So Jimmy the Shrimp. In this chapter, Eric wonders why God would create sex in the first place. If Eric (and the reader) were to create the world, this is what he would consider:
So when the Garden of Eden comes into view and it’s time to craft our very first human being, it just makes sense – knowing what we know now – that we should leave out the excretory and reproductive systems. (p. 15)
I don’t think I have to say all that much here, let me just… So there are two really gross things about being a human being – sex and… shit? The major problem here is the association of sex with something that most young women (the major audience of this book) will find very gross. This creates an image of sex as something very undesirable – would you want to touch the excrements of another person in any way? No? Well, having sex is very, very similar to that. At least that was my first idea when I read this passage, and I bet I’m not the only one who was put off by the thought of sex in connection to the excrement image.
What follows is Eric’s recollection of a particularly cold morning. He put on warm clothes – even long underwear (he stresses this three times, I am clueless why this is so relevant as opposed to the jacket and gloves he was wearing) to go to the gym. So he gets out of the car in front of the gym, and there’s this guy wearing shorts. Eric is surprised (he put on long underwear, after all) and observes the following:
I gasped with horror, and before I could analyze and thusly quash the words I was about to launch from my squack box, I blurted, “How do you pull off those shorts?” – Sex creates problems we certainly wouldn’t have if it didn’t exist. (p. 16)
Seems like a weird train of thoughts? It is! So why is sex to blame for the shorts-situation? Here’s the solution:
As far as he [the man in shorts] was concerned, I was not only a sexual deviant but a rather rude one at that. My point is, sex caused that very uncomfortable scene! (p. 16)
Ok, Eric, listen: Sex did not cause that uncomfortable scene. Your (and the man’s) perceptions about socially appropriate behavior and stereotyping caused that scene. Your belief caused that scene. Don’t blame sex. It didn’t force you to ask that question, and it didn’t tell the man who you were probably gay. What really, really, caused that scene is the fact that you can’t take a single step in this world without thinking about penises and vaginas, because you were taught that you are supposed to be thinking about penises and vaginas at all times. This is not what normal people do.
Back to creation. So, why did God create sex again? Eric states that, if you’re not just going to leave out sex in creation, why not make it really really painful? There wouldn’t be rape, or unwanted pregnancies or VDs if sex were painful. However, Eric believes that this wouldn’t solve the problem behind the whole sex debate. Here’s why:
You know how in mobster movies, you find out that the Mob has been laundering money through a series of front companies. and no one knew that Jimmy the Shrimp from the west side of Chicago was actually the deviant behind the whole murderous affair? The problem with Sex is a lot like that. There’s a Jimmy the Shrimp behind this whole Sex thing, and it’s making the whole bottle of milk go sour. And whether Sex was removed from the picture entirely or the act of Sex actually became painful, the problem (aka Jimmy the Shrimp) would still be at large, finding himself a new flunky and creating a new front behind which to hide his deviant behavior. Sex just happens to be his chosen front. (p. 18)
I think this is a very accurate comparison. Eric is right, sex is not the problem. But who, exactly, is Jimmy the Shrimp?
Selfishness. Yep. That’s the sickness; that’s the problem. It’s that’s (sic!) simple to describe. Selfishness (aka Jimmy the Shrimp) is the essence of everything wrong, not just with Sex, but with everything else on planet earth. (p. 19)
The concept of selfishness vs “dying to self” is a huge one in conservative christianity in general (cf. JOY – Jesus first, others second, yourself last) and the Ludyverse specifically. It shouldn’t surprise that Eric sees selfishness as the root of all problems – or, as he mentions a page later – the Flesh. The Flesh is what makes us do all evil and bad, and, due to our fleshly nature, human beings are bound to follow their fleshly desires, aka to sin, to do bad, to be selfish. On top of that, there is no stopping it. You can’t just be a good person, as Eric explains:
You see, the catch is, you are free as a bird to do bad, mischievous, crude and debased things, but you are not free to do godly things. Being loving, pure, kind, and good-hearted doesn’t seem like much of an ambition until you realize that no matter how hard you try, you can’t pull it off. You are stuck on a one-way street called Sin, and there’s no going the other way. (p. 21)
This is quite a bleak outlook on life, but it captures very well the essence of conservative christianity: It is simply impossible to be good in any way. You are governed by your flesh and there’s no escaping it – your flesh, your selfishness, rule everything you are. The only way (which Eric also mentions in the following passage) is making God your only master. That means that your flesh must die (aka “dying to self”) in order for God to use you for good things, to make you pure and noble. This is an either-or decision, which also means that if you do not believe in the God of the Bible, it is absolutely impossible for you to do anything good in your life – even those acts you might think of as good and noble are perverted by the underlying selfishness of the flesh. Eric explains this problem in connection to sex:
Sex is a carrier for Jimmy the Shrimp’s agenda. You may want Sex to exhibit the beauty and romance of heaven in your life, but as long as the Shrimp stands behind it, Sex will always only be selfish, lust-driven, and perverse. (p. 23)
Basically, what this boils down to is that without a clear belief in the God of the Bible, all sex you have will be perverted, and dirty. Even if you remained a virgin untill marriage. Even if you never looked at porn or had sexual thoughts. Only through believing in God in a particular way can you make Sex something acceptable and fulfilling.
Now, taken all together, it is very hard to criticize Eric on these ideas. If you did have sex outside of these belief systems, you might go ahead and say that Eric is wrong, that you are very satisfied with your sex life and whatnot. But you see, this chapter and the one before it serve to build up a defence system against this argument: YOU see Imposter sex and, like the women at Starbucks, think he’s the hottest guy in town. Your opinion is invalid because you have no idea. Eric knows what really great sex feels like, and you’re just going to have to go ahead and believe him. And if you don’t… well, that’s probably your flesh trying to stop you from becoming a believer.
Next up: Eric’s steps to really great sex.