The Sexy Shame of Patriarchy…


I read an article not too long ago about the sex lives of those in egalitarian marriages versus those in traditional marriages. It stated that those in more traditional marriages had better sex lives because the wife normally did not work a full-time job so she was less tired and stressed. I thought, “Oh great, another study that traditionalists will use to argue their case.” But then I got thinking…

What if it is more than this? What if there is something about patriarchy that turns a woman on in the bedroom? Think about the massive sales of the book, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Women flocked to this book, which was all about a woman submitting to a man who wanted to dominate her sexually all the time. At one point I heard that they were going to start putting this book in hotel rooms beside the Bible. I am not even joking; someone told me that!

I also remember watching “The Talk” one day and hearing one of the hosts say, “I don’t care if a woman is a CEO and bosses men around all day; every woman wants to be taken in the bedroom.” I don’t think I could argue with that!

Then I had to wonder; what does the Bible say about this? Women do want to be taken and they don’t want to always be in charge (especially in the bedroom). While it is certainly fine for the husband to be in control in the bedroom, is there something deeper going on?

I started at Genesis (where I always start because Genesis is the beginning of God’s story). This verse stuck out to me like a sore thumb:

To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” -Genesis 3:16 [This was woman’s “curse” due to the fall).

I am not sure how the Church has allowed this verse to escape it. In many Christian circles, patriarchy is still highly praised and considered God’s way. These churches are living under the curse of the fall and they are teaching married couples to live under this curse as well. The Bible teaches that because of Jesus Christ we are no longer obligated to live under the curse of patriarchy. Galatians 3:13 clearly states, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” But, here is the thing about that stupid curse: it still lurks within us and around us and we give into its influence daily.

I wonder how this curse has affected our sex lives. I am certain “the fall of man” has led us to all sorts of sexually depraved actions, but I have to wonder if this very curse has made its way into the bedroom of those who are doing things God’s way. Certainly a wife’s desire for her husband leads to him ruling over her in many aspects of life. Perhaps patriarchy is quite sexy in the bedroom, but maybe God has a better way.

I don’t believe in limiting a married man and woman in their sex lives whatsoever and we should certainly seek to please one another, but when we are in healthy marriages (egalitarian or traditional) it is easy to forget the extremes that go along with patriarchal views in the bedroom.

“Women aged fifteen through forty-five are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined. One-third of women face abuse at home. Another major study found that in most countries, between 30 and 60 percent of women had experienced physical or sexual violence by a husband or a boyfriend. Up to 70 percent of female murder victims are killed by their male partners. Over 135 million girls and women have undergone genital mutilation, and 2 million more girls are at risk each year (Jesus Feminist, Sarah Bessey).”

While patriarchy may be shamefully sexy in some bedrooms, it leads to despair and even death in other bedrooms. When a woman is expected to be the “submissive” inside and outside of the bedroom she slowly loses her rights, her voice, and even her dignity. Perhaps there is something within our sinful natures that is turned on by patriarchy, but this view ultimately leads to destruction.

Full equality in both value and authority is God’s way and it leads to life. God’s ways may not seem the sexiest at first, but they lead to true fulfillment. Husbands and wives are called to submit to one another in the bedroom, in the home, and in the church. This leads to equal accountability for both men and women – it is a system of “checks and balances” so to speak.

Let’s take a look at how God instructs married people on sex:

The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife (1 Corinthians 7:4).

Oh, you thought I was going to get all feminist on you and say, “The wife’s body is her own so back off.” Nope, I am a Bible believing feminist! When we get married, our bodies are no longer our own. We give ourselves to our partner fully. This breeds a lot of fear in women for two reason:

1. Historically (even in Christian circles), women have been told that their husband has authority over her body but she has little to no authority over his body.

2. Men are physically stronger than women and are capable of taking her body without permission.

This is why “mutual authority” in marriage is so crucial. A husband should love and respect his wife’s body, heart, mind, and voice so much that he would not dream of pressuring her or forcing himself on her. Likewise, a wife should love and respect her husband so much that she would not dream of withholding sex from him every time he pursues her.

To be fair, there are many circumstances in which the female has become too dominant in the bedroom. While this normally does not lead to abuse, it can easily lead to a not-so-fun sex life for both parties. The goal is to restore equality and balance once again, which sometimes means letting go of control.

God’s way is always mutual love and mutual submission. Hierarchy in the bedroom may be fun for a while, but it is not God’s best and often leads to unfulfillment and even devastation in extreme cases. Just like in life, sometimes the husband is in charge and sometimes the wife is in charge. When things get out of balance (as they often do), remember this:

Equality in marriage allows for deeper trust and deeper trust allows for deeper intimacy and deeper intimacy allows for better sex! 

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  • I laughed out loud at some of this, but then cried when reminded of the sad truths of abuses that mainly young boys, women and children suffer at the hands of depraved….power hungry men. I do know one thing to be true, when there’s no power struggle behind closed doors, in the marriage bed, it’s great! Exactly, we should submit to each other….give to each other. If we want to have fun, there’s nothing wrong with exploring…together.

  • I agree with you completely that men’s “ruling over” their wives (and women in general) is a part of the curse and shapes our fallen ways. My husband and I continue to aim for that lovely goal of submitting to ONE ANOTHER out of reverence for Christ. Got a question too about something I’ve been pondering: if sexual relationship between a husband and wife can be redeemed from the curse by the Lord’s blood that frees us, what about sexual relationships between same sex partners who are committed to serving Christ and loving each other as their own bodies in faithful
    Monogamy? I’m not sure I have the answer myself, but I wonder, if heterosexuality can be redeemed in “God’s way”, could His redemption include homosexual love too? Not intending to be confrontational, just curious to raise the question.

    • Thanks for your comment girl. My opinion is that “redemption” means moving back towards God’s original and perfect design which was always married sex between a man and a woman. The foundation for my beliefs stand on The Garden of Eden prior to the fall of man – sin/sickness entering world. I think homosexuality is the result of sin/sickness entering the world. To me, redeeming a homosexual would be him or her not having to struggle with that sin anymore, but their sin is no worse than my sin. And there are many times when we pray that God would take away our sin struggles and He doesn’t. But our hope is eternal and I do think God can and will heal us in His timing. 🙂

  • The problems with the content of this post are numerous to say the least. But is understandable. The topic is extremely difficult since christian marriage has been redefined and merged into secular marriage in the last 100 years. Therefore, when a person reads the bible they have no reference point other than what is relevant to their cultural experience, which is then pressed into scripture. This is normal, but can be dangerous once a shift in ideology has taken place that opposes God.
    We are in the middle of this cycle right now, and you seem to have taken the bait
    You seem to connect patriarchy with the deviant sexual activity of S&M out of whole cloth, and then proceed as if your argument as it were a fact. This is a classic strawman fallacy that shows irrational bias. This is also extremely offensive to me as a Christian woman and especially to my devoted husband who provides for me and our children. Godly patriarchy doesn’t dictate sexual techniques or which gender is aggressive in the bedroom, it simply regulates men to provide and protect women due to the children that result from bedroom activity. S&M can happen in every walk of life, but research has shown the practice is dominated by feminist career women who fantasize about letting go of control and being dominated. It is the sin of sexual objectification no matter who practices it. By your own standards, you should be criticizing feminism.
    God instituted patriarchy before the fall in Eden. It is in Genesis 2 when Adam names Eve. The naming of something in the bible is an euphemism for that person having dominion. Adam named the animals because he had dominion over them. Adam then named his wife because he is in dominion over her. He is responsible for her provision and protection. Abram and Sarai received new names by God to to Abraham and Sarah because they belonged to Him.
    Daniel and his friends received new names by king Nebuchadnezzar because they belonged to him. In our time a husband and wife name a baby because it is under their authority provision and protection. A family names a pet because it belongs to the family. To argue that a hierarchy did not exist before the fall is just simply incorrect. It also ignores the message of the fall all together.
    In chapter 3, Eve assumed the leadership role of the man, while the man sat back passively and let his wife come under the deceivers influence. He then let her lead him and influence him into sin. However, the responsibility rests with Adam, not Eve because he was responsible for her. This is not just a commentary unique to the fall, but also the commentary of the condition of civilizations before they fall and collapse morally and financially.
    You may not like this and it might make you upset, but feelings doesn’t change reality. The women in western Europe rejected Godly patriarchy where men served the needs of women and were prepared to die an icy death to let a woman who was a stranger into a lifeboat. However, when men let them take control, it was only a matter of time before it collapsed morally and financially. The passivity of the men let the women decide who will them, and it seems this will be a tyrannical rule by the tenants of Islam. Yet a hundred years ago there was hardly no place on earth that was not controlled by Europe. This choice has consequences.
    There is not much choice though if you live in the west, the process is at the point it is irreversable. The Christian right along with the republican party is just as anti women and anti life as the Democrats. They are just modern day pharisees that talk about their righteousness in ending abortion but are unwilling to offer legal protections for women that used to go along with this prohibition. This exposes women and leaves men irresponsible.
    Jesus is the example and establishment of a Godly patriarchy that is chivalrous towards women under the leadership of men that provide and protect the needs of women. It was Jesus who came to offer His life for His valued bride-the church to offer Himself as a curse to free us from the curse of the law.

  • “Therefore, when a person reads the bible they have no reference point other than what is relevant to their cultural experience, which is then pressed into scripture. This is normal, but can be dangerous once a shift in ideology has taken place that opposes God.”

    Naama, unfortunately, it is possible that is the place you are coming from yourself. In order to fully grasp the truth of God’s word, we have to study the culture it was written to, and find the timeless principles that apply to our culture. The object is to bring him glory and spread the gospel. Jory is making it clear that we need to go back to the model of marriage before the fall….which has nothing to do with the last 100 years.

    By the way, Adam didn’t name Eve until after the fall. So if we proceed with your logic, your own argument ruins itself.

  • It is not possible this is the place I am coming from since I am reading this subject in light of the teaching of the apostles, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the practice of the church for 1800 years. We can use the historical backdrop to sharpen the message, but to revise the unbroken teaching of the church to conform with the last 100 or so years of unprecedented walking away of the faith and immorality is hardly a great Rosetta stone. To go in the closet and come out with new teachings is common place and is not sound. For example, the JW’s have done the same, go into the closet and come out with a predetermined outcome. However, to refute them is easy because the church never taught their doctrines in history, rather, they opposed them. This is no different than feminism.

    No, Adam named his wife twice, once before the fall, and again after the fall. This is to show the mans leadership before and after the fall.
    Genesis 1 shows God creating and naming his creation to show his authority…day, night, heaven and seas. This continues in chapter 2 when Adam names the animals and also names his wife. Remember, the literary construct is the same with God BRINGING the animals to Adam to name and God also BRINGS Eve to Adam to name. He calls her woman. After the fall, Adam THEN calls her Eve “NOW the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.”
    Adam’s expressed authority over Eve by his calling her ‘woman’ before the Fall and ‘Eve’ after it.

    Notice the sequence:
    The chain of authority was God-man-woman-creature. The fall was a reversal of this order with creature-woman-man. However, God questioned within authority with man-woman-creature. God sentenced in the order of the fall with creature-woman-man.

    You must have missed the message of the fall? We were created to cooperate within the loving leadership of men, but, when men fail to lead with confidence, then we will cooperate with a stronger influence-one that does not serve our interests. In this case it was the deceiver. This is not just limited to the fall, but is a message that is part of our creation.
    Both Jesus and the apostle Paul reference Genesis 2 when they teach about marriage and men leading and women cooperating within this leadership.
    They dont reference Gensis 3 because they are giving the medicinal cure to the fall

  • I have to agree with Naama on this. Otherwise, one would have to dismiss much of new testament teaching which is directed to the church…after Christs redemptive work.
    While it is true that fallen man had misused and abused his responsibility as head of the home, it doesn’t mean that God’s design is flawed.

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