Christianity is going to ruin my sister

My youngest sister is 12 and she lives with my parents — obviously. This is scary for me because she is now around the age when most kids in Lloydminster, where my family lives, split into one of two groups: the shitty burnout kids who start drinking and smoking weed, and the kids who find religion and become Baptists. My sister went to church camp this summer, so we can already see in which direction she’s headed.

I don’t begrudge her religion. First of all, she’s 12 years old, and people at that age are far less cynical and more liable to believe in things than unhappy young adults like myself. Second of all, religion is a positive thing in a lot of people’s lives, especially when they try to navigate the unpleasant shit-pile that high school so often is and which she is quickly approaching.

But I was looking at a book she got recently as part of her newfound Christianity, and it scared me. At first it looked fine. It’s a little pink book with pretty script writing on the cover and it’s called Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood. Each page has a title and a little tip on how to live well and navigate puberty. Sounds pretty innocuous, right? Just girls rappin’ about makeup and boys and how scary it is when your first school dance comes up.

Not so.

There are, I want to emphasize this, some good things in this book. Do your homework, be happy with how you look, etc. Some solid life tips for preteen girls that are also in keeping with being a good Christian. Then there’s some weird shit that I think is dumb and crazy, but not that terrible. Start tithing — donating, in layman’s terms — 10 per cent of your money to your church now so it becomes a habit. Whatever, but I guess, sure; if you want to do that, I don’t have a problem with it. St. Mary’s is really going to be grateful for the $25 a year you give them from your allowance.

But then there is some pernicious, cleverly worded advice that is fucking terrible. One page is titled “Flirting is False” and it tells girls not to lead boys into the “sin of lust,” like it’s women’s job not to make men horny. (Which is actually what a lot of people think, but those people are ridiculous. Men can be responsible for themselves just like women are. That’s what being a human entails.)

Another entry says it’s important to know how to cook at least one supper and one dessert so you will always be ready to “serve and impress,” like that’s the pinnacle of any girl’s existence. Not, like, a fulfilling life with friends and school or a job or whatever you want to do. Just being able to “serve and impress” other people at a moment’s notice with some killer quiche and an exquisitely crafted sponge cake. That is the sole purpose of your life, young lady, so get to it.

The one page that most blew my mind, which was similar to the aforementioned bit about flirting, was one that discussed dressing provocatively. It said that doing so will make boys lust for you (again, not a girl’s problem). At this point Girl Talk quotes the Bible’s book of Matthew, which says, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

This is the last sentence I read before my face turned red and steam shot out my ears, because no. Putting aside how fucking ridiculously horrific and wrong it is to blame the nation’s crusty socks on girls wearing modest V-necks, no, lust is not the same thing as adultery. Jesus Christ! It is definitely not the same thing!

Saying lust is the same as adultery is like saying that being angry is the same as murdering someone. Like you go home from work thinking, “Boy, Carol said some dumb shit at work today. She just makes my blood boil every time she opens her mouth,” and then the police arrest you because you murdered Carol by thinking that. Except as we all know, you didn’t. You did not become an actual astronaut when you went to Space Camp in fifth grade, and you did not magically kill someone by feeling angry at them.

A 14-year-old, hormone-soaked boy obsessed with catching glimpses of navels is so far removed from a fully-grown adult committing to another person, those are not even the same type of thing. One thing is an idea and the other is a deliberate action.

One is a tween still coming to terms with himself as a person and with the world around him. The other is a fully grown, adult person saying to another fully grown, adult person, “Yes. I love you and I will be with you and just you forever,” and then turning around two years later when shit gets boring and meeting a barista at the nearest Holiday Inn Express to fuck on his lunch break.

For a book that markets itself to teenaged and pre-teenaged girls, with an innocent script font for the title, Girl Talk contains some dark, intensely mature ideas. I don’t think my 12-year-old sister is old enough to be expected to take responsibility for her own romantic or lustful feelings, let alone someone else’s. I completely disagree with the tack this book takes, that girls are guilty of seducing and arousing boys and men even before they become fully mature women, and it worries me that books like this masquerade as innocent, mainstream advice books for kids.

In conclusion, fuck you, pink religion book. If you have your way you’re going to destroy my sister and her relationship toward sex and love, and I hate you for it.


Illustration: Samantha Braun/The Sheaf

  • Tristan

    I wouldn’t necessarily have a problem with “serve and impress” if it was also advocated for boys/men. Being able to cook a bad-ass dinner and impressing your friends and family by serving it to them isn’t a bad life skill, it just shouldn’t be gender dependant.

    Also, I get the whole “we’re a University newspaper for hip young adults” vibe but I think many if not all articles would be stronger and more readable without the gratuitous profanity.

    • elle

      AGREED!

      If you wanna make a potty mouth version for your diary, go for it; however, the point gets lost in the cursing… I was totally up for reading what your article had to say because, I agree, some churches/organizations seem to take it a step too far, but when you took the Lord’s name in vain, I was like, “Oh, yeah. That’s exactly how you’re supposed to prove a point… not.” Come on. You must be more talented than this.
      Also, the whole “lust is not equal to adultery” thing: That’s not the point… read the Bible in context, please. I don’t understand when being a Christian (or person of another religion) became such a terrible thing… University sure hates us. Oh, sorry. You said you don’t have a problem with religion… but then you bashed Christianity. (That’s just my little rant -I’m sick of being told (in a ’round-about way) that my religion is stupid, therefore I am stupid for choosing to believe in God because obviously the world started with the Big Bang.)
      Maybe the adultery verse would have been better-placed in an older teenager’s book, but still. I bet the male-version said something along the same lines -like, “don’t walk around without a shirt”? I don’t know.

      Just take a chill pill, how about? Why don’t you just talk to your sister about the problem you had with the book/try to figure out why it might have said that? Context is everything and you’re missing a lot of it… Are you gonna write a post about hijabs now, too?

    • Ficus

      Boooooooo

    • Shannyn

      Her gratuitous swearing may have caused you to lose her point, much like your gratuitous victimization rants are making me lose yours. The author didn’t attack you, she attacked a small pink book that she feels threatens her sister’s ability to develop a healthy relationship with sex and love. I’d suggest that you also take a chill pill.

    • Nicole

      My brain just imploded from the asininity of this comment.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Voidhanger Jeffrey BigDaddy Shaver

      I’m pretty sure the occurance of kids reading a book called “Girl Talk, Mother-Daughter Conversations about Islamic Womanhood” isn’t something that is fairly common in midwest Canada. Repressive Christian sexism is present however.

      Don’t let me inturrupt you being offended though.

    • The T.

      “therefore I am stupid for choosing to believe in God because obviously the world started with the Big Bang”

      Yes. Yes you are stupid for that. Maybe not in all respects (for all I know, you’re a brilliant student in your field), but with that embarrassingly
      ignorant statement, you’re certainly not off to a reputable start.
      You’re in university; the least you can do is show even the most
      rudimentary knowledge of science even grade school kids can understand.

      But of course, let’s not allow this blisteringly stupid comment to poison the well of your entire post. Perhaps there is something of value here.

      “but when you took the Lord’s name in vain, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah. That’s exactly how you’re supposed to prove a point… not.’ ”

      Really? You’re criticizing Yelland’s article because she placed an expletive in an Op-Ed piece? Have you ever read Op-Eds? Explain to me how an expletive in any way compromises the sound logic of her concern. In what way does it show she lacks “talent”?

      If you’d rather not elucidate, I can render the question rhetorical by answering it, if you like: First of all, there is nothing unsophisticated in using the “Lord’s name in vain.” Why? Because it isn’t everybody’s Lord, even if you think it should be. You think it’s offensive? Too bad. To some people it’s horribly offensive to preach that your kind of God even exists or that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. I personally find it debating to the human race, but I wouldn’t claim that as a flaw in an argument or your talent or as a reason to discourage your free speech. I also find it disgustingly offensive that you would tell someone who takes issue with religiously motivated sexism aimed at 12 year-old girls to “take a chill pill.” Second, seeing as you’re likely in university, you should probably get used to the idea that you are not entitled to not being offended. Nobody gives a flying fuck if someone takes your “Lord’s name” in vain; it’s not pertinent to any sort of argument. But uh oh! I said the F word! Surely this indicates a lack of talent and that I am merely trying to lead you to Satan. Moving on.

      “Also, the whole “lust is not equal to adultery” thing: That’s not the point… read the Bible in context, please.”

      Believe it or not, most of the people who find many (though not all) of the Bible’s moral assertions detestable are not reading the Bible out of context just to fuck with you or something. Nor are they necessarily
      doing it on accident. That’s just how you rationalize it so you can
      ignore their disagreements and proceed to feel blessed with superior, unfalsifiable insights. Please then, I implore you to impart to us the proper “context” in which the verses Yelland referred to are NOT instances of sexist victim-blaming. Show me some argument or verse that would prove the Bible does NOT mandate convictions of thought-crime (e.g. lusting in one’s heart counting as adultery, blasphemy being an unforgivable sin, belief in God determining one’s reward/punishment in the afterlife, etc). If anything, adding more context to the Bible would just make it look even more morally dubious than the individual cherry-picked plagiarisms like the Golden Rule and turning the other cheek … which modern Christianity seems obsessed with isolating from the less “meek and mild” bits of the Bible. And by the way, condemning a man to death on the Sabbath, cursing a fig tree, and suggesting that humanity’s salvation can only come through the killing of an innocent person? Neither meek nor mild.

      “You said you don’t have a problem with religion… but then you bashed Christianity.”

      No, Yelland bashed a particular religious book issued by a particular
      Church, I presume. I’m the one bashing Christianity here. And if you
      think that indicates a lack of talent, might I suggest reading some Mark Twain or Douglas Adams? Or perhaps look up what Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine have said of your religion? Yep. Talentless dunces, the lot of ‘em! No doubt!

      And finally: “I don’t understand when being a Christian (or person of another religion) became such a terrible thing”

      It became a terrible thing when you said EVERYTHING else in your inane, ignorant, thoughtless post, as I have demonstrated. What you have said is insurmountably more talentless and offensive than a mere innocuous expletive. But Jesus Christ, I’ll be damned if I’m not glad you have a public forum through which to express your ideas and be in turn disabused of your ignorance by the ideas of others.

  • Dan

    Great dick on this article. You could park a car on it. Love it.

    • Ficus

      Solid dick.

  • Steve

    Please tell me that anger/murder thing was a troll. It’s gotta be a troll. It was a troll…

  • DevilInDicklessPanties

    I’m definitely horny for JC!

  • Kate

    Teaching young girls that they are guilty of arousing/temping men is just the beginning of victim blaming. When they grow up thinking they are asking for cat calls by what they wear, then they will think that it is their fault when someone takes advantage of them, or sexually harasses them and they won’t do anything about it.
    Young girls get enough pressure and criticism from media and their peers already, they don’t need it from religion, something that is supposed to be comforting and supportive.