ENLIGHTEN: A Lesson in Submission, Or, Why I Don't Go to S&M Clubs Anymore

Vice's Doggie Fashion Show
        Maybe I should've done what the average modern bride does and blog about all the ooey gooey details of planning the wedding and adjusting to married life, but there were plenty of other things going on in our lives that preoccupied a good chunk of that time.  While I would never say I'm happy that my dad got sick, I will acknowledge how grateful I am for the months of reflection it offered me.  2012 was the most crazy shake-up year of my life (let's pretend puberty never happened, okay?) and I feel it would benefit me to analyze the spectrum of emotions I felt and to take a closer look at all the events which occurred to better understand where I am right now.  (Not to mention it'll offer me a semi-regular topic to blog about for awhile until I can think of more.  HA!)

        I think the biggest light bulb that went off in my head actually had a little something to do with the following Bible verse:

Ephesians 5: 21-24  
 22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

        I've always hated these verses and I've engaged myself in countless debates with Sunday school teachers and other conservative religious types about "a woman's place".  I was never taught growing up that it was right to judge someone by class, race, sex, ability, or orientation.  I was raised to believe that I was equal, intelligent, and had just as much of a right to make my place in this world as anyone else.  So when my family started going to a Lutheran church, (which was my idea, really) it was understandable that after awhile I began to have my reservations about the whole "religion thing".  At first it seemed great:  I got to hang out with my best friend, eat delicious food at potlucks, find salvation, be forgiven, yadda yadda yadda.  But it wasn't for me in the long once I realized I was supposed to be taking a back seat to the dudes! (I have countless other complaints, but for the sake of trying to write a semi-coherent post, I'll save my rantings for a different time.)  Why did I have to be the one to submit and all he had to do was love me?  It didn't seem fair.

        But there is actually a lot more going on here.  When looking up this verse to quote it properly, I ran across Provocative Christian Living, offering their explanation of it.  As with anything, if you only look at something piece by piece, rather than as a whole, it's easy to draw drastically different conclusions if you can't see the entire picture.  This made me think about what caused the REAL change in my life this past year.  It wasn't finding my forever best friend, it wasn't facing the mortality of my father, it wasn't losing my job and the people who I thought were my friends.  It was the submission of my ego.

Every kind of ignorance in the world all results from not realizing that our perceptions are gambles. We believe what we see and then we believe our interpretation of it, we don't even know we are making an interpretation most of the time. We think this is reality. – Robert Anton Wilson

        My ego was out of control.  I didn't believe that someone else should come before me.  MY feelings and MY opinions were the ones that mattered most because in the end, who is the one that's stuck with them?  ME.  It made sense and that ideology carried me through a decent part of my adult life.  (This seems to be a common sentiment now, check out this article on A Generation's Vanity, showing how we're apparently the most narcissistic generation to date.)  I'm sure this makes me sound like an inconsiderate asshole, which I probably still am in many ways.  It was just a defense mechanism that happened to work for me.  I was too kind and trusting for my own good when I was younger; I got taken advantage of because of it and feel like I lost a good chunk of myself to other people by giving and loving endlessly to psychic vampires.  So, the natural reaction was to snap back completely the opposite direction.

         I don't want to sound like one of those overly-ardent wives who always talk about their husbands, but I really feel he played a great role in helping turn me around.  He was NOT going to put up with my bullshit and he wasn't afraid to call me out on it either.  He made me uncomfortable, he challenged my ideas; he was a real pain in the ass sometimes to be quite honest.  But he gave me what I needed.  I needed the mirror held up to my face for a nice, close inspection of all the things I was covering up with my inflated ego.  As I learned to really trust someone again and feel good about myself, it was only natural to want to open up and share again too.  Which brings me back to that much maligned Bible verse.  What's often missed is that the verse is actually being continued from the one ahead of it:

21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.           

        BOTH parties are to submit, so I guess this verse is fair after all. Thanks to the publisher adding a title between the verses, it causes some extra anger and grief that probably could've been avoided, at least in this instance.  Doesn't the Bible say somewhere that God told people not to add or subtract to it?!  Oh yeah, it's in Deuteronomy 4:2.  I'm sure someone will be offended by the fact that I keep quoting Bible verses while professing my desire to not be seen as a Christian, but these are the texts I am familiar with and are [primarily] what have caused the various beliefs/dis-beliefs in my life.  Isn't the common saying: 'go with what you know'?

        Submission, to me, means destroying your ego.  I am no longer the most important.  I don't need to exist purely to satisfy myself.  I am bigger and more meaningful when I becomes WE.  Something magickal happens when you allow yourself to lose the concept of being the most important, most meaningful, singular being in the world (heaven forbid you think outside of existence on Earth!) and realizing that you are part of something bigger:  the collective unconscious.  You don't need to do this in order to please Christ, Buddha, the Great Goddess, the Spaghetti Monster, or whatever.  You do this to be a decent, sentient being who shares the world with countless other decent, sentient beings as long as your conscious mind remains intact.  If everyone would submit to the idea that there are other important things in the world besides themselves, where could we be now?  What impact could the simple change of losing your narcissism have on your life?  On others?  I found a soul mate.  I found love.  I found trust.  I found an inner peace that I had been lusting after for far too long.  What will you find? 

“Consider that you can see less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear less than 1% of the acoustic spectrum. As you read this, you are traveling at 220 km/sec across the galaxy. 90% of the cells in your body carry their own microbial DNA and are not “you.” The atoms in your body are 99.9999999999999999% empty space and none of them are the ones you were born with, but they all originated in the belly of a star. Human beings have 46 chromosomes, 2 less than the common potato. The existence of the rainbow depends on the conical photoreceptors in your eyes; to animals without cones, the rainbow does not exist. So you don’t just look at a rainbow, you create it. This is pretty amazing, especially considering that all the beautiful colors you see represent less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum.” –Sergio Toporek


VSR said...

I love this. It made me cry. I also had trouble with that Ephesians verse. I felt the opposite. That I wasn't playing my role. I was being submissive. Not a very manly, head of the household role. I'd like to think that I've grown as much as you have, being your father, you would think so. Sometimes I am so humbled by your insight. Your growth. It's your words and ideas that make me so proud. I sit in awe. I can't even think of what to say, except, I love you.

{j} said...

Aww, I love you too! But you know that. I'm happy you liked this post, it was very cathartic to write. And if it was able to help you think about things a bit differently, even better! I know I don't talk much about my beliefs, but I intend to include more topics like this on here. You better be ready for things to get a bit weird! HA! But I know you wouldn't expect anything less from me.

VSR said...

Ha, don't get me started. I just wish I was as eloquent as you in writing. In the end, its all weird, is it not? I look forward to reading and getting to understand the world as you know it.

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