Affection is a coal
That must be cool'd;
Else, suffer'd, it will
Set the heart on fire.
— Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis, Stanza 65
Fornication, what a word, but I'm sure that it got your attention, and it's far more delicate than the other F word that I could have used which would really make you stand up and take notice.
It's always interesting how different words can affect people in different ways. I could have said sex, lovemaking, intercourse, carnal, and a few others not fit for airplay, and eyebrows would perhaps not be raised. But I used the word fornication and some parents may still shield it from the eyes of their children.
But it's too late for that, because your kids may know far more than you think that they do, plus the word appears in the Bible. Believe it or not, it's a sin, and believe it even more, it's punishable by death in some countries and still illegal right here in Jamaica.
So you can start cowering in fear right now, for the fornication police are coming to get you and you'll be carted off to jail for breaking the law of the land.
The only problem is, Jamaica would be one big prison, for almost all of you reading this have committed that sin, plus broken the law, so cast the first stone if yu think seh yu bad. But apart from being a sin and against the law, there are other ramifications that go with this act. And that's what we'll explore this week, after some feedback from readers far and wide.
Tony, why are you beating up on us single women so much? I don't think that any woman wants to be alone forever. I surely don't want to be. The fact is, there are not enough good men who are available. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will get lucky when another relationship ends, or we will look outside of our country. Not all of us want to migrate though. Anyway, if a woman finds a single man out there, be careful, if he is not gay, something else is wrong with him. I am still looking though.
Those women who declare that they don't need a man to validate their existence sound a bit angry to me, and they may have good reason to feel that way. Some women also take on a male gay BFF, just so that they can be escorted to parties, weddings and other social events.
Your article 'Women who no man wants' is spot on. I could not agree more with what is said, which cuts across all borders. Whew, I can only take a deep breath. What I want to mention though, is that this particular article is educative, and makes a positive change in the reader's life. Hopefully, the world will restore sanity in the dating/relationship arena, hence family values.
Wow, it's amazing how far-reaching the Observer is. That's my first feedback from Uganda, and it's from a native Ugandan too, not a Jamaican living there. I've also had responses from Israel, Morocco, Finland, Australia, New Zealand and other far off lands. I had better brush up on my correct use of other languages, as the world is my audience.
This only shows that relationship issues cut across all borders, and no matter the country or people, men and women will continue to either love each other, or get on each other's nerves. It's like a lottery, hit or miss. So too is the game of chance that people indulge in with sexual activity. I know that I titled this piece fornication, but let's not forget the others such as adultery, paedophilia, incest, and such, which can also have severe fallout.
It was just a few weeks ago that I saw a report on TVJ by Nadine McLeod that highlighted the fact that in Ecuador, one in every five teenage girls gets pregnant while still in school. That country was the venue of the UNFPA 2012 State of World Population Report. Instead of being kicked out of school, the girls are allowed to remain and finish their education.
But the fact remains, and the question is asked, why does Ecuador lead the world in teenage pregnancy? There was a time when Jamaica was way up there in numbers too, but our family planning campaign has been fairly effective, plus other factors such as increased abortion may have contributed to the decline in teenage girls having babies.
Still, there are many teenage girls having children and their lives have changed forever. That is one fallout of fornication, and even though many of us may not like to hear it, read about it, or see it, and bury our heads in the sand, the fact remains, it's fornication that brings about these problems. Hey, don't get me wrong, I am no religious zealot, for Lord knows, I have been touched by the same impropriety of which I speak, but facts are facts.
The cold, hard truth is, it is never going to stop, for the sexual urge is perhaps the most powerful force known to men and women, so the next best thing is to deal with the fallout which can range from unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, broken homes, shattered lives and destroyed marriages.
But before we judge, let's not take things for granted and say, "But why not use contraception?" Well, I learnt from research that over 200 million women in the Third World have no access to contraception of any kind, as do millions of young boys and men. And still the urge to fornicate is powerful. Perhaps that accounts for the high increase in teenage pregnancies in Ecuador and indeed other countries in the world.
They can't just walk into a store and buy a pill or condom. Most have never even seen one. So as a result, people will have sex, babies will be born and grow up; they in turn will have sex at a very early age, get pregnant too, and the fallout cycle continues.
Very often these teenage girls are impregnated by adult males. But even though fornication is deemed a sin, illegal, and punishable by imprisonment or death in some countries, it is still indulged in with great gusto and relish, and no law on earth or heaven is ever going to stop it. That's just the way it is.
Over the past decade and more, I have been fortunate to have been involved with the Ministry of Health's HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Public Education Programme. It has been quite an education, but it is also disturbing to know the level of ignorance that still exists among adults, even as they are bombarded with information regarding the fallout of flippant fornication.
Mercifully, many have been informed and educated, and the numbers of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS have fallen considerably. In fact, the Caribbean region has shown the biggest decline. But there is still so much room for improvement.
But apart from the physical fallout of fornication, there is the emotional side which at times can be equally if not more damaging. It's so emotionally charged that even devout church people continue to grapple with the urge to fornicate and often fall short in their attempt to resist temptation.
Just look how many church sisters and brothers have given in to pleasures of the flesh. And as for the preachers who are supposed to lead them, all they do is lead them down the garden path of pleasure. Every day, more news emerges about preachers who have fornicated with the flock, even as they preach about the perils of the pursuit of pleasure of the flesh.
Just a few weeks ago, Ian Boyne's TV programme, Religious Hardtalk, featured this USA preacher called The Miracle Man, a self-confessed multiple fornicator who suffered a serious burn accident and had over 265 surgeries in his painful and lengthy recovery. He confessed to serial fornicating with his flock and overindulging in almost everything else in excess, until the Lord took away the things that he loved the most, his looks and his money.
His story was riveting, and he was brave to go public with it even as he begged forgiveness. There are countless others who are still indulging, preaching from the pulpit, even as they fornicate with their flock. We are not here to judge, but lord man, some of then must take time with their parishioners. Have mercy, take time.
Let's get real though, is it possible, feasible, logical, realistic, to live a life without fornication? Vows of celibacy have proven to be fruitless. I'm not talking to the married people, for their infraction would be adultery, which is still fornication, but between married people. Which beggars the question, if the woman is married and has sex with a single man, does she commit adultery and he fornication? Which is greater? That's why fornication is the umbrella that covers the general fallout and problems that exists. The dictionary says that it's sex between two people who aren't married to each other. And what about gay men and women? I won't even go there.
But back to the question that so many people grapple with. How can a young couple, involved for many years, engaged to be married, faithful to each other, be expected not to fornicate? I see the letters to the advisors almost every day. "Dear Parson, I am deep in the church but my boyfriend of six years wants to have sex. What should I do?" "Fornication is a sin my child, a sin before God and man."
I know so many people deeply involved with the church, who not only fornicate, but have tangible proof of it, as they bear children. Is that a serious fallout, or blessing? I'm not judging, but only reporting.
So we're agreed then, we cannot stop fornication, but we can minimise the fallout with more education. It's like going into battle. Don't go naked, but protect yourself at all times, and wear your suit of armour. If not, the fallout from fornication can be devastating. More time.
Footnote: To preach or not to preach, that is the question. You can preach all you want, bredrin and sistren, but not on our public transport. I totally agree with the ban on those people who preach on our buses, as I also agree with the ban on loud music being played.
True, I do not take the bus anymore, but I remember when I used to, and the disturbance that they caused still lingers. Plus, they put you through a guilt trip if you don't agree with them. What if a Rastaman, Buddhist, Muslim, Agnostic, Atheist, devil worshipping zealot was to preach their views on the buses, how would that go down?
I still take public transport when I travel overseas, and we all know that those buses and trains have absolute silence. It's a law that's strictly enforced. So it's not a law against religion or preaching, but a fight to keep one's freedom to enjoy a quiet ride on public transport.
London's Hyde Park has its Speakers Corner where anyone can expound all that they want on any subject. If you don't like what you hear, you can simply walk away. You can't do so on the buses.