares to stand up publicly against abuse. Who among us doesn’t understand that fear? We can make the logical arguments about why we are obligated to report cases of abuse or rape and how victims names are shielded (tell that to the victims of Internet doxxing) but the truth is that most cases of abuse and rape go unreported for very real reasons, let alone the public interest component here. The lack of formal charges proves nothing, either way: it doesn’t prove it happened but it doesn’t prove that it didn’t either. And now come the women weighing in on the comment sections of the articles, claiming similar experiences.

So I’m left not knowing whether to cry or throw things. Instead, I’m sitting down to write this post – against my better judgement, if only for the spam comments I’ll receive alone, let alone the rest of the very real and rational reasons as both a Christian and a feminist to never write on this topic.

Because this isn’t really about Jian Ghomeshi right now. After all, we have no idea of the particulars or details or truth here, not yet anyway. He claims persecution for his sexual appetites, the victims are claiming abuse. It’s complex and I pray that the truth will come out and that justice will be done.

Really, this is about the acceptability of sexualized violence against women.

Feminists have long been split on these sex-related issues, from being anti-pornography to pro-pornography, pro-sex-work and anti-sex-work, anti-BDSM to pro-BDSM. There are scholarly arguments for all sides, I’ve read them and I understand how each side arrives at their conclusions on a purely academic basis. I also know why I land where I land on those issues for more reasons than simply my Christian convictions.

Consent always lies at the heart of the arguments: is there consent? If yes, then go for it. Mutual consent is the new moral arbitrator for our sexuality.

I understand that logic. It makes sense to me from an academic or secular standpoint, absolutely. I understand that if Ghomeshi is proven to have engaged in these acts with consent, that it falls within acceptable boundaries for most.

But that logic fails to take one thing into account for me: the whole “Jesus” part of being a Jesus feminist.

I’m a feminist because I follow Jesus, my feminism is shaped by my discipleship to Jesus. And so yes, I dare to have an opinion precisely because of that distinction.

I’ve grappled with writing about sexuality on several occasions – mainly because I think the Church has often gotten it so wrong. Over the years, I’ve taken issue with everything from purity culture to modesty rules to how we treat those of us who not only engaged in premarital sex but dared to enjoy it as “damaged goods.” I’m never one to argue for repression or shaming as healthy sexuality, let alone someone who places one individual in the relationship (typically the man) as the sun around which our mutual sexuality should orbit. I rarely fall neatly on any one “side” – I’m often too conservative for liberals and too liberal for conservatives.

Christians rarely hear a healthy and freeing message about their sexuality, about the importance of consent and mutuality, about being in charge of our own bodies, about the realities of sex right alongside of the delights and desires, let alone a sexual ethic that tenderly cares for victims of abuse. We tend to take an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to sexuality, painting with broad brushes across complex people, ignoring nuance and making up a new law, one that – let’s be honest – usually puts women at risk of abuse or shame-based rhetoric.

I remain wary and yet here I am with a broad brush and a soapbox: this way of treating each other – violence, dominance, bondage, abuse, exploitation – is wrong. WRONG.

We who claim to follow Jesus know that there isn’t really any corner of our lives that is exempt from our discipleship. We are a people who are meant to be a glimpse of life the way that God intended it to be, we’re to be about the business of living prophetically into the Kingdom of God right now. We are people of shalom.

This means seeing the humanity in one another, justice, mercy, faithfulness, loving one another well, peace-making, even purity (a much misunderstood word) and mutual honour. And that commitment includes our sexuality and our most intimate partners.

These kinds of sexual acts are dehumanizing, period. Full stop.

Even if there is consent, it is dehumanizing to fantasize about and enact sexual violence against women. It’s a short walk from fantasizing about violence and rape to becoming someone who commits violence and rape – and even with consent, it is wrong to do so. These acts are dehumanizing and soul-sucking for all participants.

As we think in our heart, so we are, according to Proverbs. Or as Marshall McLuhan wrote, beholding is becoming.

So here, this theologically and socially progressive Christian feminist will say it:

These sexual acts have simply become a socially acceptable way of excusing dehumanizing each other, of abuse, abuse grooming, oppression, language of hate, rape, and violence. Even with consent, it’s exploitative, evil, and wrong. 

All of those acts of sexualized violence run completely counter to the way we are to treat one another, according to the Church and to the Spirit. We are called in Scripture to honour God with our bodies – these acts are not honour. And even apart from the specifics in Scripture about sex in particular, we have a whole ethic for how we treat one another now in the Kingdom of God – with love.

Christian relationships are meant to be characterized by mutuality, not dominance.

Our sexuality isn’t exempt from our identity in Christ.

Scripturally, sex is intrinsically connected to love. And the one who is Love is described in 1 Corinthians 13 among other beautiful qualities as patient and kind, not boastful or rude, it doesn’t demand its own way, our example is to be a people who are faithful and hopeful. We’re made in the image of Love. We are to treat each other in this way.

People are sacred. Women are sacred. Men are sacred. Our bodies are not separate from our spirituality – our bodies matter, our words matter, the way we treat each other sexually matters, the way we believe we should be treated sexually matters.

Then there is this….

In a world where women are repeatedly and consistently raped and abused, how dare we?

Oh, I’m angry. How dare we?

How dare we make light of the very real terror and horror that women have endured and are enduring? You talk to a woman who has been raped or sexually violated or beaten or abused and then try to tell me that it’s okay to be turned on by that. It is NOT okay. It is never okay, it never will be okay. Violence against women is epidemic and evil, it’s not to be mined for sexual pleasure. How dare we forget our sisters? How dare we make light of or sexualize for our own pleasures the unmitigated horror that is endured by women even at this moment? Whether in the context of a classroom power dynamic or a war torn refugee camp, women are preyed upon, groomed for abuse and abused in horrifying numbers in this way from the youngest to the oldest. There are women who believe they deserve to be treated in this way – think about that for a second.

From the account of creation in Scripture, we see that we are all made in the image of God. These acts are part of the Curse in the garden, right along with patriarchy: dominance and an absence of mutuality is not our identity in Christ.  Calling these acts by pithy acronyms or pontificating about consent don’t remove the inherent violence and evil of them.

What a tactic of the enemy – to take the very thing that is a curse upon us and twisting it to make it seem acceptable.

I don’t care if it’s soft patriarchy or BDSM, this is an example of the enemy twisting the very thing that enslaves us, the curse, a consequence of the Fall, and making us think it’s not only acceptable but sexy and desirable. We have been set free from walking in that oppression.

This post isn’t about Ghomeshi. Not really. We don’t know enough to make claims yet and it might very well be none of our business. We can only pray for true justice to be done now, however that shakes down.

But it is about the larger question – how do we view women? how do we treat women? how do we think about women? what is an acceptable way to treat another human being who is made in the image of God? and what do those things say about not only us but the God whom we claim to know? what does this say to the women among us who are abused and sexually violated?

We should be part of redemption, not part of promoting the acceptability of oppression.

 image source, used with permission

"And on behalf of this world, you’re very welcome." :: a response to Doctor Who "In the Forest of the Night"
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  • Kristin Lee Williams

    Yes! I felt so uncomfortable with his statement yesterday and I haven’t been able to flesh out my thoughts about it. This does it so perfectly. Thank you for stepping out and stepping up. Needs to be read.

  • I agree with almost all of this, and I’m glad you chose to soapbox 🙂 in the cold light of morning, after a restless sleep, I too came away knowing my anger is not about Ghomeshi, not really, but about what this case represents. All the intersections of patriarchy and rape culture and consent politics and and and…! I’m so glad we’re talking about it, even though it’s hard. Even if I disagree with some of what you said. It’s just so good to bring this dark stuff out into the light. The cost of reporting sexual crime is often so high, and the crime perceived as, in a way, so mundane, that the abused would rather live without reporting, than live through what-we-call-justice. I hate it. The cost of reporting should be nothing, the cost of the crime should be astronomical.

  • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

    Thank you for stepping into this for the sake of Jesus’ daughters & initiating a needful conversation. Violence against women is never right. Period. Full stop.
    Relationships shouldn’t require safe words — they require sacrificial love & covenantal commitment…

    • “Relationships shouldn’t require safe words — they require sacrificial love & covenantal commitment…” That’ll preach. You always say more in one sentence than I can say in an entire post, friend.

    • Yes. Yes and amen!! Sarah you have summed up my thoughts on this and, Ann, you have put it all together in a nutshell. Amen. Amen and amen!!!

    • Making harsh public judgments and spreading lies about people should require handing in your Christianity badge. Period. Full stop.

      • Sam Walters

        Agreed. Good thing Sarah didn’t do that.

  • Anne

    Thank you for getting on your soapbox and addressing something fairly icky with such intelligence.

  • It would be interesting to see a demonstrated causal relationship between expression/repression of using force in consensual sex and violations of consent. It could be that consensual expression leads to more violations, consonant with your conjecture. It could be that comsensual expression leads to fewer violations, making your conjecture false and harmful. Can we all agree that the course should be to get the data and admonish consequentially (and not deontologically)?

    • That research has been done, informally, in a survey by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. Results can be read here: https://ncsfreedom.org/images/stories/pdfs/Consent%20Counts/CC_Docs_New_011513/consent%20survey%20analysis.pdf and some analysis can be read here: http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/one-in-three-kinksters-reports-a-consent-violations/

      • Thank you!! This is a very productive contribution.

        I have no experience with BDSM communities; I imagine it involves a large measure of promiscuity and casual encounters? I should temper myself and say, “There’s some amount of promiscuity, X.”

        It would be nice to control for X across multiple “kink communities.” Does the BDSM community actually fare better than other communities when it comes to respecting consent in casual sex? The answer might be “yes,” for all I know, and that answer would have a plausible explanation.

        It seems, though, that the current admonishment is against consensual sex within committed relationships — my mind immediately jumps to “marriage.” And when I think about a married couple who, in the bedroom, consist of a submissive husband and dominant wife, and that’s how they express their intimacy and love for one another, I cannot find fault whatsoever.

        The only fault I’d find would be if, and only if, that activity bled over to destructive things beyond the bedroom, e.g., spousal mistreatment or attacks on strangers. Do our “urban legend”-crafting brains immediately conclude that this is what will occur? Or is it more reasonable to say, “Actually, cloistering that activity is healthy for their sex life, their marriage in general, and society in general”?

        I don’t know the answer. It looks like, without direct and appropriate data, we’re all doing the conjecture/assumption dance. And when doing that dance, we should make sure that we’re grounded (not soapbox-aloft).

        I’m not trying to be an antagonist or a spammer. I’m just very concerned that, with the best of intentions, a lack of information and a wealth of assumption may be catalyzing reckless conclusions and campaigning.

        • Sara

          “I have no experience with BDSM communities; I imagine it involves a
          large measure of promiscuity and casual encounters?”

          BDSM is often practiced within the confines of committed relationships and marriages. BDSM advocates often strongly suggest doing those types of activities with someone you know and trust and can have open and honest communication with, so that sorta takes promiscuity out of the picture. That’s not to say that casual encounters don’t happen, they certainly do, but many kinky people are actually happily married or monogamous. And consent is always stressed as being of utmost importance.

          • Skylar Rose

            Within the kink community, it is taboo to even place your hand on someone’s shoulder without first asking permission.

            Your comment is spot on in this sea of misinformation.

          • fearcutsdeeper

            Agreed. It required a lot of trust with your partner(s). Building trust and establishing yourself as someone who has good judgement is very important.

        • Stan, I can give you at least anecdotal evidence that the BDSM community reverberates with consent as to every single thing. Some of us are downright consent fanatics to the point that it bothers those of us who just want to get on with it. I’d welcome the studies you suggest because as a resident of Planet Kink I’m pretty sure what they’d find.

        • Mark

          I think you’re coming at the issue from the perspective of brokenness management and Sarah is looking further at ideas of true health and wholeness. Her head is up and seeing visions through eyes wide open while you sir are shuffling along staring at your feet.

          • I’m not sure exactly what you mean, Mark. If by looking downward you mean I’m searching for the grounding of the assumptions being made, then that’s a pretty good illustration. One person’s head is up and going with certain assumptive momentum, another person’s head is down and looking for potholes. 🙂

            I know “looking downward” sounds a bit milquetoast and boring and non-heroic. But quietism in philosophy, theology, and ethics is all about “getting excited about the boring” — calling for more data and discernment even when the torches are lit.

        • Cherise

          I find this notion to be incredibly misinformed. Many of us in the kink community do practice within the confines of committed relationships and those who don’t are often very catious about who we sleep with. And this will blow your mind, sometimes we don’t even have sex with people we play with.

          • I meant to call attention to my ignorance when I said, “I should temper myself and say, ‘There’s some amount of promiscuity, X,'” but I’m sure I didn’t go far enough. Thank you for educating me — ill-information is a bad platform for reason!

  • A-flipp’-men, Sarah. AMEN!!!!!!!!!

  • Bohemian Puritan

    You handled this beautifully, with truth. We are born with hearts crying out to be free of every bondage. Sexuality that promotes titillation under the boot of pain and oppression perverts and distorts everything Jesus teaches about freedom and love. There is no love in the desire to wound or be wounded. It’s a lie.

    • Cherise

      The same Jesus who reminded you to love is the one who wants you to post judgemental and mis informed statements about a community that accepts with love, without hate, that is honest and open.

      • Ella

        Spot on, I’m afraid!

        There’s so much misunderstanding surrounding the incredible depth of intimacy and perfect openness that is necessary in a healthy BDSM relationship. I think in this particular context, that ignorance is a reflection of a church culture that is still very Puritanical in a lot of its address of sexuality, and very self-congratulatory in its address of the “sins” of others. It is hurtful and disappointing to see this in action, but I guess I shouldn’t find it as surprising as I do.

        Long way to go yet.

        • Bohemian Puritan

          “Intimacy” and “perfect openness” do not equate to love. Love never, ever wounds and I will never be convinced it is okay to subject another person to intentional pain (physical, mental, emotional included). If one believes sexuality is the physical manifestation of love, then BDSM is in direct opposition. There is nothing Puritanical about this at all. Sex is a gift from God. Sex is good, fun, awesome. Have you heard the old saying about bored people? Only boring people get bored. If one is bored in bed, what can I say but #boring?

          • Ella

            I am not at all interested in convincing you it’s okay to subject people to pain, so your profession that you are unable to be convinced is not only arrogant, it’s irrelevant. I don’t want you in my bedroom for any reason, far less as a sexual partner, so my interest in your willingness to bring me pleasure is nil.

            “Intimacy” and “perfect openness” do not equate to love.
            I never said they did. I’d be intrigued to learn on what you base your assumption that I made that argument. Have you heard the old saying about people who assume . . ?

            That said, if you find yourself in what you think is a loving adult relationship with somebody and you do not enjoy intimacy and perfect openness with that person in whatever form brings you both the most enjoyment and pleasure, I would recommend counselling.

            There is nothing Puritanical about this at all.
            Puritanical is an adjective used to describe the possession or display of “a very strict or censorious moral attitude towards self-indulgence or sex.” Since you present your personal interpretation of a loving sexual relationship as definitive, thereby rejecting the lived and enjoyed loving experiences of people all over the world, yes, this is definitively Puritanical. You are of course more than free to dislike the recognition of your mores as such.

            Sex is a gift from God.
            Sex is a biological imperative for the sustenance of our species and has no innate connection with God.
            (see how silly that is, to state an unsupported personal belief as fact?)

            Finally, your implicit assumption that BDSM is inextricably intertwined with sexual intercourse is wildly off the mark. People can engage in many BDSM activities that never overlap with sexual intercourse, but as you are demonstrably unaware of that, I conclude that, unsurprisingly, you are railing against something about which you actually know very little.

            Your eagerness to sweepingly condemn a lifestyle and activities which you do not understand–activities which are a cherished aspect of many intimate, open and deeply loving relationships–is exactly the type of arrogant, ignorant behaviour which makes me wonder why in the world it took me so long to leave the church in the first place.

            I guess I’m just a masochist at heart.

          • Bohemian Puritan

            “I guess I’m just a masochist at heart.”

            I can’t argue with that.

            Peace.

    • Heidi

      I love, love, LOVE this statement, Bohemian. Thank you.

  • Tara Porter-Livesay

    I read his statement at midnight last night and I too felt more than uncomfortable with how it hit me. I’m 110% with you Sarah.

  • “this is an example of the enemy twisting the very thing that
    enslaves us, the curse, a consequence of the Fall, and making us think
    it’s not only acceptable but sexy and desirable.” Thank you so much for calling out this lie so boldly that our culture deems so acceptable.

  • Abby Norman

    Being in charge of our own bodies! You know I like that bit. I think this is particularly hard to write about because you pull the thread and it just keeps pulling and pulling, unraveling and unraveling. You, as always, do it with such grace. But we have got to start seeing rape culture for what it is: The lie that not everyone is fully human and not everyone’s humanity is sacred. Thanks for wading in.

  • Jane Halton

    Thanks for sharing your perspective on this Sarah, and ‘going there.’ May the gossip we here today be reflective of this concern, instead of whining about loosing our favourite radio personality.

  • Maria Longoria

    Thank you…from a girl who has been abused and treated as little more than an object by the man that swore to love and cherish me all his days. The girl who can’t say anything to anyone her husband knows because they call her crazy, and in his family’s case, accuse her of the abuse he dealt. Violence against women and children is never okay and there is NO excuse for it. I “consented” because I had no choice, no way out, no escape. I participated because to leave was social and emotional death as far as so many people were concerned. And now…no one believes me. I protected him for so long that no one ever saw the darkness. And now that me and my little boy are finally free…there has been hell to pay for the “consent” I unwillingly gave because I had no other option.

    • So glad to read that you are free and that you could share this with us, Maria. We’re with you.

    • Spinner3

      You are not alone. Thank you for sharing this painful truth. I hear you.

    • Standing with you, Maria. I’m so sorry for what you went through, and for what you’re going through now, in the aftermath. I have lost a great deal of family, too, for speaking out truth that isn’t palatable. You’re not alone.

  • Yes. So we’ll put Sarah.

  • Emilie

    Thank you!!!!!!! And to add-how do we know where consent for such activity really comes from? If a woman “consents” to violence or incest or lifelong abuse because she was groomed for it, how is that truly letting her have something she desires? You’re just taking advantage of another’s sin and heaping your own upon it. It needs to stop.

  • Mayflower

    Just because you don’t get enjoyment out of what others get enjoyment out of doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I’m not sure how this Jian thing is going to play out, because I have no idea whether those relationships were consensual or not but I’m in a solid, permanent relationship where we regularly engage in behavior in the bedroom that you get on your soapbox and call “wrong”. I beg to differ. We’re happy, healthy CONSENTING adults, raising a beautiful family with great values. You might pass us by in the grocery store, our kids might soccer against each other, we might even know each other. But what we do in our bedroom is none of your business and just because we play this way, doesn’t mean we endorse rape or violence against women.

    • Lyn Belzer-Tonnessen

      Seconded. I normally adore every word on this blog, but I can’t stand with this one. My husband of 10 years and I engage in activities that would be categorized as bondage. Our marriage is solid. We adore our daughter and attend Mass every Sunday, and are both widely conversant in theology and Catholic doctrine. Like Mayflower above, we are happy, healthy, consenting adults. I am not contributing to the objectification of myself in any way, shape, or form. I am not less of a follower of Jesus because of what happens in my bedroom. And pardon my French, but I sure as HELL don’t condone the abuse of *anyone*, EVER.

      • Mayflower

        Glad to hear I’m not the only one! We also go to church, we’ll my husband isn’t super committed. We volunteer in our community. Our kids are well adjusted and nice. But I hate violence in life and even in tv and movies, we don’t even have cable because I don’t even like the kids (or me!) seeing commercials for scary movies. What I’m trying to say is I have no doubt I am a good person, my husband is a good person. But we have rough sex because we like to and it satisfies us. Also, someone commented that it must mean you were abused by someone….nope. I gotta say, I was never abused by my parents. I was never hit by a partner or raped. I’m so normal I’m boring! My husband too, I am the one who asked him to partake in our bedroom activities. He had no experience till me.

        • Rod Minaker

          Thank you for your courage in sharing the normalcy and healthy aspects of expressing “dark” energy in the bedroom. Yours is a testimony that is valuable to bring to this conversation

      • Sheriff

        You may want to get your head checked. Sounds like you’re in denial about your perverted, disordered tendencies, you sick psycho.

        • Lyn Belzer-Tonnessen

          Wow. I’m kind of disappointed it took seven whole hours for the trolls to find this thread. So is it the bondage or the Catholicism that makes me a sicko? ‘Cause I’ve heard both theories.

          • Evie Vane

            Don’t let the ignorant people of the world get you down, Lyn! You know the truth, and the truth sets you free. If other people choose to be blind, we can only extend our compassion and hope that one day they will see the light.

          • I’m sorry that this happened, Lyn. If you want me to delete that comment, I’m happy to do so. You shouldn’t be called names here.

          • Lyn Belzer-Tonnessen

            Thank you, Sarah, but I’d actually prefer that you leave it up. This is the kind of thing that happens to people who come out as kinky every day, and I think that exposing it to the daylight to wither is better than sweeping it under the rug where it’s allowed to flourish.

        • Heidi

          Now THAT was abusive. And wrong. We are to show respect for one another at all times, regardless of what our differing viewpoints may be. Badly done, Sheriff.

        • David

          Sarah, I hope you’ll reflect on the relationship between the position you stake out in this post, and Sheriff’s hateful and abusive comment. You clearly wouldn’t say it the way Sheriff did, but in terms of substance and message I don’t see much daylight between them.

        • That’s not necessary or helpful or right. Please don’t.

        • Holy crap! >:( That was uncalled for.

      • Chasteberry

        I think a big thing here is that you CAN’T paint all BDSM/kink behaviour with a broad brush. I am uncomfortable with actually role playing rape scenarios, and can’t see the good in that, but bondage is a whole nother beast. It’s not always about domination, even – it’s about restraint and teasing and playing, which are pretty big things in any kind of sex. BDSM is not always (and, dare I say, is rarely always) one person kicking the other person around – it’s a set of clearly defined games you play in the bedroom, that stay in the bedroom. I don’t know, to me this kind of smacks of saying “blow jobs are always degrading, and Christians shouldn’t ever ever give blowjobs, because they reflect a transactional sexual culture where women are objectified.” I know Christians who hold to that. But someone who regularly engages in oral sex knows that you can easily engage in a sexual behaviour without the incumbent baggage, you know?

        I was pretty disappointed in this post because it feels like it’s taking the focus off of Ghomeshi’s status as abuser and saying “It doesn’t matter if he raped them or not, because kinky sex is always abusive.” I’m really not okay with my partner and me being put in the same category as Ghomeshi.

        • Ella

          I was pretty disappointed in this post because it feels like it’s taking the focus off of Ghomeshi’s status as abuser and saying “It doesn’t matter if he raped them or not, because kinky sex is always abusive.”

          Yes, this was exactly my perception as well. The focus meanders from the wrongs of abuse to the perceived wrongness or personal squick over a particular type of consensual, deeply intimate adult relationship. “Disappointed” is exactly the word I used when I was venting about this to my partner.

    • Well, you know that I disagree with your conclusion but I’m glad you felt safe to share your experiences. I respect that it’s none of my personal business but the acceptability of sexualized violence against women is absolutely all of our business.

      • Emma

        Sarah, this is a very interesting topic, and while I don’t agree with your opinion, I think it was brave of you to say it, and I think you expressed yourself very gracefully.

        What would you say about sexual interactions where the woman is dominant and the man is submissive? And both are consenting?

        Is your argument that sexuality should never overlap with control, aggression, force, dominance, submission, role-play, etc?

        Or is your argument that sexuality should never overlap with violence *against women*, but it would be acceptable if the woman was in charge?

        • Nicole Chase

          I was going to comment basically exactly this, so thank you, Emma.

        • kay

          I would be very curious to hear Sarah’s reply to these well thought-out questions

        • I’m sorry, I don’t feel comfortable getting into a whole lot of specifics and “if this, then that” sort of stuff. I know that will be disappointing to hear. But yes, the overall idea is what I struggle with – the notion of violence is for any reason gives me pause as a believer.

        • Speaking only for myself, I agree with Sarah in this article, and hold that aggression and violence have no place in sexuality regardless of gender. This conversation is generally framed *against women* because the majority of instances take place that way, not because it is somehow acceptable if the gender roles are reversed.

      • Mayflower

        Well sure, sexualized violence against women is our (society’s) business because sexualized violence is rape or sexual harassment or assault. But if Jian Ghomeshi is having consensual rough sex with a women….that is not our business. Any more than what you do in your bedroom is mine. There is a whole world of fun bedroom stuff out there between consenting adults that has nothing to do with violence or sexual assault. Just because bad people rape, doesn’t mean good consensual people should feel bad about what they do in the bedroom.

        I don’t know about Jian Ghomeshi though. If he assaults women, I hope one is brave enough to come forward.

        • Annie

          It would seem that consensual rough sex is not actually an option according to this article Kind of like how domestic violence is no longer up to the spouse to file charges. You can’t punch, or strangle someone even if they give you permission. Just like you can’t kill someone even if they give you permission….yet. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/the-ghomeshi-question-the-law-and-consent/article21315629/?click=sf_globefb#dashboard/follows/ now of course, the authorities won’t act on it, but it isn’t technically legal either…

          • I found that article really interesting, too, Annie. It’s the same reason why I struggle with Christians involved in MMA, for instance. Consent makes sense to me from a secular standpoint, absolutely, it’s for believers/disciples of Jesus that make me think a higher scrutiny is needed.

        • heidi

          Jian won’t, that’s for certain. He is claiming innocence and is trying to sue the CBC for $50 M. Just sayin.

        • I agree completely that Jian Ghomeshi’s life probably shouldn’t be our business. Unfortunately, he made it everyone’s business. I would have been quite happy to never know his preferences! His statement simply brought up the issue for me though and the pause that any notion of violence within a relationship *for believers* is worth examining through our values and commitments and ideals. It wasn’t really about Jian Ghomeshi.

          • Thank you for specifying these thoughts were *for believers* because it was a confusion I had. I have this touchstone thought that our sexual choices are to be responsible – to ourselves, to our partner(s), and for those with faith, to our God. I think there is an onus on kinksters who are believers to examine that spiritual element especially closely. A lot of my disagreement with the post came from this confusion.

      • David

        “I respect that it’s none of my personal business but the acceptability of sexualized violence against women is absolutely all of our business.”

        You just contradicted yourself. Which is it? If your central claim is right–that BDSM is inconsistent with and actively harms women by “normalizing” non-consensual violence against women, no matter how consensual, you can’t then turn around and respectfully say “none of my personal business” to a consensual BDSM-er. If such people really are guilty of contributing to violence against women, it IS our business! So which is it? Are other people’s consensual sexual proclivities contributing to real social harm, or are they a personal matter we should politely ignore and let be? You can’t have it both ways.

        • I think it does stand. I’m saying it’s none of my business what Jian Ghomeshi likes or doesn’t like – what is our business is when women are saying it was actually situations of abuse. Same thing for the Church – Christianity has often had an opinion on how we structure and order our lives so there is an aspect of that, too. I don’t need to know details to know the guiding principles/values/ideals of my faith that should also guide within intimate relationships.

          • David

            Well, obviously if the women’s accusations are true, they yes he’s clearly in the wrong. But that has nothing to do with the particulars of the acts; non-consensual vanilla sex is every bit as wrong as non-consensual BDSM. I took you to be condemning BDSM as being being implicated in sexual violence against women even when the women are willing and enthusiastic participants. If you are saying “certain acts are abuse, whether consensual are not” then you very much are making a judgment on what people like or don’t. Did I read you wrong?

            By the way, I have the same immediate reaction as you do to BDSM–It holds no appeal for me, I can’t imagine wanting anything to do with it, and my revulsion to (actual, non-consensual) violence against women has something to do with that. But using the ‘first draft’ of my own reactions, without listening to and understanding those who have fundamentally different sexualities, is so lacking in charity, empathy, and decency toward those people that it’s hard to see how we can call it Christian (in the best sense of the term).

  • This – Our sexuality isn’t exempt from our identity in Christ. – that’s what I was speaking to when I said that this is a classic example of someone who wants to compartmentalize their life. To say that what I do in the bedroom doesn’t affect how I perform in public is a lie. We are not cubicles. We are spiritual beings. What we dehumanize in the privacy of our own minds becomes the fertile ground where abuse is allowed to take root. You have said it so well, Sarah. Anyone who thinks they can participate in this sort of sexual behavior as long as it is mutual is participating in a lie. Bondage and Dominance by its own definition is not mutual. It calls for one person to rule over the other. We cannot pretend that where we seek our thrills doesn’t affect the other areas of our lives. BDSM is dehumanizing in every way. It is dehumanizing. It is dishonoring. It is so very troubling. And like you I was a huge fan of Q and Jian.

    • That’s what I think, too. Thanks for this, Karen. Good point on the “compartmentalizing” of our lives, too.

  • First of all – so disgusted at the thought of Jian Ghomeshi being an abuser, as I’ve been a fan of his for years, too. It seems I never learn the lesson that abusers never come with a warning label.

    But more to the point of this post, thanks for writing about this issue. I’ve come across a few pro-BDSM/sexualized violence pieces from other feminists, even within the Christian sphere, and while I’m thankful for the ways they’ve educated me on concepts of sexual consent, the idea of affirming that behavior has never sat well with me spiritually. I think you really nail it here: “How dare we make light of the very real terror and horror that women have endured and are enduring? … Violence against women is epidemic and evil, it’s not to be mined for sexual pleasure.” And your point about voluntarily subjecting ourselves to the oppression from which God is setting us free – YES and AMEN. So thankful for your prophetic voice in this, Sarah.

  • Kayla Evans

    in terms of reporting it, not only do the women probably fear the publics opinion – but unfortunately it seems as though the law is more protecting of the abusers in these cases because sometimes word against word is not enough.
    I know a lot of my fears of going through with reporting things has been the fear of being revictimized all over again.
    If something happens to a women or even something happened to you as a child many times not much can be done because there is no solid proof and people are innocent until proven guilty.
    So reporting abuse is terrifying in so many aspects, which is so sad.

    • This is so true, Kayla. I hate that it’s true but it is. Thank you for sharing your own fears with us.

  • Laura

    well said. thank you

  • Sarah, thank you for this. When you said “It is NOT okay. It is never okay, it never will be okay. Violence against women is epidemic and evil, it’s not to be mined for sexual pleasure. How dare we forget our sisters? ” I cheered! You remembered and honoured ALL of us today with your brave, bold words. LOVE.

  • Rachel

    Thank you, Sarah! I found this article to be very insightful, and I hope that you ignore the negative comments that may come.

  • emohr

    As a Christian, I am inclined to agree with everything in this post. However, I have to wonder how much this sort of opinion can influence the laws of a secular state. All secular laws have at their core “as long as no one else gets hurt it’s okay”. Enacting new laws against, for example, BDSM would require a total change in attitude to “even if no one gets hurt, it might not be okay”. I don’t think that such a change can possibly come about without a religious, and especially Christian, moral grounding for the definitions of right and wrong. I’m still entirely undecided as to whether I think it’s better to have a secular state or a Christian state. I’m leaning toward a secular state where guidelines that can only be supported by religious doctrine are only applicable to religious people. Nothing else seems to be justifiable. Sorry if this comment is incoherent. As I said above, I do agree with you, Sarah, and I’m very glad you’ve written this!

    • I agree, I don’t think the secular state laws should reflect my personal convictions. Because that’s what this was – my personal conviction. I don’t ever wish to argue for anyone’s religious convictions setting the standard for other people’s lives and morality!

      • Sorry to repeat myself, but I’m glad you stepped into the comments are clarified these things!

  • TheonewiththeOne

    Sarah Bessy , you can not be a Jesus feminist because you don’t know Jesus. You don’t know that Jesus did not start Christianity and if he came back, would not be part of it. And you don’t know anything of His point of view on the question. But bless you for trying

  • This is important. Thank you for sharing, Sarah, and for your anger. I think that anger for the things you’re talking about is healthy and one of the only ways to real change.

  • Nicole Chase

    Before I say anything else – thank you for having the courage to write this, to share it, and to stand in the truth of your convictions.

    And I’m 99% with you. This? “Violence against women is epidemic and evil, it’s not to be mined for sexual pleasure. How dare we forget our sisters?” Yes, amen, alleluia.

    But (and I’m sure you knew there was a but), I’m not sure I can agree that everything that might fall under the labels of “kink” or “BDSM” can rightly be called “violence against women.”

    Even ignoring that in many situations the woman is the dominant partner, declaring that intimate activities that make some people feel alive, special, cherished, sexy, or just really really good are wrong, always WRONG full stop? That seems like heaping shame on people where it need not exist. And to say, “It’s a short walk from fantasizing about violence and rape to becoming someone who commits violence and rape – and even with consent, it is wrong to do so,” WOW no.

    I think, perhaps, I could agree with a premise that the prevalence of BDSM-leaning turn-ons in our society may be a symptom of a damaged world that normalizes violence. But I can’t agree that what someone likes to do in the bedroom is an indicator of approval of violence against women, or a sign that they are mere steps away from committing it.

    • Heidi

      Hello Nicole, I read your opinion with great interest, trying to understand your standpoint. But (and I’m sure you knew there would be a “but”, lol) I will quote from a response I wrote to another comment on here this morning:
      “What, exactly, does BDSM stand for? Bondage, Domination, Sado-masochism and Masochism. Correct? Type “masochism” into google and the first thing you get is that the term
      comes from some 19th century Austrian writer named Leopold Von
      Sacher-Masoch who derived pleasure and gratification from his own pain
      and humiliation. These don’t sound like healthy things… I think the
      man needed a whole lot of love and kindness and maybe some psychological
      help, poor chap. I’m very serious.”
      After writing this, I read more definitions of S&M, and they include the terms “self-denial and submissiveness”.
      (I don’t know about you, but I see red when someone suggests I should be a more “submissive” wife. It means exactly that: deny yourself.)

      I also read that Masochism is considered a personality disorder. (I did not know this.)
      So in light of this, I don’t know how this kind of activity or behavior could make a person feel “special” or “cherished”, as you put it. I think the two are incompatable in their very essence.
      Domination, to me, resembles imposing. Forcing. One is dominating the other. That’s the whole point. Even if it’s for play, it’s wrong. If you saw a little boy “playing” that he is beating up a little girl on the playground, would you say it’s ok, if the little girl said “it’s ok, I wanted him to do it!!” or vice-versa?
      On a similar note, I was in the grocery store the other day and I literally saw an old woman hit her husband on the side of his face/ear because he was taking too long to get to the cash (she said as much out loud to him, so that’s how I know why she did it). I was absolutely flabbergasted. I looked around and no one but me seemed to have seen it. And I was very tempted to give her a piece of my mind and tell her that’s not alright, but I chose instead to mind my own business, partly because I almost couldn’t believe my own eyes and believe that just happened. I must confess I’m still wondering whether I did the right thing not to say anything, and I feel a pang of guilt still.
      But if we apply the logic of the BDSM community here: if the husband let her do it, does that make it ok? He didn’t object in any way. Still, my gut instincts said no, that was far from alright. I was so sad, thinking he must have put up with years of this kind of treatment. Is this scenario completely different because it doesn’t have to do with sexual activity? I think not. I think in a relationship, what happens in the bedroom does spill over. Absolutely. The bedroom is the most intimate part of your relationship, but it is also a reflection of your relationship. A couple doesn’t become two completely different people the minute their clothes are off. It would be ridiculous to suggest so. Anyway, I’m digressing here, but hopefully you get my point.

      • Heidi

        Interesting fact I just learned in light of this:
        “The Supreme Court has said that a person cannot consent to an assault that causes bodily harm.”
        — Brenda Cossman,
        (author “The Ghomeshi question: The law and consent”, the Globe and Mail Oct 28 2014)

      • Nicole Chase

        As this is basically a copy-paste of what you said to Sara, I’d encourage you to actually read the link she provided on what BDSM/kinky sex actually is and isn’t.

        But for a very short answer to a very long question – kinky sex isn’t a blank check for domestic violence or spousal abuse. It’s more about agreeing to engage in certain activities, ranging across a wide spectrum from bondage and spanking to tickling and blindfolds, for the pleasure and enjoyment of both partners. Your old lady at the supermarket WAS behaving badly, but that doesn’t make her a dominatrix.

        • Heidi

          Hi Nicole, in an effort to be informed and gain a better grasp of both sides I did read the article and it did clarify some definitions for me. Although I must confess I wasn’t terribly fond of the authors writing style. I found it trashy at times which made it difficult for me not to skim around mid-way thru…

      • Heidi, you are a perfect example of “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. You have so many concepts hopelessly garbled together. There have been so many wonderful, educational links provided for you and yet you’ve cobbled together this embarrassing mishmash of half-understood words and concepts. Is this how you live your life? A haze of wild personal assumptions inspired by poor research skills?

        • Heidi

          “So many”? I know of one. And for the record I did read it that *one* article, although admittedly after having written my little piece. It did clarify certain aspects for me, but far from reassuring me it raised other grave concerns about these types of practices… Just sayin.
          Incidentally, if the BDSM community is all about respect for another’s preferences, having a safe and fun exchange, since it’s also about trust and isn’t about hurting others or being abusive in ways the person hasn’t given prior consent to, then you, madam, are a grave misrepresentation of what they claim to stand for. I chided someone earlier for a grave lack of respect in their response to a comment. But congratulations, you have just moved into first place as *the* most disrespectful person on this wall yet. Which, I must say, speaks volumes of the position you are trying to defend… So perhaps I should thank you for so clearly demonstrating what I so clumsily (hazily and embarassingly) failed to do. 🙂 Peace out, girl scout.

      • Good point – we aren’t different people in the bedroom than we are outside of it.

    • That last paragraph: thank-you so much. Absolutely.

    • Thanks for weighing in, Nicole. I am listening and I see your point. I think there is something to be said though for believers truly weighing even our desires against our discipleship/hopes/ideals/values, too. And even though I know we disagree, I appreciate that you explained your position and disagreements for me. I still think violence and these behaviours are wrong – regardless of how sexy they make us feel – and that it’s worth thinking more theologically about them.

      • Nicole Chase

        Thanks for the reply – I’m sure you’ve gotten just LOADS of feedback on this one.

        I’m on board with the idea of weighing our desires against our faith. “Test everything, hold fast to what is good” and all that. Just wary of making universal declarations on someone else’s conscience – avoiding the prescriptivism that has proved so harmful in purity culture – BUT I can see the place of deep compassion you’re coming from and the kind of Kingdom love you’re aiming at. Peace to you, Sarah.

  • Kate

    Yes but a consensual relationship between two people is consensual and between those people. They have gone over how they feel about it and it does not equal violence. This is very very different than domestic violence- do not compare the two.

    • It is different, absolutely. And regardless of Supreme Court rulings, I get that people are free to do this with consent, totally. My position is that if one is a disciple of Jesus Christ, then, yes, doing things that run counter to that is worth our examination.

      • Lyn Belzer-Tonnessen

        I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, and I believe that as long as I love and cherish my partner, and am loved and cherished in return, Jesus doesn’t much care about the particulars about what form that love and cherishing takes. Which I guess is where our basic disagreement lies.

  • Christy

    I am not familiar with this particular incident/s that sparked this blog, but I am very thankful you chose to write it and to share it here. Thank you for taking a stand and calling out Christ followers on this issue. Too many churches, too many Christian people, too many men and women teach too many children this is appropriate even in its mildest form. IT IS NOT APPROPRIATE TO DOMINATE ANOTHER HUMAN BEING IN ANY WAY!! Thank you for saying so with great passion.

  • Megan Sommer

    I believe your piece indirectly (and at times directly) discusses socialization. Largely, the socialization of men as being a dominant sexual force, and of women being their subordinate recipients. You point to these consistently and I appreciate that. You also speak to other ways Christians are socialized in regards to sexuality that are also not healthy (i.e. shame rhetoric surrounding purity), and other forms of secular socialization around sexuality (i.e. “Mutual consent is the new moral arbitrator for our sexuality.”).

    The point of me bringing up socialization is that we are largely unaware of its effects. We believe we are making our own choices, free of input, free of influence. We forget that what makes socialization possible is that certain discourses (secular and Christian) become normalized. We absorb these and enacting these discourses, naturally, feels normal. Critical reflection of our actions and thoughts can bring awareness. We aren’t destined to enact our socialization – but we need to recognize it exists.

    I fully agree with how you presented a Christian-feminist view of this topic. Though I have not experienced direct sexual violence in my life, I’ve often acted out “normalized” sexuality and believed “normalized” ideas about consent and “dominance rhetoric.” Yet I hold no judgement over myself because Christ doesn’t. He calls me to Himself. My deontology is Love and grounded in the person of Jesus.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Good points, thank you for bringing that perspective and clarity.

  • Tabitha Joy Henricksen

    Sarah – I know your love for Canada and was wondering if you were aware of this campaign (http://mic.com/articles/98606/haunting-photos-powerfully-capture-the-terror-facing-canada-s-indigenous-women-today). Not that I expect you to take up the flag for every issue re : violence against women, but it is heart wrenching & I know the power of your platform. Curious your thoughts.

    • Yes, I am aware of the campaign and the issues represented, it is devastating. Thanks for sharing the link here.

  • Sara

    Wow, there are some gross misconceptions about BDSM going on here. It is NOT violence against women, since first of all, women are just as often the dominant ones in the arrangement as are they are the submissive ones. Ever hear of dominatrixes?

    Consensual, safe power play in the bedroom is not the same as domestic violence and rape and I hate that it is being equated with those things. Jian Ghomeshi didn’t actually practice consenual BSMD, and that’s the problem. He crossed lines that his partner(s) were not comfortable with. That’s wrong whether you’re having kinky sex or vanilla sex. And vanilla sex can easily cross the line into rape and violence against women, as well. I strongly doubt the average fundamentalist Christan approves of BDSM but yet they seem to think that a woman should give her husband sex whenever he wants it. An idea that is far more harmful than consensual kink, if you ask me.

    I don’t want to rant about this for too long, but a friend of mine wrote an excellent intro to kink piece recently that I think you and your readers would benefit from reading.

    http://www.rookiemag.com/2014/10/intro-to-kink/

    Trust me when I say that people who are involved in kinky sex practices like BDSM do not in any way condone violence and are usually very egalitarian in their approach to relationships in general. Some people get into it for the wrong reasons and cross boundaries, I would certainly say Ghomeshi is one of them, but his actions have been condemned by many people in the community. What it all comes down is that if BOTH people involved are not on board with what is happening then it is wrong and abusive. That’s why Ghomeshi’s actions were wrong. He lacked consent from his partners. Whether he engaged in kinky sex or not, the issue is and always will be lack of consent. Some people are into bondage, and some people are into missionary with the lights off. But either way, you NEED clear consent from your partner. That’s what makes it violent or not violent.

    • Heidi

      With all due respect, Sara, I think you have missed the point of much of what Sarah B has said. What, exactly, does BDSM stand for? Bondage, Domination, Sado-masochism and Masochism. Correct?

      Type “masochism” into google and the first thing you get is that the term comes from some 19th century Austrian writer named Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch who derived pleasure and gratification from his own pain and humiliation. These don’t sound like healthy things… I think the man needed a whole lot of love and kindness and maybe some psychological help, poor chap. I’m very serious.

      I consider myself to be fairly liberal in the bedroom (within the confines of my marriage) and do all kinds of fun stuff which I won’t get into here. There is a wide range of things to explore that don’t harm or belittle the other, but instead excite in healthy ways (healthy = ways that respect both people and draw them to each other), build them up and make them feel more alive and even relaxed. I am a big fan of sex with my husband and not very “uptight” so I am what I would call very “open” in this matter. That being said, I 100% believe there are limits and honestly don’t understand why it should be deemed “fine” for people to think it fun to engage in this stuff or be turned on by it. I think there is something twisted about that, in the same way that I don’t “get” gore or believe it to be healthy to feed my mind on. I don’t think it’s a game to hurt or verbally abuse a person even if they ask you to. I think the long-term effects will be far-reaching and if you care about your fellow human being and respect them as having equal value to you, you will, as a person of integrity, refuse to do that to them.

      HOWEVER, I do 100% agree with you Sara, that to tell a woman that she must give her husband sex whenever he wants it is an absolutely horrible teaching. What on earth are people thinking? Would God approve of this? It is sexist, degrading, demoralizing and detrimental to a woman’s sense of self-respect and self-worth. It’s essential that both people be in agreement. It could mean meeting half-way (in terms of need levels), **but even that must be agreed upon first, NOT IMPOSED**. Sex should never, ever be imposed on anyone. Ever. I honestly believe that sex is designed to bring beauty, closeness and fulfillment to us as humans. Even the fact that two people can, out of love, respectfully discuss their needs and meet halfway makes both of them feel important and loved and it’s just huge, knowing that your wife (or husband) will make sacrifices for you because he/she loves you enough to want to take your needs into account too. I DEFINITELY see beauty there.
      I don’t see beauty, closeness and fulfillment when I see bruises and humiliation. Sorry, but that’s where I draw the line.

      • Sara

        It seems as though you did not read the link I supplied. I encourage you to do that. You say that Just because you don’t understand something or are not turned on by these things yourself does not automatically make them wrong or damaging. Some people enjoy mixing pain and pleasure. And it is ALWAYS done in a safe, controlled environment with a trusted partner. No one it literally being tortured and there are always limits. That’s why safe words exist. If you’re not comfortable with something, you say so, and it stops immediately.

        • Sara

          Ignore the first part of the second sentence. I started typing one thing and then typed something else, and forgot to delete it.

        • She obviously doesn’t want to understand. Instead of using Google passive aggressively, she could have read one of the many great educational links offered here by you and others, but she’s chosen to keep living in ignorance so she can feel righteous and superior. Just like the blog owner. There is a whole world of information available at our fingertips, yet some people’s misconceptions are too emotionally precious to them to risk destroying with knowledge.

          • Heidi

            🙂 Hi.

          • I don’t believe I have any misconceptions, Molly – contrary to what you seem to believe, I’ve done my research and I’m not an idiot (well, not completely anyway). I know you’re upset, offended, and have been frustrated with this piece. I get that and I get why you are. But I don’t think you’re understanding that my position is because of *my faith* – because of the values I cling to, and that this is a personal conviction based on that. I get the concepts, I get consent, I get all of it – but I also believe that in Christ, this is a violation of the image of God and that violence or pain or domination in any area of life – including intimate relationships but not exclusively – isn’t Christlike. So I hope that clears it up?

        • Heidi

          Sara, first up, I did read the article and it was indeed helpful in grasping certain things.
          Secondly, if theses things were ALWAYS done in safe controlled environments, then none of us would be here discussing a situation where a person allegedly did all kinds of abusive, horrible things (biting, hitting with a fist, strangling,… to name just a few) to non-consenting, much younger (and might I add) terrified women, according to certain articles.
          THAT’S the issue that poses the greatest concern here. Because if these women weren’t in fact consenting, then this man is a predator and abuser of the worst kind and belongs in prison. (I believe we should all be in agreement about that, surely..?)

          • Sara

            I meant that BDSM when practiced *correctly* between consenting adults who respect each other is safe. Jian Ghomeshi is obviously somebody who unfortunately seems to have some issues with women and used the BDSM thing as a shield to hurt people. That’s not okay and needs to be called out. I am so relieved, as a former an of his, that this has been brought to light. But his actions to not reflect BDSM as a whole.

            I mean, look at how many people who are here commenting on this very blog who admit to playing around with some of that stuff in their own marriages. I’d venture to say that a lot of this stuff is a lot more mainstream than we think. It’s just that nobody ever talks about it. But now we are. And it’s important to bring up things like consent and what that constitutes and call out people who abuse others. But if you paint everyone with the same brush then you’re going to run into trouble. Most people in the “kink” community are not abusers and are in fact disgusted by it. I point you again to many of the commenters here on this blog, speaking up about their participation in kink and BDSM and how it has been fun and exciting and even healing for them. The very opposite of abuse.

          • Great distinction – abusers are abusers, predators are predators.

        • I suppose that’s the disagreement, then. I agree with what Ann said above – that intimate relationships, forged in the idea of covenant and safety and mutuality because of a shared faith, shouldn’t require safe words.

          • Lyn Belzer-Tonnessen

            Let’s take the flashpoint topic of sex out of the picture all together for a moment. As a Catholic, I disagree with many ideas you, an evangelical Protestant, hold theologically and religiously. Does that make me less of a Christian in your view?

          • Not in the least.

          • Sara

            Once again, that’s your opinion. Not a fact.

          • A quick thought on safe words, if I may. My husband and I have one, because I am an abuse survivor, and if something triggers me, I need to be able to instantly and clearly stop what’s happening. Hence, safe word. It was never meant to be for him, but he did use it once (I won’t say why #lol), and we were gratified to know that it is useful for both of us. So my personal thought on safe words is that they aren’t inherently bad, or antithetical to intimacy or an egalitarian marriage. It’s all about context.

          • Clarification – the safe word has nothing to do with kink. Just sex in general, and in fact, life in general. He startled me by hugging me from behind one day, and I shouted the word without even thinking about it, and he stopped instantly.

          • sarahoverthemoon

            Why? Safe words are used because of love and care for the health of the other person. I use “safe words” in all areas of my life (not just sexual ones) because, as a survivor, many things that wouldn’t bother most people trigger me. As someone else said, hugging from behind can trigger me. Accidentally tickling me can trigger me. We have safe words because we love each other and are in a SAFE, mutual, covenant marriage. It’s really insulting to hear that the things I do as a survivor to be safe and healthy are somehow not part of a covenant marriage.

    • Thanks for bringing the clarity from your community, Sara. I don’t disagree with your position here. My point is more than for people who follow Jesus, who want their lives to reflect his values and life and ministry, then the behaviours of BDSM are incompatible and it’s worthwhile to think theologically about who we are in our most intimate relationships.

      • Sara

        It’s your *opinion* that BDSM is incompatible with following Jesus. Clearly you have people reading your blog who ID as Christian and also have experimented with some kink in the bedroom. I don’t think it’s your place to tell them that their faith is invalidated by that. Maybe they feel like Jesus doesn’t really give much of a crap about the kinds of things they do together in their bedrooms, as long as both people are actively consenting and enjoying themselves. There’s no commandment that says “Thou shalt not be kinky in bed.”

        If you feel like for you personally there are certain things you need to stay away from or not participate in because of your faith then that’s a perfectly valid choice. But other people are entitled to make their own choices, and if they choose to have some rough/kinky sex once in a while to perhaps spice things up in their marriages or try something new and exciting together then I really don’t see how you can justify telling them they are flat-out wrong for that. This attempt to shame people for their sexual choices and tell them they’re bad Christians for it is not really any different from the conservative fundamentalist attitude that I know you strive to stay away from. Replace the word BDSM with homosexuality and boom. There you go. And actually fundies look down on non-vanilla sex too, now that I think about it. So maybe you have more in common with them than you think.

        • Heidi

          Ok, I’m gonna go completely out on a limb here, at the risk of sounding like a flake to some (oh well, so be it).

          Sara, first up, just reading the type of comments you have made so far I can tell you that I appreciate your overall tone and the maturity you bring to this discussion, so thank you. 🙂

          I do disagree with your last statement, however, in that I do not believe Jesus doesn’t give a rip about what we do in the bedroom. I believe that as Christ-followers absolutely everything we do can be a form of worship. How we treat one another, how we raise our children, how honest we are when no one is looking and we are given the wrong change, how we talk about the family next door, etc etc etc. (Here comes the potentially-perceived-as-flaky part:) I believe all of our behavior as human beings can either serve to glorify or bring dishonor to our Creator. No one ever taught me that. It’s like the realization hit me at some point on my faith journey, and then I discovered I was not alone in feeling this way. I believe it was Martin Luther’s wife who said she feels that she can even “milk cows to the glory of God”. (haha, but not haha!) So if we extrapolate, even our love-making is a form of worship as it is beautiful. It brings oneness and joy, an opportunity to bond and express affection, and even pro-create. And I do truly believe it pleases God. Sex, within the context of a lifetime commitment, is a wholesome act, not a “dirty” one. (Which is why I don’t have issues with it. Let’s be honest, it’s tons of fun.) In light of this, I don’t believe Jesus “turns the other way” when we engage in such things. I think He approves. And I think he does care deeply about how we treat one another, or he would never have said things like “whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me” and “love your neighbor as yourself” and all that wonderful jazz. Now, you may argue that that doesn’t necessarily exclude a little fun and rougher play. I suppose you could be right there. But I highly doubt God takes great delight in some of the strangulation techniques, etc etc (*insert any harder-core BDSM activity of your choice here*) and I can’t presume to speak for Him (of course) but from what I know of Him, I somehow I doubt it was part of His initial plan.
          (Now this next part may seem like a bit of a rabbit trail at first, but please bear with me for a sec…) If we take for example some of the artists who have in recent years been public supporters of the whole BDSM type of activity, one of the most vocal being Rhianna of course, who has at least two videoclips that I know of that very clearly nod in that direction (one called Disturbia and the other more blatantly titled S&M), everything is dark and the images don’t even conjur up the tiniest hint of what could be deemed “love”. You may argue that the definitions thereof can be vast, but maybe watch the clip(s). I don’t think love is the point at all in either of them. And again, my gut says this isn’t what God had in mind… at least, not the extreme stuff, that’s for sure. I would go as far as to venture that I think it probably wounds His heart to see us behaving this way.

  • Susie

    Thank you Sarah, for being real.

    “Our sexuality is not exempt from our identity in Christ” That statement is what compelled me to
    respond. It should come as no surprise that Ghomeshi still continues to dominate and manipulate in whatever forms (such as threatening to sue), not just control sexually. I do hope justice will be served and that eyes will be opened.

    I’ve learned the connection between my sexuality and my identity in Christ the hard way. I’d learned
    that what is in my heart will be revealed by my words and actions, but I had no idea that my sexual identity was no different. Having grown up receiving love in the form of sex, I never saw it as a bad thing. I didn’t see it as a cruel or horrific act. I needed love, as we all do, and so I willingly obliged to sexual acts because that was the only affection I received growing up. Several years later, as an adult and unaware of how abnormal and wrong it really was, I would still choose to go to men for sex whenever I felt empty or needed to be validated somehow. I very intentionally sought out the ones that would probably hurt me. I already saw myself as worthless, so the crueler they were, the more I felt it validated what I already believed about myself. This pattern continued for years, until I finally found security in Jesus Christ alone.

    As heartbreaking as it is to me now, I understand why women take the extreme measures they do in order to
    feel secure, whether physically, emotionally, or sexually. But I will never believe that deep in the tender core of her beautiful soul she ever wanted to be treated as anything other than gentle…whether you’ve been abused or not.

    Seeking Christ in everything and taking responsibility for our part in bringing glory to Him, no
    matter how messy and ugly…can be excruciating, but so fulfilling.

    God bless

  • J.R. Baldwin

    Thank you, Sarah Bessey!

  • Buffygirl84

    I’ve been trying to think how to respond. Because I don’t want to respond angrily, although truth be told your comments MAKE me angry, but you are one of a handful of Christian blogs I still follow (although I joyfully left my own faith some time ago) because I respect you and admire your work and your words. So I don’t want to be angry. I respect your honesty. I respect your bravery because it shouldn’t take bravery to say things but let’s be honest, we all know it does, the internet is a cruel place.

    So you were honest, let me be honest as well. I was abused growing up. I have experienced rape and sexual assault. I spent over a year as a counselor with our local sexual assault center as my practicum for school. I’m studying to be a therapist, my single goal is to specialize in trauma and sexual trauma will be a huge part of that. This is not frivolous to me, this is no joke. I make light of NOTHING and it stings to hear it implied. I have spoken to hundreds of women and some men in my lifetime who are survivors of all kinds of abuse but particularly sexual. It is one of the driving forces of my life.

    But people are funny creatures. We heal in strange and unusual ways. You were very honest and I will be equally so. The first time I was ever able to have sex without pain? Was in a rape roleplay. I got to FIGHT, I got to react physically in ways I had never been able to before. I wasn’t frozen, I wasn’t afraid, I got to fight back. That may sound crazy or sick to you, that’s okay. It wasn’t something we did all the time, I didn’t NEED it all the time. We did it twice and that was about all I needed. But I needed it. Would I do it again? Sure, if it seemed right. Do I use handcuffs, other kinds of roleplays, etc? Absolutely. Many people I know (I certainly will not pretend to be speaking for all and I make no claims) who are involved in BDSM experiences grew up with abuse in their lives.

    I am in a class this quarter about somatic psychology, we’ve discussed things like where we keep pain and trauma in our bodies. Those things don’t necessarily leave, you know? We store them. Sometimes there are things we wanted to do but couldn’t, actions we weren’t able to take then. Sometimes things are programmed into us and if we play it out in healthy ways as adults there should be no shame in that. Haven’t we already suffered enough shame?

    I’m not trying to change your mind. I was just trying to think how to respond and the best thing I could think was to offer what you offered – honesty. I am proud of my life. I have worked hard to get here and that is especially true in my sexual life. I honestly do not believe that would have happened without those things you’ve labeled twisted.

    Peace to you, Sarah.

    • Lyn Belzer-Tonnessen

      “Haven’t we already suffered enough shame?”

      Hammer, meet nail.

      I am in awe of your strength. Keep it up.

    • sarahoverthemoon

      Thank you for saying this. I have a very similar experience. <3

    • Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and your truth, I hear you.

    • Holly Houston

      Thanks for saying this buffygirl.

      Though I have loved this blog, and it has been an important part of my journey away from an abusive fundamentalism, this post left me feeling broken and ashamed.

      I have never been the victim of sexual abuse, but ‘spankings’ (long sessions with a leather belt) were common and verbal/emotional abuse was without end. I don’t know if that had much of anything to do with my current preferences, but I do know that I’m finally in a safe, loving, consensual relationship where my wishes and my body is respected. And though we have plenty of sweet, vanilla sex, we often play with dominance/submission and some mild forms of BDSM.

      Perhaps the reason I enjoy it is that I am now the one in charge of what happens to my body. I get to say no or stop, and it stops. I trust this man completely, because he has earned it. And while the pleasure is always mutual, the main focus of pleasure is the submissive partner (usually me).

      Sarah, I’m a nurse, a midwife, an advocate for women and children. I’m smart, educated, brave, and in a safe and loving relationship. I don’t want to be shamed anymore. I have had enough of that in my life. I don’t think that was your intent, and I’m not angry, but I don’t know if I can read your work in quite the same way in the future.

      • Ella

        I could have written so many parts of this myself.

        Abuse is not the case in my own history; this appears to be a way I was wired from a very young age (three years old, at my earliest memory) and I have spent most of my adulthood walking a very long, introspective road away from the church that taught me to stifle so many parts of who I am.

        I don’t want to walk away from my faith altogether, I am not in that place. Sarah’s was one of the few blogs I was able to use when I needed to prove to myself that there were still spaces rooted in Christian tradition where people were more interested in listening than judging; in strengthening than shaming.

        Then came yesterday, and this post, and there vanished that particular means of self-comfort. The conflation of very real abuse and evil acts of violence with a personal, private kink of my own that it has taken me years to come to terms with, to explore safely and comfortably within the confines of a very intimate, trusting relationship, is deeply disappointing, and more personally hurtful than I had ever imagined a stranger’s judgement could be.

        I’m smart, educated, brave, and in a safe and loving relationship. I don’t want to be shamed anymore. I have had enough of that in my life. I don’t think that was your intent, and I’m not angry, but I don’t know if I can read your work in quite the same way in the future.

        My sentiments exactly.

        • Very interesting, Ella. Thanks for sharing your truth here.

        • I have very conflicted feelings about this subject, because of childhood sexual abuse from my father, and sexual abuse from a boyfriend in high school. My husband and I have tied each other up during sex, thought that’s as “kinky” as it’s ever gone. I have interest, and yes, because it makes me feel powerful over MYSELF, not him. In fact, he suggested once that I like feeling powerful over him and it made me feel sick to my stomach – I almost threw up. Because NO, that’s not what I feel or want or like AT ALL. It’s purely that I have the final say over my own body. BUT — I agree with Sarah’s article. So I’m conflicted. Excruciatingly so.

          • Ella

            The elements of power and control can play out very differently for different people. I can’t speak to your situation except to say that I am so sorry you experienced abuse. That should not have happened to you. I can see why it would lend further conflict to your enjoyment of a situation where you get to explore control of your own body.

            Abuse is not the case for my partner or myself; we just both have a history from childhood of deriving enjoyment from bondage and power play (we also enjoy many other things, of course, but those are the type anybody can mention to a friend over coffee. This has much greater potential to be misunderstood).

            We’ve been together twelve years and have had plenty of time for discuss what power dynamics seem to bring us pleasure and satisfaction. We’ve found that we overlap in certain areas, but differ in others. This isn’t just limited to private interaction, it’s also played out in what appeals to us in media (I don’t mean porn; I mean what scenes we find exciting in ordinary movies, books, etc.). She’s interested in more straightforward bondage and domination, while I enjoy exploring the subversion of traditional power dynamics (BDSM lends itself beautifully to this, since in BDSM the sub, ostensibly the “victim”, is the person with the most authority over the scenario in play). We make this work for both of us, and we have fun doing so.

            I don’t appreciate this post’s conflation of abuse (which is what I personally believe Jian Ghomeshi perpetrated; the stories coming out are too damning and horrific for me to believe otherwise) with a careful, mutual exploration of pleasure derived from bondage, domination, or other elements of BDSM. I resent Jian Ghomeshi’s effort to reframe [what I believe were] nonconsensual, criminal acts as traditional BDSM, and am annoyed that people unfamiliar with BDSM are so ready to buy into the association (or, in the case of abusers, take this as license to commit criminal acts themselves). I most emphatically reject the implication that I have been made less than human for exploring mutually gratifying pleasure with the woman I love more than anything. I better understand myself thanks to her, I love who I am when I am with her, and I look forward to the rest of our lives together as two very whole, healthy, equal partners.

            If it is at all reassuring to you, I do not personally think you have been dehumanized by finding healing through a degree of sexual power play with somebody you trust and love. Restoration takes so many forms, it would be foolish to tell somebody who testifies they are being healed that they are healing the wrong way.

          • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Ella.

      • Thank you for taking the time to share, Holly, particularly so vulnerably. I appreciate it and I’m listening.

  • Sarah Schwartz

    Hot damn, Bessey. Eshet chayil!

  • Kirk

    Yes. This! so needed!

  • Trey Giroux

    Holy shit, no. It is not about “The acceptability of sexualized violence against women”, it’s about a guy who likes BDSM and four women who decided they should freak out on him because it made them uncomfortable (despite consenting earlier). Nobody is accepting violence against any gender. He, one person, just likes BDSM. Lots of men and women do. Lots of men and women get a little too physical in bed because they want to. Sometimes they don’t like it. It is NOT about oppression, it is about consenting sex acts between two parties. Do NOT try to make this into something you apeshit fourth-wave feminazis can use against us men as another “oh my god look at how animalistic and evil men are, omg patriarchy, omg sexism, omg misogyny, omg oppression, omg my rights, omg” Us normal men, men who want equality among genders, just want everybody to get along. This kind of reporting, reporting without facts and merely applying a sexist agenda to leverage against your chosen “bad guy” is despicable. Shame on you.

    • Well, as entertaining as your comment was to me, I do have to point out that I think you’ve missed the actual point. Which is not actually about Jian Ghomeshi or even consent but rather about what we embody in our intimate relationships when we’re disciples of Jesus.

    • Heidi

      Dear Trey, what we are discussing was never about Jian Ghomeshi specifically, we were discussing in much broader terms than that. The Jian Ghomeshi story has merely served to bring the subject into the forefront, which, judging by the number of comments, it probably needed to be in order to break the silence and bring some clarity to the matter.
      But since we’re on the topic of Jian, you were aware that as of tonight we’re talking 8:1? Yup, according to the news, eight women so far have come forward to say that he used excessive violence absolutely 100% without their consent or prior knowledge. (Tune in to CBC tomorrow morning at 8:30 if you’d like to hear from another of his alleged victims.)
      Soooooooo… maybe just this once we were onto something and our “apesh*t fourth-wave feminazi” senses were right about our “chosen bad guy”. Stay tuned. Time will tell.

  • Evie Vane

    When bondage is done right, it is the exact opposite of dehumanizing–it is a way of connecting on a deep, intimate level that most people will never experience. Not only do I not feel lowered or abused in any way by being tied up skillfully and lovingly; I actually feel elevated and transcendent. Bondage does not have to be violent! Suffering is part of life, whether we choose to ignore that truth or not. To embrace suffering and turn it into something beautiful is a gift, something to be celebrated–and there is no doubt that when I’m tied up, I am sacred and even a goddess. If you ever want to actually experience rope bondage before you decry it, please let me put you in touch with several people who can help you experience it in a beautiful, sensual, loving way.

  • Are you a psychologist? A therapist? A violence counselor? Have you read anything academic about BDSM or spoken to experienced practitioners or is this all based on a cursory impression you have from television and movies? Do you have any evidence at all to back up the dramatic assertions you’re pushing here? I can’t believe you’re holding up your Christianity like a shiny sheriff’s badge while judging other people so harshly, perpetuating lies and misconceptions about them. That really doesn’t seem very Christlike at all.

    I’m not a BDSM practitioner, but I am a criminology graduate student so I’ve studied this community in relation to sexual and domestic violence. There is no evidence that practitioners of “kink” are any more or less prone to abuse than anyone else. It is not indicative of underlying psychopathology. BDSM has become more popular and more visible in the past twenty years, meanwhile rates of domestic abuse and sexual violence have been decreasing. This flies rather directly in the face of your theory positively correlating the topics.

    Although you’ve apparently made up your mind (based on what?) here’s a lot of materials for people who would actually like to learn something rather than blindly judging and assuming.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kayt-sukel/bdsm_b_1554310.html
    http://www.tandfonline.com.dml.regis.edu/doi/abs/10.1300/J082v50n02_14#.VE8kyYt4qjw
    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2013/0213/In-US-big-strides-in-reducing-domestic-violence
    http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/fvsv9410pr.cfm
    http://www.niu.edu/user/tj0bjs1/bdsm/Richters,%20de%20Visser,%20Rissel,%20Grulich,%20&%20Smith%20(2008).pdf

    • Ella

      Of course it makes perfect sense that a culture which venerates consent would not contribute to a rise in domestic violence. So much of what you have said here is rational, logical and straightforward–on par with 2 and 2 are four–but too many people are as wobbly with their deductive reasoning as five year olds are with their doubling.

      And then people double down and congratulate themselves for causing pain via their willingness to sneer at others, and any lingering hopes I had that logic, reason or even love played any part in any of this are just so much . . . pfft. Ephemera.

      I am looking forward to reading your links.

    • Thanks for the links, Molly, I actually have read quite a bit on the practice – I don’t always go off on a soapbox without doing a bit reading first. And I think you might be missing my actual point – it’s about thinking theologically about what we embody in our lives – including in our most intimate relationships – and understanding it from the point of view of someone who values the teachings of Jesus. If we’re a people who practice non-violence and gentleness, who believe in the sacredness of life, then that has something to say about this part of our lives, too.

      • You are claiming a positive correlation between BDSM practices and abuse. That people who practice BDSM are violent, don’t care about the sacredness of life. How very condescending. This is without a shred of empirical evidence. If there was a causative relationship between BDSM and actual abuse, this would have been detected by now. It’s a selfish, irresponsible, judgmental thing to do.

        What is true for you isn’t true for everyone else, I find it astoundingly solipsistic that you would think otherwise. You need to reword your internal monologue to understand that you don’t get to dictate to everyone what is right and true for them. I’ll help:

        “And I think you might be missing my actual point – it’s about thinking theologically about what I embody in my life – including in my most intimate relationships – and understanding it from the point of view of my interpretations of the teachings of Jesus.” You don’t get to impose your interpretations of how to live properly onto everyone else.

  • Hazel Moon

    Thank you for speaking out.
    No one should be dehumanized, women, children or men either.

  • Guest

    We have had so much of this in the UK, what seemed to happen in the past is that everyone knew about avoiding certain men, or that sexual violence was inevitable. I think conversations like the one we’re having are the only way to change things. For one, I think it gives younger women the courage to speak up more, maybe where others haven’t in the past. This behaviour flourishes in darkness.

    There was a recent case in Australia of a woman who was allegedly gang raped after a Tinder date. Horrific! But after a few days of quite intense media attention she dropped chargers I believe. Probably not because she wasn’t raped, but because she couldn’t deal with the scrutiny and judgement.

    • The scrutiny and judgement is a form of re-victimization for sure. Especially in the Internet age – same thing here in Canada.

  • Stef

    First I would like to say that I really appreciate your honesty and bravery to come forward and say what you have. I’m sure it takes guts, especially for a topic that is so controversial in the christian community. And I respect your opinion.
    However I would have to say that I vehemently disagree with you. I feel as if you have some misinformation about BDSM, and I will attempt to express the holes I see in your logic, such as why BDSM does not necessarily have to be an unhealthy dehumanizing sexual interaction. Sara expressed some excellent points already so i’ll try to be original. But just to be clear I would be honored by any replies either in agreement or not, and challenge you to change my mind (just trying to take the humble road, for a topic connected with the global abuse of women is clearly a sensitive topic). I would also like to warn that some may find this a little too much information. So you’ve been warned.
    I think that in every relationship there is a dominant and a submissive to varying degrees, and that translates into the sexual relationship. Some people desire to be in control and some not. I do not think this is unhealthy, simply compatibility. True there is the danger of the submissive being under represented but that is for him/her to determine. What would you say to all the people that do feel sexually repressed because they can not get that gratification? Do they need psychological help, or practice more healthy outlets? And if that doesn’t work? I do not believe the dominant person is dehumanizing the submissive because they are both enjoying the relationship. Strip clubs are dehumanizing. Viewing individuals as nothing more than their body. This is not BDSM. True some BDSM use people (Men and women) as nothing more than sex objects, but it is always for the gratication of both participants. It is another level that must be considered. For me being a dominant, the gratification is all in the reactions of pleasure from the submissive. As soon as they begin to truly no longer be interested empathy takes it’s course, and things get very…sickening very quickly if one were to continue (I want to vomit thinking about it, so don’t think that BDSM is akin to the rape of someone). There is a level of connection that could be termed as a play of power. I have switched between dom (dominance) and sub (submissive) myself and found both to be enjoyable. Sometimes it is nice to take control, where as others it is nice to loose it and have things happen that you did not expect. So how is using one as a sex object not dehumanizing? I suppose for a moment it might be that (I myself am not interested in this area of BDSM). But the difference is that when things are over you sit down talk about your experience, what you liked, disliked, what you want to try in the future. You treat the individual as you always have, a human being with an infinity of interesting things to learn from.
    I think that “Violence” is such a hot word to use for these situations. Immediately we think of thousands of women abused and have no escape. This is far from the reality of what the BDSM community stands for. Usually it happens in the safety of ones own home. The 2+ talk about the interaction, do’s, dont’s, safety words drawing clear lines. We are not sociopaths. Let me say that again. We are not rapists. And the actions preformed are purely in the enjoyment of all individuals involved. The sub is not drugged, coerced, or in any wrong psychological state of mind. They are there because they enjoy it and because they know the dom enjoys it. The dom SHOULD be there because they know the sub enjoys it. I can understand how you may perceive being a dom as heartless and un-empathetic, when you are whipping/slapping someone or what have you and get sexually aroused. However an important distinction must be made between the girl tied up in Bangladesh and the wife on her satin douve. Both doms enjoy the power, but the man in bangladesh gets off on the lack of enjoyment of the girl. Where as the dom in the suburbs of america gets off on the pleasure he knows he is enticing which makes it very empathetic. For example in BDSM there is a…focus i guess, called forced orgasms. This is where the sub is tied up and sometimes edged to the point of orgasm again and again or forced to orgasm again and again. The dom is usually fully clothed and the focus is always on the sub. Its all about seeing the gratification in their expressions. There is no intercourse or it becomes bondage. The focus is entirely on making the sub feel good. What would you say to this?
    I think the religious argument is not sound because to say that this is the way God intended relationships to be or look is very dangerous and I would not touch that with a ten foot pole. The amount of damage that has caused, continuing even to this day is disgusting. I don’t think we have any grounds to say what an infinite unimaginable non corporeal being would have to say about something as physical as sex. I used to be a christian myself so I do truly respect where you are coming from. All we have to say what God would want is the bible. However I retort to you that the bible states that women should obey the man and follow his lead. Absolutely false in my opinion. So…The bible says a lot.

    • Stef

      We are not making light of the rape and lack of consensual sex that happens at all. The “Violence” that takes place in BDSM is a completely different animal. I find rape to be absolutely abhorrent and know I don’t even and can’t know the depths of it since I am a man. That is not what BDSM is. It is the enjoyment of a little safe pain (among many other possible things) because it feels good. I’m not sure how to explain it to someone who doesn’t feel it.

    • Thanks for weighing in, Stef – I appreciate it. And yes, we disagree – because I do believe that God has something to say about our physical life and what drives or motivates it. But I appreciate your insight here, thank you.

  • Dorothy

    Well said!

  • mithril1971

    This. “I don’t care if it’s soft patriarchy or BDSM, this is an example of the enemy twisting the very thing that enslaves us, the curse, a consequence of the Fall, and making us think it’s not only acceptable but sexy and desirable. We have been set free from walking in that oppression” Yes. You are right. And as long as we keep being content in living in the Fall, and not making strides towards the “in the beginning” of it all, this insanity continues. As far as everything you say about women & abuse – preach, sister.

  • Donna-Jean Brown

    Exactly, Sarah. My heart sank like yours when I read Jian’s statement. It is deeply sad that evil twisted this creative and talented man toward consumerist sexual perversion. Thankyou for sounding the alarm again.

  • Tom Roes

    I agree very much with you here Sarah. Let this be an opportunity to discuss the deeper issues related to our cultural acceptance of violence against women instead of choosing sides in this one particular story and shooting arrows back and forth.

  • Janelle

    There are so many things that make me sad about this story. I loved listening to Ghomeshi. I respected his talent, his words, and his commitment to excellence. A helped me enjoy many early morning drives to Moose Jaw for appointments. The kids loved The Debaters, but I loved a Jian. So, I’m sad.

    I’m saddened because of all that you wrote. I’m saddened because of how his FB post mademe feel – like, here we go with the word crafting and public opinion position jockeying. I’m saddened for all the ugliness that the internet will offer up as the story progresses. I’m saddened that women hide their identies out of fear, I’m saddened that the Star felt the need to include the fact that the women were “educated and employed.”

    But to keep the facts straight, which will likely become harder and harder to do, these women did not come forward with allegations of abuse. They were contacted by a newspaper in regards to a story. I gess we’ll see where things go from here.

    • True but in today’s world so little abuse and rape is reported and even less is followed into charges and then into conviction. It’s tragic and sad yet it’s understandable why some women simply want to get on with their lives, too.

      • Had I known the shaming tactics that would be used on me by my father’s defense attorney prior to trial, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to take the stand. And the Internet wasn’t even involved in that one! The court of public opinion is vicious, especially when the public opinion has no clue what the heck it’s talking about.

  • *stands up on your soapbox with you and roars*

  • Jes

    Well said! I’ve never fit well on either side either, and your post really resonates. Thanks for being brave and willing to endure the verbal abuse that a post like this will invite. Hopefully it will make a few people – or a lot! – think!

  • Willypep

    Your comments about Don Cherry should have been omitted, they’re based on ignorance and stupidity as well.

  • Michael Moore

    Thank you, Sarah for your passionate and faith-filled thoughtful words… As a counselor/chaplain/pastor I have seen the damage done by the narcissistic and warped view of sexuality by so many…

    Made me reflect on this passage from 1 John 4:7-8…

    “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

    That is a love that does not treat another as an object… Praying that Q might one day COM’s to realize that…

  • Thank you for such an articulate, well-thought-out post! It helps me arrange my thoughts around sexualized violence with new clarity.

  • Rod Minaker

    Although, I too am not an advocate for violence and coercion in the sexual play between partners; as a couples’ therapist, I see again and again how relationships that are based upon mutuality alone have a lot of love but not a lot of passion. Passion is created by the separateness of two people where as love is created by privileging what we have in common.

    What is this mark of separateness? It can be created by time away from one another and/or created by experiences of observing and noticing the mystery of your partner – not as known but as unknown.
    The novelty of the unknown or not recently experienced from the other ignites passion.

    What’s love got to do with it? Sorry I could not resist LOL! Love is expressed in consent (but not the kind of consent that I give into your dark desires), for consent is the acknowledgement of “I feel safe with you.” Perhaps what we can all benefit from is a common and respect-based understanding of consent, because the type of consent that I am imagining is not something that is just lip service.

    Sexual polarity is also a dynamic in the realm of passionate exchange. Again polarity implies difference (e.g. opposites attract). I believe, and can legitimate it biblically as well, that both men and women have a masculine and feminine energy. In order for passion to be generated one partner needs to relax into their feminine and the other into their masculine. These concepts are separate from gender based prescriptions to the sex of a person. Both have their giftings and strengths and both men and women have these in their repertoire. The masculine is defined by a “go” orientation and when it comes to sexual play the masculine longs to be trusted for the direction he/she gives in what the two are doing. The feminine energy is defined by the longing to be taken by the other (in trust) where they can receive the other.

    I believe the egalitarian debate (equal treatment/status of men and women) has unduly and inappropriately influenced the attachment-based and sexual polarity-based needs of the intimate couple by constraining the individuals to be homogeneous. The feminist movement has, to their credit, championed respectful relationships marked by healthy boundaries and fought for its place in our collective consciousness. However, even if healthy boundaried people love well by appreciating the ethics of relating with others, they more often than not will not allow themselves to relax into difference that could be defined by sexual polarity (described above). If both parties in the sexual play, direction giving and receiving is done by negotiation and abstraction.

    The sexual play is not an ethical negotiation first in foremost, Ethics are important, but need to be put in the background so that the couple can engage each other in freedom and for freedom sake. If the couple has to make sure they always stay within the ethical parameters/boundaries they impede passionate exchange and are less free. There is another way where love and passion can meet mingle and thrive… If a couple can relax their boundaries and trust their partner creating an arc of difference/polarity between them that experience of passion can strengthen their love.

    • Very interesting stuff – thanks for weighing in.

      • Rod Minaker

        Have you heard of “Gender and Grace” a book by evangelical feminist Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen? It is something I think you would like 🙂

        • Amy C

          Ohhh! M.S. Van Leeuwen was one of my most beloved professors. She seriously changed my life. I will add a hearty and loud “yes” to this book recommendation!

    • So, having a two year old has clearly destroyed my capacity for intelligent reading. I’m really unclear about what you’re saying, Rod. #sad Any chance you could dumb this down for me, a little? I *think* what you’re saying could really speak to me in my marriage, but I’m honestly just not getting it right now. #headdesk #darnkids

      • Rod Minaker

        can we skype

  • Ladypunctilio

    I feel such a wave of relief reading your words, Ms. Bessey. I have had too many conversations with Christian men who say the church should stay out of our beds–that whatever consenting couples decide on is ok. And we have all heard too many arguments that pornography is no big deal. But the amount of violent, bdms, and rape pornography is staggering, and how dare we believe that it doesn’t change our minds at all when we view it?
    A few weeks ago, the American TV Show The Mindy Project featured a storyline involving sodomy. After her boyfriend attempted it without telling her (and lied, saying it was an accident), Mindy decided she needed to be more adventurous sexually. I am no stranger to the current sitcoms, but this was one of those moments where I stopped and thought, is this really happening? Eventually, at the end of a crash course in sexual maneuvers from a frat-boy co-worker, she decides her only choice is to try sodomy or lose her boyfriend. “Maybe I’ll like it,: she quips, to which her co-worker replies, “No, you won’t.”
    This is where we are right now, that it’s not just “If I don’t sleep with him, he’ll leave me,” but actually, “If I don’t reenact his pornographic fantasies (and/or say it doesn’t bother me that he continues to watch porn), no matter how uncomfortable or degrading or violent, he will leave me.”
    The rise of feminism without Jesus has often left us going to the extreme of saying everything sexual is fine–wonderful, even–as long as both people say yes. But freedom is not complete license; one person is going to get trampled. And in a world where women overwhelmingly suffer when it comes time to decide what to do with sex, I am so grateful you spoke this word to us. As followers of Jesus, we are free from that headlong pursuit of pleasure; we walk toward love, honor, and mutual admiration.

    • Good points – thank you for sharing. I suppose there is something to be said about the rise and acceptability of hard-core pornography and its connection to this perhaps. Loved your last sentence there, too.

  • Alena Belleque

    Thank you for speaking out, Sarah. ~a survivor

  • Gene

    Not one negative comment! Do you by any chance just erase everything controversial? That shows a real openness of mind and a true search and love of the truth!! 😉

    • Seeking

      Are you unable to read? There are TONS of disagreeing comments. And some outright trolls.

    • Nope, I haven’t deleted a single comment – usually I let them stand unless they’re incredibly abusive or personal attack driven. You’ll find a lot of disagreement in this thread if you read it.

  • Jemelene

    It never gets any easier to say the hard things. It’s close to 30 years since I began to break away from my abuser. What seldom gets mentioned is the precarious road to “consent”. It’s easy to forget the grooming from the abuser and the slow manipulation that leads the vulnerable to the slippery slope and the belief that consent has taken place. The fact that some posters are still defending the practices that denigrate both parties aches me to the core.
    Thank you Sarah. Just thank you.

    • This. I believe in consent. But I have been someone who did not give consent. I’ve also been a woman who consented, not realizing the grooming and manipulation that had taken place — and not only how deeply disrespectful it was, but the damage that was being done to my heart and soul during that time. I wasn’t even fully aware until much later.

      • So tragic – and common, Deb. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • Very good points, Jemelene – such a precarious road to consent.

  • Valerie

    Very well written. Thank you.

  • Amy C

    Sarah. I love you, and your writing. I love how you think, I love the way you put yourself out there. You went out on a limb here, and I respect your vulnerability. I hope you will, in turn, respect mine – and really, really listen to what I have to say.

    What you just wrote wounded me, and wounded me deeply.

    You
    turned something that my husband and I do for joy and connection and
    pleasure, into something sinful and wrong and shameful. You reinforced YEARS of statements by fundamentalist Christians, who told me as a woman, I am not allowed to dictate what my needs and desires are. That I am only to be a holy vessel of pleasure for my husband, and not myself. That my wildest desires should be hidden, shushed away under layers of sexual repression.

    I
    am a feminist. I am lover of God. I am wildly loved by my husband.
    Sometimes, my husband and I have sex and it is the mystical joining of
    two bodies and souls coming together. Sometimes we laugh and tumble
    all over the bed, an ecstatic and frantic lovefest. Sometimes it is the
    release of just pure need, blind and driving need.

    Sometimes?
    He ties me to the bed and we giggle and he might blindfold me and tease
    me. Sometimes he might grab me a little rougher than usual, and I
    swoon in his strength. Sometimes, we explore the darker places of
    ourselves, and it turns out that bringing them to the light is magical
    and wonderful and very, very enjoyable. And healing.

    I
    spent years hating my sexuality because of sanctimonious messages about what a woman’s sexuality can and can’t be. Because of Pastors who told me that being a woman and having needs was wrong.
    Because of Christians who said that my only job as a wife iis to be trapped in a
    sexuality that was powerless and based on servitude.

    My sexuality is the opposite of those things. It is based on freedom. It is based on consent. It is based on me getting to say “Yes” and “No”.

    SO understand, that when you then hand down statements that categorize a VERY large, broad field of sexual experience as wrong, you simply reinforce the messages that you are fighting against.

    I love you and your wonderful mind, Sarah. I will fight tooth and nail along with you so that women may be free from the chains that bind us, that tell us that our value is only what the culture says it is. But where I will break from you is when you begin to dictate to women what they can and can’t be, feel and not feel, and desire and not desire, as well.

    • Lyn Belzer-Tonnessen

      *wild applause*

    • I’m so sad and sorry that her words hurt you, and that she apparently doesn’t care. This blog, her positions are for her own glorification. If she truly cared and had love in her heart she would’ve done some actual research before writing a single word.

      • Lyn Belzer-Tonnessen

        While I don’t agree with Sarah, I don’t know that I agree with this either. Fifteen years ago, I had the same opinions of BDSM and kink that she did. By pure chance, I became friends with people who were very openly into those things, and over the years, I learned differently. If I hadn’t met those people, I wouldn’t have had the first clue of where to look for information.

        The entire situation obviously hit a huge, emotional hot button for her. I have hot buttons myself, and can’t bring myself to throw a stone.

        • I think my emotional hot button this one is that I have an entire email inbox right now filled with stories of women who were abused and raped, who were victims of these kinds of practices, who were groomed or manipulated into participation, and even men who confess that they use these practices as a cloak for the darkest desires of their heart that they know run counter to their beliefs. It’s hard not to care when you’ve heard as much heartbreak and woundedness that has come out of the acceptability of violence, particularly for women.

          • Lyn Belzer-Tonnessen

            I’m sorry, I don’t think you understand me. I don’t see an emotional hot button as a bad thing. It just is something that affects how we view and approach certain subjects. Mine is drug use.

            And I’m sure you don’t mean to imply that I don’t care about those people–people of all genders, particularly trans people are horrifyingly abused as well–without knowing a single thing about me or my past. Especially since I was trying to dissuade someone from her belief that you have been purposefully ignorant and pridefully self-aggrandizing.

          • Nope, didn’t meant to imply that at all, Lyn. Thanks for clearing it up.

          • Amy C

            I’m with you. I hear you. I am a psychotherapist for women. One of my specialties is working with women who have come through sexual abuse. It is gut-wrenching. It is so gut-wrenching, I frequently have nightmares about the stories I have heard. They wake me up at 2 am, soaked to the bone in my own sweat and tears. I most certainly disagree with Molly – I know that you wrote this not because you don’t care, but because your heart is weighed with the deepest grief. I know this grief well, Sarah.

          • If she cared she would have done some research instead of simply condemning people based on her uninformed, amateurish impressions. I know these stories, too, from a personal and professional perspective. As I mentioned in my own post, I’m a criminology grad student. I’ve worked in many professional settings with victims of abuse. What she is alleging is irresponsible, harmful, and wrong. Something isn’t “truth” just because you say it’s “truth” over and over again. She’s denying objective reality, facts, statistics, and research to put down people who are different from her. That is far from “loving”.

            If her intentions were good and she really wanted to help people, why isn’t her post addressing the real causes of violence against women instead of so “bravely” speaking out against a straw man? Making up this fiction that harms and shames people in the BDSM community?

      • Kate

        Who gave you a window into her soul?

    • KM

      Thank you for your vulnerability and courage in writing this, Amy. I love Sarah and her writings so much and have been so grateful for the freedom she’s encouraged in me, but this one has been hard for me. Last night I found myself feeling shame and hesitation while having sex with my adoring husband, after many years of fighting hard for my sexual freedom. Maybe its difficult because Sarah wrote in generalities but I kept wondering “Is this wrong? Is this?” I don’t know. I’m open to conviction if I’m wrong, but this feels like shame. Still trying to sort it out.

      • Lyn Belzer-Tonnessen

        Oh, don’t ever hand that power over to *anybody*, KM. Sarah’s a very good Christian to read and look up to in many ways, but she is human, as are we all. While there are things she’s written that ring with holy truth, I think she’s wrong about this. G-d calls us to be self-discerning, and to use the intelligence and conscience given to each of us. You found self-acceptance, and you shouldn’t give that up!

        • Totally agree, Lyn – well, I still think I’m right on this one 🙂 but I agree completely that I shouldn’t have that power. There is a big difference between feeling shame and feeling lead by the Holy Spirit to examine our lives more thoroughly – one is terrible and the other can bring life.

      • I agree with Lyn, don’t give that power to me. Shame isn’t healthy but conviction or a call to examine our lives more thoroughly can be uncomfortable, too. Only you know, KM – but don’t let someone else be the Holy Spirt for you.

    • Thank you so much for sharing, Amy. I am listening.

    • Nicole Chase

      Preach.

  • thatlostgirl

    Sarah, thank you so much for your brave words and honesty. And thank you to everyone who has commented – I have
    learned so much listening to the conversation brought about by this
    post. I pray that the conversation continues to be one of love and humility by both sides.

  • RobA

    This entire thing completely excludes the wants and desires of the female in the bedroom. I thought that’s what feminism was all about? About giving women CHOICE and stop telli ng them what they should and shouldn’t do/think/feel?

    To that end, why would BDSM that is desired by both partners wrong? Isnt telling a woman who desires a BDSM sex life that she can’t do it the exact same kind of paternalistic oppression that feminists have been fighting against for decades?

    The women out there who are into BDSM are real. They aren’t figments of pervy male imaginations. They have agency, and they have a right to seek sexual fulfilment however they may achieve it. Not everyone is vanilla. And that’s ok.

    It seems like what you’re saying is YOU can’t imagine how anyone could enjoy the BDSM lifestyle and can’t imagine how it can be done safely and responsibly in a healthy way. You are entitled to that opinion, even though it is unequivocally wrong.

    You end with rhetorical questions, such as “what does this say to abused women” etc. It doesn’t say anything because it’s not their business. It is the business of the people engaged in the sex.

    As a side note, I had to laugh at the comment “Christianity is about mutuality, not dominance” because clearly your version of Christianity doesn’t really factor in anything that happened before the 1990’s.

    • RobA

      Not to mention the framing of BDSM as violence against women is just wrong. What about gay BDSM?

      What about femdoms? Male subs and female doms are very common in BDSM

    • Again, as I said above, my challenge is precisely because of my faith, because of who I believe Christ to be and how that informs my life. You’re free to disagree with my conclusions. And for the record, Christianity might be just a touch more than you think if you believe that mutuality is a “new” thing for us.

      • Lyn Belzer-Tonnessen

        It’s not new, but you have to admit that it hasn’t been particularly well practiced until very recently.

  • David Church

    Sarah Bessey apparently assumes that BDSM can essentially be summarized as sexual violence by a man upon a woman. That view is naive, uninformed and stereotypically sexist.

    At its core, BDSM is about trust and intimacy (emotional, intellectual, or physical.) Mutual consent, often continually reaffirmed consent, is key. BDSM can encompass a wide range of practices from sensory isolation, restraint and feather tickling to more intense whips, paddles and piercings. “Violence” is a word charged with terrible imagery and connotations. “Aggressive” may be a better word for the more extreme BDSM practices.

    Of course, violence against women is always wrong. And consenting to aggressive sexual acts is irrelevant if that consent is rooted in fear, intimidatation or an unresolved personal history of abuse and victimization. But truly consentual BDSM is not that.

    If we are all made in the “image of God” (all of us—the vast variety of humans with all our differences, similarities and unique individualities) wouldn’t the range and variety of respectful consentual sexual practices also be part of God’s image?

    • Rod Minaker

      I agree with you that there are many misconceptions about BDSM. BDSM does not need to look like the Porn-styling reputation it has been given. And nor does BDSM expressions need to reflect the wearing down your partner so that she/he gives into a partner’s preference that is not shared.
      If anything, people in BDSM communities have frank discussions about each partner’s preferences and ethically adheres to those preferences and that container provides a freedom to flow and experience whatever in the sexual play.

    • Cassie Chang

      I also have a problem with this post focusing on BDSM as if it is only a male dom/female sub dynamic. There’s all types of erasure here that is horrible. But what I have the biggest problem with is Sarah’s not so implicit implication that you can’t be a Christian and enjoy kink. Please. That’s dehumanizing and dismissive.

  • A

    It was very interesting to hear your thoughts and as a woman who some days identifies with Christianity (and most often prefers not to) it was the clarity in your statement “talk to a woman who has been raped or sexually violated or beaten or abused and then try to tell me that it’s okay to be turned on by that.” that assures me that this isn’t just a woman’s issue, nor just a Christian’s issue, but an issue for all humans. Regardless of gender or religion, sexual violence is not okay.
    In this particular case (like some others in the BDSM community), it is impossible to obtain true consent because of the unequal power dynamic. For example, because I am a nurse, it is illegal for me to have an intimate relationship with a patient mostly because the power and authority can never be equal or mutual (even if intentions are “good”). Simply being in a position of power automatically puts others in a position of vulnerability. In the same regard, a man (solely because of his gender) can never get true consent to violent acts because of the inequality and automatic dominance in regards to violence. The given “Consent” is still influenced and conditional through a power struggle.
    Thank you for your writing,
    A

  • Thanks for going there. I rarely talk about the fact that have a degree in Women’s Studies, but this is an issue where all the academic arguments have always fallen flat for me despite their logic. Thanks for filling out the picture of this.

  • ghartwell

    I want as a man – a man with tears in his eyes – to support clarity, accountability and ‘exposing the darkness’ around those men who have abused power or abused women from a position of power (status, prestige). WE may never know except with our heart and intuition the full ‘truth’ about Jian. It would be sad he if he was the successful victim of a revenge take-down. It is sadder still that he is throwing up a good defence when a history of using women in an abusive manner is being exposed. Let the truth become cleared and the light stronger and may we support – if that is the case – every women who speaks truth to power and abuse.

    • Rod Minaker

      well said

  • Christina

    I think rape and abuse is bad (duh). I do not think BDSM is rape and abuse. Can rape and abuse happen within the confines of a BDSM relationship? Yes. Can rape and abuse happen within the confines of a Christian, committed relationship? Absolutely. I fear this article has decided that BDSM perpetuates violence and rape, which I disagree with. Pointing a finger at something like this simply focusses attention away from the fact that rape and abuse happen within “normal”, committed, and yes CHRISTIAN marriages. This article completely misses the fact that BDSM is not men dominating women (it is just as likely a woman dominating a man); unfortunately, while I am a passionate feminist and do not engage in BDSM myself (out of preference), I feel this post has missed the mark entirely.

    • You’re opinion is factually correct. There is no research in psychology or criminology to indicate BDSM relationships are any more or less likely to be abusive than any other romantic/sexual relationships. She has entirely made this up.

  • Sherilyn Miller

    Thank you SO much Sarah– I’m afraid if I would let myself I would weep and weep…

  • I feel almost speechless but brimming with emotions. Thank you. I’m proud of you, incredibly proud of you for getting up on your soapbox. For all of us. Be blessed, good woman.

  • Scarlette Fah’Lee

    Thank you for the courage, Dear Sister, it must have taken to publicize this post. It needed to be said, and I sense the Holy Spirit in your righteous anger. I stand behind you in point, principle, and prayer.

  • As a person who deals with the “collateral damage” of people’s sexual “acting out” both personally AND professionally – I want to weep and then throw my computer across the room and then weep some more from all the justifications and rationalizations that people – INSIDE and outside the church give for S&^# like this. The utter depravity and “soul-sucking” (as you so perfectly called it) that our world is falling into is just plain tragic. What was meant to be one of the most HOLY and BEAUTIFUL expressions of love and honor and passion and enjoyment is being turned into a base physical act that is dependent upon “upping the excitement” for enjoyment – just as any other addict needs to “up” their drug of choice. People are shells of themselves – wandering around, looking for something exciting enough to reach the hole that is growing bigger and falling deeper in their souls. I know – I am one of the ones that sees them when they’re on the other side – trying to find freedom and healing from the shame and pain that these acts take them to. Thank you, Sarah, for using your platform (soapbox) to talk about a topic that so desperately needs to be SERIOUSLY addressed. Thank you!

    • Thanks for the work you do to bring restoration.

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  • “Even if there is consent, it is dehumanizing to fantasize about and enact sexual violence against women. It’s a short walk from fantasizing about violence and rape to becoming someone who commits violence and rape – and even with consent, it is wrong to do so. These acts are dehumanizing and soul-sucking for all participants.”
    YES!!
    Yes yes yes.
    Thank you for saying this – it has been a mystery to me why so many recent Christian books on marriage have chosen to view S&M as just a ‘hey, if that’s what you’re into, we’re cool with that, because we’re so trendy’. We have lost the sanctity, the intimacy, the design of sex. Thank you for writing this.

  • David

    This post fails pretty dramatically on two fronts.

    1. A lack of argument from religious doctrine. The assumption that your own biases and impulses must be Christian because you are Christian. There’s no meaningful effort to establish that Christian doctrine condemns consensual kinky behavior (unlike Jian’s creepy, non-consent respecting behavior).

    2. A stunning lack of empathy; it’s not so much that you fail in your effort to put yourself in the shoes of people whose sexuality leads them to BDSM and who are committed to love and respect, and act accordingly. It’s much worse than that–you don’t even try. I don’t see how the abandonment of empathy and understanding are consistent with your professed Christian values.

    • I looked this “author” up and found this consistent criticism amongst Christian readers. That she doesn’t make any effort to connect her thoughts to scripture (it’s just her own personal impressions and biases with a faux-Christian veneer), and is fond of attacking straw men.

  • Annabelle

    The problem is, when a person is accused (not convicted) of being a sex offender, they become a sex offender forever in the public eye. Culturally, socially, we have more forgiveness for murderers than we do for sex offenders. This is not a feminist issue or a Christ issue – this is an issue about how liberally we crucify someone as a sex offender. If these women were, in fact, sexually abused in any way, they have a choice of either pressing charges OR keeping quiet. They had no problem not keeping quiet, clearly, because Ghomeshi lost his job. But they’re not willing to press charges. They’re willing to ruin a person’s career and reputation, but not press charges. The former is just as bad if not worse than the latter.

    This soapbox either is or isn’t about Ghomeshi, it can’t be ‘kind of/kind of not’ about Ghomeshi. It’s hypocritical to be angry about the violence towards these women but hey, we’re not saying Ghomeshi is guilty or innocent.

    Violence against anyone is not justified. Rape and sexual violence towards anyone is despicable. It’ll be very hard for the women to prove that Ghomeshi is guilty of sexual abuse, and it’ll be close to impossible for Ghomeshi to prove that it was consensual. Regardless of whether or not this goes to court or charges are officially pressed, we’ve already convicted the abuser of abuse simply because a victim simply claims or implies that sexual abuse happened.

    • Kate

      Well, if it were only one person, maybe, but it seems there are many.

  • Kate

    Preach it.

  • “Even with consent, it’s exploitative, evil, and wrong. ” — Preach it, dear sister. It’s also about respecting boundaries — boundaries and the holiness of our bodies, our Temples in which the Holy Spirit has been invited to abide.

  • Nicole Baart

    Amen, sister. Thank you.

  • calcombs

    Thank you for your courage in sharing your insight

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  • Beroli

    You’ve hurt a lot of people with this, including rape and abuse victims. Perhaps you’ve somehow helped more than you’ve hurt.

    I doubt it.

    Perhaps your understanding of your faith is both important enough to trump this post having hurt people, and is inherently more accurate than that of those who would disagree with your conclusions.

    I doubt that, too.

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  • Bill Allen

    I want to echo the hurt a lot of people are feeling right now. Others have most likely said it better than I what’s most upsetting about this post. But I want to also point out the complete and utter lack of attention to the reality that this completely ignores the dimensions of kink in queer couplings (or other broader relationships). Obviously, if a man and a woman want to engage in kinky behavior, that doesn’t immediately equal a patriarchal oppression. But much more, what about two men? Two women? Two enbies? Three people? Or, hell, a woman dominating a man??

    Never mind that, in a proper BDSM relationship, the secret is that the one truly calling the shots is almost always the submissive one. They HAVE To set the boundaries in order to effectively please those involved.

    There’s so much missing from this post and it’s an utter shame that you come down so hard on the subject with so little to back it up.