I Didn’t Want to Go to Hell

One thing I learned from the cult of my youth: Dressing lies pretty don’t make it the truth

Joel Michael Herbert
Human Parts

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Photo: Jenny Getter/EyeEm/Getty Images

When I was 7 years old
I walked down an aisle
Because I didn’t want to
Go to hell
What a thing to tell a kid
And as long as I can remember
I wondered
If anyone could break the spell
Of the shame I felt

As a 7-year-old boy

When I was 8 years old I learned
That women who wore jeans
Were probably gonna go to hell
My grandparents too
Who didn’t quite believe
In Jesus and his love
Would face his wrath as well
Oh the fear I felt

As an 8-year-old boy

Mama, don’t you kid yourself
That’s child abuse
Making up the rules as you go along
Refusing to sing if it ain’t your song
Dress it up the best you can
I won’t call a truce
Till the whole thing burns in ashes to the ground

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Joel Michael Herbert
Human Parts

Husband. Father. Artist. Storyteller. Armchair Theologian. Advocate, activist and politician. Gryffindor. [neuro]Divergent.