Friday, February 13, 2015

Sex, Bondage, Fantasy . . . and Embracing What is Real

Note: This post contains adult material that is intended to shed light on a subject that has been on my heart for awhile now. The church as a whole is affected by it; marriages, families, women, and men are affected by it. It contains explicit sexual content that is only included in order to illustrate the problem and to shine light into murky areas of grey. I usually shy away from discussing very explicit things like these--I am convicted that a couple's sexual relationship is deeply personal and that "delving too deep" into the details of it in order to share them publicly takes away from the sacredness of the beautiful relationship that God designed. So I tread carefully. But I want to tread transparently and truthfully, because the truth sets free from bondage. So I prayerfully offer you these thoughts. . . 


"You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being."

I Corinthians 10:21-24



“'Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'"

--Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit







The Velveteen Rabbit has always been one of my favorite children's stories . . . In it, a little boys's toy bunny is loved "enough" to make him real. Real . . . a real rabbit--no longer a toy, a plaything. Love made him real, lifted him out of the realm of fantasy. Gave him flesh and bones and life and breath.

Love made him real. 

A movie. Hitting the box offices for Valentine's Day, the day of love, the day of romance and roses and marriage proposals and moonlight kisses and flowers. 

The day of love. 



And this movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, descends on the public like a dark phantom, a dark phantom shrouding the message of real love and real sex and real life and real romance.

Where one man's sexual fantasies* take a garish diabolical twist--and real love is sucked up like ashes into the violence of a windy night. 

Everyone's curious, and everyone wants to hop on the bandwagon to taste the forbidden fruit, this forbidden fruit of hellish fantasy. 

A Cinderella story turned topsy-turvy and somehow twisted. Twisted and softly gathered into the slithering body of that deathly beautiful serpent of old. Enticed until we're slowly squeezed to death and the venom has gone to our hearts. 



Enticed by fantasy. Enticed by the forbidden, the unknown. Enticed by the promise of a more exquisite pleasure via something different.

Maybe we're just curious. 

And maybe we're not going to try the BDSM lifestyle, but are there whispers of it in our relationships? Are there whispers of it in our bedrooms, in the way that we approach intimacy, in the way that we relate to our spouses?

Some years ago, I came across a book that was written by a mainstream evangelical Christian sex therapist, Douglas E. Rosenau.  

In my spirit, I sensed that something was wrong (and I felt that he was much more explicit than necessary), but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. 

A reputable mainstream evangelical. 

Looking through it again, I found the section that really troubled me. A section on Fantasy. Sexual fantasy--and in it, he recommended creating, acting out our sexual fantasies with our spouses--(i.e. an erotic encounter on the beach), and using sexual "props" such as garters, black stockings, feathers, and satin gloves.  

All of these things, when used with our spouse, have the potential to aid us in our lovemaking, he claimed, and to enhance our sexual experience. He asserts that sex is roughly 80% "fantasy," and 20% "friction." 

He writes,

Fantasy gives your imagination the opportunity to add variety within your marriage without the destructiveness of greener grass. You can go to Hawaii or the Riviera; you can make love on a secluded beach; you can enjoy all over again favorite times with your mate. 

One woman was curious about what it would be like to make love to a different man. What she needed, however, was mental variety and a better sex life rather than an entirely different man. She needed to remember that one body is pretty much the same as another. Her more basic curiosity was a special mood, some novel experiences, someone to touch her sensuality in deeper and more exciting ways. An affair may very well not meet these needs and would certainly destroy the honesty and trust of her marriage. If she was willing to work at it with her husband, she could meet her needs wonderfully with him." (A Celebration of Sex, by Douglas E. Rosenau)

. . . Fantasy gives your imagination the opportunity to add variety within your marriage without the destructiveness of greener grass . . . 

Fantasy . . . the opposite of Reality. So, if you or your husband is dissatisfied in your mutual sexual relationship, seek fantasy . . . seek fantasy, but seek it within the "boundaries" of your marriage. The creative possibilities are endless; fantasy is the answer to dissatisfaction. 

Is it? 

And how "far" should we go in seeking fantasy? What is permissible? Where is the "line drawn?" Especially if both partners are on the "fantasy" bandwagon together?



May I suggest that there is no "line?" That treading in the deep waters of sexual fantasy is actually working to destroy marriages, not to build stronger intimacy within them? And that once "fantasy" is sought within sexual relationships, deeper and deeper and deeper levels of fantasy will be sought after as dissatisfaction sets in. 

The rot of sugar in the teeth doesn't make the mouth sweeter, it only gives a person cavities--the decay of death. 

As the writer of this book clearly states, Fantasy is not Reality. He points this truth out, while at the same time endorsing "healthy" fantasy- seeking within marriage, where both partners are in agreement. And to be fair to him, he warns against manipulation and other unhealthy sexual practices.  

However, there is a difference between having intimate "fun" with our spouse and embracing sexual fantasies, which, I believe, is where the lines are "blurred," and the danger sets in. 

Because where does fantasy stop? And where does it ultimately lead? 

Someone might argue, "What about children? Are they wrong to use their imagination, to live as it were, in "another" world, in a world of make-believe, of fantasy?" 

But children fantasize so that they can learn to live in the real world, because they are learning to live in the real world. 

My little two-year-old pretends to make tea so that she will know how to make tea in the future--her "fantasy" leads to the reality of a future pot of tea. Her childish playing at making tea is not a diversion from Reality, but a step towards it. Reality is the ultimate goal. The opposite of this scenario would be a regression--an adult who already understands the "reality" of tea-making, and yet seriously pretends to make a cup of tea is regressing into an imaginary situation of his or her own mind, a departure from Reality. 

And what about fantasizing about your spouse? About the last shared intimate encounter? What about re-living that scenario in your mind and desiring further intimacy with your spouse as the result of those thoughts? 

The crux of the matter is this: when we imagine the reality of the last encounter with our spouse, it leads to a deeper reality (and there is no sin in that, taken at face value). When we choose to fantasize about non-reality (and then "insert" our spouse), it leads into deeper fantasy. 

Reality moves us towards our spouse; fantasy builds a barrier. 

When we seek fantasy, we are moving away from true intimacy, not toward it. 

In Christian marriages, (where a Christian spouse is trying in their own strength to remain faithful to their spouse, despite dissatisfaction in their marriage and sexual relationship) fantasy becomes a substitute for pornography, a substitute for real intimacy. 

Until that too, becomes "old." And what then is left?

The world seeks fantasy. The world grapples with the Real and because it doesn't understand Christ, it does not understand Reality. 

Because Christ is Reality. Christ is the Real--the same yesterday, today and forever-the most Real of the Real that there is. 

Christ is Reality. Life and breath and blood and sinew and bone. 

He is the I Am. And when we embrace Him as our Bridegroom and Lover and Friend and Savior and Lord, we are not embracing a fantasy, but the Reality of all Reality. 

We are His Bride. 

And His relationship with us is a model for intimate relationships. 

Our relationships must be real

Full of love, true love, the love that is of God--the love that makes all things Real. 

Fantasy . . . seeking an escape---seeking something "different," seeking the forbidden fruit in an already perfectly-satisfying Eden-garden of beauty and ten thousand delights. 

But in our sinfulness, we desire the fruit we cannot have--and in doing so, we violate the One who created us and the ones whom we claim to love. 




When we seek fantasy in our relationships with our spouses--we place a barrier to true intimacy. Whether we want to admit it or not, they are now held to the standard of "fulfilling" our fantasies. 


Our spouses become "playthings," toys for us to toss about according to our whims and fancy. Toys that have no real voice, no real flesh to flesh connection--no heart connection. 

Because Fantasy is a selfish attempt to satisfy in us what only God can satisfy. 




Only God can meet our deepest needs. Only God can heal us from the old sexual habits that we may have had before we were believers. Only God can cleanse and purify our hearts and minds and give us a true intimate, Real connection between our spouses through His redeeming work in our hearts. 


The woman who is dissatisfied with her husband doesn't need various and creative sexual experiences with her husband; she doesn't need to seek fantasy. 

And what if she fantasizes about a tan, chiseled, muscle-man and her husband is a 130 pound unsculpted computer whiz? The absurdity of the situation breaks through . . . 

If she shares her "fantasies" with her husband, how will he perform to her satisfaction? He may make a feeble attempt, but he will feel unloved and inadequate in the process (and constantly think that he doesn't live up to his wife's fantasy). 

Because she doesn't need to seek a fantasy; she needs to seek Jesus Christ. 

She does need another Man . . . Jesus Christ. 

The Man who will fulfill her deepest needs utterly and ultimately. The Man who will show her the greener grass of His presence and love and grace.

To bring healing and grace to her relationship with her husband . . . whether the lack of feeling she has for him is a result of her husband's treatment of her over the years and lack of true loving intimacy, or whether it is because she has a wayward heart and a wandering eye. 

She needs Jesus Christ to bring Reality into her relationship with her husband. The Reality of faithfulness. The Reality of perfect love. The Reality that drives out bondage and fear and dissatisfaction. The Reality that brings life. 

Fantasy destroys and distorts. Sex based in fantasy robs the intimate relationship of the Joy of Reality and freedom. Because when we are "Real" we don't need to "perform" for our spouse. We are free to be the men and women that God created us to be. 

Not human sex toys . . . not playthings. 

But beloved children of God. 

I asked my husband, "Can you imagine the Bride of Christ in a hula skirt?" (the sex therapist that I was referencing earlier had brought up a similar scenario in his book for spouses to build an intimate fantasy with).

"I'm trying not to," was his pert reply. 

And I can't. Because the Jesus that I know and love and worship seeks the best for His Bride . . . not a kinky fantasy . . . He is Real and loves. 

Loves us into Real life. His life. 

And the love of Christ pours breath into our hearts.

Not bondage to what is not Real, to fantasy.

But freedom--to love and to live. 

And when we embrace what is Real, we become who we are--sons and daughters of the living God. 


*Using the definition of sexual fantasy as an erotic mental thought of an imaginary situation that one desires to re-enact with another in order to derive pleasure; an escape from Reality into the realm of the imagination/creating an imaginary erotic situation and then inserting one's spouse into it. 

You might find me on these link-ups:

Strangers and Pilgrims on EarthThe Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, Yes They Are All Ours, Missional Call, A Mama's Story, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Time Warp Wife, Cornerstone Confessions, Mom's Morning Coffee, So Much at Home, Raising Homemakers, Hope in Every SeasonA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries, Whole-Hearted Home, A Soft Gentle Voice, My Daily Walk in His Grace, Messy Marriage, My Teacher's Name is Mama, The Charm of Home, Graced Simplicity, Children Are A Blessing, Mittenstate Sheep and Wool, Imparting Grace, Preparedness Mama, A Look at the Book, Essential Thing Devotions, Count My Blessings, Beauty Observed, Christian Mommy Blogger, Renewed Daily, Soul SurvivalGood Morning MondaysThe HomeAcre HopMommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth LinkupFaith Filled FridaySaturday Soiree Blog Party, Tell It To Me Tuesdays

31 comments:

  1. You are so right...only God can meet our deepest needs, and heal our deepest wounds. I have chosen not to read "Fifty Shades" or see the movie. I cannot un-see, or un-read, what I see or read. Therefore, I need to choose well and wisely what I see and read. Fifty Shades, for me, is not a wise choice. Lovely post. thank you for your brave offering of it. #GraceTruth

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    1. You're welcome, Leah! I'm so glad that you visited; God bless you . . .

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  2. I had a family member suggest this series of books to me awhile back, so I Google'd around to read some reviews. I'm so glad the Holy Spirit put it on my heart to do research before buying. I decided against reading them and I will not be seeing the movie. I agree with your statements about this type of fantasy being a slippery slope. Thank you for your boldness in sharing, Rebekah. I'm glad I chose to read this post via Grace & Truth Linkup today!

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    1. You're welcome, Tina! I'm glad that it was encouraging; God bless you. :-)

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  3. This is so necessary for Christians to hear - that we don't need to follow the world's pattern for romance, sex, and relationships! Thanks for writing about this.

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    1. You're welcome, Alicia! I think that it is an important message, too; thank you for visiting. :-)

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  4. You are so right. Seeking a fantasy to make the marriage bed exciting doesn't fix the root problem. The root problem is, for one reason or another, the person doesn't love, honor, and cherish their spouse. Like you said, seek Christ and the rest will follow. Reconnecting with Christ will ultimately help you reconnect with your spouse. And a healthy connection needs nothing to "spice" it up.

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    1. A.M. Heath, that is it, exactly--"reconnecting with Christ will help you to reconnect with your spouse." So, so true--the answer to discontentment isn't more "variety," but more of Jesus in our relationships. I'm so glad that you stopped by; God bless you!

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  5. I'm glad to see Christians like you asking good questions and addressing this very popular book and movie (Shades of Grey) and some of the philosophy behind it. I pray we learn how destructive such things can be.

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    1. Yes, Gail, very true--and so many times (I know this from my own heart) I can ignore the danger and just think, "Well, I can't stop the evil in the world." But then, I relaize that the Lord has called us to be a light in the darkness, even if the darkness doesn't comprehend that light.
      Thank you for your encouragement and for stopping by.

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  6. This is a great post and definitely something everyone needs to hear. We need to put Christ at the head of our marriage in all areas. Thanks for linking up this very timely and thought provoking post at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings to you for stepping out in faith and writing this.

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    1. Thank you Terri! It was a difficult post to write, but I felt the Lord laying these things upon my heart. Blessings to you, also!

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  7. Thanks for your thoughts. I haven't read or seen 50 Shades of Grey and don't want to, but I did think it was a little ironic that couples would line up in theaters on Valentine's Day to watch a fake couple have fake intimate moments next to their real spouse and a dozen other real couples!

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    1. Yes, that's true; it is ironic! I'm glad that you stopped by; God bless you!

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  8. Thank you. I am not even close to being married.... and yet I struggle with this. Fantasizing over what it may be like. Thank you for the courage to address this, and for doing it in such a sensitive an effective manner.

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    1. Emily, I understand what you mean. Because of really difficult circumstances, my husband and I were engaged for 5 years, and it was a very difficult struggle to remain pure--not so much in body (although that was a struggle, too), but in mind and heart. I am glad that you were blessed by this post and that you stopped by.

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  9. I am appalled by how many so called "Christian" women are justifying seeing this. For one thing they couple that has sexual relations in this book isn't married. Do we really want to promote that to our young girls? To just have sex whenever you want out of the context of a marriage? So, this book series and movie is a no go for me just based on that alone. And from what I have heard and seen advertised this is really borderline abuse. I read an article by Dr.Meg Meeker the other day about this topic and she talks about how dangerous it is to think that this kind of relationship is healthy. Thank you for your post. I wish more women would stand up against this type of "entertainment".

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    1. Rachel, I agree! I don't think that people really understand the danger of it or maybe we have just become desensitized as Christians. I just pray that the Lord would awaken His people (me!) and that we wouldn't be complacent about these things; they are important and they are affecting the church. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your thoughts.

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  10. "When we seek fantasy, we are moving away from true intimacy, not toward it."

    You make a really good point.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You're welcome, Joe! I'm glad that you stopped by!

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  11. Rebekah, thank you so much for speaking out on this topic. It needs to be said over and over every time these kinds of things come down the pike. As you replied to an earlier comment, we need to be light in the darkness even if the darkness doesn't comprehend. I'll be sharing and pinning this. I visited from Mom's Morning Coffee and I'm glad I did. Please link this up at Soul Survival. I'd love to highlight this next week.

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    1. Oh, you're welcome, Donna! Thank you for sharing and pinning; I linked up this post to Soul Survival; I am grateful that you were blessed by it. The Lord bless you.

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  12. Great t read you speaking out against this hateful book and movie, somethign that is polluting our wrld right now. You have made me think about a whole new area though, in terms of fanstasy and its place (or not) with your husband. Really interesting, thanks Mich x

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    1. You're welcome, Michelle! I'm glad that you enjoyed it; thank you for stopping by--God bless you.

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  13. Thanks so much for linking up at "Mondays @ Soul Survival." Pinning to "Mondays @ ..." board, too. Blessings!

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    1. You're welcome, Donna! Blessings to you, too! :-)

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  14. Rebekah, thanks again for your post. I neglected to link it last night, but corrected it this morning. Here is the link http://donnareidland.com/the-jesus-code-the-course-of-sin-linkup/. I look forward to reading more of your great posts. Donna.

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    1. Thank you, Donna! I hope that people will be blessed by it--have a wonderful week.

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  15. Thank you so much for this article! I agree completely.
    May I share a personal insight?
    I think my lifelong trip into fantasyland has more to do with self-rejection, than anything else. I was an overweight child, who turned into an obese teenager, and never did lose the weight. I lived in a fantasy world... one where someone loved me, and I was thin and acceptable.
    It has been a long journey, to come to the place where I know God really accepts me as I am. He actually loves me right now! I don't have to change, for Him to love me. I'm still working on this.

    I still struggle with fantasy, but not as much as before. I am very lonely, and have a hard time living out real friendships. I find that virtual friendships beckon, but end up hurting deeply, as they aren't honest, and only allow very shallow transactions.

    Thanks again for the article. It blessed me.

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    1. Polly, thank you so much for sharing those insights with me--I can understand what you mean. I see this in my own life--whenever there is dissatisfaction or loneliness, it is so tempting to turn to fantasy--what I think will make me happy "right now" and remove me from the reality of my present emotions or pain. That is truly when I see that the only answer is running into the arms of the One Who is Reality--the Lord Jesus, to fill me in the places that are empty and damaged.

      I pray that the Lord would use your testimony to speak to others about His sufficiency and grace--you have a beautiful testimony--may He pour out His grace through you!

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