Within the straight and gay communities there are people who practice BDSM (Bondage, Discipline or Domination, Sadism and Masochism. This is a form of role play involving "slaves" and "masters".
I have no intention of either defending or endorsing, or condemning the practice. However there are principles within these activities, which are applicable to our lives as servants/slaves of God. I would like to look at those principles to see what we can glean from them in our walk with God, and becoming more Christ-like.
In the Bible there are two types of slavery mentioned.
1. Involuntary Slavery
This is the concept of slavery that most people have. An example would be of black people in America prior to the Civil War. It is viewed as a harsh, cruel way of life where one person owns another as chattel or property. It is seen negatively as dehumanizing, humiliating, immoral etc. Most of us are glad that that type of slavery was abolished by the passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S Constitution. However in the Bible that is only one type of slavery mentioned. There is another.
A bondslave is one who serves his master out of love for the master.
"But if the servant plainly says, â€˜I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,â€™ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever." (Exodus 21:5-6 NKJV)
Under the custom of the time if a slave was a Hebrew he could only be a slave for seven years and then he had to be freed. However if he chose not to be freed out of love for his master then he didn't have to go free. He could profess his love for his master and his desire to remain a slave. If he did then he would be taken by his master to the doorpost, have an awl driven through his ear, which would mark him as a slave of his master forever.
We who are Christians are called to be bondslaves of Jesus Christ and God. We are called to serve, not because we have to, not because someone compelled us to, but because we want to serve out of love for God and Jesus. Just as the slave in this passage, we could be free, we could walk away and never look back. However, as the slave, we have expressed our love for God and our desire to serve and follow Him. So what then does it mean to be a bondslave/servant of God? What does it actually mean to say that Jesus is my Lord and Master?
In modern society I think we have lost the real concept of the master/slave relationship and what it really means. Too often we glibly say that "Jesus is Lord" without realizing or thinking about the full connotation of what we are saying. So to understand better what we are talking about I would like to look at the terms of Lord and Master, and servant to see what they mean from a biblical perspective.
As used in the Greek it means one who is in supreme authority. There is no one higher. It also means the one who is in control and can refer to God, a master, Lord or Sir.
As used in reference to Jesus at the Last Supper when he washed the disciples' feet, it means instructor, teacher or doctor.
As used in the New Testament it means to be in subjection or under the control of someone.
Within the BDSM (again not an endorsement or condemnation) community they believe that a slave submits to its master without question. Whatever the master says goes, and the slave has no will apart from the will of its master. Taking this into the Christian sphere as servants of God, let's see how it can apply.
By saying Jesus is Lord we are saying that He is the supreme authority and controller in our lives. He is our teacher and instructor. If we say that we are servants of God then we are saying that we are in subjection to Him. Thus, like the slave, we should have no will or desire apart from what God wills and wants for us. I realize that most of us do not live like that 100 percent of the time, however we are on the way and working on it. So how can we learn to do this better? How can we surrender more fully to God, submitting our lives to Him completely?
Slaves practice protocols or rules. They teach the slave what is expected of it, what it means to be a slave, how to submit, how to please its master, and so on. So how does this apply to us as servants of God? Let's look at the life of our Lord Jesus as our example. Some may think that Jesus was always submissive and that it just came naturally to Him, however I believe that is not so. The writer of Hebrews tells us in reference to Jesus,
"Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered." (Hebrews 5:8 NKJV)
Do you get the picture? Jesus learned obedience/submission through everything He experienced as a man. All the things He went through in His life, all the rituals He would have done as an observant Jew, all the prayers He prayed were for one purpose - to teach Him obedience and submission.
Throughout His life He had many chances to exercise His free will He but chose not to. He could have called down twelve legions of angels to rescue Him and destroy the world. He could have walked away, done His own thing, but He did not. I am totally convinced that Jesus didn't want to go to Calvary and suffer crucifixion. I believe He was totally sincere in asking the Father to find another way if that were possible. The Bible says that He was under such pressure that He sweated great drops of blood. However Jesus had already learned obedience, trust, and submission. In the end all that mattered was what God wanted, and submitting to that. Thus He was able to pray "... Nevertheless not my will, but yours be done". (Luke 22:42b)
It works the same for us. Everything we go through in life - the good, bad and the ugly are for one purpose. They are to teach us to learn obedience, trust and submission to God, and His will for us. It is to show us that our ways don't make it - that they instead quite often get us into trouble, leaving us unfulfilled and empty.
The fire and trials we go through are not to hurt us, but refine us. That means that God is getting rid of all the dross and yuckies in our lives so that we can become more like Him. He is replacing them with Himself and conforming us more and more into His image. It is to bring us to the realization that only by submitting to God as Lord and Master can we ever truly be happy. It is also to teach and show us the true path to everlasting life. How can we successfully learn to do this?
One of the main things a slave must remember is to focus on the master and his will. It is to forget about everything else except that one thing. That, I believe, is how Jesus endured the crucifixion.
The writer of Hebrews again tells us,
"Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV)
This shows us how Jesus succeeded. He succeeded by looking beyond the cross. He saw what would happen by His obedience and submission to the Father's will. Because of that, He was able to endure the cross.
It then shows us what we need to do, which is to stay focused on Jesus. If we do that, then we will be successful.
Some may say, "But I fall short everyday of what I know God wants for me". So what! Failure is not final with God. There is no sin in falling, only in staying and wallowing in the mud. God says confess (acknowledge and admit) your sin to God. If we do that, God promises to forgive and receive us as if we had never sinned. A slave may not get it right 100% of the time, but that doesn't mean it ceases to be a slave who is loved by its master.
In the same way we won't get it right all of the time, but God still loves us. We don't cease to be God's children and servants when we blow it. So get up out of the mud, clean yourself off, and keep on moving forward.
True, we may not be where we should be, but thank God we're not where we used to be. We are making progress and learning to be better servants of God. It's not over till we cross over to the other side, and hear, "well done you good and faithful servant". Until then, God is still working in us, perfecting what He has begun in us until the day we meet Him face to face.
This is not an endorsement or condemnation of BDSM or its lifestyle. To each his own. This has merely been an attempt to take some of the things that are taught among those who practice the lifestyle, and apply them to our walk in Christ.
I hope you all have enjoyed this.
God Bless You All
Rev. John W. Brown