I can’t point to any moment in my life as shattering my once-devout faith. I can, however, tell you about the time my dad quoted the Bloodhound Gang in a sermon.
Back in the 90s, Jesus was my main pastime. Other kids got put to bed with Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle. Not me: I got the Good Word every single night, from a shiny (seriously) Bible 4 Kidz chock-full of illustrations of Israelites gleefully murdering the shit out of people with Bart Simpson-esque slingshots. A frequent knock against Christians is that they don’t tell their kids about the nasty parts of the bible, mostly picking out New Testament stories about Jesus kissing people’s booboos and having a sick baby shower.
My dad thinks those people are sissies. If you’re gonna leave out all the parts where the bible gets totally metal, why even bother? I got it all: David killing 200 Philistines and buying the hand of Saul’s daughter with their foreskins, Jael hammering a stake through Sisera’s head while he slept, Absalom killing his brother for raping their sister. All old favies!
Considering this, it isn’t hard to understand why I was as religious as I was. I didn’t think of God as a swell guy who’d carry me on his broad sexy shoulders across a beach. God was a three-headed super-rich family member with Mafia ties who I owed my life to, who only accepted love and obedience as repayment. If ever I doubted anything he told me to do, I’d be hatefucking his immortal heart with a spiny cock of sin. After the nightly bible reading, I’d pray myself to sleep, trying not to think anything sinful in case I died that night an unclean soul.
By the summer of 2000, I’d developed some guilty pleasures. I had been sneaking over to a friend’s place to giggle at heavily censored Blink-182 and Eminem videos on MTV, and, to my parents’ dismay, I was starting to laugh at the raunchier stuff on The Simpsons. None of their sheltering, though, could save me from the Bloodhound Gang’s breakthrough smash, “The Bad Touch.”
The thing about the song is that it’s impossible to censor– there are no swears, but any nine year-old could grasp its double entendres. It got played so much on Q101, Chicago’s Korn-‘n’-Limp Bizkit station, that even my clueless ol’ pa picked up on it. I found out about this in the worst possible venue.
See, I was so zealous that I had insisted on being taken out of Sunday school and placed in grown-up church years ago. I missed a lot of what was going on, since my dad’s sermons are mostly about precisely translating dead languages in order to avoid any mistakes while assembling God’s furniture or something, I don’t know. One Sunday, he took the pulpit and declared, grave-faced, that today’s sermon would be on the blasphemy of modern sexuality.
He turned on his god-is-very-disappointed-with-you preacher voice. “There’s a song on the radio,” he said, “with the most evil chorus I have ever heard. It goes like this.” He cleared his throat and slowly articulated every syllable: “You and me, baby, ain’t nothing but mammals. So let’s ‘do it’ like they do on the Discovery Channel.”
Here we go.
My brother and I dove face-first into our hands. Probably the reddest I’ve ever been, due to a. withheld laughter so intense that my lungs felt like an inside-out submarine, b. embarrassment, c. sheer terror. The wrath of dad (oh, and God) was no laughing matter. I stole a glance at my mom, who looked like a kid in a war movie speechlessly watching an atrocity before someone pulls her out of the frame. At least I wasn’t alone on this one.
Somehow, it got worse. The crux of his argument was that god intends sex to be a glorious, sacred part of his blessed institution of marriage, not an expression of animalistic lust. “Sex is a gift from god,” he said, “and it brings us closer to him. I have known the joy of conjugal embrace (I swear those were his exact fucking words), and fear that the young people of this generation, including my sons, will have this experience tainted by the values our culture is giving them.”
Where to begin. Okay. The closest thing I had to “the talk” with my dad went like this:
Him: “So, uh, you’re about the age for the talk, huh.”
Him: “You already know everything, right? From school?”
Me: “I think so.”
Him: “Okay. Well, just wait until you’re married.”
In other words, this little salvo was the most I’d heard him say about sex, ever. Imagine you’re nine and your “talk” is just dad saying he nailed your mom. Now add him talking about your sex life. Now add references to doggystyle and prison. Now have him say all of it in front of a congregation composed mostly of little old ladies.
Finally, stretch it out to twenty-five minutes, and choke yourself with a clip-on tie to keep from laughing, and you’ll get a sense of what that day did to me. As awkward as it was, it couldn’t disillusion me all at once. I didn’t see that the emperor had no clothes, but I did catch a flash of his dick.
Bonus: the sermon’s most memorable grievance with the Bloodhound Gang? “And another thing, the Discovery Channel is a wholesome source of education! This song tries to ruin it by associating it with fornication.”