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"In this more extreme case, body worship entails the abandonment of self to the desires of the other. The Master assumes (or is given by the slave) the position of Lord. He or she takes on authority and power in the eyes of the worshiper that we, in the American culture, ascribe only to God. "

Body Worship -- A Controversy of Another Kind
by Jack Rinella

Mary called this week to ask me to define a topic that her Master has been urging upon her: Body Worship. It's a topic that we don't discuss very often, probably because it's neither in our common language nor is it a part of most peoples' everyday sexual fare.

The Webster's Unabridged defines worship as "reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred." Body worship itself isn't defined, but it does occur fairly often in the model and escorts section of classified advertising. In that context it is used as a euphemism.

Since the advertising of overtly sexual activity for a price is illegal, many prostitutes use the words "body worship" instead of something more direct. Now Mary+s Master and she are not involved in prostitution, so what does he mean?

I can't interpret his words for him, but I can write about the wide ranging implications of body worship. In general, body worship is the attention, care, devotion, honor, homage, and pleasure given to the physical nature of a human. That attention can be given by touching, kissing, sucking, licking, stroking, massaging, or otherwise making the recipient feel good. In that regard and to that extent, then all sex may be seen as body worship.

But the activity itself may in fact "go further". I'm a strong proponent that real "body worship" involves vocal activity as well. This then moves the worshiper into the area of praise and verbal adoration of the object of his or her affection. "You're wonderful, perfect, lovely." and "I praise you and love you. You are beautiful, strong, sensuous, brave, attractive," are examples of things one might say as part of body worship.

Moving along the continuum of "body worship" it is conceivable, but probably rare, that one might in fact begin to deify the object of one's worship. This might happen in an intense, committed, and fully developed Master/slave relationship. In this case, the Master would begin to take on, in the slave+s mind, the attributes and place of the divine.

In this more extreme case, body worship entails the abandonment of self to the desires of the other. The Master assumes (or is given by the slave) the position of Lord. He or she takes on authority and power in the eyes of the worshiper that we, in the American culture, ascribe only to God. Obviously, this isn't your usual one night stand or regular Leather relationship.

Other cultures of course have been known to practice such behaviors. The Romans, for instance, developed a culture where they deified the Caesars and the emperors. Likewise, in ancient homes, the master of the house, the Pater Familias, held life and death control over both his family and slaves. His word was law and was reckoned as such. Not quite body worship but it does show that other cultures acted differently than ours.

Most religions have externalized God as being Other, such as the various divinities worshiped by Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, etc. The fact that these major religions, which are such sources of power and influence in our society, worship a greater-than-human-God is what that I believe causes the fundamental antagonism between their beliefs and Homosexuality.

Here is where I get controversial. Let me add quickly that I am only speculating and am in no way speaking for any group or cult. In fact, this is only a "Leather" topic to the extent that a few Leather folk practice body worship as a lifestyle and an attitude. Quite realistically that number is very small and in no way represents the general thinking or practice among Leather aficionados.

But since Mary asked, I'll keep answering.

The basic controversy when stripped of puritanical and superficial arguments about the meaning and use of sex, has to do with one's appreciation of the role of man in the Universe. Since we live in a democratic and pluralistic society, the religious Right does address Homosexuality as a social issue rather than its more proper religious issue. If they were in fact to make a religious issue of it, they would be found to be in blatant disregard for the American right of freedom of Religion.

Of course, the vast majority of Gays and Lesbians don't make a Religion of their sexuality. I'm of the opinion though that our divergence with American culture, though showing itself along lines of sexual orientation, is in fact that we are homocentric, rather than theocentric in our outlooks.

When that horny guy in the back room of a Leather bar says he wants to worship someone's cock, he is doing more than talking about oral activity. In fact he is demonstrating his attitude toward himself and his fellow men. Lesbians approach a similar, though less extreme view when they advocate or practice worship of the Goddess.

This is a radical departure from the All-powerful God of my youth, the Heavenly Father/Creator/Destroyer/Judge/Lawgiver. Transferring divinity from "Jehovah" or "God the Father" to the guy in bed with me is neither a wise nor reasonable thing to do. After all, Jonesville and Waco point up the error of that direction. But there are other aspects that are relevant.

From the Christian point of view, the deification of man has some strong foundations in the Scriptures themselves: "The Kingdom of God is within you", "You are Sons of God," and "Even as the Father and I are one, so shall you be one with the Father." It was just such "blasphemy" that provided the basis for Jesus' crucifixion in the eyes of the Religious authorities of his day.

I see the deification of humankind as a very real recognition of my own divinity. Personally (am I writing this in a Leather column in a Gay magazine?) I see each of us as an incarnation, a manifestation of the Divine Life. Each of us is God and in that way each of us is equal. Our divinity is self-empowering and responsible. We accept or reject our own divinity and so create our individual lives. When I worship the man I adore I acknowledge his humanness which is exactly the same as mine and so in fact I worship another self who is my same self. In our divinity we are one. Brothers and sisters, each of us is another manifestation of the One and the Same God who is in all and is all.

Well, Mary, I don't know what your man, your master means when he wants you to worship his body. I suspect that he+s talking about no more than you using your body to make his feel good. For pleasure is once again the base line for Leather sex. And if pleasure is missing, then all the fine words about worship are quite empty and quite irrelevant. Make him feel good, Mary, especially (and only) if that makes you feel good too.

Copyright 1993 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact

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