Wednesday, December 7, 2016

POTTY TALK IN CHRISTIAN MEDIA

First, let me preface this by telling you I didn’t grow up in the church.

However, the Christians (and unbelievers, but they don’t concern this post) I grew up around were rather prewdish about everything that happened below the waist, and that included going to the bathroom. I also found this attitude in the Baptist church in which I wasted 14 years, from age 17 to 31 (although of course time is never truly wasted when one is in the Lord.) That’s why I find it noteworthy when ever there is a candid mention of diapering, toilet training or going to the bathroom in Christian media, music and literature being included in the term media. Below are the mentions I have encountered which I find noteworthy. Quotations are not exact as I’m doing this from memory and it’s obviously more trouble than good to find all the books, articles, etc.

In the children’s fiction series of books about Teddy Jo, Teddy Jo’s brother, Paul, has a problem with wetting his pants. I have never found going to the bathroom to feature at any kind of length in any other Christian fiction I have read.

In Ethel Barrett’s book, “Will The Real Phoney Please Stand Up”, she has a line that goes something like, “There you were with your stomach full and your diaper dry.”

I heard an interview with Shelly Lewben a couple years ago in which she said, “My first job for the Lord was changing poopy diapers.” This stuck with me not only because of Lewben’s candour but because she recognized that whatever we do, even changing a baby’s diaper, we do it to God’s service.

Around the same time I heard an interview with a woman who’d written a book called “Red Hot Faith.” She mentioned that, at one time, she had three children in diapers. Again, it stuck out to me because it wasn’t something I’d heard Christian women bring up before.

A local Christian singer has a song about winter in which her young daughter says, “Mom, I have to pee.” After getting her snowsuit on. I remember an incident with some so-called Christian playmates of mine where a girl used the word “pee” and the others reacted to it as if she’d said a swear word.

An article from ten years ago about Christian youth organizations playing fast and loose with statistics compared the sloppy analysis to “saying that in ten years all children born this year will be wearing diapers because right now they all wear diapers.”

In one of his books, Frank Viola has a chapter on discipling new believers. He mentions one of the metaphorical tasks of bringing up baby Christians is to “change the diapers.”

Of course, the most famous example is probably the pants wetting story, which is used as an analogy about humility, service to others, or something. For those unfamiliar with this story, here goes:

A girl, ostensibly 10 years old, is going to a friend’s house after school to play. She has to use the bathroom before she leaves school but doesn’t because she figures she can make it to her friend’s house and use the bathroom there. As she and her friend continue on their journey, the girl’s need increases until, by the time they reach the friend’s house, the girl is desperate. To her horror, the door to the friend’s house is locked and the friend forgot her key at school. The two girls repair to the backyard where the friend proceeds to turn on the hose so they can play in the water on a nice warm day. The sight of the water gushing forth from the hose causes the girl to loose control and empty the full contents of her bladder into her pants. Noticing, the friend sprays the girl’s crotch with the hose, then sprays her crotch with the hose. When the friend’s father gets home, he believes both girls have merely gotten wet because of the water.

Though I admire the candour of this story, too, I do have a couple problems with this tale.

First, what about the smell? Spraying the friend might explain the wetness but you would still be able to smell the pee.

Second, what about the friend? Mightn’t she have made the same mistake as well, thinking she could go once she got in the house and not realizing she left her key until she reached her front door? Even if she went before she left school, might the friend not have to go again between the time she left school and the time the father returned from work?


Of notable exception to this uptightness about bodily functions is the UK. I have been reading a lot more Christian literature from Britain in recent years and there seem to be more frequent mentions of things like changing diapers and the potty.

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