I have been reflecting on this topic for some time, aware of how various religious and spiritual practices can affect the the rope we do. In many online and in-person spaces, I have noticed a prevalence of alternative beliefs to the majority Christian faith in the West. I have come across a lot of atheists and pagans using rope in rebellion to a religion they cannot relate with, and to celebrate their uniqueness. I have seen and felt the healing powers of rope and the self acceptance in can provide in an often very blinkered and deprecating world.
People who enjoy the unusualness of rope may find churches and other places of worship are not a safe space to talk openly about their desire for rope, especially bondage and body art, and find warm acceptance in alliance with their spiritual beliefs. Whatever our local prevalent religion in your part of the world or family upbringing regarding faith and religion may have been – and any oppression we may have felt from certain abusive interpretations of that relgion – any internal conflict we may experience and risks to privacy and safety should not be ignored.
Equally, people of faith may find some spaces inaccessible due to the stigma of mainstream religions by those who openly question or reject them. Holding relatively conservative values can be difficult to express in largely hedonistic and anti-establishment events. However, I feel that ignoring this rope-community-based anti-religion pressure may lead to feelings of rejection and shame – not because there is anything necessarily shameful about rope, nor that it is particularly frowned upon by the person’s religion (though it may be), but rather the lack of inclusivity of conservative values and religious beliefs in rope spaces.
My own liberal values do not contradict my relgious ones, but I do stop and reflect on how this may impact my rope and how I play with rope with others. I sometimes encounter people who are perhaps stuck within their liberal dogma, even though liberalism must allow for conservative values to exist for it to be truly liberal. Concurrently, people of (most) faiths are taught and understand that judging others is an act of arrogance and is frowned upon. We are all on our own journeys. We all should respect different beliefs and experiences. Sadly, the bi-polarisation of political discourse has usurped religion, which I believe has led to a lack of nuance and understanding of our fellow religious community members.
Not that I wish to discount the harmful effects of ultra religious fundamentalism to pretty much everyone caught up in it. Nor do I want to minimise the harm done by society and our own family members who have been radicalised into hate for fellow people, potentially including you. Religious trauma happens in excessively controlling families and communities. Hate is such a destructive force… when all relgions at their core teach love and compassion for all. I like to think that religious fundamentalists would not want to be in our spaces anyway.
I have always been a strong advocate of self focused rope journeys, and encourage the resistance of going along with trends on social media and peer pressure at in person rope events. I passionately believe that we should follow or own moral and spiritual compass, not hide or reject it, so that our rope to be truly meaningful and fulfilling.
Guilt and shame are very negative emotions to carry into our rope scenes. Whether you fear negative spiritual (“rope is bad”) or rope community (“religion is bad”) consequences, these thoughts may hold you back from enjoying rope to the fullest.
Some questions that you may wish to reflect on:
- Does it really matter what other people think anyway?
- How can you be religious and enjoy rope?
- Do any titles or dynamics conflict with your values?
- Are there any safe ways to explore taboo dynamics in a spiritually safe and fulfilling way?
- Are there people within your religion who enjoy the same things or can help you without shaming you?
- How can you practice rope in a way that aligns with your personal morality and religious beliefs?
- How comfortable are you with speaking to others about your spiritual needs and values?
- Do those in your rope family or friendship group embrace who you are? If not, where can you find similar people to you?
- What ways can you manage difficult interactions with those that disagree with your values or religion?
- Are there ways to overcome any internalised anti-religious biases and stereotypes?
At the end of the day, who you are matters. Whoever your god/gods is/are, it is most likely that He loves you and created you in all your beauty.
These are my personal thoughts on this matter. I do not intend to offend those of faith or without one.
Cover image: self tie arm gauntlets with black and green rope, hands held in prayer with prayer beads and wearing a red headscarf. Created in solidarity with the people of Palestine, as they hold on to their faith in war.