Tue | Mar 21, 2023

Gordon Robinson | Don’t let them teach you to hate yourself

Published:Sunday | January 29, 2023 | 12:52 AM
Carving of Ten Commandments outside Court House in Clarksburg, West Virginia
Carving of Ten Commandments outside Court House in Clarksburg, West Virginia

I keep telling you nothing in this world is as it appears.

The trouble is spiritual inexperience and religious indoctrination combine to breed perennial anxiety that impatiently demands palliative speculation rather than inconvenient reality. There’s no better example of this than in the very human activity of sex.

Religion presents sex as “sin” unless between one man and one woman to pro-create in a church sanctioned marriage. The Roman Catholic church goes to the extreme of dogmatically banning scientifically produced contraception. Yet that church recommends a “rhythm” method which is simply an unscientific attempt at contraception. So which is it? Contraception ok or not?

But spiritually advanced humans know sex isn’t sin. “Sin”, if it exists outside of Moses’ fables, cannot, by definition, be subject to qualifications like circumstance or purpose. According to Moses’ myths, “sin” is transgression of God’s Law (details of which are nowhere to be found except in the much misunderstood “Ten Commandments”) or rebellion against God (e.g. Deuteronomy 9:7). Even if we take the “Ten Commandments” as God’s Law, which they aren’t, there’s no admonition there against sex for pleasure; against sex outside of a marriage certified by man in a robe called “Reverend”; or against same sex unions. There’s the standard political dictator’s rule against opposition (twice) plus admonitions against stealing, killing, unfaithfulness and covetousness.

In other words, the “Ten Commandments” (sigh) are basically “laws” (for argument’s sake only) against dishonesty in any form. The lone sexual reference comes during a rebuke of dishonest sex (unfaithfulness o/c adultery). Because it’s crucial to your church’s fiscal future, you’ve been taught sex is dirty; scandalous (except if accidentally occurring while Pastor “counsels” a young congregant); and definitely not for pleasure.

Well you can tell Pastor from me to stop counting tithes and kiss my red, wrinkled rungus kungus mi nungus! We must learn to see through these manmade illusions especially easily dispelled, internally contradictory, ones. Moses’ most basic lesson teaches God made everything on Earth paying exquisite attention to detail. He made a Garden of Eden and a man (Adam). He put variegated beauty in the garden including trees of every type. But he told Adam not to partake of the fruit of one tree. So why put it there? What was God’s REAL plan?

Then he made Eve who (surprise, surprise) listened to gossip; ate from the forbidden tree; and seduced Adam to do the same. Adam, well trained, said “yes dear” and ate. Suddenly, hataclapse! They were banished from the Garden and forced to live in the real world. They were not “married” in any church yet conceived (only) two children (both sons) one of whom killed the other in the first known tale of sibling rivalry. Yet, somehow, here we all are.

How cum? Why, sex of course! Lots of it! This sex thingy must have involved “people” (however Darwinian) who were on Earth before Adam. Or maybe God secretly worked on Sundays in Victor Frankenstein’s lab. Or Moses was clueless! Take your pick. It nuh matta. Just as God told the animals and fishes to be fruitful and multiply (having provided various methods of motivation) so He must’ve also told our biblical ancestors.

And. Provided. THEM. With. Motivation!

After God finished creating what, based on Moses’ tall tales, could only have been intended as His playground, he saw it was “very good” (apparently reading God’s mind was another of Moses’ many talents). So sex is NOT dirty. It is NOT a sin. It is NOT intended only for procreation because, if it wasn’t also pleasurable, pro-creation would’ve stalled a million years ago.

Sex is a manifestation of love. As such it’s beautiful. And as worthy as any other manifestation of love! Sexuality is the foundation of sex and so is as beautiful and worthy as any other source of love. Sex and sexuality shouldn’t be accompanied by shame; guilt; or fear. As manifestation and source of love they are the most important pathway on this journey we call life. If we treat our sexuality with shame, guilt or fear, we disobey what Jesus called the most important “Commandment”. We’ve failed to love ourselves. If we can’t love ourselves, what’ll loving others as our self accomplish? Aren’t religious despots calling selected sexualities abominations telling us to hate ourselves and so to hate them? Yet again, internal contradictions in bigotry masquerading as “religion” are transparent. But religious fear mongering creates wilful blindness preventing us from seeing them.

Sex for pleasure isn’t just permissible. It’s good. We should see this clearly despite being repeatedly bullied by religious zealots into believing virtue sees sex as shame; goodness feels guilty about sex; and honour fears sex.

But it’s not enough for religion to teach you that a beautiful manifestation of love is dirty and sinful. It also wants to instruct you who to love and how to show that love. So it not only labels consensual anal sex an abomination but even sex between one man and one woman mustn’t travel too far from the “straight” and “narrow” necessary for pro-creation. So we’ve created a society teeming with Alpha Males embracing the “wham-bam-thank-you-Mam” sexual philosophy followed by real surprise if wifey seeks alternative solace.

My favourite theatrical line comes from Trevor Rhone’s Two Can Play where a long-term husband and father of three (played by theatre icon Charles Hyatt) is shocked when his wife (played by equally iconic Grace McGhie) finally tells him he hasn’t been satisfying her sexually. In completely genuine disbelief he says “What? Yu no see sey mi jack yu up t’ree time?”

Celia, you’re breaking my heart.

You’re shaking my confidence daily.

Oh, Cecilia, I’m down on my knees.

I’m begging you please to come home.

The brilliant Paul Simon is a most eclectic popular music songwriter. He has mastered many musical genres including African rhythms (his seminal 1986 album Graceland, featuring South African musicians, is a must for your playlist); and Brazilian music traditions ( Rhythm of the Saints; 1990).

But even before his solo world travels, his adventurous spirit took him to Jamaica where he wrote and recorded (with Art Garfunkel) a reggae song named Cecelia (for their smash 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Water) about a woman who was equally eclectic regarding sexual partners.

Making love in the afternoon with Cecilia

up in my bedroom (making love).

I got up to wash my face.

When I come back to bed

someone’s taken my place.

Oopsie. So, high on an Arsenio Hall inspired list of “things that make you go hmmm….” must be why would Paul need to “wash my face” after “making love in the afternoon”? it flew right over the heads of Jamaican Alpha Males. As an early manifestation of reggae’s worldwide influence, Cecilia was a massive hit here. Our own Ken Lazarus rushed to cover Cecelia without batting an eye.

At a 2022 Grammy Tribute to Paul Simon, Jamaican icons Jimmy Cliff and Shaggy were selected to perform one of Paul’s reggae songs. They chose Mother and Child Reunion not Cecelia.

Another of Ken Lazarus’ recordings, written by Ernie Smith, sounded like another Two Can Play scenario:

Girl, tell me what to do

’cause I hear

what I hear

and I fear

what I hear

might be true!

Another Jamaican Alpha Male at a loss as to what could’ve gone wrong?

Gave you everything and now you say

suddenly you wanna go away.

Tell me why one heart should pay

for love that we shared?

Did you give “everything”? Is only “one heart” paying?

So please

tell me what to do.

I can’t finish my song

with an ending of sadness and blue.

Ernie also covered Girl. But I suspect he already knew the solution. This from one of his earliest hits Ride on Sammy (1970):

He is a guy who knows how to get around.

He can find a girl in every single town.

Every night there is somebody new

and all the girls just love the way that he

(ummm hmmm)

Naturally, Sammy is told he’s up to no good. But Ernie reports:

I know he’s a guy who’ll never change his ways

’cause he don’t really care what anybody says.

Every night he goes spreading joy

and every single girl is crazy ’bout the boy…

And they’ll let you KNOW they like what you’re doing!

And they all sing

Keep on doing what you doing, Sammy,

’cause if you stop I’ll be ruined Sammy.

I’ll be coming thru Sammy

and then I’ll be all right.

I’ve happy memories of dancing to that song at a St. Margaret’s Church social with my mother, a long-serving church committee member and a huge Ernie Smith fan!

Peace and Love.

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com