Thursday, November 27, 2008

God and kink

We are in upstate New York this weekend, sharing Thanksgiving with my sister and her family. My parents and a few of my other brothers and sisters will be arriving tomorrow; we are all going to my niece's wedding on Saturday. I missed seeing my mom on Thanksgiving, and I was wishing more of my siblings were here today, especially my brothers, because they are irreverent and liberal and just fun to hang out with. We tend to get very loud and boisterous at holidays.

Instead, my sister's house was mostly filled with my brother-in-law's sisters, their husbands and kids -- a lot of people I didn't know very well. They are all rather religious, there were a lot of crosses hanging around necks, and there were a lot of prayers being said. A long grace was said before dinner, and after dinner, it seemed, no one was going to get any dessert until evening prayers were recited.

It all seemed very foreign to me. Yet, it shouldn't have been. I was raised Catholic, and I was very Catholic for a long time. Then my life and beliefs took different twists and turns until I evolved into who I am today: a former churchgoer, not entirely a nonbeliever, but not a follower of any organized religion at the moment; a seeker. I tend to think of a Higher Power as "the ultimate love," a guiding force, a perfect ideal to strive for. I'm still working on a more refined definition, and I still haven't figured out if I believe any real guidance or aid comes from a Higher Power. Some days I think I receive lots of help from above. Other days, I take any fortuitous occurrence as pure coincidence.

I have a lot to thank my Catholic upbringing for. I'd say it played a big part (as did my father's punishments) in creating this kink in me. When I first started having sex at the ripe old age of 20, not waiting until marriage like I was supposed to, I was so guilty that I couldn't enjoy it.

I experimented with sex for a year or two, still unable to enjoy the act -- until I learned that if someone "forced" me to submit, I would have "no choice" in the matter -- and if I was also punished for my crime, I could feel absolved. No, it wasn't a perfect system; I knew deep down I was still a "bad girl" and was doing bad things. But it turned me on, I started to feel better about sex, and I started enjoying myself, rather than doing it just to please the man I was with, which happened a lot in the beginning.

Eventually, I think the punishment (and the fear involved) became the main turn-on for me. This could take different forms, not necessarily spanking, but spanking was usually part of the ritual. I'd been titillated (it was more of a nervous excitement) by spanking for a long time, yet had never, until this stage in my life, identified it as a sexual turn-on.

Over the years, my "Catholic guilt" reared its ugly head repeatedly. In my twenties I did two purges of the kinky magazines and videos I'd collected. The self-acceptance was a long time coming. I think I've finally come to that point. Still ... still ... even after all these years, and the friends I've come to know, and the many events I've gone to ... there's still this feeling that tends to come over me at a party or a club.

I look at all the people spanking each other and having fun going from one partner to another, from one room to another, sometimes doing scenes with multiple partners, and I think, "Is this wrong? Isn't this just self-centered hedonism and lust? And now I'm a married woman -- is any of this cheating? Should I really be doing this?"

Honestly, if there is a God looking down and judging our behavior, I don't think my participation in this world of ours will be looked at as a very big deal. Still, when one has spent years fearing what was presented as a punishing God, it's hard to suddenly say, "Hey, it's all good!"


Radagast said...

Having a religious upbringing had less to do with my eventual rejection of religion as did my interest in critical thinking. However, if I were to buy into the mythologies involved in being a believer, I would still think that God has more important things to worry about than if people are being kinky or having sex in any way they want. These are things that man has put into the mouth of God.

Marie said...

Honestly, it drives me nuts when people turn Thanksgiving into a religious holiday. I get going around the table and saying what you're thankful for, but Thanksgiving is not about God. It's one of the few secular holidays, and so many people always turn it into being about what God has done for them.

I consider myself an agnostic, so it probably would have bored me to death to have to do prayers before being allowed my dessert - however, as long as my position was respected, I have no reason not to respect theirs. But I'll admit, sometimes very religious people are difficult for me to deal with.

I sometimes feel as though a lack of religion in my upbringing may have aided in my kink. I think I'll blog about this!

Hope you enjoyed your thanksgiving and the wedding goes well.

Ms. Cassandra (Sandy) Park said...

Rad -- yes, I am trying to think along those lines, that I'm a fairly good person whose sins, if you want to call them that, fall more into the areas of judging others, being self-centered, and probably self-indulgent at times (oh, yeah, I know there are others, but these are what come to mind right now). I can't intellectually think that being kinky in itself is a sin.

Marie -- We weren't FORCED to take part in the prayers. We could have stayed in the living room while the others were gathered with their prayer books (yeah, they had official Catholic prayer books) in the dining room. But since everyone else in the house took part, we felt funny not joining in.

LauraT said...

Beautiful post Sandy. I've gone thru similar things with beliefs over the past 10 yrs or so. It sort of all came to a head while I was working towards getting out of the spanking closet about 7 yrs ago.

I thought (incorrectly) that I had to choose between God and spanking. It was hard to reconcile that both can/did work together. That God still loved me no matter what.

I've hung around churchy/religious people in my day, but never a group that did after dinner evening prayers. Wow. That would have been awkward for me.

Thanks again for such an eloquent post. I really appreciate you sharing that.

Ms. Cassandra (Sandy) Park said...

Thanks, Laura ... and the antidote is coming very soon. wait for it...