No Time for Sex Outside of Marriage
“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.” (Ephesians 5:3)
* * * * *
After he had finished talking with his wife, Bishop Akron dialed up his mentor.
“Hey, Prophet Malcolm, apart from preaching the Word and relaxing on this Sunday evening, what else have you been up to, my brother?”
“Oh, I was just here reading some notes by D. H. Lawrence on Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Scarlet Letter. As you already know, next to reading my Bible and Bible commentaries, I love to read me some great literature. Listen to what Lawrence wrote. You have these two characters: the very pure young man Arthur Dimmesdale, and the beautiful Puritan woman Hester Prynne. Lawrence wrote:
And the first thing she does is to seduce him.
And the first thing he does is to be seduced.
And the second thing they do is to hug their sin in secret, and gloat over it, and try to understand it.
Deerslayer refused to be seduced by Judith Hutter. At least the Sodom apple of sin didn’t fetch him.
But Dimmesdale was seduced gloatingly. Oh, luscious sin!
He was such a pure young man.
That he had to make a fool of purity.
The American psyche.
Of course the best part of the game lay in keeping up pure appearances.
The greatest triumph a woman can have, especially an American woman, is the triumph of seducing a man: especially if he is pure.
And he gets the greatest thrill of all, in falling.—“Seduce me, Mrs. Hercules.”
And the pair of them share the subtlest delight in keeping up pure appearances, when everybody knows all the while. But the power of pure appearances is something to exult in. All America gives in to it. Look pure!
To seduce man. To have everybody know. To keep up appearances of purity. Pure!
This is the great triumph of woman.
“What do you think about that, my brother?” Prophet Malcolm asked.
“You know, it’s ironic I called at this time when you’re reading that particular portion of The Scarlet Letter.”
“Why is that?”
“Right now I just need some encouragement.”
“I thought you sounded a little bit down,” Prophet Malcolm said.
“I’m more than a little bit down. It seems like part of my world has just caved in,” Bishop Akron said.
“Well, that’s why we call and encourage each other. Go ahead, my son.”
“I just found out my daughter is pregnant—again, and I probably would not have found out if I had not overheard her and her mother talking—well, arguing was what they were doing.”
“Again? You never told me she was pregnant before,” Prophet Malcolm responded.
“Yes, and I am ashamed to say this, but this is her second time. The first time, my wife snuck and took her to the clinic to abort the baby telling her it wouldn’t look good for the church and telling her not to let me know. She went along thinking her mother was doing what was best. I knew nothing about it until today. I was devastated when I heard they had murdered my grandbaby.”
“Brother, I am sorry to hear that,” Prophet Malcolm said.
“The sad thing about it is Andrea was talking her into doing it again,” Bishop Akron said. “Ebony broke down and told me everything. And even after Andrea and I hashed it out, Andrea still did not see where she was giving Ebony bad advice. At least, she pretended she did not see.”
“What are you going to tell her to do this time?” Prophet Malcolm asked.
“Prophet Malcolm, I have already told her she was going to keep the baby. We just have to endure the shame,” a despondent Bishop Akron said. “I did notice a change in Ebony’s disposition this past year. She became withdrawn and she and her mother were arguing more. She seemed disinterested in just about everything, especially going to church. She had always loved going to church. Whenever I spoke with her a fearful look would come over her face. Whenever I would ask Andrea what was going on between the two of them, Andrea would say not to worry about it, that it was a mother-daughter thing. I have heard about mother-daughter conflicts so I really did not dwell much on it. I also passed off Ebony’s change as the normal teenage years of depression and rebellion and not really knowing what one wanted out of life and that it would pass.”
“Don’t let it get you down, my brother. It’s just another one of those sins that’s running rampant especially among our young people. When I preach on the sex sins of adultery, fornication, and shacking up, I often ask, what’s a few seconds of pleasure for a lifetime of misery? The Bible says ‘stolen water is sweet’ and ‘bread eaten in secret is pleasant’ but I always add, ‘when it goes down into the stomach and begins to burn, you have to endure the burning because you can’t bring it up again.’”
“She is hurting badly. She told me that she was living a daily nightmare that she can’t shake,” Bishop Akron said.
“Do you think you may have to take her in for professional counseling? If you want to, she could spend some time with Sadie. She has some training in counseling,” Prophet Malcolm said.
“Thank you, Prophet Malcolm. I may just take you up on that offer. She needs someone to love on her right now, and sad to say, her mother is not the one. At least not right now as she still has not accepted it that she did her daughter wrong.”
“We will continue to pray for her as she may be silently blaming herself and her pride is not allowing her to admit it to you or to Ebony,” Prophet Malcolm said.
“Well, I hope that is it,” Bishop Akron said. “Anyway, Ebony broke down and told me everything. I did see signs of relief on her face and in her voice as we spoke. I do know this: she is very glad I am letting her keep the baby. She had a smile on her face I had not seen in a long time. I just don’t see how her mother could have done that to her. But you know, I blame myself for letting that happen to her. I was so busy taking care of the church folks when I should have paid more attention to her, but I thought with my being so busy my wife would fill that space for me, but . . .”
“Brother, you’re doing the right thing by insisting on her keeping the baby. That’s going to start the healing process for her both mentally and emotionally. Make sure you pray with her daily and tell her you love her daily. The hurt will not completely go away as it is one of those sins that you can never undo. If this is any comfort to you, people are so tolerant of sin—even in the church—that they won’t even give her pregnancy a second thought,” Prophet Malcolm said.
A spark seemed to light in Bishop Akron’s spirit at the thought that his church and ministry would not be affected much by this unfortunate situation if at all. He could not bear the thought of possibly losing members and possibly having a reduction in money coming in due to him being seen as a minister who could not even rule his own house. That would certainly shatter his dream of being listed in the group of young mega-church pastors.
“I do thank God for you being there whenever I’ve needed some encouragement. You just don’t know how much this means to me,” Bishop Akron said.
“And that’s what we are supposed to do. The Bible says the stronger brother ought to uplift the weaker brother. Peter was told to strengthen the brethren. In other words, encourage them to keep on keeping on no matter what obstacles may come their way. I wouldn’t be worth salt if I could not do that. You are more than welcome, brother,” Prophet Malcolm said.
“I’m curious though, what happened between Hester and Dimmesdale?” Bishop Akron asked.
“Let me just randomly quote some things that happened. That will give you a better picture. She wanted them to live together at another place, but he wised up and decided not this time. Hawthorne writes:
Dimmesdale had already fallen from his integrity as a minister of the Gospel of the Spirit. He had lost his manliness. [in her eyes]
She’d only have despised him more, as every woman despises a man who has ‘fallen’ to her: despises him with her tenderest lust.
He stood for nothing any more.
“A man is brought to a piece of bread, my brother,” Prophet Malcolm said. “This is what Hawthorne, in effect, is saying, and isn’t that what the Bible says? He writes:
The women make fools of them, the spiritual men. And when, as men, they’ve gone flop in their spirituality, they can’t pick themselves up whole any more. So they just crawl, and die detesting the female, or the females, who made them fall.
The saintly minister gets a bit of his own back, at the last minute, by making public confession from the very scaffold where she was exposed. Then he dodges into death. But he’s had a bit of his own back, on everybody.
“Hawthorne hit it right on the head. Isn’t that exactly what happens to a minister who has fallen into sexual sin? He regains a little of his integrity once he apologizes before the congregation, but he will never be the same and will never quite be regarded the same,” Prophet Malcolm said. “That is why it is just best for us not to put our hands to evil at all.”