Friday, June 20, 2014

Spirituality and Sexuality

Those who have read my books, Beyond the Edge and The Cross and The Trinity, know that they contain a character who has no issue reconciling his private life with his spiritual life. Sebastian is gay, heavily into domination and submission, and a member of the Chancel Choir at his local United Church.

Initially, one of the other characters - Tate - finds himself wondering how this can be. He asks the Dom he has spent the weekend with for his advice:

“Can I ask you something?”

He shrugged. “Sure. Anything.”

“Do you think what we do is normal?”

He looked me in the eyes with a frankness that was startling. “Define normal.”

“Well, y'know. Like everyone else.”

“How do you know what everyone else does behind closed doors?”

“You know what I mean.”

“No, Tate, I don't. I have no idea if what we do is normal and I don't really care. It's consensual, it's ultimately trust based and designed for the pleasure and fulfillment of all parties. We're safe, we're honest with each other, and there are limits in place.” He looked at me, concerned. “You've never expressed any issues with what we do here before. What's going on?”

“Nothing. I don't really have any issues with it. I just...I’ve been to church with Sebastian a few times now. It felt kind of weird being there and...remembering everything we'd done. I mean, I can’t help thinking about what we do here, when I’m there, watching him. It seems wrong.”

“What we do here, or thinking about it in church?”

“Well...both, kinda. I don’t really think what we do is wrong. But when I’m in church, I guess I sort of wonder if it is or it isn’t. It’s hard to explain.”

“Ah.” He smiled. “What would Jesus think if he saw what we did?”

I breathed an inward sigh of relief. “Exactly.”

“How do you know Jesus wasn't a kinky freak?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“How do you know he wasn't into self flagellation? A lot of the monks have done it.”

“Oh.” I thought about it. There was a larger question here. “Do you believe in God?” I asked finally.

He put his chin in his hand and looked at me, raising his eyebrows. “Not the way a lot of other people do. I don't think of God as this old man looking down at us from Heaven. I have my own idea of what God is.”

“Would you care to enlighten me?” I asked, grinning.

“Oh Tate. I enlightened you about four hours ago.” He winked.

“What, intense physical pleasure? You think that's what God is?”

He looked shocked. “Tate, if all you experienced up there was physical pleasure, I'm not doing my job properly. Isn't it a bit more than that?”

I thought back to how I'd felt when I'd finally come at their hands, and suddenly I understood what he was saying. It had been a transcendent, glorious, mind/body experience. Something that religious people speak of but few probably really understand or attain.

“Are you saying that what we do up there together is a religious experience?”

He grinned. “Well, not always. But when everything works well and I can get a sub to let go and just experience to the fullest capacity, it becomes more than just something physical.” He steepled his fingers, gazing at me sincerely. “The sacred and profane are closer to each other than you may think. They're both inside of us. By addressing the one we can achieve the other. It's not so big a stretch. And when one thinks of the masochistic things religious zealots have done in the past to experience spiritual awakening, it starts to make some sense.” He leaned back, assessing me. “And now I'd like to ask you a question.”

“Okay,” I said, seeing the look on his face that I'd seen the other night, after the three of us had gone to bed together.

“I'd like to take you out to dinner this week.” 

“Uh. Just me?” He nodded. 

“Just you. I have an idea that I want to explore with you. Something I've been thinking about for quite some time.”

“Not as Dom and sub right? I mean, as equals?”

“Yes, absolutely. Equals. You are my equal in every way, Tate.”

- Beyond the Edge, Chapter Nineteen


I added the religious facet to Sebastian's character, and incorporated the above scene, in order to address the fact that many people who engage in alternative sexual practices or have a personality identification (gay, transgender, bisexual or other) that deviates from the so-called norm, often feel like outsiders from mainstream religious organizations.

Which isn't suprising. Many are hostile to any form of organized religion because they have been witness to the worst behaviour of these groups.

It took me a long time to find a church in my city that was non-dogmatic, truly inclusive and liberal enough for me to feel comfortable. Although I identify primarily as straight, am married with two children, and outwardly conform to the "norms" of society, I believe so strongly in true inclusivity that I searched far and wide for a such an open-minded congregation. 

Today, on facebook, my friend Hardy Haberman linked to an article he wrote for Leatherati, and I'd like to share it with you.

In this article, he examines some of the issues that members of the Leather community have with organized religion, specifically Christianity, and explains his own take on the matter. 

I hope people take away from this article the idea that being involved in BDSM or any activity or identity outside the "norm" should not preclude a person from engaging spiritually with a larger community. 

You may have to search a little harder for a community that speaks to you and your beliefs, but the rewards can be worth it.

~ Liz

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