Why Sadomasochism Is Unbiblical

Sadomasochism is a word used to represent two corruptions of the human nature by sin that often go together.  Secular humanism, because it does not recognize sin, refers to these two conditions as “disorders”. 

Masochism is defined as follows by Britannica.com:

“Psychosexual disorder in which erotic release is achieved through having pain inflicted on oneself. The term derives from the name of Chevalier Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, an Austrian who wrote extensively about the satisfaction he gained by being beaten and subjugated.”

Sadism is defined as follows by Britannica.com:

“Psychosexual disorder in which sexual urges are gratified by the infliction of pain on another person. The term was coined by the late 19th-century German psychologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in reference to the Marquis de Sade, an 18th-century French nobleman who chronicled his own such practices. Sadism is often linked to masochism (q.v.), in which sexual arousal results from receiving pain, and many individuals respond in either role. The sadist, however, often seeks a victim who is not a masochist, as some of the sexual excitement derives from the victim’s unwillingness.”

Sadism is a corruption of the human nature by sin common to both men and women.  When thousands of men and women gathered in the Roman colosseum to watch warriors kill each other or Christians be devoured by lions, they were acting sadistically in enjoying seeing others caused pain and suffering.  However, it is more common for the masculine nature to be corrupted by sadistic urges and desires, than the feminine nature because the feminine nature is more empathetic than the masculine nature.

Masochism, while being a less common corruption of the human nature than sadism, seems to occur more often in women than in men.  This seems to be a corruption of woman’s God given submissive nature into something God never intended – a desire to be punished. 

God Designed Pain to be Teacher, Not an Entertainer

In Ephesians 5:25 (KJV), God commands husbands to love their wives “even as Christ also loved the church” and in Revelation 3:19 (KJV) Christ says to his churches “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten”. In Hebrews 12:11 (KJV) we read “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous”.  The Scriptures are clear – that God calls husbands to bring the pain of chastisement into the lives of their wives as an act of love.

But God also says the following about chastening in Lamentations 3:32-33 (KJV):

“But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.  For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.”

God did not enjoy chastening his wife Israel, nor does Christ enjoy chastening his wife the church.  He does it because he has to. 

The Bible condemns sadism in Mark 7:20-23 (KJV):

“20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

The English world “wicked” in Mark 7:22 is a translation of the Greek word Poneria which is derived from Poneros which Strong’s Concordance defines as “evil, bad, wicked, malicious, slothful”.  But it is the word Ponos from which Poneros is derived that allows us to see the application of this word to sadism.  Ponos means “labor, toil, pain, anguish, distress, suffering”.

The Bible condemns all forms of wicked actions, and especially those actions which lead to purposefully causing others pain, anguish, distress and suffering – not to teach them or help them, but for our own pleasure.

Mark 7:22 also contains another phrase – “an evil eye” which is a translation of two words Poneros (which we just discussed) and ophthalmos which means “eye”.  An evil eye refers to someone who enjoys watching others commit wickedness or others being caused suffering and pain. 

Pain is meant to be a teacher, but it is NEVER to be an entertainer.  

A man who enjoys causing his wife physical or emotional pain, whether it be during chastisement or during sex or at other times is a sadist.  The question then becomes, how should we as Christians deal with sadistic husbands?

A Corruption Revealed Through Biblical Patriarchy and CDD

Christian Men who have sadistic desires toward women often have suppressed those desires from their youth and they keep them suppressed because of modern egalitarian and complementarian views of marriage.  But for some Christian men, when they discover the Biblical truths of patriarchy and the power God has given them over their wives – it also unlocks suppressed sadistic urges.  And these men must re-learn to suppress those sadistic desires they may never have even realized they had.  

It is the same for some Christian women when it comes to masochism.  For some women, when they learn and embrace the full level of submission that God calls women to have toward their husbands, it also unlocks corrupt masochistic desires in them.  And these women, like men who are tempted by sadistic desires toward their wives, must suppress their masochistic desires toward their husbands.

Sadism and Masochism Should Not Be Confused with Dominant and Submissive Sex

In the last several years I have been mentoring Christian couples in how to incorporate the principles of Biblical patriarchy including CDD (Christian Domestic Discipline) into their marriages.

It is very common for men to have their desires for dominant sex awakened when they realize that God has made them their wife’s master (1 Peter 3:5-6), that he made their wife’s body for their sexual use (Romans 1:27) and that they are to use their wife’s body to satisfy all their sexual desires (Proverbs 5:18-19). 

And it is also not uncommon for Christian wives to have desires to be sexually dominated by their husbands awakened as a result of learning that God has designed them to be used by their husband for their husband’s sexual pleasure.

Often though these men and women are afraid to act on these desires because they mistake them for sadomasochistic desires. So, this is where I step in with these husbands and wives to point out sharp differences between dominant sexual desires verses sadomasochistic sexual desires.

In Genesis 3:16, God said to Eve, with Adam standing next to her, “he shall rule over thee”.   God commanded and placed within the masculine human nature a desire to dominate woman.  And God placed a complementary desire in woman to be dominated by man.  While this domination is to occur both inside and outside the bedroom, it is designed to be more passionately explored within the marriage bed.

But sin had already begun its corruption of the feminine human nature, and that is why God told Eve “thy desire shall be to thy husband” – meaning she would resist his dominance and instead try to control him.  God used the same language with Cain when in Genesis 4:7 he said “And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him”.  The point is, contrary to what egalitarians and even some complementarians say, man’s desire for dominance over woman is NOT a result of the curse of sin.  But rather, it is woman’s resistance to man’s dominance and her desire to dominate him that is the result of the curse of sin.

The best way to describe dominant sex is to compare and contrast it with the other two forms of sex which are affectionate sex and sadomasochistic sex.

In modern terms, affectionate sex is referred to as “making love”. In this style of sex, the man is typically aroused by thoughts of sex or seeing his wife’s body clothed or unclothed. He then seeks to make an emotional connection with with her by showing her verbal or physical affection. If the wife feels an emotional connection, she will respond to her husband’s sexual desire with her own sexual desire.

Affectionate sex is slow and gentle and may pick up pace a little at the end when the man or woman are about to have orgasms or are having orgasms. The primary source of arousal in affectionate sex is the mutual desire that the husband and wife have toward one another at that time.

Dominant sex is where a man forcefully takes his wife with little and often no warning and forces sex upon her.  It might be him forcing her head down to perform oral sex on him or him suddenly forcing her over a chair, ripping her pants or dress down and forcefully entering her.  Dominant sex is fast and rough as opposed to slow and gentle affectionate sex.   The man pounds into his wife as hard as he can and he grabs her breasts, rear end and body in very rough and assertive ways.  He may give her love bites on her nipples, and even her clitoris as well as many other parts of her body.

Dominant sex is about a man asserting his power to use his wife’s body to satisfy his sexual desires as God commands in Proverbs 5:18-19 and Romans 1:27. The pleasure in dominant sex comes from a man exercising his power over his wife and has nothing to do with mutual desire. But women can also very much enjoy dominant sex once it has begun if they are in sync with the original feminine nature God designed them with.

There are times when what started as affectionate sex will turn into dominant sex. The man may have the sudden desire part way through affectionate sex to dominate his wife sexually or the woman may ask her husband to sexually dominate her during affectionate sex.

There are other times when dominant sex may occur because a man had rough day at work and simply needs to relieve stress and work out his frustrations by having dominant sex with his wife. At other times dominant sex may be used as an act of discipline to humble a wife in a moment of pride or it may be added to a man spanking his wife for some other wrong doing. And still there may be times when he just wants dominant sex – nothing is going on at work, no stressful events, he just wants to sexually dominate his wife.

Many Christian couples confuse dominant and sadomasochistic sex because the woman will experience some level of pain in both styles of sex. And that pain felt in both styles of sex may be both emotional and as well as physical.

The key difference between dominant and sadomasochistic sex is that in dominant sex pain is a side effect where in sadomasochistic sex pain is the goal.

So the difference between the three styles of sex is the primary source of arousal. In affectionate sex, the primary source of arousal is the mutual sexual desire of the man and woman. And in dominant sex the primary source of arousal is the man exercising dominance over the woman. Finally, in sadomasochistic sex the primary source of arousal is the man causing pain to the woman.

Now that we have compared and contrasted two Biblical forms of sex (affectionate and dominant) with the wicked and perverted sadomasochistic form of sex we will look at actual examples of behavior to further help Christian husbands and wives better understand the differences between dominant sex and sadomasochistic sex.

These Are NOT Examples of Sadistic Behavior by Husbands

  1. A man spanking his wife for sin she has committed against him or others.
  2. A man being aroused by the sight of his wife’s bottom during spankings.
  3. A man having sex with his wife directly after spankings.
  4. A man being aroused by his wife’s humbled spirit after spankings.
  5. A man having rough sex with his wife as part of discipline or apart from discipline.

These ARE Signs of Sadism in a Husband

  1. A man who looks for the smallest reasons to spank or otherwise discipline his wife and never shows her any mercy.
  2. A man photographing his wife during discipline – specifically photographing his wife’s face to capture the agony on her face or taking pictures of rear end after spankings.
  3. A man making his wife do humiliating things, not to teach her something she needs to learn and not because she did anything wrong, but simply because he enjoys humiliating her.
  4. When a man continues disciplining even harder and more painfully even after the wife has repented and re-submitted herself to her husband.

How Should Christian Wives Respond to Clear Acts of Sadism on the Part of Their Husbands?

Trigger Warning for those of us raised in a “resist and fight all abuse culture”:

The husband is called the master of his wife in 1 Peter 3:6.   And the Bible says this to those who suffer under cruel masters in 1 Peter 2:18-19:

“Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.”

The word “froward” means “cruel”.  God calls servants and wives to suffer cruel and sinful treatment from their masters. 

Does a Christian Wife Have to Endure All Actions of Her Sadistic Husband?

But just as 1 Peter 2:18-19’s admonition to servants to endure cruel behavior from their master’s applies to wives – so too Exodus 21:26-27 applies to wives regarding their master husbands as well:

“26 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake. 27 And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.”

If a sadistic husband does anything to his wife that risks or causes serious or permanent physical injury she may leave him.

Does a Christian Wife Have to Obey All Commands of Her Sadistic Husband?

Acts 5:29 very much applies to a woman dealing with a sadistic husband:

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

If the sadistic husband asks his wife to do anything that risks serious or permanent harm to her body she must respectfully decline.

If a woman’s sadistic husband in an effort to humiliate her commands her to do something like stripping off her clothes in front their dinner guests – the wife must respectfully decline.

If the sadistic husband commands his wife to flirt with a waiter at the restaurant they are dining at, again the wife must respectfully decline.

If the husband asks his wife to drink large amounts of alcohol the wife must decline both because it is a sin to become drunk and drinking too much alcohol can kill or seriously injure someone.


Revelation 3:19 show us that God wants husbands to discipline their wives as Christ disciplines his churches. And yes all discipline is painful as Hebrews 12:11 teaches us. But Lamentations 3:32-33 teaches us that is ungodly to inflict pain for the sake of pleasure.

We also demonstrated that dominant sex is not synonymous with sadomasochistic sex. Dominant sex is a natural desire for a man based on God’s call for man to dominate woman in Genesis 3:16. It is also natural for a woman to desire her husband to sexually dominate her based on that same Genesis 3:16 principle.

We showed that the difference between dominant sex and sadomasochistic sex is the primary source of arousal. In dominant sex the primary source of arousal is the man exercising sexual dominance over the woman, but in sadomasochistic sex the primary source of arousal is the man inflicting emotional and or physical pain on his wife.

Sadomasochism is unbiblical and has no place in Christian marriage.

God designed pain to be a teacher, not an entertainer.