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Unless you’re lucky enough to be a managawd, his son, or one of his prize tithers, committing any sexual sin (save one we’ll discuss in a moment) is a certain path to the most severe punishments that fundyland has to offer. Forgiveness will inevitably be granted to those who merely steal, lie, cheat, and even kill their fellow man but if you’re a fifteen year old who gets caught trying to get to second base with the head deacon’s daughter you can expect a brief trial, quick sentencing and virtual banishment for both the perpetrators and their families.
It’s hard to say what causes this elevation of sexual sins above any other crime in fundamentalism. Is it merely a cultural artifact from a Puritan past? Or is there a darker motivation of men who demonize sex in public so they can exploit the innocent and repressed in private? Whatever the reason, fear, ignorance, control, and mind games are the order of the day.
With sex being the certain path to death and destruction, every good fundamentalist is constantly on the lookout for any hint of sexuality so that they might warn against it loudly and eradicate it if possible. Every book, every song, every article of clothing is scrutinized and analyzed for any hint of sensuality or tinge of lust. And woe be unto those who fail to realize the deadly seriousness of this enterprise and think it might not be a sign of a healthy person if they find sexual connotations everywhere.
The unhappy effect from this overactive fear of sex is that the strangest fetishes result. Without warning a tinge of lace, an errant brassiere strap, or an uncovered table leg may very well send a fundy male spiraling out of control into an animal frenzy of unbridled lust — and thus the dire warnings against sex become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For it stands to reason that if you’re conditioned to think that naked knees or open-toed shoes are a huge turn on then the world is going to become an awkward place to live in.
As I mentioned at the start, there is one exception to the constant vigilance against sexual sin and that is a watchfulness against rape and abuse. In the years of sitting through hundreds of sermons warning against pornography, fornication, adultery, and mixed bathing, I cannot remember a single sermon even mentioning rape as a sin unless it was in the context of suggesting that a woman who dresses provocatively is probably asking for it. It seems strange that fundamentalists can’t seem to find the time to decry the rapist because they’re too busy pinning scarlet letters on all but those who deserve them the most.