‘Belts; Bible and BDSM’ is part of the series on sexuality and religion
Belts; Bible and BDSM: a plea for God in the Dungeon
We all know how helpful belts can - literally - be to keep good things, like your pants, up. But also in a more figurative sense; they is something to belts that is striking.
Take for example the term ‚Bible Belt’. This is stands informally for a region in the south-eastern and south-central
. It is called ‘Bible Belt’ because
the socially conservative evangelical protestants that live in those areas do actively
advocate a traditional position with regard to sexuality; a position allegedly
derived from the Bible and that suits the term ‘sex-negativism’ ( United
States and Hardy). Easton
For our sake we can describe sex negativism as the idea that there is something wrong with our sexuality as the result of the ‘Fall into Sin’; even to the extent that sex is mostly seen as sinful or connected with sin. This also goes vice versa; just consider a phrase like ‘living in sin’.
As a consequence, current sexual praxis that does not reflect the customs as they were four thousand years ago, are being rejected as morally wrong, perverse or both.
Well, even in BDSM circles, some sexual praxis is being questioned, so yeah, perhaps there is such a thing as wrong kind of sex, but the same goes for politics, scientific theories or, indeed, theology: it is not all gold that shines. We carry many beliefs over our lifetime, but we soon discover that not all our beliefs can be upheld; we change.
However, the idea that sex-negativism is actuality that what the Bible teaches is itself an example of such false belief. Elsewhere and also likely in this blog, I have and will argue that this idea is not the only option that is available. Nevertheless it the concept of ‘wrong sex’ is strangely enough equally welcomed by most within the ‘Bible Belt’ and by some that rather prefer to use the ‘belt’ for something ‘unbiblical’, like marking the back of your lover.
It seems this contrast in positions does constitute a polar dualism that gives energy to both sides for condemning the other; the more wrong the other is, the more right you are. Either you condemn those who do what you cannot do yourself, even when you - secretly - wish so (Bible Belts), or it is about condemning those who forbid you to do what you wish, condemning them hard, as you feel hurt by their rejection (BDMS Belts).
Yet, during his way towards an integrated BDSM, Sir Cameron soon recognized, that as any act, also kinky sexual acts have a facet which we can describe as the moral sphere. Not for nothing have the pioneers of BDSM-theory hammered on moral issues, clothed in now well known phrases like ‘consensual kink’ or ‘safe, sane and sound’. We all realize, that in order to feel good about what we do, we need to reflect on our morality. When we do so - despite living in a post-Christian culture – we soon find out that many our ideas about ethics are historically rooted in precisely those texts that are used to condemn kink or the rejection of this.
Sir Cameron takes a different stance and there is a simple reason for that: I believe that taking what a tradition claims to be the meaning of a text for the one and only possible meaning is a gross mistake. For the first 150 years or so, there were many different Gospels in Christianity (up to thirty); there was no biblical canon and no agreement on what represented the Truth . To conclude from this that we can then come away from Christianity and say, “It’s so full of contradictions that we cannot trust it”, seems to over do it a little.
Now, I am certainly not arguing we should trust tradition unconditionally, or regard it as harmless – which fundamentalism obviously is not - but we have to see the past in its own context. Critically spoken, this means that unless we have very compelling arguments for claiming an indisputable Truth derived from old texts, we better simply acknowledge that we cannot be sure about what Jesus said and what tradition claims to be his words. We have no historical records. We have copies and translations of copies; albeit in good quantities.
We, as BDSM-theorists, stand in the same tradition as conservative theologians and I see no convincing reason why we should not use our past and the development of our culture as a source of inspiration that we can and might use for theorizing on the many coloured sides of BDMS, both theoretically as practical.
It is not a matter of legitimisation - as the authority of the Church is also a presumed one - but rather a question of interpretation. We have the same right to reflect on our culture and past as any other person; no exception when it comes to ‘Holy Scriptures’.
If there is Truth to be found in it, there is nothing to fear. Truth - however vague this notion might seem - does allow you to seek and find it, as long as you remain true both to the Truth and to yourself. In this sense there is no real problem in asking what the Bible could mean for you. If you only can understand the Bible as sex-negative, you will find condemnation, if you are open for other interpretations, it might actually be of help: not only in understanding our own past or our current ideas, but also in dealing with difficulties we meet in our contacts with people that adhere to certain dogmas.
Particularly within the BDSM community, we are aware that only by accepting others as they are, is the first step to understanding them. Even when we personally do not grasp the point, we still can learn a lot from each other.
We do not have to go far to see, how those that are in bondage within the Bible Belt do suffer under their own teachings. They are facing the same or similar urges in themselves as we do. They try to find a different solution, that works for them or not. We also see that there is a lot of false superiority. When we simply belief in our own convictions and experiences, we do know the whole issue is a matter of how you see yourself function in the world, with all its ethical and religious diversity.
Coming from a conservative tradition myself, I can tell all of you, that there are many happy people, kind people too, they really can be exemplary and do to a certain extent show nice qualities, like being wise, generous, loving, caring and forgiving. But these are not virtues that can be exclusively claimed by a particular group or religion; we all can be like that, if we see the necessity of it and have learned how to do it.
Certainly, not all inside the leather scene will feel equally attracted to the approach I take here, nor should they. As long as the sincere wish to understand oneself out of a religious tradition is acknowledged. Many of us do that, as many religions offer ways of deepening our own experience. All should this not be understood as claiming that all religions say one and the same thing. They do not; instead they provide different answers to similar questions. Not the answers are universal, but rather the questions for as far as they are true human questions in which we try to find an understanding of our selves and the world we live in.
We own ourselves, and we are free to choose how we wish to explain the world as we experience it. Taking a look at our thoughts, reflect on it and be open to how others see the same things differently is not a weakness, but rather a way to find out more about the world as it is too. Only together we are humanity; an isolated individual view is only one of the many.
We may be ourselves, we should be ourselves, but we may also be with others, as opposites or as close allies, as long as we not forget that the world itself is larger and stranger as just the few of us.
Next time, we will look at the Goddess. Please come back and rate me +1.