Mama was, by all definitions, a fundamentalist Christian, but that didn’t stop her from having fun, just not on Sunday. Us kids weren’t allowed to swim on Sunday, but we did make the beds, fix meals, and feed the cat. We got a bar of soap swiped across our tongue if we said any curse words or words such as “gosh” or “heck” which are derived from cuss words. My husband tells me I am the only person he knows who says “ouch” when I stub my toe. Playing games was okay even on Sunday – for instance, Scrabble, Parcheesi, and Rook – just not poker. That was too close to gambling. I now appreciate the rules against gambling. One of my sons learned in fifth grade how to figure the odds, supposedly part of a math class lesson. Ever since he has been gambling on the stock market.

On Monday through Saturday we could go swimming including swimming with kids of the opposite sex. Once we were old enough to date, no younger than sixteen, the dating rules were activated. We were not to hold hands or kiss. The “six inch rule” meant there had to be six inches between us at all times, and absolutely no dancing. If my boyfriends had the courage to enter my house after our dates, Mom grinned slyly and got out the ruler. But, hey, she never smacked us!

So it may come as a surprise then when I tell you that Mom taught me about birth control (in the form of diaphragms) before I got married. It seems her mother was sexually active, and yet she only had three daughters. Hum, maybe fundamentalist Baptists aren’t the same as fundamentalist Catholics.

The best thing Mom told me about sex was that it wasn’t the worst sin by any means, because sex was a strong and natural drive. Once I heard Mom and her two sisters giggling about how the women in their family had a history of being very sexy ladies.

When my best girlfriend got engaged she took some kind of course about sex. She was all worried about maybe not being able to have an orgasm. I talked to my mother about the course and asked if I should read the book the class was using. Mom started laughing out loud and said, “Oh my, you don’t need to read that book. You’re not going to have a problem. No one in our family does.”

Turns out she was right. But back to church and those confounded rules. Some kids I grew up with hated the rules. They felt suppressed and oppressed. Some even rejected their faith, because they thought the rigid rules were pointless or even bad for them. It seems there are two basic underlying causes for us humans to lose our faith in God. We think miracles never happened, or we just want to live on the wild side without those danged rules.

For the most part, I followed the rules. Fifty years later I can personally attest that marriage is best when you stick to the rules. Sleeping around prior to marriage does not increase the odds of a successful marriage. I think the Designer intended for us to either be single, or to be one flesh with one person. So, thanks, Mom, for enforcing the rules.But, most of all, thank you, Mom, that the rules weren’t the main focus of our upbringing. Somehow I learned to do the twist, wore short skirts, and kissed a few guys, well, two. I even have a picture of my mother dancing around the living room with my older brother. I’m not sure what the dance was. I doubt she would have won any dance contests, but it was fun or I wouldn’t remember it fifty years later.

194Mom told me she started drinking wine socially while teaching missionaries’ kids in Peru. This was the lady whose Baptist father raided the bars during prohibition. By this time in life, Mom was asking me if I thought it was okay for her to have a glass of wine with the neighbors there. The Peruvians all seemed to like her a lot. I think this is what is called social drinking. My brothers and I all have a glass of wine now and then, but none of us became alcoholics. Her balancing act of rules and fun must have worked.

My strangest mother-daughter discussion came when mom was in her seventies. She asked me, her daughter, what I thought about oral sex. As I recall, my reply was that it was fine as long as you were married to the guy. Fundamentalists are not always what you expect. And that’s all I care to disclose.

Church Lady says, check out this link if you need evidence to show that the six inch rule and virginity prior to marriage pay off. http://www.physiciansforlife.org/content/view/242/27/ Otherwise, her advice is: find someone you love and respect, get married and enjoy! If you have already broken some of the rules, (You know the ones I am talking about.) it’s not the worst sin in the world. You can be forgiven. So forgive yourself, don’t drink too much, do not smoke and get some rest on Sunday. Have fun!

“David Up and Danced” by Duke Ellington


11 thoughts on “FUN damental ism

  1. Paula, I must say, I found myself chuckling quite a bit as I read your post! Hard to believe all these tears have passed since we lived on the same floor during our freshman year in college!

    I hadn’t thought about the ability to have an orgasm as being hereditary:)

  2. The creation account is one man, one woman, one flesh. Is polygamy the worst sin or even a sin? Now I sound like my mother. LOL Sex is normal, but the ideal relationship is the close bond with one person “until death do us part.” I think we all even have this instinctive sense that is what works. Even some animals get it.

  3. Hi Paula,

    If you’re talking about premarital sex, I don’t feel that either I or my wife (happily married for 13 years despite a lot of challenges) need to be forgiven. Or that my parents, who were happily married for 45 years before my mom’s death, need to be forgiven.


  4. I remember a little sex chat we had about 20 years ago. You had such a twinkle in your eye, telling your young engaged niece, “There’s lots of ways to have sex! Have fun!” I have a feeling the belief that there won’t be any problem and that it will be fun goes a long way–worth passing on to the next generation.

  5. I hear you, Anthony. I wasn’t trying to put a guilt trip on folks, quite the opposite. A lot of us raised in very conservative, fundamentalist homes do have trouble letting go of feelings of guilt. Also, I think it is difficult to form a close bond with one person IF one has played the field – but I am no expert on that. It would be interesting to read a study on this. I did give a link that might be worth checking out, for those who want a more serious approach to this issue.

  6. Anthony, it’s been awhile since I wrote this, but I hope you get my comment now. My fundamentalist mom used to say that a sexual sin was not a big deal since that was NORMAL behavior. She thought sex outside of marriage was wrong, but wrong because it was not furthering a bonded relationship or the family. I hope this makes sense.

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