Tuesday, September 18, 2012

You've Been A Bad, Bad Boy

Matter of Taste Coffee Bar
Kitchener, Ontario
Music: Bob Dylan - Tempest (2012)

Do you believe that you are originally blessed or originally cursed? I think our answer to this question is quite important. For over 20 years I believed the latter, that since Adam and Eve ate some bad fruit and did some naughty things in the Garden of Eden, that their sin spilled down through the generations to me, and that somehow I needed to be reconnected  with the Divine.  I held this understanding throughout my childhood, always making sure to pray for forgiveness whenever I would "do something bad," but things became intolerable for me when I became a teenager.

That's when the hormones kicked in. The Sears catalogues would come in the mail or by pick-up, and I started to gain an interest in the swimwear and the lingerie sections. Inevitably, soon after I began masturbating, but I was almost always ashamed by it, thinking that I was being ungodly for lusting after these tempting women that I kept looking at. As I got a little older and went to Bible college, the belief that I was a sinner in need of grace only increased; so did my lust. Whenever an unused computer was around and the door would lock, there I was, either watching scantily-clad women in music videos or just plain porn; mostly it was the former.  But the guilt just kept growing and growing, and I couldn't understand why I couldn't obey God and make him happy with me. Instead I was a wretch, a sinner, corrupt, filthy. Filthy, filthy, filthy. It was like my "sin" was only corroborating my dirty view of myself.

Bad, bad, bad boy.

I have been in touch lately with someone who has been talking about "the adversary" and dark, spiritual forces.  They've been using them to explain mental illness, which really grinds my fucking gears because, well, I live with mental illnesses.  But this way of thinking is also a spiritual illness.

What if we taught our children that they are originally loved and blessed, rather than having to climb the rungs of some ladder that has Satan nipping at their feet at every moment?  This idea of original sin MUST go, it MUST be discarded. Does that mean we are now perfect, or that children don't need to be admonished sometimes? No, of course not. But to force some sort of pseudo-spiritual centuries-old god-damned guilt on our children, teens, and adults is nothing less than a kind of abuse.  It's very powerful though, and many religious people hold onto it. Why? One word: Control. If you can scare the living shit out of people by telling them they are bad boys and girls and that they have to make sure they stay faithful to God (usually their version of God) then you've got 'em.

I attend a Unitarian church now, and I remember how taken aback I was the first few Sundays when during children's time, the kids weren't told stories of obedience to a great big God. And I learned that in their classes downstairs they were given guidance but a lot of room to freely explore what they were thinking and feeling. That's more like it.

Trust yourself.

Slaughter the pitch-forked adversary by learning how much you are loved and that there is no more need for fear.

Mark Andrew Alward