Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Christian Domestic Discipline

Sexual submission meets erotic submission for a fraction of religious couples practicing Christian Domestic Discipline. Husband punishes wife only of course.

(Image: Aeon article)

Last year I watched a documentary called “Leader in the household” I neither will nor can ever agree to the notion of the man being the leader in the household. Both Vanilla Dutch and Dark Dutch are laughing at the very concept. My most fundamental premise is that we are all equal, no exception. That doesn’t mean some prefer califlower over icecream [their loss] or have spicier preferences.

The notion that religious people can rescue their relationship by putting the man in charge of all decisions, made me feel sad. It is a far cry from why two people should be together: balance and harmony, kindred spirits and a well-rounded notion of give and take, preferably one that takes into account the strengths and weakness of both lovers.


Surrender
Apparently there is something beyond the Christian concept of “leader in the household”. Tara Isabella Burton writes about it in Aeon magazine, wondering if Christian Domestic Discipline [CDD] and the erotics of religious submission raise the possibility of a new concept of God. Mixing theology, power exchange, religion and sexuality make it a complex read.

The foundation for CDD are the words of St Paul in Ephesians: ‘Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.’ Each religions has several – often competing – interpretations. To me that makes it both choice and faith to pick one over the other.

The notion of the patriarch helping his wife correct any problematic behaviour, feels lopsided at best. Even if you spank her for not taking her pills, so she won’t forget, who is going to correct the man’s behaviour when he does?

Of course the erotic and spiritual are connected. They always are, for they are among life’s most intense and deepest experiences. CDD’s most vocal practitioners are women, who often get tired, explaining the why and how. One woman describes being disciplined as feeling his love, strength and caring. She claims he feels her submission, respect and increased desire for her in return. Something that is very much at odds with the fact that husbands are not allowed to gain pleasure from disciplining their wives.

The author explains away that paradox by pointing out how it goes to the heart of gender roles. Highly debatle, since gender roles are a human invention dating back to prehistoric times.


Kindred spirits
What struck me most are the many similarities between BDSM and CDD. Punishment is considered an act of love and a way for two people to connect. Kinksters often defend their lifestyle choices with religious fervour akin to that of CDD couples. A lot is written on how kink can be highly erotic and near devine simultaneously. At the best of times, some say it transcends into something deeply spiritual.

Highly complex but very interesting, especially if you want to delve into what can make [BDSM] power dynamics work. Combining love and relationships with powerexchange and pain – is the concept of a vulnerable God. The author signals a challenge in the way CDD couples view God: demanding respect prior to love.

“A vulnerable God, a Christ-like figure – a God in whose image not only husbands but wives are made ­– might offer [CDD] women a model for human interaction that allows for both sexual submission and erotic equality.”

“Ward insists we view submission and desire from another angle: not just the human need for God, but the divine need for humanity – a love that frames the human-God encounter not as a series of submissions, but as a mutual self-giving. As Ward puts it: ‘There can be no kenotic love which is not erotic also. There is a desire to give and a diremption in receiving. The endless giving without reception announces a demonic and nihilistic logic”

A rather complex take on the nature of dominance and submission. What does it mean to be submissive or to accept someone’s submission? It is not give and take, but rather mutual self-giving. Is it? Perhaps. But it makes more sense than a model in which one gives and the other one takes. Such an idea is unsustainable in long-term human relationships – nor desirable – that are based on more than mutual erotic pleasure. It deepens the concept of submission, while at the same time radically departing from the general accepted concept of dominance, most kinky relationships are partly based on. From the outside of course only.

“Spare the rod” is the most complicated read, I’ve come across in  a long time. What makes it interesting is how the author’s view on the relationship between God and humans can be translated to look closer at the mistress-slave relationship in femdom and related forms of BDSM.

A while ago I read an explanation that suggested kink works because it is a form of human interaction based on the concept of Existentialism. I’ve given it much thought. The main outcome was that I found it too dark and too depressing. Not that I could make much sense of the theory itself.

For now I'll stick with the Buddha. I’ll probably write another article on this topic when I have had time to take it all in.

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