Kink and religion (II): What do you see as the pros and cons of your religious background?

Welcome to the second of four parts of our interview/chat on kink and religion. To see the first part go here.

What do you see as the pros and cons of your religious background?

Delving into Deviance (a.k.a. Dev):

Emerging from my religious background was a slow process for me. I’ve only really acknowledged that I am no longer Christian in the past year or two. So I’ve been reviewing what I considered benefits and what would be easier if things had been different. Christianity still influences me. I’m eternally optimistic.  I try to see the best in people, and love my neighbor as myself. I’ve tried to keep the good and let the bad go. Jesus’ teachings have a lot of wisdom in them even if the bible is often used to beat people over the head.

So pros:

1) my outlook on life and other people,

 2) my acceptance that I’m not like everyone else and that’s not a bad thing, and

3) I think it’s actually made my sex life better.

The first I’ve explained already.

The second is interesting. As a fundamentalist Christian you are (or at least my congregation was) taught that you’re going to be different. Basically, if you are fitting in too much, you’re doing it wrong. So once I stuck out because I didn’t have sex or drink or swear, and now I stick out because I love talking about sex, won’t accept traditional gender roles, and just do things a bit differently than most people.

The third point is the most relevant. I had a vow of chastity. As I questioned Christianity and drifted away from it I forsook that vow, when I was 19, about the same time I started exploring BDSM. While that vow gave me some sexual hangups for awhile, I feel like it also helped me in some ways. As a teenager I didn’t have sex. My genitals were off-limits. However, I was very curious, so I would watch the Sunday Night Sex Show, Bliss, and other late-night television on Oxygen. That was a better sex-ed program than anything available in schools.

By the time I started having sex I knew much more about my own body and my lover’s than I would have at 16. I also had time to be more comfortable and confident about myself. Furthermore, I think it made me a better lover. I spent years at each ‘base’ before moving on to the next one – 3 years just kissing, 2 years kissing and fondling the upper body, 2 years on manual sex, 3 years on oral sex and BDSM, and then the big straight sex occurred. I orgasmed from pain before I orgasmed from a cock. I think that’s pretty cool.

So what about the cons?

Well, a lot of heartache. My boyfriend likened my relationship with God to feelings of romantic love. And indeed it was like that; God was my first love. The closer I felt to him, the more at peace I was with my life. But then I fell in love with a woman at the age of 15 and I didn’t know what to do. I tried to pray the gay away. No dice. Then I had to deal with the mind fuck that what I felt for my first girlfriend felt like being close to God. With her by my side, nothing could go wrong for too long. She was the most beautiful thing I’d ever experienced; how could that be against God’s will? Every Sunday I looked up bible verses about homosexuality as I sat in church. There are none about women, but the bible often says ‘men’ when it means everyone, so I thought that was a cop-out. For a few years I felt my life was coming apart at the seams. I didn’t know what to trust anymore.

At age 17 I’d decided to accept my bisexuality, and questioned everything else. I basically scrapped what I had been taught and started all over again. I think that’s what left me so open-minded. However, I did still have hang-ups sexually. I cried the first time I touched a cock and the first time I had oral sex. My logic could say one thing, but sometimes my emotions said another. I feel sorry for my first boyfriend in university. He was a really great guy and we spent a lot of time naked together, but he was still a virgin (no oral or penile-vaginal sex) when we were through six months later. My experience with him helped me decide that the whole chastity thing was silly.

Now I’m a very uninhibited lover, and the only remaining vestige of sexual guilt is that I stll have trouble with penile-vaginal sex with  men I don’t love. I can have oral sex with whomever I like and it doesn’t phase me, but traditional man-woman sex was so associated with my future husband that it’s hard even now for me to treat it casually. Is that a bad thing? I’m not entirely sure. But it makes it difficult to realize my fantasy of having a line of men with hard-ons fuck me till I tire of them and say, “Next!”

Dishevelled Domina’s (a.k.a. DD) response to Dev:

I really identify with your comment that you are very uninhibited in general, and also that you mentioned some residual effects regarding intimacy reservations too.

It is an interesting combination; hard to understand, or explain.
Does the thought of multiples seriously appeal to you?

Dev’s response:

My lack of inhibition tends to be with a partner I trust. I’m still always a little nervous about having sex (particularly penetrative) with new people. I think this is partially because I don’t want to be perceived negatively, and until I know the other person a bit better I can’t know what they’re thinking. 

The thought of multiples does indeed appeal to me. Given the above, I’m not sure they could be complete strangers. However, maybe I’ll eventually have enough friends/former/occasional lovers that it could be arranged with people I know and love. I feel like it would be a display of sexual empowerment and would bring me a great deal of pleasure. I’d be in charge the whole time.

tomio’s response to Dev:

      “I used to have a vow of chastity.”

This stuff became a fad after I was an adult, thankfully. But chastity was simply expected, unless one was married. I think my congregation would have looked on it as being similar to taking a vow to breath air. The internet didn’t exist yet – most people still saw cable TV as a luxury. I do remember watching an actual rape scene in a movie on HBO and experienced one of my first erections (not THE first, but it was one of the first ten, I’d guess). I knew it was wrong to be turned on by such things and I actually answered the altar call that week and begged God not to send me to Hell for it. I think I was nine. Maybe ten.

On the other hand, it was the 1970s. Largely because the Supreme Court found that the movie Deep Throat  was exploring a scientific and medical debate – whether or not women can have an orgasm. So while sex was still considered dirty and filthy and disgusting, there was also a sub-genre of preachers who actively taught that sex was a gift of God to be shared with your spouse…and proof that God wanted us to bond sexually was that women could have orgasms.

So, as I write this, I can see that in addition to the very badly mixed messages about sex, the only place I could even see a human body was in pornography. And I had to be VERY sneaky about finding that.

What do you see as the pros and cons of your religious background?

John:

Pro:  Parents and Grandparents..specifically, grandfather and father had a deep respect for how Jesus lived his life with regard to how to treat people that may have a different life outlook than you.  It  was instilled in me not to make snap judgement on how people live their lives but to look at the person themselves and learn from them and treat them with respect.
The biggest con is that church people tend to want to repress the fact that we were created as a sexual being and that sex is actually fun and not a duty and I happen to think that  a little experimentation before marriage is probably a good thing.

DD’s response to John:  

How much experimentation?
 
John’s response:

Experimentation or just trying to get into a girl’s pants? Mostly I think my own early experiences were driven by rebellion, followed by guilt.

What do you see as the pros and cons of your religious background?
tomio:
This isn’t such an easy question to answer. I had to put a lot of thought into it.
The pros:

In a word: Character. Evangelicals know how to stand up for what they believe is right. They know what they believe and they aren’t afraid to hurt a few feelings by being honest (and sometimes blunt, which is not the same thing).

While my understanding of “right” has evolved far beyond what I was taught as a child, I still find it impossible not to stand up for it. Perhaps my life would have been easier if my morality were more easily compromised…but the times when I did not stand for what is right are the times in my life that I regret the most. And those are also the times when I feel that I fell the farthest from my early teachings.

I’d also have to list the belief that everyone is worthy of being loved. Even me. That’s a hard one to learn. In fact, at forty-three, I’m still learning how to be loved. How to feel like I’m lovable.

A third point: I know how to be forgiven. That is one of the hardest things a person can do. To go to another and say, “I hurt you and I didn’t have to and it breaks my heart that I can never take away that hurt.” Then to hear them say, “It broke my heart when you did that…but neither you nor I will remember that hurt, because it is totally erased from my heart.”

That’s rough. That’s a spiritual kick in the balls (or ovaries) that’ll bring anyone to their knees. Because we know, deep down, we don’t deserve that kind of forgiveness. But love gives it to us anyway. If we are strong enough to accept it.

The final point: I learned a passionate hatred for injustice, and especially for people who abuse their authority for their own benefit.

The cons:
This is hard for me to talk about, at least without cracking a hundred thousand jokes.
I deal with pain through humor. But I’ll try to talk straight.
Fundamentalism is passed on by forcibly closing down an individual’s ability to think and reason for him- or herself. It is basically saying, “You can’t possibly believe this stuff to be true – but you better or you will be fed turd sandwiches at the buffet in the Hell Hilton.” The fucking guilt I felt simply for getting a hard-on was immense. Masturbation was always followed by a bout of such self-hate that it’s a million wonders I didn’t hurt myself because of it – and believe me, I looked at that verse that says “If you eye sins, it is better to pluck it out than to have your entire body burn…”

I was thirty-some-odd years old, in my second marriage, having fathered children, and I was so ridden with shame over my sexual needs – not desires, NEEDS – that I could not speak about them. Not to my wife (GOD NO!), not to a shrink, no one. So I simply shut down my sexuality. The problem is, someone forgot to tell my libido that…so I built this lonely fucking world where I spent hours every day (literally) looking at porn, masturbating, hating myself, repeat.

My evolution towards liberal Christianity means that I am simply not welcomed in the churches of my childhood friends and family. I’m cool with that, because they make no pretense of being open-minded and accepting. It’s all “my way or the highway” and I picked the highway a long time ago.

But it also puts me out of place with my liberal secular friends, who cannot understand why:

1) I arrive at the same place, or to the left of them, from such a vastly different route; and

2) why I cannot shut-up about my faith or leave it out of my discussions about politics and what is right/wrong.

I’m even more than a little out of place with my liberal Christian peers…I’ve come from too different a time and place to fully relate. That’s only partly the fault of fundamentalist religion…but it’s a part that continues to ache.

Submission, for me, is not just a kink. It is the way I am made, and when I submit to Mistress Delila, it is my supreme act of love. If the person I am and the love in my life are gifts of God; then accepting those things, embracing them, and being as completely and utterly submissive as I possibly can is not just an earthly thing, but a spiritual thing, as well. So disobeying Mistress would not just be a violation of Our commitments and the basic tenets of Our relationship and love…but it would be sinful.

A final, final point – Once I began to identify as a submissive man, I was actually able to come to terms with it through reinterpretation of scriptural examples. If we are supposed to emulate Jesus; then aren’t there many examples of him willfully lowering his station beneath those around him, and especially those he loved? “Greater love hath no man than this, to lay down his life for his friends.”

So if Jesus can live and die for the ones he loves, can I not also live and die for my Mistress and still be a good and Godly man? 

DD’s response to tomio:

How do you distinguish between a need and a desire?

tomio’s response: 

A desire is something a person wants, but does not suffer if it is denied to them – like ice cream. 

A need is something that a person not only wants, but suffers if it is not given – like food, water, safety, shelter.

Sexually, in my case, I NEED a dominant partner…I genuinely suffer without one. I need, from time to time, to be hurt by my Lover. I need to be an object of desire and gratification. 
I desire bondage. I desire orgasm denial.
From the outside, I’m sure these things look quite similar and are hard, if not impossible, to distinguish. From the inside, there is an immense difference. 

What do you see as the pros and cons of your religious background?

Dishevelled Domina:

Pros~
 I was taught to systematically evaluate information and think critically from a very early age. This was taught to keep “the world” from deceiving us but turned out to be pretty useful in evaluating the words and actions of people within the church too. I also learned to stand strong for what I believe (via many inspiration stories) , and learned that lesson better than they intended too,  like when I told my former pastor’s wife that the reason I didn’t attend a Baptist church anymore was because my pastor taught me better.
I also learned some really good values about respecting and loving family, and mankind at large. In reference to the question Cain posed God in the seminal tale of jealousy and murder, “Am I my bother’s keeper?” most Christians would emphatically say that the correct answer is indeed, yes, we do bear a responsibility for our fellow man,  despite what their typical political and social positions would indicated.  I learned that other people truly matter, and how to live in a manner consistent with that belief.
Cons~
I don’t know of many people who understand my perspective, and even fewer that share it. I don’t know which upset my parents more; finding out I wasn’t a Republican, or finding out I wasn’t a Baptist.
The majority of people who grew up in similar circumstances seem to have either swallowed fundamentalism hook, line, and sinker, or alternately, to have rejected all religion entirely. My own stance is incomprehensible to both, as well as to those who are not religious at all or who have a different background.

There are other experiences I could claim were cons of my  background but every choice leads to the next and I cannot find it in my heart to disown the choices that have led me to the place I am today.  

tomio’s response to DD:

…like when I told my former pastor’s wife that the reason I didn’t attend a Baptist church anymore was because my pastor taught me better.”

I caused an entire adult Sunday School class to break out in spontaneous prayer when I refused to attend a Planned Parenthood picket, and insisted that Jesus would be INSIDE the place, praying for whoever needed service, and making sure their needs would be meet after they were done, whatever their choice was. Every single prayer during the service included some variation of the phrase, “Lord, be with those among us who cannot see the right and true path…” When the pastor wanted to talk to me after the service, I handed him the Bible and dared him to show me where the word “abortion” appeared. After half an hour of shooting down every tenuous connection he made, he sighed heavily and said, “I don’t think this congregation can serve your spiritual needs.” I laughed at him and said, “Funny, I don’t think it serves anyone’s spiritual needs. It’s just a political machine.”

       I don’t know which upset my parents more; finding out I wasn’t a Republican, or finding out I wasn’t a Baptist.

Those are two separate things? (Hey! A question!)

There are several family members that I no longer speak to. I don’t really miss them.

DD’s response:

Stirring the pot is a hobby of mine, but I try not to get too carried away. I have more success with that nowadays, since I’m not being constantly provoked!

John’s response to DD and tomio:

I agree with tomio and have experienced the same thing..being prayed over because I don’t see the truth.

Best religious themed bumper sticker in my mind was the one that said: 

Jesus was a liberal Jew.
Drives the conservatives I know batty when I mention that if you saw Jesus today you would automatically think he was a possible terrorist… dark skin, dark hair, and no halo.

Posted on August 14, 2011, in discussion, religion, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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