Submission: Christianity and BDSM

by Jemima

The world of BDSM can appear very obsessed with the surface, a place of outlandish outfits and shocking behaviour. Certain books have not helped and create the idea that it is as far from spirituality as can be. My personal experience is that as I have learnt more about myself through BDSM, so my faith has also deepened.

BDSM stands for bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sado-masochism. BDSM involves consensual exploration of some or all of these between people in the role of submissive (less powerful person) and Dominant (more powerful person). 

My pastor describes me as servant-hearted, and it is true I am more likely to be found in the kitchen than the pulpit. However, I think I am more Mary than Martha, and that willingness to sit, to learn, to let go is something that I think as Christians we all need. To live fully of, and in, the moment rather than worrying about tomorrow.

Both Mark and Luke give accounts where Jesus knows what the future brings. He directs his disciples to find the donkey that will bear him, predicting who they will find and what to say. This prescience does not stop with Palm Sunday of course; he rides through the cheering crowd knowing they will be baying for his blood by the end of the week. Yet he still chooses to go, to follow a path that leads to immense pain and suffering, he submits.

Now to some it will seem sacrilegious to discuss sex and God in the same piece. However I believe we are natural, sexual creatures, that God created us to be so and He does not make mistakes. When we look at the New Testament if we can relate it to our own lives and experiences then we are far more likely to treat it as a living document that can change our lives than a bunch of ancient stories with no relevance to us.

Submission is a word that comes up in two very different parts of my life, and yet as my understanding of it grows, it informs both. Look at how Jesus entered Jerusalem, not grudgingly or secretly, he did not just accept the end was inevitable but that it was right. When my Dominant photographs me, his favourite pictures are those which show a smile. People might imagine a sadist would want to see someone writhing in pain, but that does not show submission. If you just want to make someone cry out in pain then you could punch a random stranger. Submission cannot exist without choice, and if it is to be meaningful and rewarding, it should be a willing, joyful choice.

Now no-one can know the mind of God, but when we look at Jesus’ behaviour in Jerusalem there seems a freedom to it that contrasts with so much of the rest of the Gospels. Free to confront the authorities of the Temple, He behaves in a way that many, knowing they were to be executed in a week,  might avoid. Turning over the tables of the moneychangers, sitting disputing law in the Temple grounds, he draws attention, rather than avoids it. This freedom that comes from submission is one that in my own small way I also recognise. When we submit we become free of the fear of consequences, the path has been laid out by someone else and all we need to do is walk it.

So how does this affect my day-to-day life, both as a Christian and as a submissive? In one way, it is the same lesson to be  learnt. It is easy to say “I submit”, that we are willing to bow our heads, whether it be to God or a cane-wielding sadist. However, when the difficult times happen, when a planned event does not happen or not as soon as you might wish, does the submission remain a joyful choice or become a grudging “if I must”?

So often, “If thy will be done” is a question not a statement. As a submissive, I have learnt that in fact it is a liberating statement. The trust that is at the heart of BDSM means that I put my life in the hands of another, another bigger, stronger more powerful than me, and say, do what you will. If we can do this with another human how can we fight it with God? It may seem an odd question, but so often we do fight, thinking we can cajole or bargain, instead of that sublime submission, instead of saying, “Thy will be done.”

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5 thoughts on “Submission: Christianity and BDSM

  1. Great post, and bravely said. Sexuality and faith are, to my mind, very closely linked.

  2. jemima101 says:

    Thank you, I do wish I could be braver within my Church, I cannot believe God makes mistakes, or that my growing contentment and deepening faith can be something other than positive. However as they say baby steps. Right now my energy is mainly on convincing people the coalition are wrong in opposing equal marriage.

  3. Samya says:

    This is really interesting! I totally agree with jemima101: I don’t believe God makes mistakes!

  4. murrcolr says:

    There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

    If you name the name of Christ then you should depart from iniquity.

  5. Sonjafly says:

    Hey, I was glad to find this post. I’m a Christian and have recently discovered BDSM, and I think it fits with Christianity as well. :)

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