Rihanna and the Sexuality of Death

by | Mar 3, 2011

The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. Genesis 6:5 (God’s thoughts about man’s wickedness prior to deciding to destroy the earth with a flood.)

It doesn’t look like we humans, mankind and all, have learned much, even after God destroyed with world with a flood.  You’d think we’d have taken that as a warning.  But, no.  We’ve figured out how to take the most wonderful thing in the world, the expression of sexual love between a man and a wife, and totally rob it of anything meaningful, or anything to do with life, or anything to do with mutual connection and tenderness and make it a symbol of punishment and death instead.  Ouch.

Recently, I made the mistake of watching Rihanna’s new music video, S&M, on YouTube during a lull between clients (Sorry, no.  I’m not going to link you to it.).   Her video is a graphic lesson how far we’ve come in taking away all the joy in marital sexuality.  Sexuality outside of marriage is what I call the “Sexuality of Death.”  Her video is a lesson in death where she and others are depicted in degrading positions (Well, duh, Dr. Wall, it’s S and M.) including asphyxiation, which is where sexuality takes you if you don’t have the boundary of marriage around it to protect it and keep it holy: degradation, humiliation, loneliness, despair, bondage, punishment and death.  Curiously, there was a complete lack of smiling faces, that anyone was having fun, and NO ONE was connecting in any conceivable sense of love and tenderness with anyone else.  Yes, it was group sex.  A group of people.  A group of disconnected, self-absorbed, migrating planets of nameless bodies, except for Rihanna, and she’s taped to a wall behind a clear plastic sheet, giving us the impression she was prohibited from breathing, role playing death scenarios.  Sexuality for Rihanna, as here depicted, is a form of punishment, used by everyone to separate us from everyone else.  I think that is imagery similar to how the Bible describes Hell.  She’s spot on.

Pretty scary.  At least when Madonna went down this path 20 years ago she had a smirk, like she was pulling the wool over our eyes.  No smirk here, folks.  Just raw disconnect, hopelessness, wretchedness, gloom and dejection.  With lyrics like “the pain is my pleasure,” “sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me,” “the affliction of the feeling leaves me wanting more” and with an invitation to hurt her even more, she exclaims, “Come on, come on, come on I like it-like it” you’ll need an antidepressant afterwards.  Oh, the word “Love” does occur: “sex is in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it” and “I love the feeling you bring to me, oh, you turn me on.”

Me.  Me.  Me.

Welcome to sex twenty-first century style.

“I love the feeling you bring to me.”  That about sums up our view of love, too.  Sex is about me.  Love is about me.  I don’t love you…I love the feeling.  Great.  Try building a marriage and a life on that as a philosophy.

There’s nothing here about love that involves another human soul or tenderness and sharing a life and connection and looking into your spouse’s eyes or maybe having a baby and having a family together.  I hope for Rihanna’s sake this is just entertainment and a way to make a buck and that her heart is not really into all this stuff.  She’s only 23 and already she’s bored with sex and needs all of this to kick it up?  She’ll make a sad case history down the road if this is her lifestyle of choice.  This stuff isn’t something you mess around with.  Darkness and doom are not your friends.

Whether she believes all of this or not, sadly, some of her many admirers will embrace these morbid views of sexuality and go down these dark tunnels only to discover emptiness, grief, horror and sorrow.

Believe me.  I’ve talked to a few who have tried these activities on for size and found them wanting.  Self-imposed trauma isn’t exactly the way to bring blessing into your life.  This stuff sticks with you a long time.  It ain’t all fun and games.  Later, when you are married and interested in having children, how are you now, all of a sudden, going to associate sexuality in your marriage with love and tenderness and connection and life, when you’ve spent all this time and energy and lust and thought and desire and uncontrollable urges playacting scenes from Medieval paintings of Hell?  What does that have to do with anything meaningful and mutual and life giving?

If you are married and telling your spouse we need to do these punishing activities to shake up our sex life and add some variety to the mix, you are telling her sex is about you, not the two of you.  In case you haven’t figure this out, that would mean sex to you is a selfish act for your benefit.  It’s important for you to get off, it matters not with whom.  If your spouse has half a brain, she’ll figure out it doesn’t even matter if she’s in the room.  It only matters if YOU are getting what YOU want.  In marriage sexuality is there to infuse life into our love and relationship.  It’s supposed to be about connection with each other.  Bring in someone else and we’ve got another animal altogether.  It’s no longer about life.  It’s taking the beauty of marital sexuality and running it through the gutter.  Marriage is supposed to be a boundary of protection from perversion and evil.  Introduce pain and punishment or someone else into your holy marriage bed and you turn it into the complete opposite.  What does a dungeon have to do with the privacy, sanctity, tenderness and the life giving nature of marital sexual love?   This behavior turns meaningful, mutual, life-giving, marital sexual love between a husband and a wife and turns it into abuse and  punishment and death.

Believe me.  I’ve heard the stories of people who have tried these paths and have burned their dignity and seared their consciences and baptized their spouses in a cesspool and now they ask me to help put their marriages back together and do you know what I hear?  I hear, you were supposed to protect me as my husband and you threw me to the dogs instead?  That doesn’t sound too exciting and fun and invigorating to me.

By the way, if you are married and your spouse suggests this kind of craziness,  you need to put your foot down and insist that marital, sexual love between the two of you is supposed to be about the two of you, not anyone else or anything else, and it is suppose to be about reaching out to each other and connecting, not about hurting.  I am not one of these types that believes you should nurture wild sexual fantasies, that fantasies are innocent and fun and add spice to your marriage, and since you are married you can do whatever you want sexually and everything will be fine.  I believe you can take a perfectly beautiful and wonderful thing and destroy it without hardly even trying.  Anyone can ruin marital sexuality in a moment.  It takes real skill to keep marital sexuality meaningful and tender for 50-60 years.  You do that by keeping it special and private and just about we-two and keeping the gutter out of the bedroom.  Clean sheets would be good.  Keep the porn out.  Keep the objects out.  Keep others out.  Keep the perverted fantasies out.  If you don’t it’s like drinking out of the toilet after it’s been used and before it’s been flushed.  Yes, there’s water in there, but that doesn’t mean it’s a drink you want to take.  Refreshing?  Ah, no.

Don’t be too self-righteous.  You can ruin your later marital sexuality pretty easily before you are married if you are not careful without ever going the S & M route.  Sexuality outside of marriage with whatever gender, or, in the case of pornography, your navel, is addictive, compulsive and, as Rihanna has so graphically conveyed, meaningless and hurtful.  We’ve got a whole generation and now going on two generations, who believe you can be sexual with anyone regardless of gender and there are no consequences.  I’m here to tell you that sexuality outside of a husband and a wife and the sanctity of marriage is a sea of misery and heartache and you can tell yourself there are no consequences all you want, but that doesn’t mean there are no consequences.  Self-delusion is a surefire way to ruin your life without even being aware.  At least when same-sex behavior and premarital sex was morally wrong people had consciences.  I pity you if yours has died.  God gave you a conscience to help you make appropriate decisions.  Ignore His still small voice and you enter the land of the dead and dying, without even trying.

That’s the problem.  Nobody’s trying.

At least Rihanna in honest.  She’s right.  Sexuality outside the confines of marital sexuality between a husband and a wife is meaningless, hurtful and degrading.  She’s taken the romance out of sexuality outside marriage altogether.

I wonder if anyone will listen?

Dr. Bing Wall

Dr. Bing Wall

Dr. Bing Wall is a marriage therapist with a practice in Ames and Urbandale, Iowa. To set up a time to see Dr. Wall click here or call 888-233-8473.

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