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crows nest
By Stephen Tomkins
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Chastity begins at home
June 2000

Intriguing news this month from Nairobi local paper The People – a favourite read in the Crow's Nest along with The Greater London Particular Baptist Godbotherer and Dr Who Monthly. A large group of Catholic women have adopted unorthodox measures to combat the problem of drunkenness in Kenya. Their tactic is to seek sex with police officers.

The women's concern is that their husbands are spending too much time in illegal drinking dens, and they want the police to close them. But before anyone leaps to the un-PC assumption that the women are offering sexual favours to the cops in a desperate attempt to get their beloved husbands back home, that's not quite how it is. In fact, the women are not offering sexual favours, but demanding them.

"Our men have turned to vegetables," said one of them. "They leave home early and come back intoxicated. There is nobody to meet the sexual needs of wives."

And so they stormed the police station and presented their demands: that the chief officer either close the dens, find them all more capable husbands, or order his men to provide carnal gratification themselves. The women, drawn from 24 different church groups, brought the town to a standstill for a day. Unfortunately, The People does not record how the police responded.

I would like to offer the good women of Kenya what help and encouragement I can, especially considering how many of them are avid readers of this column. And so let us turn to that inexhaustible fount of consolation, medieval Roman Catholic dogma.

We all know of course that rumpy-pumpy is an almost entirely wicked thing. Catholic authorities from Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century to JPII in the 20th have tried to dissuade married couples from indulging in any horizontal happenings, for any purpose other than bringing little Catholics into the world.

Our old friend St Augustine, for example, says that Mr and Mrs shouldn't get it together just out of desire. If instead they do it for the sake of procreation only, they are "putting this evil to good use". Better still if no one ever did it, then "heaven would be filled much more quickly, and the end of the world hastened."

So my unsought and conceivably unwanted advice to all undersexed Kenyan readers would be to realize that they have been graciously, if inadvertently, awarded the gift of chastity. Such an opportunity is not given to us all, and it should be quietly cherished.

Admittedly, drunkenness tends to be thought of as a bit of a sin, too. But unlike lust, it never made it into the top seven. At least not in the film version. So presumably, even these wayward and unmanned husbands are in fact spiritually better off getting bladdered than getting randy, and so ought to be left to it.

What's more, getting legless only imperils the immortal soul of one person at a time, while getting a legover could imperil two. It is clear then that the best and most pious course for these unsatisfied sisters is to return home and sublimate their passions into good works and religious fanaticism.

St Paul warned: "Do not get drunk on wine that leads to debauchery." What he would have said about wine that diverts from debauchery, we can only guess.
also see
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Andrew Rumsey's regular column about the religious life
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Stephen Tomkins' regular round-up of the saints of yore who were one wafer short of a full communion
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