22 awesome things I used to believe were sinful
Growing up as an ultra-conservative Christian, everything is a sin. Here are 22 of them which turned out to be a lot of fun:
Ghosts were demons, witches were devil worshippers, and trick or treating was a deal with the devil.
This also meant that things like Ghostbusters were off-limits. Although for some reason when I received a pair of hand-me-down Ghostbusters boxer shorts I was allowed to wear them. I don’t know, maybe it was judged that downstairs was already a demon-possessed region.
2) Power Rangers
I’m still not entirely sure why all the church parents were so convinced Power Rangers was of the devil. I think it was mostly that the bad guys “looked demonic”. Our mothers had evidently seen a lot of demons.
Also, the skintight outfits did not meet fundamentalist modesty standards:
3) Harry Potter
See also anything else which included magic in popular culture, including (but not limited to) Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Meg and Mog. To my credit, I didn’t entirely fall for this. I used to watch Sabrina, and I made the revolutionary step of having no opinion on Harry Potter because I hadn’t read them. This did not stop many of my fellow fundamentalists.
See also Alice Cooper, who was widely believed to be a tool of the devil, despite actually having views pretty close to fundamentalist Christianity.
5) 18 Certificate Films
Most of my friends seemed to get around the injunction to avoid material that might “cause you to stumble” by just watching it anyway. I, obedient to the point of idiocy, did not watch an 18-rated film until I left home. It was Reservoir Dogs.
I accept Marx’s ideas were flawed, and probably impossible in practice. Still, a just society in which wealth is shared equally is a properly excellent idea, and fuck the money-grabbing Religious Right that taught me otherwise.
7) Short skirts
At my Accelerated Christian Education school, the pastor preached against girls wearing short skirts every week. He said they “stopped boys and girls from relating in a healthy, wholesome way.”
What he should have said that he was a lecherous misogynistic prick who had to blame women for his own dirty mind and thought he had the right to tell other people what to do with their bodies.
Also, women look fantastic in short skirts. Or long skirts. Or whatever the hell else you want to wear. It’s your body.
Bikinis were evil things: They incited men to uncontrollable lust. So women who wore them were sluts, and I was a pervert for finding the sight of women in bikinis enjoyable.
Ironically, there are lots of potential problems with photos of women in bikinis: They risk objectifying women or of promoting unrealistic models of beauty. Most of them promote a very narrow idea of femininity, and just try a Google image search for “bikini” and see what proportion of non-white people you find in the results. But you know what? I never heard anyone preaching about that. They were too busy attacking women for “causing men to stumble”.
9) Magic shows
I see this is still going on, thanks to a recent article in the Christian Post, where illusionists responded angrily to a columnist’s allegation that a levitation trick had been performed using demonic power. I was such an idiot.
On the upside, this at least kept me away from fortune tellers and psychics. I didn’t think they were phonies. I thought they were the devil.
What I believed:
If you’re new to feminism, why not start with bell hooks’ Feminism is for Everybody.
11) Gay people
As well as the real life friends I’ve made, my life is now better for being able to appreciate such folks as:
Billie Jean King
12) Martial arts
Martial arts were sinful mostly because they had their roots in Eastern philosophies and religions like Taoism and Buddhism. Some Christians get quite uppity about this – along with anything alien to their white, European Christian culture. Christian opposition to martial arts is mostly just xenophobia.
Furthermore, some martial artists could smash through bricks, walk on fire, or kill a man with one punch. Clearly, the only way this could be achieved was through demons.
The result of this was that a Judo champion who joined our church was told he had to choose between God and Judo. He chose God.
13) Being drunk
This is always worth it.
Even when it leads to this.
Not only is wanking awesome, but I estimate that 99% of people who believe it’s a sin KNOW it’s awesome. Inevitably, this means they feel that something they love doing is an abomination to God. This can’t be good for self-image (I can tell you from experience it isn’t). No wonder so many fundamentalists seem so grumpy.
Here I refer to what used to be called discotheques, not the thing nasty people do to baby seals.
Nightclubs were places of sin and debauchery where people got drunk, consumed illegal substances, and danced in an unseemly fashion before going home and fornicating.
Happily, the fundamentalists were mostly right about this.
16) Staying in bed on Sundays
Staying in bed in general was underrated, to be fair, but I especially appreciate life now that Sunday is no longer the worst day of the week.
17) Violent video games
18) Not tithing
Christians! Feeling poor? Have you considered not tithing? It’s like becoming 10% richer for no effort! And you could use the money you save to do something Christian, like, I don’t know, helping the fucking poor.
19) Dirty jokes
(This one will probably offend you. You were warned.)
My teachers made a major category error here: Swearing is fucking excellent.
This was evil because
a) something about Eastern Religion
b) LOOK AT THE POSITIONS THEY CAN GET INTO! THAT HAS TO BE DEMONIC!
c) when all else fails, always fear what you don’t understand
22) Sex outside of marriage
My fundamentalist school teachers, Sunday School teachers, and miscellaneous preachers:
Because of you, now when I have sex, it always seems
Really, Really Naughty.
Bonus: Dungeons & Dragons
I’ve never played D&D, so I can’t comment on whether it’s awesome. It was, however, definitely a sin – one that could result in demon possession. You wouldn’t have mocked the school nerds so hard if you’d known they were channelling the power of Satan himself now, would ya?