Wednesday, January 9, 2019

For Whose Pleasure?

You are doubtless aware that Facebook has this sometimes harrowing feature that dredges up historical posts so that while I'm waking up and sipping my coffee I can also wander through a kind of digital wrack line (TIL that is the official name for the debris deposited on the beach at high tide--you're welcome!) and hunt for forgotten treasures while stepping over the decaying fish.

This morning's wrack line included a treasure of a TED talk by Sofia Jawed-Wessel called The Lies We Tell Pregnant Women. The whole piece is wonderful, but this was the paragraph that arrested my attention a couple of years ago:

Every time a woman has sex simply because it feels good, it is revolutionary. She is revolutionary. She is pushing back against society's insistence that she exist simply for men's pleasure or for reproduction. A woman who prioritizes her sexual needs is scary, because a woman who prioritizes her sexual needs prioritizes herself.
--Sofia Jawed-Wessel 

That quote alone deserves to be its own post. So feel free to stop reading here.


But when those words resurfaced on my pre-dawn Facebook, a weird phrase also danced out of a dusty corner of my groggy brain:
“For His Pleasure”
His? Huh?

I couldn’t quite recall where I first encountered these words, but they somehow seemed so familiar.

Thinking it may have been a book title, I consulted the omniscient google, which offered both an erotica series AND a book from Moody Press. Naturally. 😂

Of course! All things were made for God’s pleasure. He took pleasure in those who fear Him. Without faith it was impossible to please Him. He was pleased with a broken, contrite heart. He worked in me "to will and to do His good pleasure".

I never questioned it in my decades as a Christian. My body was His temple. I was His blood-bathed bride. (Anyone else feel like they need a shower yet?) And I was told He had opinions on what I should eat, what I should wear, how long I should sleep, in short, what I did with every body part, especially my vagina. 

And while I spent hours and hours pondering how I could please Jesus, my parents--indeed, all my authorities--as a happy and obedient handmaid (a word I applied to myself decades before I'd heard of Margaret Atwood), from my teens on I spent no time plotting how to experience pleasure myself.

Our own pleasure was expressly forbidden, in fact, and twice on Sundays!
  • "He who loves pleasure will become a poor man"
  • "...enjoy pleasure...this also is vanity"
  • "Call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD...not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words"
  • "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word"
  • "Not my will, but thine"
  • "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth."
  • "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God"
  • "Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton"
  • "the pleasures of sin for a season"

This phrase is probably part of why I lean so hard into my own pleasure now. A compelling reason to prioritize actions--like yoga, like dancing, like mindful eating--that help me be more present and content in my physical body. And I definitely lean into my sensual pleasure—whether I want orgasms, a warm touch, or just a soft, cuddly sweater hugging my shoulders.

Prioritize your own pleasure this week, friends!



  1. I seem to recall a condom ad with "ribbed for his pleasure" as the slogan. Of course, that seems to be a phrase just asking for a terrible Garden of Eden pun or six...

    1. It does, indeed! And, yes, I left that use out because, well, condoms could lead to another post altogether. :D

  2. I just discovered your blog while researching what awful ATIA stuff I was taught and don't remember. I just love you. I've come to similar conclusions.