Slaves and Masters – A Kinky Person Reads Ephesians.

This post was originally written for a friend who created an online queer commentary for the letter to the Ephesians. I was given the passage about slaves and masters (for obvious reasons) which can be found here:  Ephesians 6.5-9 – with different translations here

Ephesians 6.5-9

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free.

And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.


So I have been asked by a friend to contribute to a Queer Ephesians commentary and it is with great enthusiasm that I take up this mantle, particularly with this section of the letter.

I am currently embarking on a project of developing a theology based upon BDSM, kinky people and their experiences. The world of BDSM with its unique expressions of sexuality, rituals and rules  provides us with new ways of reading, experiencing and talking about our faith that have previously gone unheard. As a kinky person myself I have found great comfort, as well as new experiences, through allowing my sexuality to influence not only my theology but also my prayer life as well.

Ephesians 6.5-9 provides us with the opportunity to read through the eyes of those who engage in one of the most common BDSM relationships; the Dominant and submissive (from now on abbreviated to D/s).[1] In this relationship, which does not necessarily have to be sexual in nature, one partner takes a dominant role calling the shots, and being served whilst the submissive receives the orders and provides the service. Both roles can be occupied by any gender or sexuality (unlike the popular imagination which primarily places the male as the Dominant and the Female as submissive), and involves the playing with and manipulation of power dynamics that are normally found as rigid structures within society. So with its transgressing and reimagining of power dynamics and traditional gender roles any D/s relationship is by its very nature inherently queer.

Ephesians 6.5-9 see’s Paul finishing off his teaching on the ordering of the Christian household and is now viewed as outdated and morally reprehensible due to its dealing with Slavery. Most would now simply pass over this passage, waiving it aside with a claim of it being “of its time” including a side note on how appalling slavery is. What I want to argue is that the language of the passage, and therefore its teaching, is salvageable with a specifically D/s kink reading of Paul’s teaching.

How would someone who understands their sexual role as that of “slave”, and therefore submissive, hear as we read Ephesians, likewise Dominants who feel attracted to the title “Master”. Can we find moral teaching that is not only positive, but also applicable for people in D/s relationships today?

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ;not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.

Here we have Paul addressing those who identify as slaves calling for them to fully enter into the service of their masters. Paul elevates the service of slaves up and beyond any human interaction they may find themselves in by making it equal to service done to the Lord. Just as with other relationships here Paul is calling upon those who submit to submit to those whom they are in relationship with as if they were serving their Dominant in Heaven.

Slaves are also called to submit not just “while being watched” but in their whole lives. A great joy in my life, as with others who discover a submissive sexuality, came when I discovered that submission was part of my whole being and that it was possible to live it out not just through intense sexual encounters but through my whole life as well. Not just when being “watched” in the bedroom, but throughout my whole life when it was only God who could see.

Much like Queer sexualities those who have a D/s sexuality can take great joy in vs6 as Paul calls for them to do the will of God through sexual submission to their partners. If D/s is a God given sexuality then surely it is God’s will for those of us who are submissive to live out our sexuality with those we find ourselves in relationship with. Take heart Christian submissives, for it is God’s will that we serve our Dominants for through that service we serve and please God!

Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free.

Verse 7 follows on from the previous suggestions that it is God’s will that submissives live out their God given sexuality with joy and all the fullness that a Life in Christ can offer. Paul develops this argument further saying that in living out our submissive sexualities we are not serving those on earth but God in Heaven. Submission to the Lord will be rewarded, much like the rewards given out by Dominants on earth and here we see Paul begin to switch his focus from the Sub to the Dom/me. If God rewards submission then so should Dominants.

Paul messes with the power dynamics of D/s at the end of verse 8 arguing that there is no difference between slaves or free. Much like our modern D/s relationships power exchange is agreed before hand and must be entered into willingly, therefore what may look like an unequal relationship from the outside is actually a very carefully balanced relationship between two equals based on service and trust. Paul here is arguing that it is important for both Dominants and submissives to live out their sexualities as if they were serving God.

And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.

Paul’s messing with power dynamics continues into the final verse of our passage where he switches to address the Dominants. Much like the rest of the household Paul is flipping traditionally held understandings by addressing the Masters and informing them that their relationship is not all that it seems. God wishes for us to treat each other justly and fairly as equals rather than continue society’s teaching of inequality, forced subservience and oppression.

Paul reiterates his teaching that between Dominants and submissives there should be no inequality because all people serve the same Dominant in Heaven and to that Dominant we are all submissive and there is no partiality. A D/s relationship is only in line with God’s will if it is between two equal parties and based upon mutual service, love and respect. Through that Dominants and submissives can serve both each other and God through their God given kinky sexualities in a way that not only plays with, but dismantles, the broken and damaged unequal power dynamics we see around us in the world.

So there we have it, a kinky person reads and attempts to salvage one of Paul’s spikiest of passages. Hopefully I have been able to offer a new reading based on my own, and many other people’s, experiences as a submissive kinky person. As with true Dominance and submission which is based upon mutuality and trust, Paul’s teaching on slavery is actually a call to radically re-interpret the power dynamics we see around us in the light of Christ as well as a call for us all to view submission to Christ as the ultimate goal for our Christian discipleship.

 

 

[1] A more in depth introduction and explanation of Dominance and Submission can be found here: www.submissiveguide.com/encyclopedia/submissive/

www.submissiveguide.com/encyclopedia/dominant/

 

Advertisements

About Natalie Waste

Bisexual, Lifestyle-Submissive CD. Theology student blogging about Kink, Christianity and Theology. kinktheology.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in BDSM, Bible Study, God, kink, relationship, Scripture, spirituality, Submission and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Slaves and Masters – A Kinky Person Reads Ephesians.

  1. dave94015 says:

    Reblogged this on dave94015 and commented:
    Is it possible that #D/s is endorsed in Christian scripture?

    Like

    • It’s not impossible that it is. Nor is it impossible that it is forbidden in scripture. It depends on interpretation. The way I see it is that scripture calls for the building of mutual, supportive and loving relationships and if a D/s relationship fits that then God must approve.

      Like

  2. dave94015 says:

    an interesting interpretation!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s