If you’ve read some of these blogs, you might know I am forced to drag my sinner’s atheist body (other definitions are available) into church every now and then to hear my son being a choirboy. Yesterday was one of those times I really had to go.
It started badly, with an ostensibly kind man in a red dress inviting me to sit at the front with all the other parents “to join in”. Now, I can’t be doing with all the standing and sitting and turning east and saying a load of things I think are rubbish, so I politely said ‘no thank you’ and wanted to remain in my pew half way down the church. He wouldn’t hear of it. By the third entreaty he was really sounding quite cross, and resorted to quizzing me about my fertility: “Are you a mother?” Growing weary of his belligerence, I suggested I might wait outside. He couldn’t stop me sneaking in later and sitting at the back. Round 1 to me. Take that, God.
God had other plans. I swear His scriptwriters must have rustled up some of the Bible through Google Translate. We were treated to a bit of Romans (7: 15-25a, to be precise). Out of the 133 words, 11 were ‘that’, 4 were ‘which’ and 26 were ‘I’. It was, quite simply, one of the worst pieces of writing I have ever heard – and knowing they could produce the Song of Solomon makes it sting more somehow – spouting sentiments so alien to my outlook I have been spluttering about it ever since.
Let me give you a flavour:
– For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
– If then I do that which I would not … Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
– For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
My single comfort was assuming my son would be so confused by this awful prose he would completely miss the mean point being made: that your body is a dreadful bag of sin and we must all hurry along and die so we can be good.
Then I got the giggles.
– But I see another law in my members.
I bet you do, sunshine. That’ll be the hormones talking.
– … and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
His members sound a darn sight more fun to be with than his mind.
The trick they were trying to pull off is a sly one. In 133 words they were telling my ten-year-old son that his body was wicked and sinful and he must fight it. Handily, if you are tempted a bit, you then have a get-out clause: it wasn’t really you, it was the sin dwellething in you, rather like Alien. You can then hate that separate bit of you, and purify your mind by not thinking about sin and sex and bodies, and hang on guiltily like that until you die.
Wow. Not quite the message I want to send to a happy, healthy ten-year-old with a whole life ahead of him. Still, I get him for the whole summer holiday soon. I can inflict my side of the argument and he can make up his own mind, housed in his beautiful body that should (once full consent has been given, naturally) be allowed to do what it likes.