Who Spilled the Beans?
Child I don't have: Mom, Timmy and all the other kids are doing crack.
Me: Hmm. (Sigh.) Okay, I'll see what I can do. Where are they getting their crack, do you suppose?
I decided that if I was going to be handing out the crack (aka "extra credit") I could do my best to make it interesting. In chapter 9, we discuss not just the sexual positions best known to man (like the Flying Mango), but all kinds of sexual behavior, including (dare I say it? Joycelyn Elders said it and lost her job) masturbation. I often share a little anecdote with the class about the sin of Onan (I learned this from one of my favorite books - Don't Know Much About the Bible - slightly humiliating to buy as a former Catholic school student, but totally worth it. Great for keeping inappropriate sister on her toes, if nothing else). For those of you who were never Sunday school teachers, here's the short version:
Onan is the middle son of Judah (who is just one of the sons of Leah and Jacob - as in "Jacob, Jacob and Soooooons!" for you Broadway musical junkies). Er (nice name, no?) is Onan's older brother who marries Tamar. At some point in their Old Testament lives, Er does something bad (mixing plaids and stripes?) and God "strikes him dead." Judah (dear old Dad) then orders his next son, Onan, to sleep with his brother's widow (Tamar) because that's considered the nice brotherly thing to do at the time. Onan does NOT want to have to raise kids who are technically his brother's heirs (don't ask me - I don't get it either) so he "spills his seed" every time he goes to um, visit, his dead brother's wife. God is very displeased with him and strikes him dead. Kind of a high body count for that family.
Apparently, this little known story has served as justification for tormenting teenage boys for hundreds of years. But, according to Kenneth C. Davis, the author of the Don't Know Much . . . book, Onan's sin was actually coitus interruptus, not "self-abuse" as the little old Sunday school teachers liked to call it.
This story shocks and amazes students (esp. IBAS, since they believe their Biblical knowledge to far surpass mine and they have never heard this little tale) and it's a good opening for a conversation about many of society's "rules" about what is considered appropriate sexuality and what is considered inappropriate sexuality and the origins of these rules.
All this for a two-second bit about extra credit. Still with me? I decided that the extra credit question would be, "Who was Onan, and what was his sin?" A little "shout-out" as the kids would say, to the students who actually show up to class. So, I'm spending spring break like the rock star I am, doing Tequila shots and grading exams. Yesterday, I come across an exam of one of my favorite (yes, teachers have favorites - sorry to break it to you) female students and her response to "Who was Onan and what was his sin?"
Onan was some guy from the Bible and he spilled the beans.
Well, kind of. I gave her partial credit.