It’s nine o’clock on Sunday morning. As always, I sat on the balcony at the church. My father, the pastor, was on the platform. I am in a state of excitement. My roving eye is on Parker Ainsworth’s slim thighs and the hem of her pink panties, visible thanks to the recent popularity of the miniskirt. Beside Parker were other girls my age – Jaynie and June, Debbie and Shauna, Delilah and Jezebel – with crossed legs, supple, tanned and smooth.
I looked away, bowed my head in prayer, and sought biblical counsel. “Anything that is true, anything that is honest, anything that is just, anything that is pure, etc., think about these things.” I think of Jesus’ deadly, tortured, bleeding walk to Golgotha, a walk for sinners like me. Embrace the torment, young man. But the change and twist in my heart begged for attention and subtle rearrangement.
It’s hard to get an erection under the Lordship of Christ – a mystery I often ponder. Even my impromptu virginity belt didn’t help: tight-fitting white men were fastened by a lanyard so tight it squeezed my smut like some sort of BDSM zentai. Over time, I’ll find it helpful after the temptation and breakdown to rub a rough dish towel against my genitals until I bleed.
We recently moved to the epicenter of southern white terrorism, by FBI calculations. Yes, Brown vs. The Board of Education has been the law of the country longer than I have lived, and yes, LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, but in 1967 Mississippi’s deepest, clearest pains of struggle Civil rights are still going on. In nearby Meridian, federal prosecutors tried 18 white Mississippians for their roles in the murders of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. Respected journalist Curtis Wilkie has titled her new book When the Evil Lived in Laurel. Laurel is my new hometown.
When in my early thirties I revisited these years as a scholar, I was struck by the siege mentality that had become common among white southerners; it’s a complete way to see the world, with both inner coherence and a break from conventional meaning. Holiness is synonymous with power; Civilization means violence.
“This is Jesus, the always-beloved, blessed-is-loving Jesus, showing us the dark hole in His great love.“
At the time, however, I was mostly aware of the basics and forces that were colliding and conflicting in my body — along with the sobering fact that, according to people I trusted to explain the in this world, Jesus will soon return. And though I always aim for the straight and the narrow, I believe in my heart I will make no mistake on Judgment Day. I found nude photos ripped from a magazine in the woods one afternoon and not properly processed; by that i mean i didnt burn them like i did The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles My album Easy Rider posters and an Ouija board. I did not cut off my wandering eye, which I should have done, because, you know, as the good Lord himself said, it is better to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to enter the kingdom of God. hell with two eyes. In any case, I’m pretty sure Jesus will find me somehow harmed on the day the trumpet blows and the sun goes down.
I know my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The aim was to keep sex pure – present in the temple undefiled – until I met my soul mate, who had made the same arduous journey. My family, friends and church prayed that I would run and finish the race; and they also prayed for my future mate, for the woman who was chosen to be my friend before the world was created, an equally great idea of God’s perfect providence compared with the firmness of heaven and the light of the earth. I just have to wait to receive my desert items.
“You need Jesus Christ to give you the strength of (1) purity, (2) dedication, (3) courage,” my parents wrote in a letter on their birthday. I. My mother explained to me that premarital sex leads to spiritual destruction. “All the girls I know who have lost their virginity have emotional scars. They have lost something precious that they can never get back. Their thoughts are corrupted somehow”.
Those girls who committed unforgivable sins are my takeaways. Oh, have mercy on me, unforgivable sin! From my first reading of the Gospel of Matthew – “Therefore I say to you, ‘All sins and blasphemy shall be forgiven men; but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven man” – I was consumed by the need to understand what this could be. This is Jesus, the always-beloved, blessed-is-loving Jesus, showing us the dark hole in His great love. All sins will be forgiven except one. And he didn’t say that. But I’m pretty sure I know.
“The way I see it, as long as I remain chaste – no premarital sex and abstain from drugs and alcohol – I am free to indulge. “
The thing is, the more I learn about my despicable flesh, the more I want to feel the shape and heat of my girlfriend’s thighs, where she’ll let my hands rest occasionally while watching movies. She’s probably not my special someone, nor am I her. I am pretty sure that Jesus will return to take Christians to heaven before I can get married and go away. Streams of lust and purity collided in a heap of shame.
Many books on the subject of a young man’s struggles have mysteriously appeared in my bedroom throughout these years, sometimes written in books by his parents, other times randomly tucked away in bookshelves. mine. They reinforce the life I expect: The greatest gift you can give your future bride or groom is your virginity. Teasing and showing off their legs, bathing suits that expose the body excessively, especially the female body, stories and pictures in magazines that make the mind especially directed to making love, watching movies, hugging and kissing – these lead to sexual desire, etc., caressing. God wants more than just a person’s mind or their service in some future profession. He wants his body to be kept pure and clean. The current!
In my diary, I graphed the slippery slope of sentiment: “1. Acquaintance. 2. Simple friendship. 3. Close friendship. 4. Intention [sic] Friendship. 5. Immorality / Impure. In a teenage scenario, I wondered how easily I could become “Satan’s main tool.”
So I equipped myself to fight like the ascetic Saint Anthony in the desert. I will fight the good fight. And I’ll lose my mind anyway.
My fall into juvenile delinquency began as a spontaneous act that seemed as unmotivated as Meursault’s murder of Arabs in the United States. Stranger. One afternoon, I was walking the sidewalk along Bay Springs Road and drinking a bottle of pop with my best friend, Mike West. I could see the motorcycle approaching from the north near the curb shop but didn’t think much of it until the Harley slowed down a few blocks away. When the bike reached us on the road, I turned around and shoved the bottle directly at the driver’s head. “What the hell?” Mike shouted. “What the hell is on fire?” We jump over a cop and tear through the kudzu screen to escape in the jungle.
Puberty came to me, hot and smoky. The way I see it, as long as I remain chaste – no premarital sex and abstain from drugs and alcohol – I am free to indulge. So I turned to throw bottles and water balloons at passing vehicles. I poked M-80s into the tailpipes of parked cars — the kind that couples drink and exercise — and watch from a safe distance as the exhausts contract and flare like beautiful roman candle. I shoot bottle rockets from bridges and sightlines of federal and state police and highway patrols, because I know the trails cut through alligator and honeysuckle back to Ellisville Road . My father, bless his heart, and all our parents are innocent.
“My friends and I participated in the choir rehearsal. We no longer want to sing in the music minister’s dull Christian musicals“
My father would lead the weekly meetings of the Royal Ambassadors, great gatherings that included Bible study and SEC football game highlights, and then fire our boys. At night, a bunch of thugs with red bibles hang on the bedlam and destroy the property.
On Wednesday night, my friends and I attended the choir rehearsal, playing basketball on the corner lot instead. We no longer wanted to sing in the boring Christian musicals of the music minister — we switched to Sly and the Family Stone and ZZ Top. One week, we discovered that the church basketball hoop had been removed. In retaliation, Derek Ham and I set fire to the music minister’s house — even though the arson was not our intention. Disguised with purple pyramid-shaped sweet gum, we bombarded the house with bottle rockets — for the sake of noise, intended only to disturb the sleep of the despised minister. . However, I was still unhappy when a rocket landed in a bed of pine needles on the roof, smoldered, then burst into flames.
If you’re a fundamentalist boy who’s at the exact age where the Bible belt breaks – pre-internet, pre-Gameboy, one-year money, before everything – and can’t do anything in the afternoon and In addition to loitering outside the curbside store at the weekend, you may have discovered the fun of juvenile delinquency.
The fire has to go somewhere.
Adapt are from Evangelical Anxiety: A Memoir by Charles Marsh. Copyright © 2022. Reprinted with permission of HarperOne, an affiliate of HarperCollins Publishers.