Saturday, October 24, 2015

Sex and the Church

What do you do when you receive your monthly church magazine? Most people just throw it away. But this month's magazine of my church has something that's really hilarious.

There's an article by a young father about how to be a good father. But the way he writes the article is truly hilarious.

This is what he writes which is sure to raise eyebrows. Mind you, this is in a church magazine.

This is what he says further:

And I don't think he's talking about sex therapists.  He goes on to give the following advice:

I find this particularly amusing because as far as I know, the Bible does not say a word about HOW God fathers anyone, not even his only begotten son, our Lord Jesus Christ. 

In the Gospel According to St Matthew, we are told that Mary was 'found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.' And the angel told Joseph that 'what is conceived in her (Mary) is from the Holy Spirit.'

I believe these vague and imprecise words are what led to some guesswork by the Mormon Church. From what I understand, the Mormons believe that there was some intimate union between God the Father and the Virgin Mary in order for Jesus to be conceived. But I'm not sure if this is nothing more than some scurrilous propaganda spread by mainstream Christians against Mormonism or if indeed the Mormons do advocate such a potentially blasphemous belief. If I'm mistaken, I apologise to all Mormons for this view which I must say is extremely common among most people. Just google it if you don't believe me.

But can the Mormons be blamed if indeed they hold such a view? I must confess that I have just deleted huge chunks of what I've written on this blog because I'm not sure if this subject is appropriate. Most of us have such a jaundiced view of sexual intercourse that we think anything that is even remotely connected to it must be filthy and sinful. But I'll heed the advice one of my readers gave me in an email to me. 'Please write more about language and less about religion'. And I think she's right. Nobody is offended when you criticise their language. Language is nothing more than mere words and a collection of noises whereas religion is potentially explosive. People get so worked up over it. Let's look at the language then and stay away from religion.

The writer of the article finally writes this:

This must be the first time I found an article in a church magazine so incredibly hilarious. I really think the church should employ a proofreader to go through all articles before distributing its monthly magazine to all parishioners.

The peculiarity of the language lies in the fact that while you can mother a child by looking after him and acting towards him like a mother, you can't say you are fathering a child by doing the same thing if you're a man. Fathering a child means an entirely different thing.

To father a child is, to use the delicate words of the OED, to 'procreate as a father.' But I prefer the more graphic description in the Cambridge Dictionary which simply says 'To father a child is to become the father of a child by making a woman pregnant.' What these dictionaries are trying to tell us and particularly, the writer of the article in the church magazine is there's a bit of the rumpy-pumpy in the whole idea, if you'll pardon my French. Don't talk loosely about fathering a child unless you really mean it. If what you mean is simply looking after a child, then say so.

As I've said earlier, you can talk about mothering a child if all you do is to act like a mother to the child and you can be as chaste as the Blessed Virgin herself. This meaning of 'mother' as a verb has been in use since the 19th century. But alas, there is no corresponding meaning for 'father' when used as a verb when all you want to say is that you are looking after a child like a father without any reference to 'making his mother pregnant', if I may borrow some of the words from the Cambridge Dictionary.

But there used to be a long time ago. From around the time of Chaucer and that's many hundred years ago, the word 'father' when used as a verb could also mean to act as a father to or to look after a child. But that meaning is now archaic and today, if you say someone fathers a child, it has only one unmistakeable meaning and it's not something you'd expect to read in a church magazine.

[EDITOR, 25 October 2015]: What I wrote above about the position of the Mormon Church is not incorrect at all. I've since looked up the internet on this matter and here's a good link that discusses the beliefs of the Mormon Church on the Incarnation of our Lord: CLICK HERE.

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