The phenomena is universal: the quirky behavior and beliefs of your relatives can embarrass you far more than is warranted by the actual behavior and beliefs. What might be brushed off by the unaffiliated can trigger a slow blushing burn in a son or daughter, husband or wife. Association works as an (admittedly questionable) accelerant not just for guilt, but also for mortification.
I think "embarrassed by association" goes a long way to explaining my groaning irritation with Natural Selection's premise: a Christian couple in Texas live in a sexless marriage because the wife (Linda) is infertile and the husband (Abe) believes it's a sin to "spill his seed in vain" based on God's admonition to Onan in Genesis (38:9). Raised in Texas as a non-denominational fundamentalist, I cringed—literally—at the biblical hermeneutic employed to come up with that bit of life application.
The introduction of the couple's pastor, Linda's brother-in-law Peter, did little to soften the lines on my face. Clearly distressed by the lack of sexual relationship with her husband and looking to her pastor for guidance, Linda does mention that not everyone in the church holds this conviction (thank God, not the pastor, apparently), but contends that it's what Abe believes and so it's what goes. And she's not complaining about it, mind you. One's ideas about a husband's spiritual headship of the home notwithstanding, there's a misappropriation of the Genesis passage in play here that has serious ramifications for the mental and physical health of his parishioners. And any pastor worth his pulpit should be guiding and teaching Abe and Linda on this point. Instead, Pastor Pete offers the most bland of encouragements and barely conceals his own ...1
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