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Offer Your Sex to the Lord

God kills boners but he makes your soul warm.

Hello, I'm Sophie Heawood, does my column need a title? If John Doran is MENK then I could be MILF. Or maybe MILF TEETH. I don't want motherhood to define me.


Over the years, I’ve found many interesting and entirely accidental ways to make a man lose his erection. For a good chunk of my early twenties, a copy of The Alchemist on my bedside table and a little handwritten note on the wall saying "Marry Me!" was enough. (Why did no one say something sooner? Did all my friends really want me to die alone with 27 cats?) But if you really want to make a man lose his boner, the best way I have ever found is to tell him you are offering your sex up to the Lord.

When I was a conflicted teenage Christian, I used to do to this to my boyfriend. “Can we offer this to God?” I remember saying on more than one occasion, mere seconds before the act, with the condom already on and raring to be used for ungodly means. The poor guy’s eyes would tighten, while his erection did anything but. “Okay!” he would then say, too invested in the immediately approaching act to let anything like a conversation with me slow it down. He had to accept my godliness, especially as it often accompanied me skiving off sixth-form college so we could take new drugs or have sex in strange places, e.g. a hill or a cupboard. This was quite good going, as I was also a Sunday school teacher at the time. Yes, I had always been a deeply religious child. In fact it’s a good job my mental state was essentially strong at the core, as I would otherwise have been an excellent candidate for going fully mad. From the age of about eight onwards I had long, daily conversations with the deity, who was watching me at all times. This gave me the sense that I was something of a celebrity, unlike other members of my family – brainy agnostics who didn’t seem quite as tuned into God FM as I was. My dad, being a philosopher who was quite big on logical positivism, was into the idea of there only being one truth. He wasn’t really a big fan of this “my truth” and “your truth” bollocks, otherwise you couldn’t use the word truth, could you; you were talking about something else entirely. (Pretty sure my father has never read The Alchemist.) There was just science, and fact, and something called empiricism. Well, my dad’s favourite way to deny the existence of God was to go, “But if God is omnipotent, that means he can create a stone so heavy that he himself can’t lift it, which then means he is not omnipotent!” Still now, this sentence annoys me more than any sentence on Earth. If I could write a new sentence so heavy that it would crush that sentence, I would. If I live long enough, I will. 'You’re just inventing a problem with language and then solving it inside the same bit of language again,' I used to think. You’re making this about words, not gods and not rocks! My sweet Lord is everywhere! And so I used to cart myself off down to church first thing on a Sunday morning, dressed in my own unique take on the concept of Sunday best, while my parents had breakfast or read the papers or stayed in bed. I’d come home, aged nine, from my morning worshipping the lord, and they’d be in their dressing gowns, staring at this strange religious freak they had produced. By age 12, I was fully overturning their socialist child-rearing ways, and organised my own christening, after setting up a meeting with the local vicar. I even told him what hymns I wanted played, and was quite disappointed when he pointed out it would still be a normal church service and that I couldn’t choose the setlist. He said I’d need godparents, but I didn’t like the idea of boys, so I appointed myself two godmothers: Joanna and Emma. Joanna was two months older than me and Emma was two weeks older than me, and both were delighted to take on such a significant role in my life. We used to wonder what would happen if both of my parents were killed in a tragic plane crash in the desert and one of them was forced to become my legal guardian and keep me in the manner to which I had become accustomed. We enjoyed worrying about this quite a lot.

We invited all the other girls in our class at school to the christening (none of the boys) and my mum gave me some money to buy new clothes, so I got some psychedelic floral culottes from Topshop and a purple top with gold brocade. I must have looked transcendent, particularly when the vicar tried to dunk me in the font and my top got so wet you could see the full outline of my Tammy Girl training bra. But then teenage things happened, and I embraced them like only a religious nutter can. I continued with the church, and I continued with teenagehood, and they crashed into each other all along the way like two shopping bags that I could never quite put down. Finally, I made a conscious decision that sex and drugs and rock and roll were better than Christianity, and I took to the darkness with a happy light. Except it never goes. It never, ever goes. Believe me, I have tried everything. I went to see Christopher Hitchens talk about the nonsense that is faith, and felt like I’d had my brain scrubbed out with wire wool. I left that talk feeling clean inside my own head in a way I never had done before or since. Hitchens was a drunk old lech at the time, his cells soon to start over-multiplying and killing him, but his oratory was crystal. I felt like I had a new brain. I left the auditorium knowing that I could now truly call myself an atheist – and that I would be sure to mention this to God the next time we spoke. Because the thing about faith is that it is so very, very warm. They did a wonderful job at my Sunday school. We were told, repeatedly, that God was love, God was helping each other, God was respecting each other and not casting the first stone at other people’s sin, not judging them. God was respect, God was being nice to your mum and helping her, God was doing your best. There was so much love taught in my Sunday school, I would like to thank it for making me into an essentially happy person for the rest of my life. It was like having cognitive therapy at a pivotal age. You’re told that God is out there giving love, and in your heart giving love, too. You can’t escape him, or her, or it. You’re just enveloped in this hot warm bath of love. Like when you get off a plane in a hot country and you get that first blast of air, and it envelops you. Now, if somebody gives me a hard time about something, or does something grotesquely unkind, it only ever hurts up to a point. The shock of it hurts, and then you just think: they’re not in the bath. They’re not in this lovely, warm envelope of love that I feel. So to all my clever atheist friends who worry about schools teaching their kids a load of religious shite, worry not! Life is magicless enough as it is. Shed a bit of love on the situation. Sit your kids down in a warm bath of love. Offer your sex to the lord.

Follow Sophie on Twitter: @heawood

Previously - The Stories I Tell That Someone New