In the first of a new series called "Guest Blogger", I am honoured to have "Char" here to speak her mind. She is a mother, former Mennonite (now atheist), active blogger and current internationally published erotic novelist.
Her views on religion, sex, and life are as unique as they are poignant.
I hope you enjoy her as much as I do.
Char was raised in a progressive or "modern" Mennonite home where jeans and televisions were allowed but God, church and chastity were central fixtures of day to day life. Now, writing under the pseudonym--to protect the naive and the religious--of Nikki Soarde, she crafts erotic romance novels which are available worldwide and have been translated into several languages. Her specialties are male/male romance...and avoiding the topics of sex and religion around her mother.
Read her here-Nikke Soarde
The Ritual of Rationalization
When I was a kid it was made very clear to me that God does not approve of sex. Or rather he doesn’t approve of pleasure, at least not the kind that actually yields any physical gratification. It was testified to over and over again for me….
There was the repeated affirmation that sex before (or outside of) marriage was a cardinal—or was it carnal—sin.
My mother’s warning that oral sex was a perversion, frowned on by the Almighty, and not to be indulged in.
Christians didn't drink, and they didn't dance. (Well, we roller-skated, but only to Christian Rock icons like Petra and David Meece.)
I saw ample evidence that those truly committed to their God—everyone from priests to the Amish to the monks in the Cloister in Lancaster near where I lived for a year (long story)—not only chose to forego marriage and sex (at least that’s their story and their stickin’ to it) but they even chose to sleep on hard wooden benches with wooden blocks for pillows.
I mean…it was pretty obvious to me that misery was essential to a truly meaningful worship experience, and that sex and marriage were a necessary evil that he had to accommodate in the interest of keepin’ the generations of worshippers coming. God obviously believed that pleasure in general—and sexual pleasure specifically—was a very clear threat to his dominion over his People. So….enjoy life….but not too much, and make sure that any pleasure you DO indulge in is god-centered. i.e. sex in marriage…but not too often and definitely not too kinky please. And if you have to come, do so quietly.
So, having learned all that….for ME I just KNEW that in order to be a Christian and live my faith—to be true to the Biblical model and call myself a child of God—then I had to do EVERYTHING in my power to follow the commandments as laid out by the Bible. Or, more realistically, as laid out by my church—and my mother.
It was VERY clear in the bible that sex before marriage was a sin. So why would I choose to do that? How could I indulge in that and go to church the next day with my head held high? So….despite a FOUR-AND-A-HALF YEAR courtship with my now-husband, I WAS a virgin on my wedding night. Or a technical one, anyway. By that I mean we did pretty much everything but. But the Bible doesn’t really talk about petting, does it? And oral sex….well, I’d never really been quoted any bible verses for that. And my mother was hardly a theologian….was she? But I digress.
If I took His name in vain by saying, “Oh my God” I repented. Sometimes for days. And, like a good little Christian I felt my share of guilt for the physical pleasures that I indulged in with my boyfriend. I went to church every Sunday. I prayed every night. I served on all the committees, went to the Bible studies and sang in the choirs. And I did so, always with a vague sense of discomfort, a sense of displacement and, yes, misery i.e. For the first 25 years or so of my life, I did EVERYTHING in my power to stay true to the Biblical model of a good little Christian soldier.
It was only in later years, as I started to question and, yes, to stray from the flock, did I start to indulge in pleasures more freely. Dancing. Enjoying NON-Christian Rock music. Drinking alcohol. And finally performing oral sex on my husband (thanks again Mom for THAT little hangup). But it was my foray into the world of writing romance novels, and eventually erotica that really was the beginning of the end. I realized that I could not, in all faithfulness, do these things and call myself a Christian. Could I? I mean…I was writing about everything from threesomes and moresomes to gay anal ex. I was purveying and promoting a lifestyle and choices that my religion very clearly disapproved of and considered a sin. So…eventually, the solution became obvious. There was no way to resolve these issues, so one of them had to go. And the choice was obvious. I had to resign from the Church. So, that’s what I did.
Okay, so there was a little more to it than that. YEARS of questioning and not liking the answers. And to come to the point to call myself an atheist was a very big step…and a very liberating one! Suddenly I was free to indulge in all kinds of pleasures—things that gave pleasure to me and harm to no one—and to show my support for others to do the same! And I could do so without spending hours on my knees repenting, or spending days, weeks, or years, wallowing in guilt.
Suddenly—with the four little words, “I am an atheist”—I got rid of sin…something God’s been striving to do for two millennium. How cool is THAT!?
But now….with this new perspective on things I have had some fascinating revelations as to the capability of the average Christian to rationalize their “sins” with their “faith.”
Thanks to my passion for writing about all things sexual and kinky and forbidden, it is astounding to me how free people feel to confess their deepest, darkest secrets to me. I became a sort of sexual…priestess, a confidante—a guaranteed non-judgmental ear who is an ideal receptacle for the secrets that are burning a hole in their panties—or boxers, as the case may be. And they’re right in this, by the way. I mean, as long as you’re not telling me that you’ve raped someone, or cut up a body and hid it in my back yard, there really is nothing you can tell me that will shock or offend me. If you’re cool with it, and your partner or partners are cool with it—even if your partner’s energy source is a honkin’ pair of Duracells—then I’m cool with it.
But what has amazed me about these stories is how incredibly resilient people are in their ability to rationalize their “sins” with their “faith”. Everything from indulging in multi-partner play, to extramarital affairs to bisexual exploration has been discussed—and by people who still go to church regularly and claim to be faithful believers. I am sorry, but no amount of hedging or liberal interpretation or rationalization can eradicate the passages in scripture that speak to—and clearly condemn—these activities. And yet these people find a way to twist the words and rationalize it so that God still approves of them and their very deliberate choices. “I’ve come to terms with it, and God’s okay with it.” Or even, “I talked to my pastor and he’s okay with it.” They are still that desperate to believe. But then again, how different is that really from the typical Christian women’s choice to cut her hair on a regular basis rather than adhere to the Biblical admonishment that she not do so. Or the woman who has the nerve to actually speak up in church despite Paul’s clear instructions to the contrary. As with all things the typical “believer” picks and chooses what they want to believe and adhere to from the Scriptures.
My question now—as an outsider looking in…as someone who has been there and struggled with those choices and rationalizations and finally come away clean is—why? Why is it so important to believe in something that…you don’t really believe in? If your religion, your belief system, and ultimately your God, does not in every way represent the kind of person you want to be or the kind of world you want to live in…without equivocation or rationalization—why would you continue to pursue it? Why indeed would you want to have anything to do with it?
I stopped believing in a God who didn’t answer prayer, who allowed children to be raped, tortured and abducted. Who condemned to hell every man, woman and child on the planet who had not accepted him as saviour—just by virtue of their bad luck and ignorance. I abandoned a God who was obsessively hung up on what orifices we use for pleasure. And I abandoned a God whose chosen people chose to abandon me merely because I wrote the words “fuck” and “cock” on a regular basis (and no, I’m not talkin’ chickens). Even if such a God existed why would I want to associate myself with it?
Why, indeed, would anyone?