All these years I`ve stayed at home while you had all your fun
And every year that`s gone by another baby`s come
There`s gonna be some changes made right here on Nursery Hill
You`ve set this chicken your last time `cause now I`ve got the pill
~The Pill, Loretta Lynn
After a string of No. 1 hit records, Loretta Lynn’s chart topping successes stumbled for a moment in the summer of 1975 when her song “The Pill” stalled out at No. 5. Dare I say it was controversial? Songs don’t go to No. 1 when fifty percent of country radio won’t spin the record. The fact that it reached No. 5 on country music charts, though, says something about its relevancy. The song wouldn’t be denied.
Loretta, as anyone who’s read Coal Miner’s Daughter knows, was married at fourteen, had four kids before she was eighteen and two more by twenty-two. Don’t just read that and move on. Think about an eighteen year old woman you know. Now, give her four kids, and a pregnant belly and a lot of poverty. Loretta said in her biography that she couldn’t cross her legs, so she crossed her fingers. Are aspirin jokes still funny? When it comes to birth control, or the lack thereof, she was, as some high paid consultant might say, a subject matter expert. Of course she sang The Pill.
Here we are almost forty years later and still discussing birth control. Well, not really still, as I don’t recall much of a discussion around it in between those years, actually. Why would there have been? And, why is there now? It made me curious enough to find out.
Family trees are interesting, at least to me, and so I like all the begats of the Bible. All those names lost to history. The pawns of time whose importance was seed rather than deed. For our purposes here we’ll keep it simple; Abraham fathered Isaak, who fathered Jacob, who fathered Judah, who fathered Er and Onan. God as buddy and pal is a relatively new construct and in the story of Er and Onan he certainly was not that. After Er displeased God and was struck down, Onan, as the law laid out, married his brother’s widow Tamar, so Er’s lineage would continue. Onan, who didn’t go for his offspring being the lineage of another man, made quick use of the old pull-out method and quite literally, as these things go, spilled his seed upon the ground. Shortly there after, he too was struck down for his bad behavior. From this mostly forgotten tale, found in the book of Genesis, chapter 38, comes the modern understanding of coitus as sacred act and the Catholic Church’s doctrine of Casti Connubii or chaste wedlock – that is to say, contraception: no.
These days baby blockage is big business, perhaps even a job creator. The ultimate Job Creator though, in the intervening years, seems to have loosened a bit on this piece of dogma, otherwise we would be stepping over the smote bodies of the wayward during our daily commutes. So, if not He who clings, then who and why? Only the lowest among us seem to carry this particular mantle: our politicians.
It’s trumpeted as a matter of Biblical consistency. It is written, so therefore it is. I would be happy enough to trust and leave it there, but the trouble with reading one Biblical passage is the temptation to read another while sleeves are rolled up is often too strong to ignore. Which brings us to the generally accepted second piece of scripture that backs up the no seed left behind policy: Deuteronomy 23:1. We draw from the King James Version:
“He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.”
Now, that is pretty straight shooting. Something to truly wrap some legislative muscle around. Perhaps it seems cruel to the poor man accidentally caught in a vice grip mishap, or National Lampoon film, or those just born that way, but murky it is not. With that in mind we read, dubiously, on; Deuteronomy 23:2:
“A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.”
Hold on, say what? I don’t remember this passage from Sunday mornings or the Baptist School I attended as a child (to be fair, I don’t remember either passage from those days). Cross-referencing the passage against the Amplified Bible, The English Standard Version Bible, The Common English Bible, The American Standard Bible, The Message Bible, the New Living Translation Bible, and even the claimed Good News Bible (not so much in this verse as it turns out) I find that real consistency rules the day. A child born out of wedlock will not go to Heaven. Nor will any of his offspring for ten generations. Only the Douay Rheims translation gives the run-of-the-mill bastard a chance with the addition of “child born of prostitute” thrown in there. The 16th century English Catholics seem to be outnumbered though, so we’re forced to think there was a translation error – perhaps by a monk harboring a secret in search of a chance. The take away here, is just how clear this passage is: a child born out of wedlock will not go to Heaven. Neither will his offspring.
The Christian is left with two choices, I believe. One; to accept children born out of wedlock don’t go to Heaven. Two; Christ’s death allows for the sin to be washed away and provides the bastard with an underdog’s long-shot. A possible clue on spiritual direction is given in the birth of Jesus himself. Jesus was only conceived out of wedlock, not born out of wedlock. A courtroom distinction to be sure, but a loophole is as a loophole does. With nothing being merely left to chance I think concession is the only possible truth. Case closed.
What remains curious to me, though, is while the word consistency is thrown about handily in today’s spiritually daft political blunderings, it’s not always practiced. It’s a pick and choose situation, practiced most hypocritically by those who like to point to themselves as the few who don’t pick and choose. Of course they do. Seemingly, that’s all they do. Why else are we discussing birth control after all these years? Is it really about birth control? Or, just control?
I haven’t heard anyone during this campaign season bring up the illegitimate child’s futile celestial yearnings. Surely, this scripture, in such proximity to the original birther movement, has been read. That’s a hell of a thing to tell someone, though, and probably won’t win many votes. That Heaven, for ten generations, is unreachable due to a passionate night on the bench seat of a hatchback. You best check your family trees, brothers and sisters; there’s a lot of us who just ain’t getting in. For those of you smug in your birthright, don’t forget about how this whole thing started. You best never have spilled that seed outside of the hard work of conception, because you ain’t getting in either. You know who you are. Everybody.
Okay, so clearly that’s where to end this post, right? Wow, powerful summation, I know.
But, I know what you’re thinking. Who is this guy telling me I’m not going to Heaven? That’s what you’re thinking. What hath Gutenberg wrought, when every country music blogger who comes along believes himself to understand that which is beyond him? I come with a particular set of prejudices that cloud my judgement when it comes to Deuteronomy 23:2. For a man conceived and born out of wedlock all I have to do is look at my two year old boy and the clear becomes muddy. So, by all means don’t listen to me. Personally, with the amount of love ’em and leave ’em songs, cheat on ’em and drink to forget ’em sing-a-longs, a separation of church and country music blogging is probably a good thing. I don’t want to get above my raising. So, where to turn? Some politician busy taking money and trading favors, all the while telling you they’re the moral mouthpiece of God? If you must I suppose, but don’t you think you could do better than that? If anything these people block the truth we know in our hearts. That’s why we call them scumbags.