By Nicholas Ducote, HA Community Coordinator
What happens when you give a sexually repressed kid a Bible?
Many of our parents desperately wanted to protect us from what they saw as a culture of decadent sexual immorality. My parents’ generation grew up in the “Free Love Sixties.” While growing up, I often heard cautionary tales about that era.
Yet who would have thought that, if you isolate your children from sex in Hollywood movies, in all those “filthy TV shows,” and you don’t (or barely) teach them about sex, they will desperately seek out any information about it? It seems like a universal experience among homeschool alumni: digging through encyclopedias, dictionaries, and/or anatomy books. There are many stories about inadequate or damaging sexual education from fundamentalist parents.
But here’s the kicker: when a child’s only source of information about sexuality and sexual expression is the Bible, you get some… um… remarkable results.
Many young girls thought they could literally get pregnant by laying next to a man – that’s the King James Version for you.
One area of intense shame and guilt from my childhood is my strange attraction to the sexual stories in the Bible. I always felt guilty because I would be aroused by sections of the Bible regarding violent sexual assaults (Rape of Tamar, dismembering of women in Judges). Upon reflection, I realized that almost all of the graphic sexual stories in the Bible describe a “sinful” encounter, a violent act, or something (like a harem of sex slaves) that modern society tells us is unacceptable. And that’s not even mentioning all the offensive and dehumanizing sexual rules in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
With the exception of Song of Solomon, if a couple engaged in “edifying sex” there certainly wasn’t graphic detail – it was usually “he knew her” or “they lie together.” In almost every case, the more detail the more depraved the sexual act.
It might seem obvious that restricting your children’s sexual education to 4,000+ year old texts could produce some strange results. I spent a lot of time reading the Bible — indeed, every single page of it. Some of it was really boring, but out of nowhere you’d get a steamy sex story.
The Old Testament, despite its clever metaphors, is full of “adult content.”
Noah’s son uncovering his nakedness. Leah tricking Isaac into sleeping with him, then they were married. Angels getting threatened in Sodom. Request to gang-rape in Sodom. Chopping off a whole city’s foreskins. Lot’s daughters getting him drunk and having sex with him. Onan “spilling his seed” after having sex with his dead brother’s wife (who he just married). Judah’s dead sons’ wife dressed as a prostitute and negotiated pricey sex from Judah. Absalom raping his half-sister. David’s son Ammon raped his half-sister, and David’s daughter, Tamar. Then Absalom, Ammon’s half-brother and Tamar’s full-brother, killed Ammon. Then Absalom slept with all of David’s concubines. David and Bathsheba. The concubine in Judges being gang-raped and dismembered. Shechem raping Dinah, then some mass castration. Zimri was an Israelite having sex with a Midianite woman, Cozbi — which pissed off God to the point of sending a plague amongst Israelite men (many of whom were partying with other Midianite women). Pinchus killed them with his sword, ending the plague.
And they say network television is dirty? This reads like the series overview of Game of Thrones!
Not to mention the same-sex attraction overtones in the David-Jonathan stories. “They were so mega hot,” one woman confessed to me, as she casually remarked on her fantasies that sometimes involved them together. (This isn’t the place to tell me I’m wrong and give me your biblical interpretation. This article is about the minds of children being exposed to sexuality through the Bible)
The passages leave little to the imagination and they include very fleshed out narratives surrounding the assaults. When the Bible is the only erotica you allow your children to read, they can develop fantasies regarding rape, sexual slavery, harems, gang-rape, humiliation and concubinage, bondage, and incest.
Of course, BDSM practices a variety of ways to act out those fantasies safely. But you can sure bet those practices were never taught in Christian homeschooling circles! People who thought about/did those sorts of things were “dirty,” “nasty,” and “freaks”!
Little did our parents know, their repression caused their children’s mind to wander in that direction.
Ironically, many people explained that Song of Solomon (arguably the most sexually explicit book in the Bible) as a metaphor for God and Israel! The only part of the Bible that arguably celebrates seemingly consensual sexuality was desexualized! For others, they were wholly banned from reading Song of Solomon.
How common was this experience of the Bible as erotica?
What were your most embarrassingly erotic Bible verses?
Now to share some of the most “charged” passages:
[Lot’s daughters, Genesis (19) : 33 – 36.] And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.
[Onan, Genesis (38) : 8 – 9.] And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.
[Judah and Tamar, Genesis (38) : 15 – 18.] When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me? And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it? And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.
[Ammon and Tamar, 2 Samuel 13] And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do anything to her… And Jonadab said unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand. So Amnon lay down, and made himself sick: and when the king was come to see him, Amnon said unto the king, I pray thee, let Tamar my sister come, and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat at her hand.
Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, Go now to thy brother Amnon’s house, and dress him meat. So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house; and he was laid down. And she took flour, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the cakes. And she took a pan, and poured them out before him; but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, Have out all men from me. And they went out every man from him. And Amnon said unto Tamar, Bring the meat into the chamber, that I may eat of thine hand. And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother.
And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister. And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly. And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee. Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her. Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone. And she said unto him, There is no cause: this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me. But he would not hearken unto her… And Absalom her brother said unto her, Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee? but hold now thy peace, my sister: he is thy brother; regard not this thing. So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom’s house.
[Ezekiel (23) : 5 – 8.] And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbours, Which were clothed with blue, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses. Thus she committed her whoredoms with them, with all them that were the chosen men of Assyria, and with all on whom she doted: with all their idols she defiled herself. Neither left she her whoredoms brought from Egypt: for in her youth they lay with her, and they bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her… And when her sister Aholibah saw this, she was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her sister in her whoredoms. She doted upon the Assyrians her neighbours, captains and rulers clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses, all of them desirable young men. Then I saw that she was defiled, that they took both one way, And that she increased her whoredoms: for when she saw men pourtrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans pourtrayed with vermilion, Girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads, all of them princes to look to, after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity: And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon them, and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea. And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them. So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness: then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated from her sister. Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt. For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses. Thus thou calledst to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth.
[Proverbs (7) : 7 – 22] And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks.
Ha ha ha! We had the NIV too, which sort of more… blunt. Oh god.
Er…..yes to all of that. Haha. I have some messed up internal arousal narratives thanks to OT.I might come back later and share more of what I have deconstructed over the years……..In retrospect…that level of repression represents and communicates subliminaly the repressors’ shame and obsession with “dirty”sex…..i feel that the very repression Itself was what over sexualized everything. A pivotal moment of my childhood was when my parents reacted to an innocent 5 year old action as if I was a sexual deviant. I didnt fully understand till my mid 20s how profoundly that impacted me. I see now that they were projecting their dirty minds in a 5 year old (who wouldnt even get what she was accuswed of doing for 13 years…but spent all of those years searching madly for some sense to it all)
The Righteous often have THE dirtiest minds of all.
Why do you think JUICY Testimonies are so popular among Church Lady types?
Hmm. I must say, I think that langauge like ‘they lay together’ and ‘he went to her’ is far more romantic / erotic than stating the obvious. Though I myself was puzzled on several occassions when I didn’t ‘get’ what this actually meant. He went to her and they did what? Had a chat? This frequently resulted in some offpsring, and I was astonished at how fast things moved back in the day.
I was fortunate in that my mum was very straightforward about the whole sex thing. My reaction was to shrug and think, ‘Well, the habits of grownups do beat all.’
HA! That was pretty much exactly my reaction when my own mother told me about sex (although I couldn’t read yet. I just wanted to know how mommies got babies “in their tummies.”)
When my mom told me how babies got in there, I said, “EEEWWWWW!!!”. Thus proving that kids have no genuinely sexual leanings whatsoever.
You’ve got to love Ezekiel 23:20 – There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.
Steeling this quote. haha.
Don’t forget the “John 3:16 guy” who was the inspiration for Steve Taylor’s “Bannerman” — just use an “Ezekiel 23:20” sign instead of a “John 3:16”.
Ha. I think God has a sense of humor. 🙂
I’m a homeschooler AND a practicing submissive. If only my mother knew. xD
I wasn’t homeschooled but raised amid similar circumstances repression-wise and oh wow you really have opened my eyes. This essay was simply brilliant. Thank you. (We need a “RIGHT ON” button because “Like” doesn’t quite seem appropriate.)
Any hint of violence in media was forbidden, but Christian leaders went into great, painstaking detail about violent Bible stories, particularly the crucifixion and flogging. I spent so much time as a preteen imagining it in my head as vividly as possible and reading religious books that went into great detail. I did not realize for a long time why I enjoyed it so much. Sexual fantasies were completely forbidden. I’d think about naked people for two seconds and drown in guilt. But fantasies about violent Bible stories were encouraged. *head desk*
Did you wind up a REALLY morbid kid like I did, long before the Goth scene? (Though with me it wasn’t “violent Bible stories”, but other hyperviolent stuff in non-fiction books. I was able to eventually turn it into background technical information in some of my own darker fiction.)
Oh, I know! I was raised Catholic, and I can still picture one of my teachers, a tiny little old nun, telling us horrible stories about the martyrs and their (graphic) suffering. She also talked a lot about what the Communists were doing to Catholics in Korea. I still cringe!
I remember so many sermons around Easter time where the pastors tried to whip up religious devotion through guilt trips (look what he had to go through because you were bad!) and I used to plug my ears and try not to hear the details. It was really horrifying. It took many, many years before I realized how much religious stuff is sexual and BDSM in nature.
Alyson, you will find a pattern among Activists: They are either anti-sex and pro-violence, or pro-sex and anti-violence. Very little pro- or anti-both. Guess it’s what floats their boat.
You see a similar pro-one and anti-the-other pattern when it comes to the death penalty and abortion. Just one of those Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe.
I see York Hunt beat me to Ezekiel 23:20. Bet THAT one doesn’t come up much in bible study 😉
Isn’t it amazing that the erotic “Song of Solomon” is the only place in the bible where women are loved, adored and praised, instead of being treated as evil, as they are in the rest of the bible?
Is Ezekiel 23:20 the one with “cocks like donkeys and cum like horses”?
(If so, anyone got a rainbow fright wig, a ticket to a televised public event, and a cardboard “Ezekiel 23:20” sign?)
Wasn’t until last year that I found out Ezekiel had THE dirtiest mouth of any of the prophets. We lose so much when we reduce these guys to plaster statues….
As teens, my friends would always find a sexually explicit verse and cite it as their favorite bible verse in Sunday school. It was hilarious, because the teacher couldn’t do anything about it. Because the bible! That’s what you get when you make blanket black and white rules of what’s good and bad… Bored, repressed teens will find loopholes. And find them we did!
“The COCK crowed three times! It’s in the Bible!”
— George Carlin, “Class Clown”
Seriously thought that I was the only one who did this. I wasn’t homeschooled but my parents were/are extremely conservative and I never even got any kind of “talk” about sex at all. I assume they thought if they just didn’t mention it, it was like it didn’t exist? Anyway, I used to comb through the bible every Sunday during church looking for something steamy to read.
Fundy/Homeschool “sex ed” was a joke!! My sister was well into her teens when one day she looked at my mother across the dining room table and said, “mommy, doesn’t a woman just ‘get pregnant’ (air quotes were hers, as I recall) on her own?” My mother turned a deep shade of red (there were no Shades of Gray in those days – back then, spanking was a form of “discipline” – and not in a good way!) and quickly hustled my sister from the dining room. As the only other older child (there were several years between me/oldest sister and all the younger kids – reversal babies w00t!) I was strongly admonished afterwards that I must NEVER, NEVER ask such questions at table. I was then furnished with a tattered sex ed pamphlet from like the 1950s (I think it had been my mother’s when she went to school!) and instructed to read it. The only thing I remember about it (I had already learned most of my sex from the Bible too) was that the glossary to the book included a definition of “sophisticated” as a “sexually adventurous woman.”
You get High Weirdness.
Probably in the form of some “interesting” paraphilias/fetishes/kinks.
Just leaf through “R Crumb’s Illustrated Book of Genesis” sometime. Done in graphic-novel format by an infamous underground comix artist, “illustrated EXACTLY as-written”. Compare it to Sunday School flannelgraphs and you can see how much the Church Ladies castrated the book.
In the fanfic community, this is called “Slash”. As in “Kirk-slash-Spock” (the original), “Starsky-slash-Hutch”, “Chip-slash-Dale”, “Ed-slash-Edd-slash-Eddy”, “Harry-slash-Voldemort”, “Applejack-slash-Fluttershy-slash-Pinkie Pie-slash-Rainbow Dash-slash-Rarity-slash-Twilight Sparkle”, and now (Just like slash, except CHRISTIAN(TM)), “David-slash-Jonathan”.
Whenever you have two same-sex lead characters in a story, somebody, somewhere, is going to Slash them. And Slashfic authors and fanboys/fangirls themselves fit a pattern: opposite sex of the characters getting Slashed, over 30, usually overweight and unattractive, and have never connected with a non-fictional person.
I can neither confirm, nor deny, that I have written a short Jon/David slashfic involving Biblical metaphors.
I also think it’s unfair to characterize slashfic authors that way. Are all authors of erotica classified in the same manner? As authors of erotic fiction are not heralded for their skills of world creation, why would it matter if you borrow from another universe to elucidate some sexual tension?
I was one of those girls who believed the “King James” version! haha dear god at least that made me laugh!
You DO know that according to a lot of historians Kynge Jaymes was Gay, don’t you?