Tag Archives: sin

Fundy Sex Week Day 4: The Scarlet Letter

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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.

Moral Confusion

If every petty offense is counted as a great abomination and terrible wickedness…then how can you tell when real evil shows up?

If wearing a pair of jeans makes a woman the moral equivalent of a whore and listening to rock music is the same as fornication and questioning the pastor is as the sin of witchcraft then who among us shall recognize and withstand against real whoredoms and lust and idolatry?

Who among us shall say a word against the sneakier sins of avarice, pride, and deception when distracted by constant warnings about the supposed sins of those without the camp?

A man may beat his wife but at least he uses the right Bible verses when finding proof texts to defends his behavior.

A woman may lie and viciously manipulate those around her but so long as she wears modest skirts, her other faults seem hardly worth mentioning.

And who really has the time to ponder genocide and rape and injustice of all kinds when the looming threat of a PG-13 movie at the local cinema is so very present with us?

When a person’s moral conscience is bombarded with inanity, they lose their ability to discern when truly gross sin is in their midst.

Keeping “Short Accounts”

There are a select handful of verses that any fundamentalist worth his sanctified salt can quote by heart. Among these is Psalm 66:18 “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”

The fundamentalist interprets these words to mean that even though a person is saved and has God as his Heavenly Father that any misstep will shut God’s ears to him and leave him without aid or succor in his time of need. Keeping “short accounts” with God is the only way to be sure that He’s listening when we call. (I recommend trying this with your kids too, it’s loads of fun to ignore their cries for help until they remember why you’re mad at them and apologize. Take that, kids!)

Did you fail to walk a mile to return the sixty-three cents that a clerk accidentally undercharged you? Don’t even think about praying for your daily bread until you confess and forsake. Did you have a moment of weakness and curse at a crazy motorist on the freeway? Good luck invoking Divine help if you should crash your car!

The rules of this breakdown in communication are unclear. If a person commits a sin at sixteen and then forgets about it, will God not hear him when he is sixty? Must each sin be named specifically and be brought for forgiveness or is a blanket request of “forgive us for all the other stuff we forgot” sufficient? Best to hedge your bets and repent as much as possible just in case.

The old account may have been settled long ago but according to fundamentalists, we’re still running up quite a tab. Confess  early and often.