|Cerebus #275 (February 2002)|
Art by Dave Sim, photo by Ken Sim
(by fax, 29 December 2013)
Here's a first! I've never written anything for A MOMENT OF CEREBUS as part of my Sabbath observance. I'm doing so now because I read Susan's commentary of being "dumped" by me in favour of God. (Google image-heavy issues of STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND photo reference are, by forcing me into the coffee shop, perhaps, going to prove a boon to my contributing here).
I don't think "dumped" is an accurate way of looking at it: it was more that, as I became more familiar with Judaism, Christianity and Islam, I recognised that there's a reason that adultery is considered a comparable offence to murder or theft in the Ten Words (or the Ten Commandments as Christians refer to them).
Which, for me, casts a whole new light on my own choices: which choices had been, to that point, "fornication followed by adultery" (I was having an affair that Deni knew about and accepted and occasionally participated in at the time we were married and for about a year after) then followed by fornication (which -- depending on how you interpret Matthew 5:32, 19:3-12, Mark 10:2-12 and Luke 16:18 -- establishes a co-equivalence between divorce and remarriage AS adultery; and which I infer casts an unfavourable light upon post marriage fornication) (the Synoptic Jesus attributing the Bill of Divorcement in Judaism -- Deuteronomy 24:1 -- as "toward the hardheartedness of you he wrote to you the commandment this" seems to me to point quite sharply in that direction). You'll notice that I had Cerebus wrestling with this in the course of RICK'S STORY relative to what he was doing with Joanne. Is fornication just as bad as adultery?
I'm not God, so I don't have a specific "one size fits all" answer for that (I'm not sure that God Himself does: I think that's one of the manifold "Metaphysics of the Universe" spiritual questions that the universe itself was created to answer in excruciating detail over untold millenia and across a nearly infinite number of planets), but, examining myself, it came down to "innermost motivation" insofar as I was able to determine what that was.
I had realised while married to Deni -- pretty early on -- that marriage just wasn't for me: I was not, by nature, a husband. But my atheistic response to that (being a devout atheist at the time) was to get divorced and then "play the field" with what I saw as -- and what proved to be -- a kind of in-built immunity to marriage. Good for me (as I saw it at the time). Not Good for me in an Ethical sense as I became familiar with Scripture.
It seemed to me that there needed to be an "either-or" -- I either needed to be a husband and father or, having determined that that wasn't who I was (which I had definitely determined to be the case as early as 1979), I needed to be completely celibate. There was absolutely no Good that could come of saying "I'm going to adopt the protective coloration of a potential husband -- I'll be a good boyfriend -- but inwardly, I know that this relationship is only going to be temporary."
The General Good and General Welfare of Society (it seemed to me, as I first examined the question in the late 1990s, and still seems to me) is better served if women are only being courted by potential husbands and potential fathers and fellows like me (or, rather fellows as I was prior to that) stay off the relationship "chessboard" completely. Particularly since women are deciding entirely on their own with whom they are getting involved and to what extent (as opposed to their beaux needing to ask permission of their fathers to become engaged as was the case until the latter half of the last century).
Having been a Bad Boy I can vouch for the fact that the Bad Boy has a disproportionate appeal for many, if not most, women. For some he gives them permission to engage in or endorse their own bad behaviour (not being "AS Bad" as him, she can see herself as being Good while sill being bad), for some he's a "challenge" (she wants to be the one who tames him), for some he's the female equivalent of professional sports (who among the women he's sleeping with is in "first place"? Who is on a winning streak? Who is on a losing streak? Where am I in the "standings"?), for some he's a status symbol equivalent to what the trophy wife is for men: "Look what I'VE got! Eat your heart out!"
But, in the context of the General Good and General Welfare of Society, he's basically a societal vandal: despoiling (or, if you prefer, "despoiling") other men's daughters, sisters, nieces, cousins, aunts, etc. and constituting a distraction and a detriment to the orderly course of the female life well and truly lived. And not just in the course of the relationship, but in the carry-over emotional damage he causes to the individual female psyche. By being emotionally untrustworthy, he damages her ability to trust (in a foundational sense, since most women are emotion-based beings).
This is particularly important, I think, when you consider that science is just now discovering that there are far more serious consequences to female health than have been hitherto been suspected which result from delaying pregnancy, motherhood and lactation much past the mid-twenties. WAY too many women are wasting WAY too many good years -- their own very narrow individual window of individual opportunity -- they can ill afford to waste "dallying" with a Bad Boy -- or Bad Boys -- and/or recovering from the emotional ill effects of such relationships. To the extent that it was once possible for a Bad Boy to say, "Hey, nobody put a gun to her head" and chalking it up to a learning experience for her, that becomes less possible by the day. Fully engaging a female romantically so that she is unable to contemplate an alternative when you are just "playing around" is at least co-equivalent to putting a gun to her head -- or, more aptly, and more gruesomely, to her breasts and to her internal organs -- in terms of the potential long-term damage to her physical health.
So I would suggest it would be more accurate to say that in February 1998 I chose to repent of my fornication and adultery, having recognised that that's ALL my romantic relationships had been or could be when it came to my innermost motivations. A repentance meant giving it up and thereby (hopefully) atoning for it (I'm of the "Don't Continually Apologise And Whinge To God About It: IMPROVE" school of theology).
Summing up my like to the best of my abilities, in my own eyes: I was a completely unrepentant fornicator and adulterer from December 1976 to December 1996 when I began reading The Bible and a hypocritically repentant fornicator and adulterer from December 1996 to February 1998 -- I knew it was wrong but I was still doing it -- when I "dumped" Susan. A total of 21 years and three months.
And I will have been celibate for 16 years in February. If the basis is "time served" (it's always, I think worth remembering that it's God's timetable, not ours, which matters) then, by August of 2013, I had atoned for all of my post marriage fornications and -- God willing -- by May of 2019 I will have atoned for my pre-marriage fornications with Deni and my adulterous liaison of 1978-1979.