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I want candy?

June 3, 2011

A couple weeks back I got an email from a Christian company that sells pro-life and pro-chastity paraphernalia.  Betcha didn’t know there was such a thing.  Well there is.  And, of course, it’s pretty comical merchandise.  This particular email was advertising a new item.  Let’s see if you can guess what it is:

Mystery package

You’re right!  It’s candy.  A pack of Skittles, actually (thank the good Lord the wrapper omitted the “taste the rainbow” slogan).  Now maybe I’m just a total perv or my public school education is showing, but I took one glance at that email and thought, “Bold!  Putting a ‘don’t have sex’ message on a condom wrapper.  Trying to persuade even up to the last possible minute, eh?”  Of course not.  It’s not a condom.  We can’t even use the word “condom” because then we might be promoting them.

I’m not going to get into the whole “Christians shouldn’t be ashamed of sex.  God made it,” bit here.  We’ve all heard it.  And we’ve seen the exaggerations of awkward pastors (minutes 24-28) telling a crowd of young singles how much he loves having sex with his wife: because once you’re married, you can make a BIG deal of sex like the rest of the world does and it’s totally okay because you put a ring on it and you get a pass on rubbing it in to all those single people struggling for purity because maybe this way they’ll get off their duffs and get hitched, too (as if sex should be an incentive toward marriage, Wackadoodle!).

What I am going to address is our fear of the vocab.  We’re less scared to say “sex” than we used to be, and we can say “breast” thanks to cancer and all, but “penis,” “vagina” and the like are potty words.  Potty in the sense that I can use them when my kids are taking a pee and asking me questions about logistics and equipment.  I’ve even had friends debate me on that one.  Early on we taught our son he has a “penis” (it does seem like an odd thing to have to teach a person, but parenthood is often strange).  On several occasions, around age 3, he began polling people, sometimes even in group settings, to determine where everyone stood on the penis v. vagina question.  One of our friends was shocked.  Her son was a full year older and using words like “winkie.”  “Penis” wasn’t even on the list yet.

I get why we’re uncomfortable.  When I started teaching high school students in a Christian school,  I struggled with what was acceptable.  I knew what I’d allow in my classroom, but I lived in fear that we might read something, or someone might say something that would ruin the innocence of my students.  I was told early on that in our world lit curriculum, we’d be reading Antigone but not Oedipus, because Oedipus had that whole thing going on with his mom (as if no one in the Bible ever defiled their parents or children in any way.  Nope.  NEVER.).  I asked, “But doesn’t Antigone kinda, ya know, build on Oedipus?”  “Yes, so you’ll tell the students the background there.”  So I get to tell them.  Because my rendering will be so much cleaner than old Sophocles’.  This is a wise plan.  So I did it.  With emphasis on the right syllables, if you know what I mean.  And it got just the “ewww”s I look for in a good episode of storytelling.

After that, I was more comfortable with the kids.  Comfortable enough to almost lose my job.  One day, I went to make an announcement to the class and I summoned their attention: “I have something to tell you.”  One lively student chimed in, “I know! You’re PREGNANT!”  The English teacher down the hall was knocked up, so maybe he thought it was an occupational hazard, but no, I was merely postponing their vocabulary quiz because my grading was backed up.  I was amused, but also offended that he felt so free to get all up in my business.  So I responded as any gentle teacher who had a Bob Jones University graduate for a boss would, “No, as if that’s any of your business.  And stay out of my uterus.”  The immediate reaction of the class and the beginnings of that solo clap they do in movies when someone makes a fantastic or inspirational speech struck terror into my heart.  This will be all over the school as soon as my class lets out.  “Ha ha.  I’m hilarious.  NO ONE TELLS THE PRINCIPAL, got me?”  Nods of understanding spread around the room.  They knew how much trouble I’d get in for saying “uterus.”

Yup, still looks like a goat. And "normal"? Like I don't already have enough body image issues I have to worry about the appearance of my internal organs? Thanks, science.

It never got around that I told a racy Oedipus or blurted out the “u-word” in class.  If it had, I’m sure I’d have been planted in that all-too-familiar chair in the principal’s office.  The kids were cool.  Much cooler than the grown-ups.  Once I went to several tenured and trusted teachers lobbying for even one of them or a courageous coalition of us to approach our principal about her unfortunate abbreviation for the word “cumulative” that kept appearing in memoranda to the staff.  No one would do it.  None of them, including myself, wanted to admit we knew what that word meant, much less the embarrassment of having to explain it to a woman who either a) had two children and had lived forty years without knowing that word, or b) knew that word but was playing holy and innocent and testing to see if any of us knew it.  Either way, it felt like a trap.

Kind of like that Skittles wrapper.  I could see students passing this out at a table on campus during Sex Week, and some poor schlub taking it back to his gal in the dorm only to find out all-too-late that it contained Skittles.  “You brought CANDY?!!”  Then again, maybe this innocence is a wily way to keep people from having sex after all.  Clever Christians!

Gracious! Does Phil Collins know about this?  Somebody call The Supremes!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. nolongerevangelical permalink
    July 7, 2012 11:51 pm

    I suppose the video is meant to be funny. The problem with American evangelical Christianity is it is so complete in its self mockery there is no way lampoon it.

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