Coming soon to a movie theater near you is a movie about a relationship between a man and a woman that includes, for lack of a better term, sadism. Normally I would mention the name of the movie and the book it’s based on but, from what I’ve heard in the media about this latest venture into the misuse of God’s gift of human intimacy and sexuality, I simply do not want to acknowledge it here by name. And I think that those who pay attention to any news in the next few days will undoubtedly hear all about it.
Sadism is defined as “the tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others.” Now we have a movie that is about to be released in which this will be featured. And I think many people will go to see it just to see what all the fuss is about or because they don’t want to feel out of the loop on the latest entertainment phenomenon.
As it turns out, the man from whom the word sadism came, Donatien Alphonse Francois, Marquis De Sade, is currently enjoying a high level of popularity in his native country of France. The city of Paris marked the 200th anniversary of his death last year with great fanfare.
Descendants of the marquis, who formerly had erased the memory of him in shame, are now developing a line of luxury goods named after him. Places associated with his life are being developed as museums and tourist attractions.
And what did the marquis do to deserve such notoriety, 200 years after his death?
According to the February, 2015 issue of Smithsonian magazine, the Marquis de Sade was an aristocrat who had too much time and money on his hands. He forced others to submit to his sadistic impulses, and then wrote about it. Many of this writings, though long hidden and banned, are now back in print. He spent many years in prison for the crimes that those who managed to escape his violence reported to police.
The temptation for many Christians is to react to these kind of things with a host of “Thou Shalt Not’s” straight from the Good Book. To me, a better approach would be to respond with the awesome things the Bible and Christian scholars have to say about this topic.
In the sixth chapter of his first letter to the Christians in Corinth, a city known for its sexual immorality, St. Paul writes:
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20 ESV)
Dr. Peter Scaer, associate professor at Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, notes that:
Every person has a pulmonary system, a cardiovascular system, a skeletal system and so forth. The only biological system that is incomplete in each of us is the reproductive system, which is whole and functional only in the union of one man and one woman. (The Lutheran Witness, January, 2015)
In his book, Theology of the Body for Beginners, Christopher West explains Pope John Paul II’s insights into human sexuality:
A man’s body does not make sense by itself. Nor does a woman’s body. But seen in light of each other, sexual difference reveals the unmistakable plan of God that man and woman are meant to be “gift” to one another. Not only that, but their mutual gift (in the normal course of events) leads to a “third.”
Dr.Juli Slattery and Dannah Gresh have a new book out called Pulling Back the Shades in which they explore erotica, intimacy and the longings of a woman’s heart from a Christian perspective. They are even offering to send a free copy of their book to anyone who sends them a copy of the book on which this new movie is based. Their web site is: http://www.authenticintimacy.com/.
So when the world comes out with its latest scintillating book or movie about human sexuality we can be ready, not with words of condemnation, but with an abundance of solid, Biblical resources that celebrate the the beauty of God’s gift of intimacy and sexuality.