The Sin Racket

When I quit drinking, I went to some AA meetings for a while; it was the thing to do. I think I went to my first one at the age of nine or ten with one of my older brothers who was celebrating some kind of anniversary of not-drinking and was very proud. I sort of always knew that drinking, and then stopping-drinking, was in the cards for me

These AA meetings were mostly in nice locations with well-dressed people (I had fears of dank church basements and drooling, partially-toothed hobos). I soon decided that AA wasn’t for me because (1) it was boring the shit out of me and (2) listening to all those people talk about drinking made me really want to drink. I would feel prickly with the awareness that I was sitting in a room filled with people who truly knew how to party. Yes, that was a compliment I used in earnest back in the day. “She or he really knows how to party.” It might seem like not much of a skill, but trust me, there are vast differences between mere dabblers and partying professionals. I consider myself an emeritus professor in the field these days.

Since then, I’ve been aware of the Suggestion of Sin Paradox. Am I the only one who thinks of nothing but sex in church? PSAs make me want to do whatever it is they don’t want me to do, like drive drunk or smoke or have a baby out of wedlock. This little chart, courtesy of my Facebook friend Maria Carntface, illustrates the Paradox quite vividly. It makes me want to do all kinds of stuff! There’s so much fun to be had here! Filthy talk! “Shacking!” (Which I think means “living together” but I’m hoping is something far, far worse!) Lust! Witchcraft! Selfishness! If the only antidote to any of these is to shut my eyes and pray, forget it. I’d much rather do the sins.

The funny thing about the Paradox is that I don’t walk around thinking about doing all of these things (usually). But when someone or something talks about not doing them, I want to do them so badly! Which, when you think about it, is probably how Christianity stays in business.

Mary Valle lives in Baltimore and is the author of Cancer Doesn't Give a Shit About Your Stupid Attitude: Reflections on Cancer and Catholicism. She blogs on KtB as The Communicant. For more Mary, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.