Gimme That Ol’ Time Porn – er – I mean, Religion

We live in Southern California, where most things don’t stick out because there are so many of them. It simply ain’t so everywhere, and as a case in point, I offer the apparent link between pornography and religion in the southern part of our country.

Some years ago and on trips taken since, I’ve noticed that in driving through areas of the South, the Ozarks for example, one passes two distinct institutions along the roadside: “adult” business establishments and churches. The former aren’t hidden as any sort of shameful thing. They’re right there, with easy highway return. The churches are many in number, and even more prominent are the billboards exhorting us to get to know and accept Jesus, that Jesus will “save” us, and so on.

The prominence and proximity of these things is truly remarkable. But I’m not writing this to make a moral judgment about what people choose to indulge in, whether sacred or profane. I’m here to say that there’s a reason why the relationship between the two exists.

Everyone knows or admits (except maybe a few Republicans running for office) that we all come into this world starkers, and only after that do we get saddled with clothes. Beyond the age of, say, three, however, it seems as if most folks think that there’s something wrong with the unclothed human body and, more to the point, being seen naked. And when it comes to the subject of sexual behavior, few want to talk about it because it makes them uncomfortable, or because they’ve been told it’s wrong. Among those who are ill at ease talking about sex, those most uncomfortable are the fundamentally religious. Why? Because they’re taught that sex is something a) not to be discussed in public, b) that it’s somehow dirty, and c) that it should only be addressed in the act, silently and for procreative purposes. Of course, homosexuality and masturbation are taught to be sins.

The problem with this is that you can’t fool biology. Nor can you evade marketing. Sexual drives will out, and marketers will take advantage of them. Thus, the adult emporia along southern highways with nearby churches and all those billboards to try and save folks from what comes naturally. Those churches urge you to believe in fairytales about a robed guy who rose from the dead and his vindictive dad who, as one learns from the Bible, was one mean son of a bitch.

The truth is that the relationship between pornography and religion is not unique. It’s just that it’s harder to see it in places like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and other big cities. In the less populated South, where religion is strong and the concomitant repression demands its outlet, it’s just easier to see the phenomenon manifested.

Perhaps humankind will eventually outgrow religion and its repressive, often aggressive and theocratic teachings, but I doubt that will happen soon. So, in the meantime, I guess we just get to enjoy the idiocy of Church on Sunday morning and a visit to the pornatorium in the afternoon. Now, if someone will only explain all those fireworks emporia to me.

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