By CK Persons
Baptism is sometimes misunderstood. Yes, the sacrament – a celebration of sacred mystery – has been reduced to a mere cultural event for many people. An infant gets baptized (water dripped on the head accompanied by the sign of the cross), and then s/he never again, for example, sees the inside of a church, learns how to pray, or acts in a way consistent with the ideals of Christianity. But such inconsistency is not always the case; baptism overflows with meaning for both the individual and the community. It is fundamentally a sacrament of initiation, and the accounts of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River reveal something critically important about baptism.
As a sacrament of initiation, baptism is a public welcome of a person into the universal Christian community. Local church community hospitality no doubt varies considerably. But there is a fundamental belief: at baptism one shares a profound connection with an internationally diverse community – and that link is identification with Jesus Christ. The baptism of Jesus communicates the core of the sacrament. According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s gospels (three of the four canonical, or official, gospels), Jesus hears the voice of God saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22). Baptism is a recognition and celebration of a person’s inherent belovedness. Love permeates the person. And, as a result, each Christian is called to remember that every person is beloved – and to interact with everyone accordingly. Such awareness and follow-through are hardly easy but surely worthwhile.
Kink communities, clearly without the international structural supports of the various Christian Churches, also initiate their members. (Perhaps involving fluid and a cross too!) A person attends an event for the first time or is invited to a play party. The community welcomes that person – though the extent of welcome also varies. The welcome depends on the personality of the newbie but also, and even more importantly, on the particular manifestation of the kink community. Just as any Christian church must examine how it accepts its new members, so must any kink community. Kink communities are by no means standardized, which is part of their richness, delight, and appeal; but there is a vitally important feature of good communities: acceptance of the person no matter what the kink. (Obviously difficult given the vast range of kinks.) There are kink communities who put some church communities to shame in terms of levels of acceptance. For instance, those educators I know associated with KinkAcademy.com show that their tag line, Be Accepted, is not merely words. They take individuals seriously in their efforts to create a sexually hospitable place for people.
Creating quality communities of acceptance and love challenge even the greatest among us, but acknowledging and working to promote the inherent belovedness of each person helps the cause.