Saturday, April 18, 2009

Standing at the Intersection of Church and Kink

I go to church. I'm part of the team of laypeople that assists our minister with Sunday worship. I read and discuss sacred texts, theology, ethics and philosophy. I don't hold much to ancient creeds or dogmas, but I take to heart the affirmation of our church:

Love is the spirit of this congregation, and service is our gift. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to speak our truths in love, and to help one another.

I also crack a single-tail whip. I enjoy listening to a woman's darkest erotic fantasies, and bringing them to life when I can. "Safer sex" for me includes having a first aid kit and spare handcuff keys close by - and, more importantly, thorough discussions of what each of us desires and is willing to do well beforehand.

I go to church. I am kinky. And I see no conflict, no conundrum, no contradiction.

To date, those in my congregation who know about this aspect of my life have been supportive, some even willing to learn more. And I'm glad they are open to learning, understanding, and knowing more. Then again, our congregation is one of the more liberal ones within Unitarian Universalism. I'm sure in some other UU churches, I'd not be so welcome unless I ascribe to a strict "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

I've also found support within the local BDSM and polyamory communities. Great to have "one of their own" in a church, blazing the trail. But many are hesitant to follow, either to join a faith community, or to come out to their fellow believers.

So here I stand, between two communities, wanting to build a bridge between them. And folks on both sides asking me: Why? Why should UUs and other progressive faith communities open their doors to kinky people? (Yes, I'm lumping poly folk under the term "kinky," defining that word broadly to refer to erotic expression outside of the mainstream) Why should kinky people go knocking on their doors asking to be let in?

Let me try to answer those questions, as best I can, from my own experience...

We kinky folks have gifts to bring. Our experience and relationships have brought us awareness of just how complex our sexualities can be. We have learned that our wider culture's assumptions about intimate relationships don't always fit actual reality. We've had to learn and develop new rules for communicating, relating, discovering joy, and the bounds of trust. For us, diversity is not merely a binary, or even along a straight-line continuum. Diversity is a palette of varied colors and shades, and beauty is found by transcending boundaries, daring to color outside the lines.

Church folk could learn from kinky folk - and vice versa. Spirituality is not merely about individual transcendent experiences, but about being part of a wider community, and learning to live ethically within it. And while many would argue that we have "our own" community, at times it feels more like a self-imposed ghetto. Whenever any community becomes too insular, it can easily become stagnant. One sign of this is how we complain about our being oppressed, constantly speaking in the language of despair, defeat, anger and resentment. And we wonder why we make so little progress, why so few of us are willing to organize to turn things around? Such language does not inspire, empower or motivate people to take action. That requires a language of hope - the language I hear consistently within my church, and the gift that progressive people of faith have to offer.

I go to church, a kinky fellow who dwells in peace with vanilla people, each learning from one another, growing together, and willing to help one another. Join me - our door is always open!

[Originally posted September 15, 2007 on Myspace]

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this again. I know that there are too many who spend too much time conflicted without trying to find the ground that let's them function, blossom, bloom and grow.