A classic behavior that men have with female prostitutes is to force them to their knees in an act of submission. The man must be totally in charge and tell the woman that she has been very, very bad and therefore must be punished. Or a woman fantasizes about totally helpless man, who is tied up. Think of Tim Tebow posing for GQ. Thus comes a parallel between extreme Christianity and kinky sex.
In religion, fundamentalism is used to describe a rigid adherence to existing doctrine without any flexibility. Although the term is frequently used to describe evangelical Protestantism, the Catholics have the same adherence. They both subscribe to the belief that the Bible should be taken as a literal document from God.
About the the similarities between sex and extremist religion, Valerie Tarico wrote:
“I am not suggesting that Christianity is all about sexual arousal, even sublimated or redirected sexual arousal, though that most certainly is a part of the picture. I am suggesting that kink and Christianity appear to tap an overlapping array of social and psychological impulses that include sexual arousal, moral emotions like shame and disgust, our tendency to seek hierarchy, our desire to escape rationality, our heightened sensory acuity in the presence of emotional arousal, and our tendency to take every pleasure to its extreme. In all of these, the themes of dominance and submission, inflicting pain, and receiving pain, have parts to play.”
Pleasure and Pain: Think of the writings of St. Teresa of Avila in her sixteenth-century vision of mystical union with God:
“In his hands I saw a long golden spear and at the end of the iron tip I seemed to see a point of fire. With this he seemed to pierce my heart several times so that it penetrated to my entrails. When he drew it out, I thought he was drawing them out with it and he left me completely afire with a great love for God. The pain was so sharp that it made me utter several moans; and so excessive was the sweetness caused me by the intense pain that one can never wish to lose it, nor will one’s soul be content with anything less than God.”
Mother Theresa said that love isn’t real unless it hurts and told a suffering woman that her pain is the kiss of Jesus. Her order, the Missionaries of Charity, practice self-mortification techniques such as wearing a spiked chain called a cilice. Other real Opus Dei mortifications are described in Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code.
Self-inflicted pain may produce a release of endorphins similar to that in runners when they push past a pain threshold. Although penance and self-mortification may not always be erotic, but, like kink, it is used as sensory enhancers.
Bondage and slavery: Master-slave relations are frequently found in the Bible, beginning with Adam who sleeps with his female clone and Abraham who has sex with his half-sister/wife Sarah as well as her slave. Lot’s daughters, after being offered to a mob, get their father drunk so that they can conceive by him. The temptress Delilah ties up Samson and finishes her time with him by sapping his strength through cutting off his hair. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines—sex slaves. Unlike biblical stories, however, current BDSM sex must be consensual by all parties in order to be legal.
Tarico explains that “the most common stimulus in the Christian tradition is the crucifixion itself, with its glorified, beatific images of Jesus hanging and swooning, eyes half lidded.” The actual Jesus was have been a short, ordinary-looking Semite, but our culture has created him in a well-muscled, fairly tall image with perfect skin and a face of beauty, according to the artists’s perception. Sort of like Tim Tebow.
Discipline: Wife-spanking, like child-spanking, maintains God’s hierarchy, as defined by fundamentalist Christian leaders, “with the husband as the head of the household, and the wife as his helpmeet.” Spanking is used for the “four D’s” (Disobedience, Disrespect, Dishonesty, or Dangerous [as in dangerous choices… reckless driving, disobeying doctor’s orders, etc]). Some CDD marriages also use non-corporal disciplines, such as writing lines, or the temporary forfeiture of a favorite privilege.” The website justifies spanking by popular culture such as a coffee advertisement. [photo]
But spanking is done in the bedroom on a bare bottom in an erotic fashion. The preacher doesn’t spank anyone, man or woman.
Dominance and Submission:One BDSM website for Christians states, “A BDSM relationship between a dominant husband and submissive wife is actually the ideal of marriage set out in Ephesians -26 taken to its logical conclusion.” The author of Ephesians had this to say:
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
The New Testament states, “It is shameful for a woman to speak in church. Wives should regard their husbands as they regard the Lord. Women are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate” (I Corinthians-35). This theology of “male headship” teaches that a woman’s greatest glory lies in bearing children and serving her husband. Protestant reformer Martin Luther put it bluntly: “If a woman dies from childbearing, it matters not; she is there to do it.”
In the Bible, the policy of submission includes men housing concubines, claiming war captives, and giving away daughters in marriage. The Bible also sanctioned sex without the woman’s consent. Tarico asks, “Do Christian teachings and practice simply draw on the same aspects of human psychology and physiology as kink or do they actually lay groundwork for BDSM sexuality?”
Those interested in pursuing sex in the Bible can find further information in Jennifer Wright Knust’s Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire and Michael Coogan’s God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says.
Coogan maintains that “there is sex in the Bible on every page, if you just know where to look.” Talking about “hands” or “feet” could be a reference to genitals, as in the Song of Solomon. In one passage, the prophet Isaiah threatens that God will shave hair from the Israelites’ heads, chins, and “feet.” In the Old Testament, Ruth lies down after dark next to Boaz and “uncovers his feet.” She then spends the night “at his feet.”
Knurst points out that the judgmentalism on sex in the Bible always has exceptions. The Old Testament permits divorce, but the New Testament does not—except in “Matthew” when he says that Jesus said he will allow a man to divorce an unfaithful wife. Divorce is permitted in the Old Testament—but it’s forbidden in the Gospels. Knurst also states that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is about the danger of having sex with angels.
Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wants people to read the text only when they have someone to explain it to them. “[Not] everyone’s equally qualified to read it,” according to Mohler. “All kinds of heresies come from people who read the Bible and recklessly believe that they’ve understood it correctly.” (Back to the hierarchy!)
Control is also obvious in a letter from Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin after Rhode Island became the tenth state to legalize marriage equality. Among other offensive statements, Tobin cautioned that even attending a same-sex marriage would be spiritually damaging:
“Catholics should examine their consciences very carefully before deciding whether or not to endorse same-sex relationships or attend same-sex ceremonies, realizing that to do so might harm their relationship with God and cause significant scandal to others.”
(I’m still trying to figure out what “cause significant scandal to others” means.)
Cardinal Timothy Dolan is helping to lead the charge to drive LGBT people away from the Catholic Church. After an offensive column telling them that they will be “welcome” in his church if they “wash their hands,” a group of ten Catholics went to Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral after they had rubbed ash on their hands.
The door was locked, and the police were called. Kevin Donohue, who identified himself as being in charge of operations for the cathedral, told the group that they could come inside after they “washed their hands.” The church must have been in great fear: they were surrounded by four police cars, eight uniformed officers, a police captain, and a detective from the Police Commissioner’s LGBT liaison unit.
Like the evangelicals, the Catholics have a policy of excluding LGBT Christians, their families, and their straight allies. Religious leaders are fond of the term “hate the sin; love the sinner.” Every time they repeat this phrase, they condemn people to life without love.
The Catholic Church puts masturbation on the same level as homosexuality, in that it “constitutes a grave moral disorder” and that it “is an intrinsically and seriously disordered act.” Yet I have yet to see a letter from a bishop about not masturbating or a column from a cardinal telling masturbators to wash their hands.