Why kneel?
Why kneel?

Why kneel?

When I watched the first Avengers movie, I was stunned by Loki’s speech when he demands the crowd kneel to him. This is what he said:

Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity, that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.

It was such a powerful speech. It reminded me of how religious people (myself included when I was religious) are expected to kneel in church. I was always told it was a sign of humility, but I see it more as a sign of pleading or begging.

I’ve never understood the want or need to kneel. I don’t see what purpose it serves, other than to bruise ones knees. Would an all-mighty God really care whether you were kneeling before him or standing on your feet?

So I went to some Christian forums. I found a few explanations.

To me it is very important to kneel and pray I guess because that is the way I was brought up in my old church. We always knelt down to pray and honestly great things happened, it formed in me a strong prayer life. Standing and praying is okay I’m not saying always be on your knees because trust me they go numb after a while lol. But it is essential when you are in desperate need of something in/from GOD. I dont know about you but I am in desperate need of God each and everyday of my life.

So this person seems to be saying that if you kneel, you might get special recognition. Sure, you can pray on your feet but if you want God to take real notice, you better get down on those knees.

I do think the person making the comment was on to something with the first part of his comment – it’s more likely that you were taught to kneel.

We show our humility.
We show that we surrender to God.
We show that God is in charge of everything and his will be done, not my will.
We show our desperation.There’s certainly nothing wrong with “showing” these things if that makes your prayer time more meaningful to you. I would point out, however, that God already knows everything, and if you really do have these qualities, you don’t have to kneel to “prove it” to God.

There are examples in the Bible of people speaking to God without being on their knees, so it can be done. Just so long as you don’t consider it a requirement that would otherwise invalidate your prayer, then you are free to “approach the throne of grace” in whatever manner you feel is most appropriate. 🙂

This person sites humility but I know I don’t have a hard time being humble while on my own two feet. Why would kneeling make me more humble?

Why would this God need a speck like me to surrender? And why would it need to be shown it’s in charge of everything. This being would already know that. Me kneeling and groveling isn’t going to make it any more aware of its own power.

I like the desperation part. It really shows the willingness to beg and plead if you don’t like the outcome or truth of something.

However, why would a being of immense power need you to show it anything? After all, it supposedly created you and everything around you. Do you really think the creator of a universe would need you to show it a damn thing?

If you do think God needs you to show it something, maybe you should revisit the whole humble thing.

And finally, if you don’t need to kneel (as this person seems to think) then why bother?

Maybe there is a section of our population that, like Loki says, craves subjugation. They don’t want to take responsibility for their actions or face the bad stuff that sometimes happens to us as human beings. They would rather believe they’re powerless and in need of subjugation. They would rather be told what to do because it’s easier.

It also reminds me of the Milgrim experiment, where most people did what they were told as long as someone they perceived as an authority figure told them to do it.

Isn’t it time we got off our knees, took responsibility for our own bad decisions and started thinking for ourselves?



  1. The idea of subjugating oneself is very distasteful to me. I find it strange that some people get a sense of well-being from calling themselves “wretched sinners” and bowing before a deity inclined toward petty demands for worship.

  2. Agreed. Kneeling is a submissive posture, and deliberately places you beneath a god (literally and metaphorically). I recently went to church for a friend’s wedding and found all the kneeling, and praying for forgiveness for being “vile sinners” really creepy and cult-like. Oddly I never made the connection with Loki’s speech before, but it is a good analogy for religion.

  3. This reminded me of my Ju Jitsu days, where part of our opening ceremony involved kneeling before the instructor. I guess it could be seen as a form of subjugation, but it’s interesting to consider why someone would submit. In my case, I accepted some symbolism in order to get what I wanted… informative instructions on self preservation.

    Humans conformity in “surrendering” by kneeling is a little bit naive in my opinion, because I don’t think it recognises our selfish nature. Perhaps Loki underestimated our acting skills. Kneeling need not be driven by fear or even respect, sometimes it’s simply a means to that important end…. personal gain. Humans will always wrought the system where they can, all of my catholic friends were classic examples of that fact.

    Fortunately and not surprisingly, the guy in the sky isn’t too fussed about your kneeling sincerity or reasons or levels of commitment, particularly if you follow the “right” religion. Where would I find the church of Loki, he sounds inspirational.

    • Lol, careful, Puffetic, I can almost guarantee there’s at least one out there, funny hat and all.

      the idea of kneeling before a ruler (god, King, emperor, Pope, etc) also puts you in a position of vulnerabilty, when you are the loser in a battle you kneel, and the victor towers over you. in earlier times, I suspect, he could, if he chose, lop your head off. And in other cultures too.

      culturally, among all animals, baring the neck is a sign of submission, and of vulnerability. A lesser wolf coming before the top wolf comes in with his head down, the nape of his neck exposed. And a wolf or dog or even a cat will roll on his back in submission after a fight. You win, he’s saying. Take what you will.

      And animals generally cannot attack at that point, if they are the same species. They have to accept the act of submission, either head lowered or vital organs unprotected, as a done deal.

  4. Many are brought up being taught that thinking you can fix your own problems is pride, one of the worst sins. To not pray, or kneel if that’s the norm, feels like a denial of God’s existence.
    It’s a cult phenomenon, I think. “Only I can help you. You are nothing without me. No one else cares for you as much as I do.”
    Not bowing feels like betrayal. You are scared of what might happen if you stand up to the bully, so you comply b

  5. Interesting post. I think as all our religious customs were created by man and not God. The priests decided what we did and didn’t do, kneeling is showing respect and submission. Although I don’t recall seeing any pictures of Jesus kneeling.

  6. The Christian God is jealous and vengeful. It isn’t hard to see why believers would kneel in hopes to please him. Of course, if you bring that up, they’ll say he is all love. The cognitive dissonance is astounding. It’s just like letting God off the hook for murder. He is in the right no matter what because we are all ‘sinners’. Religious worship is self-imposed Stockholm Syndrome.

  7. I think kneeling – at least for Christians – signifies honor at the presence of someone we consider great. For example; you don’t need to greet people, but you do so in order to signify/ acknowledge their presence.

    You’re right in saying that the God of the universe couldn’t care less whether we stood or knelt; It’s really up to whoever chooses to participate in the act.

    I think some people use the Bible to explain away the hardship of their lives, but I think God expects people to take responsibilities for their mistakes – without dwelling wholly on them

  8. just left a comment on Isaiah and find that I am now being moderated. Im hoping this is blanket moderation, if not, how cool. Im being moderated. Woot! Move over, Ark, you got company on that bench. (I saved the post in case it never appears, anyway…it could happen)

    • I think its his site. It’s having issues. I have a hard time moderating Wally and often it only let’s me approve his comments if I hit the like button.

      I talked to James and he said Ark isn’t being moderated either. I even had a hard time posting that post. He had to boot me and invite me again.

  9. this is the reason I don’t dive into WordPress. It took me months to figure out how to post at a friend’s site, turns out he had the filters turned too high. You might suggest to James to check his moderating filters, I guess they’re set to a certain level and if you don’t check ’em, they screen out everyone.

    it was under the ‘ belief vs. disbelief” topic btw, and when I posted it, it said ‘comments are being moderated” so I dont know..

  10. I can’t kneel because of my disability. I really don’t think it matters. It’s about your mindset, I think. I think God wants us to just let the world go for a little bit while we talk to him. I believe that God created us because he loves us, and it’s important to remember that when asking important questions. Just thought I’d throw in my two cents from a Christian standpoint.

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