Sexual Innuendo in Church

Innuendo in church is the best kind of innuendo.

You’re not allowed to guffaw the way you would under other circumstances—say, if you were watching a movie with your wife or having coffee with an old friend—and the unseemliness or impropriety of disturbing a church’s solemnity or quiet reverence acts as a kind of thick-walled container.

The laughter and levity are the gases inside that container, and like other gases under enough pressure, they have a tendency to explode.

My youth minister in high school had an uncanny knack for Freudian slips and other verbal blunders. Once a quarter, he stand behind a podium in front of the entire congregation of around seven hundred people and pray something along the lines of,  “Thank you, God. We are so breast to be here this morning.”

I’d begin to feel that itch of a laugh trying to escape. It feels similar to holding one’s breath underwater. “Breast” itself isn’t that funny, but the context! Laughter begs for camaraderie, so I’d crack an eyelid and take furtive glances around to see if anyone had heard the mistake. I would have had about as much luck on a deer hunt in the Smithsonian, and had no choice but to sit in the pew with itchy laughs crawling around inside my chest and causing a delicious pain.

God must have known that fill-in-the-blank sermons with four cozy take-home points all starting with the letter “C” would hold my attention only so long, so he gave me a love of reading and Bibles on the back of every pew. Song of Solomon, Judges, Leviticus, and Ezekiel 23:19-20 were weekly favorites.

In retrospect, I think this was all in keeping with the spirit behind the letter. After all, Jesus was a carpenter, a construction worker; I bet Jesus knew how to tell a joke. We put more emphasis on his status as rabbi, prophet, and savior, but even during his public ministry, he spent most of his waking hours with a ragtag band of fisherman, social outcasts, and rabble-rousers. Judging by what followed, they had more rough edges than polish and more audacity than etiquette. Men can’t spend that amount of time around campfires without the conversation taking a turn for the worse now and again. Besides, I’ve never met a man as smart, powerful, and perplexing as Jesus who didn’t have a little wit up his sleeve. He sure gave the Pharisees a run for their money.

I think he smiled at what happened one Sunday morning in December at church. Tim made an announcement about going over to Guy B. Love apartments. After confirming the time, he moved on to the subject of passing out hot cocoa and cider.

“Does anyone have big jugs?” he asked, making fists and raising his elbows.

Sweet Kim who recently gave birth to a healthy baby boy raised her hand, and without so much as blinking, replied, “I do.”

God bless our tiny gathering. I looked around and couldn’t find anybody who seemed to have noticed—not a single smirk, snort, or sidelong glance.

I was alone in my appreciation. Well, Jesus was there somewhere. The rest were busy nailing down the logistics for Ciderpalooza 2010.

If a tree falls in the forest, I bet there’s one nutty squirrel who thinks it’s hilarious.

Get it? Nutty?

You people…

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What’s the best verbal blunder you’ve ever heard?

Comments Closed

6 Comments

  1. Patrick King
    Posted January 7, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I readily admit having southern accent. But on this particular occasion, I suspect the influence of the distinctively thick southern drawl of the Kenly, North Carolina youth I worked with that summer had its affect. I was the summer intern minister for a small Methodist church, and during one Sunday service, I took the opportunity to remind everyone to stop by the youth’s ass cream social. Mmm, nothing builds community like some Preparation H.

  2. benjijones
    Posted January 7, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Brock Rough once told me I lived in a world of “private irony.” Which is probably true for many of us.

    If only 1 person get’s a joke (or if 1 million people get it), that doesn’t change how funny it is.

  3. Posted January 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree more. Hemorrhoid victims need a sympathetic ear too, and it’s a pity that children are the ones suffering and needing cream.

  4. Austin L. Church
    Posted January 7, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    That’s an excellent point, and I’m glad you put words to our particular breed of solitude. When I was teaching high school English, I had one student who always laughed at my jokes when no one else was laughing. Those otherwise unpopular jokes were some of my best material—I knew that whether my students did or not—and I loved that he either didn’t notice or didn’t care that no one else was laughing. His name is Zach Rogers, and he’s a wide receiver for the University of Tennessee now.

  5. Travis
    Posted January 16, 2011 at 1:57 am | Permalink

    I thought you were going to recant my friend’s story… Same punch line, different context. A friend of mine was gathering 5 gallon water coolers which would be used to hold lemonade and water for a church outing. He stood up in church one day and, as a speaker accustomed to using his hands when he speaks will do, held both hands up, palms out at chest level, moving them up and down, synchronized with his speech cadence, and ask “does anyone have any large jugs we can use next Sunday… anyone at all?” I suspect there was at least one person in the audience fiercely fighting to hold their laughter in but, to their credit, no one seemed to catch the humor in the situation.

  6. Posted January 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to start letting it out. I’ve since heard that four or five other people noticed at church that Sunday. No more Mr. Polite Guy. If we’re all thinking it, why not bring it to the light? Besides, laughter is often a better teacher than seriousness anyway.

One Trackback

  1. By Bless His Heart – gu.e: what's left out on February 23, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    […] My youth minister in high school had his heart blessed enough times to turn it into an Olympic runner’s. His propensity for verbal blunders often provided some comic relief while he was leading the congregation in prayer. He often mixed up his Ls and Rs: “We are so breast to be here this morning.” […]