Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

First Kiss

The room was tiny, not with the spartan cleanness of a jail cell, but with the claustrophobia of a coffin.  He kept it neat, everything in place.  The books on the desk in an orderly row from large to small.  Anything that rested on something else was centered, and the squares of the quilt in perfect form with the posts of the bed.  Closer inspection would reveal that this order, this cleanliness was in spite of the shabbiness of the room.  The bed frame was scratched and rickety, the dresser missing boards, and the quilt tattered beyond all reason.

He stood in the room, naked and still damp from the shower, combing his hair with total focus.  He was making part line down the center, imposing order on the chaos.  He puts on a a black pair of underwear, a black pair of socks, a pair of Levis, a black t-shirt, and soft black boots.  He takes one last look at the boy in the mirror, and sighs deeply.  He’s not hearing voices, but his feelings are so conflicted it feels like a dialogue.

You don’t have to do this to yourself.

I’m not doing anything to myself! I just want to be happy.

Nothing can make you happy but Jesus.  God will make you suffer until you turn to Him.

I am already suffering.  I’m all broken and dead inside.  When I do this, I feel something.

Sin brings pleasure for a season but the gift of God is eternal life.

He walks out of the room, over the torn carpet and broken down furniture, pausing to pet the dog who was sleeping in front of the space heater which warms the shack.  He stares into the warm, brown eyes as he strokes the fuzzy ears.

Oh God, why did you make me a man? Why couldn’t you have let me been born a dog so it wouldn’t be a sin that I wanted to have sex?  If you’d made me a dog, I wouldn’t be such a disappointment to you.  I’m not sure if what I am going to do is sin against you or against my own body.  I’m so sorry that I hang you on the cross again everyday.  I’m so sorry.

The dog, looking as mournful as only a hound dog can, rests it’s head on it’s paws again and closes it’s eyes.  The young man walks through the kitchen, the whole wall a library.  He feels the weight of the great dead men on that shelf, pressing him to do something great, to change the world. He walks past the classics, the theology texts, and the paramilitary training books he’s memorized, to his mother at the table.   She’s studying for work, and the whole kitchen table is covered with her books.

“Mom, I’m going to cruise the loop, I’ll be home before curfew.”

His mother glances up, not at him, but at the clock.  Her face is pained from the effort of trying to discover what the new and arbitrary changes to the care plans are.  Studying in hard for her, but she doesn’t want anyone to get hurt on her watch and she reads the guidelines cover to cover over and over again.  She drops her eyes from the clock, and rises taking a sip of her chicory.  She looks her son over head to toe, and frowns.

“Be safe tonight OK?  If it starts to snow harder, pleas come home, I worry about you.”

“I know, you do Mom” he says as he slips into his black trench coat, and gives her hug.

“I love you” he says.  “I love you too.” she replies, going to the kettle for more hot drink.

He walks out the door, slipping his black beret on his head as he walks out to his Ford Festiva.   Like everything else he owns, the car is third hand trash, but with it, he can go where he wants to go and do what he wants to do.  He’d sell his soul for it.  He digs on the radio as he drives the eight miles to town, finally settling on some classic rock.   He watches the snow blow by, like the trails of stars when warp is engaged.  The inner dialogue is quiet.  The car has a broken muffler, and it the roar of dying motor and the strains of Pink Floyd push away reflection.

He’s going to the big weekend shindig in the boondocks town he lives in.  The kids drive in circles and congregate in the town square, showing off their parents’ expensive cars. At the corner of the square, between the gas station and the movie theater is the VonHoff Insurance agency.  He pulls into the parking lot as the lights inside go off.  A young woman opens front the door, and steps into the November cold, her fingers senseless in gloves, she struggles to lock the door.

Every time he sees her, it’s a dream.  Like him, she’s seventeen, but unlike a lot girls his age, she’s shaped like a woman, not a girl.  She has full hips from eight years of ballet.  When he sees her waist he wants to put his hands on it.  She wears “real bras” not the padded push-up junk that other girls do, and she has a lovely 50’s pinup profile because it.  Her auburn hair falls halfway down her back.  She’s like a woman out of time, a War World Two vamp dropped into his little pointless town and he thinks he might love her.

He watches her bend over to get the key into the lock, and turns his eyes from her curvy backside, mixed up bible verses pressing into his mind

The lust of his eyes comes not from the Father but from the world.

If you look upon a woman to lust after her, you have committed adultery in your heart.

Abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.

The wages of sin are death.

If you eat of the forbidden fruit you will surely die.

It is good for man not to touch a woman.

It is better to marry than to burn.

But he can’t look away for long.  She’s beautiful and she likes him.   She bounces to the car and hopes in.  Her face is pure electricity with a smile.  Her grey eyes sparkle in the yellow streetlight as much as the snow flakes caught in her lashes.  She reaches grabs his hand holds it in hers, blowing on it.

“Hi, babe.” She says between breaths.

“Hey.”  He puts the car into gear and backs out.  They drive and talk.  They talk about the world, about the nature of things, about everything and nothing.  They talk for hours, but it feels like minutes.  Soon it’s almost ten, her curfew.  He drives her back to her father’s office, and as they do, he broaches the topic he’s been thinking of all night.  His heart is racing.

“Natalie, do you remember how you said you wanted to kiss me goodbye and I turned my cheek to you?”

She nodded, flopping the pompom on the top of her stocking cap.  “Um hmm”

“Well, you said when ever I was ready for more I could tell you?”

The pompom flopped again. “Um hmm.”

“Well, I’d really likely to give you a real kiss goodnight, tonight.”

Her brows knit in concern.

“Are you sure you aren’t going to feel guilty about it?  I don’t want you to just disappear like that again,” she asked.

“Oh, I’m sure,” he lied.

This is going to feel so great, this is going to be what I want.  When I kiss her I’m not going to feel broken anymore.

You are just using her for her body you selfish bastard.

It’s OK.  She’s so perfect for me, she’s going to be my wife, that’s what God put her in my life for.  We’re going to get married

Maybe the guilt of this will make me hurt enough to really commit to God.

I think I really love her.

Maybe this sin will make me feel so horrible I’ll finally have the nerve to kill myself.

A coy smile spread across her face as they pulled into the office.  “Well, if you’re sure,” she said as she got out of the car.

He jumped out to help her clear off her car.  She starts her Buick and and steeped back to him.  She pushed her hands into his open trench coat and wrapped her self around him, her pink sweater like star against his blackness.  She held him tight and then raised her lips to his.

He kissed her, pressing his lips against hers as he held the small of her back in his hands.

No, no, no.  Oh God, please forgive me.  I’m sorry that I can’t control my lusts.

Her tongue found his, and his breathing quickened.  He had an erection so hard that it hurt.  He felt betrayed by his body.  Now she would know that he was not doing this because he loved her, but because he wanted sex.  She’d know what a pervert he was. He shifted against her,  and tried to remember what he had read about kissing in books.  He moved his tongue mechanically in her mouth.

I’m a whore.  I am such a whore. She’s so sweet and innocent and I am such a filthy whore.

She gently broke away from the kiss, and looked at him, trying to find his eyes.

“Joseph, you have such beautiful eyes, I want to see them.”

It scared him so much to have her look in his eyes.  They said eyes were the window to the soul.  What if she saw all the perversion in his soul, what if she saw how fucked up he was inside? She was such a nice girl, and nice girls didn’t think about sex.  All he could think about right now was having sex with her.  He was so ashamed.  He raised his eyes, trying to hide the darkness in his soul, but pain is transparent.

“Oh honey, are you sure this is OK?” she asked.

“Yeah, yeah.  I’m just, this is just, new for me.” he said, staring into her eyes.  His pulse was pounding, but not because he was aroused.  He was terrified.  He wasn’t pressing his hands against her because he loved her, but because if he didn’t they would shake uncontrollably.  Every part of him, his body and his soul wanting nothing more than to let himself go, to fall into her and never take a breath.  He never been so tempted to not have control before, and he didn’t know who he would be if he didn’t have control. What if he couldn’t stop?  What if she said stop and he couldn’t?  Was that who he was?

She began to kiss him again, and he kept going through the motions. He felt dead inside, laughed at. Empty.  But not quite enough.  He didn’t hurt enough to give up on everything he wanted and seek God.  He didn’t feel hurt enough to kill himself. He didn’t feel anything but a sort of dark nothingness, a disillusionment as real and solid as the woman in his arms.  Finally, with one last concerned and wistful look, she slipped out of his coat and into her car.  She waved sweetly and drove away.

He climbed into the Ford.  He hadn’t hurt himself enough inside to die, just enough to carry more pain.  It had been in the back of mind the whole time he was with her, it always was:  How to deal with the pain of failing again.  He always failed to be the man God wanted him to be.  As he drove he fingered the big combat knife he kept in the car.  He knew God didn’t want him to cut himself either but the Bible had far less to say about self mutilation than sexual sin. Surely it was less of sin than the sexual sin he had committed tonight?

If cutting himself took away that loneliness he wouldn’t have to kiss Natalie again.  Everyone knew where kissing lead.  It lead to sex, it was unavoidable, and since Natalie would never have sex with someone like him, it would be sick and wrong.  She would, of course say she wanted to, because she loved him but if she knew the real him, she would say “No.”  If he slept with her, it would be a kind of rape.  If they kept kissing, he would become a rapist.  Kissing was a gateway sin, and once you turned your back on God you would do anything.

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, because of this God gave them over to shameful lusts.

Her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the death none who go to her return or attain the paths of life.

If cutting myself makes me not feel so broken and lonely, then it keeps me from kissing Natalie.  Which keeps me from becoming a rapist and going to hell.  I have to cut myself or I’ll go to hell and hurt this person I love.

Joseph leaned back in the seat, at peace.  Maybe he had found the inner strength to be a better man after all.  Perhaps his first kiss wasn’t a complete loss after all.

March 26, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Of Sex and Sin

Published with typos and without editing until I have more motivation.

When I was kid, growing up in the church, world view was very important.  If the basic world view of a person or group fit the Church’s, that person or group was seen to be basically good.  Rush Limbaugh and Doctor Laura are both good examples of this.  Both treat callers in an abusive and vindictive way totally incongruous with teachings of Christ, but both have managed, to one degree or another to remain the darlings of the Church.

Feminists stood up for things that Church cared about like abused moms and not objectifying women, but also things that Paul commanded the church to care about which weren’t always followed, like feeding the children of the poor. The Church held against feminists their pro-abortion stance and their anti-patriarchal leanings, and could never find anything good to say about them.  I remember Rush Limbaugh’s old saw “Feminism was created to put ugly women in power” being repeated often.

Dr. Laura’s belief that there was no Messiah (She’s Jewish) was remarkably, not an impediment to her heroization by people who believe that “If you deny the son you deny the father.”   People who aligned themselves with the world view of the Church were courted by it, and people who did not were ostracized, in both cases, totally regardless of theology.  (Bill Clinton, seen by many people I knew at the time as a harbinger of the Antichrist, was a Southern Baptist.)

The world view the Church gave us was a comprehensive package, with something to think about every issue we might run into.  Sex, of course, is of utmost importance to the Church’s world view.  There was an unofficial party line to every issue that might relate to sex in even the tenuous way.  Sex must be with the right person (your wife) at the right time (after marriage), in the right emotional way (out of love, not lust) and the right physical way (un-protected or barrier method birth control only after hours of prayerful consideration).

There were also a lot of “gray” areas that would be stated gray, but preferred action was black and white.  Masturbation was a good example of this.  The view was that while the Bible did not expressly forbid masturbation, it did forbid sexual fantasy.  Thus, masturbation is not being per say condemned, but of course it is.  What would be the possible point of masturbation without some kind of sexual thinking behind it.

Even sexual fantasies about one’s spouse were discouraged, again by the same gray-stated-black-and-white applied principals.  The argument went like this: Sexually fantasizing about your spouse acting a in manner your spouse would not normally act, was projecting the sexual heart of someone else into your spouses body.  Thus you were, in fact, not fantasizing about your spouse, you were fantasizing about someone else, (who just happened to look just like them) which was lust, and thus a sin.

By this token pornography was definite no no.  Pornography was a great evil, at a personal level, and a social one.  First off, to look at it was the sin of lust.  Second, to look and masturbate was equal to having sex with that person.  Didn’t Jesus say if you looked at a woman to lust, you had committed adultery in your heart?  Third, it was addictive.  Once you started looking at it, you couldn’t stop.  You would start missing work to masturbate and look at porn.  I was totally possible you would leave your wife if you looked at porn.  Forth, masturbating while looking at porn was giving a sexual experience that was rightfully your wife’s to a whore.  (This was true even if you were not married, because you were say, 14 years old.  God had a planned spouse for you, to “emotionally have sex” with any other was a form of adultery.  Fifth, porn would destroy you ability to have normal relationships with woman because you would  objectify woman and see their only purpose as meeting your sexual needs, instead of considering their needs. Sixth, by purchasing pornography, you were supplying helping keep woman in sexual slavery, and seven, by looking at pornography at home, you opened a pipeline of the demonic that would attack your whole family.

Hearing feminist demonized as I did, I was puzzled to find there is a group within the feminist movement as radically opposed to pornography as the Church, and with some minor restatement, for almost identical reasons.  When I began to read Christian books about the destructiveness of pornography, (I was terrified I was addicted) I was very surprised to find radical feminists, rejected even by mainstream feminist radicals, as the primary source of this information about how destructive porn is.

When I came to the conclusion that, if Christianity was true, the form I had been taught was at best, compromised, sexual behavior, and thus pornography was one of the first issues I had to deal with.

I wanted to reevaluate everything, start my world view with a clean slate.  I would, I decided, do what ever I wanted, regardless of whether it was a sin or not.  The first couple days, I was (pleasantly) surprised to find, that even with out Christ holding me back, I didn’t solicited a hooker.  I’d always been told that without God, one’s desires couldn’t be controlled and I knew I really liked sex, so I was surprised.

I decided that I wasn’t going to feel guilty for looking at porn anymore.  I was man, God made me a man, made me straight, and for thirteen years, had never provided me with any victory over this sin.  Those first day, I looked at a lot of porn.  It felt wonderful.  Since I was 12, I had looked at porn.  I’d felt like shit afterwards every time. To look at it and not fell bad was wonderful.

And then the next day… something strange happened.  I had the house to myself, I could look at porn all day, which is probably what I would have done the week before.  But the knowledge that I could look at it whenever I wanted changed something.  The internet would still be there latter that night, and latter that week.

Once I didn’t think it was a filthy, horrible disfiguring sin, I had no reason to never do it again.  And with no reason to never do it again, I had no reason to make every chance I had an all-you-can-view pornothon.

It’s been three years since that first “victory over sin”.  For awhile I thought porn was the coolest thing in the world.  I guess I was just growing up late. That’s a totally normal feeling for a 17 year old, though unbecoming in a grow man. Now, even though I still look at it from time to time, I see where the anti-porn people are coming from.  I know guys who really get into porn, it’s their whole life.  There is something not-quite-right in them.

I always looked at porn from a desire to be with women, not a desire to hurt them or master them.  So, I didn’t really understand what people where talking about when they said that porn is about men dominating woman.  Now, because I get to talk to a lot more people about a lot more things than I did when I was a Christian, I’ve talked to men who watch porn because they hate women, though rarely would they put it that way.

I think they hate women because they are jealous of them.  They would do anything to have sex with attractive famous women, yet the women do nothing to try and have sex with them.  At some deep level, it offends their sense of reciprocity.  They talk about it at work often.  They make masturbatory motions and say things like “That’s what you get, bitch.”

So, to the radicals who say porn is purely about hurting women, and to the radicals who say porn has no effect, I say, you’re both wrong, and I offer my explanation: Pornography is art and art has a message. When art must sell that message must be something that people want to hear.  Sadly, the message that a lot of men want to hear is “Woman are just here for you to use.”

But the fact that most purchasers want that message does not mean that all who enjoy the art do.  As I’ve grown as a person, pornography has become increasingly less satisfying to me.  I don’t look at it nearly as much as I used too, because for me, the message is wrong.  But if there was porn made with the message that I want, I want to look at it all the time, and I refuse to be ashamed.

The message I want is this:  one, that all woman are beautiful and two, that two people meeting sexually as equals is beautiful. I will not apologize for thinking that that is a beautiful statement, and I will not apologize for wanting to see art that celebrates it.  Most of the negative things said about porn are true.  Life doesn’t imitate art, art matches life’s message. The kind of people who really like the message “Woman are for me to use” are abusive little jackals, and the porn they like isn’t the only indicator.

But it’s not what I like, and I’m not going to pretend that I think seeing a real woman with the shape  that life and her choices have given her is bad just to not be confused with the jackals.

November 22, 2008 Posted by | atheism, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment