This week’s song of the week is a golden oldie, the Pet Shop Boys‘ “It’s a Sin” from 1987. Here’s the video:

I stumbled across this song again last week. I was looking through our CD collection in an effort to find more tracks for one of my workout mixes. I started listening to a couple of PJ’s Pet Shop Boys CDs and instantly fell in love with “It’s a Sin.”

I don’t remember the song from 1987, though it sounds vaguely familiar. After uploading it to iTunes, I went over to YouTube to see if there was a video. As soon as I saw it, I loved it too. Not to sound like too much of a typical gay guy, but I especially loved the guys in their underwear. Very sexy in an innocent sort of way.

This song became even more relevant to my thinking this week after I saw Save Me over the weekend. As I wrote about yesterday, I really enjoyed that movie in part because of its ability to present its Christian characters in a non-stereotypical sort of way.

“It’s a Sin” sums up that movie’s (and my) take on religion. I was raised in a very religious household (though my parents would object to that characterization — they don’t like the term “religious”). The churches we went to were always fundamentalist and apostolic. While none of them ever emphasized sexuality over any other “sin,” I learned that homosexuality was something to be ashamed of, to avoid talking about, and to hide: it’s a sin.

That’s not to say that I don’t think most Christians aren’t sincere in their beliefs and in their hopes of saving souls and helping people. I think they are. But I also think  that they’re wrong, simple-minded, and easily taken advantage of. I know that probably sounds awful, but it’s what I think.

Because of that bias, I’m particularly disappointed by gay people who are “Christians.” On the one hand, my fundamentalist upbringing can’t help but lead me to think that gays can never really be Christians — the Bible does seem pretty homophobic to me. I don’t see how you can successfully reconcile the two. On the other hand, it just seems like a waste of time to me. If you want the social interaction of church-going, why not just invite some friends over for drinks or dinner or something? I can’t help but see religion as an outlet for the desperate and when I have friends who suddenly start going to church or espousing religion because their new boyfriend or girlfriend does, I can’t help but judge them a little.

In my defense, I think this judgment comes from the attitudes exposed by “It’s a Sin.” No matter how hard you try, I don’t think religion will ever really accept gays and lesbians into the fold. And I think religion is the solace of small minds. It’s a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing but shame, prohibition, and denial.

So, “It’s a Sin” is this week’s song of the week because it reminds me of what I think is wrong with religion in America. I know I sound harsh and judgmental, but I guess we’re all entitled to our biases and blind spots. At least the Pet Shop Boys make that bias something you can dance to!

Here are the lyrics:

When I look back upon my life
It’s always with a sense of shame
I’ve always been the one to blame
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too

It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin
It’s a sin
Everything I’ve ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I’ve ever been
Everywhere I’m going to
It’s a sin

At school they taught me how to be
So pure in thought and word and deed
They didn’t quite succeed
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too

It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin
It’s a sin
Everything I’ve ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I’ve ever been
Everywhere I’m going to
It’s a sin

Father, forgive me, I tried not to do it
Turned over a new leaf, then tore right through it
Whatever you taught me, I didn’t believe it
Father, you fought me, cause I didn’t care
And I still don’t understand

So I look back upon my life
Forever with a sense of shame
I’ve always been the one to blame
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too

It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin
It’s a sin
Everything I’ve ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I’ve ever been
Everywhere I’m going to – it’s a sin
It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin
It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin

(confiteor deo omnipotenti vobis fratres, quia peccavi nimis cogitatione,
Verbo, opere et omissione, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa)

[I confess to almighty god,
And to you my brothers,
That I have sinned exceedingly
In thought, word, act and omission,
Through my fault, through my fault,
Through my most grievous fault]

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