Wash Away Your Sins...with Bubble Bath
In the book of Acts, Saul—after undergoing his Damascus Road conversion—is encouraged by Ananias to “get up, be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
In an article I penned, some years ago, I wrote about Blue Q, a Pittsfield, Massachusetts-based company, that was offering some alternative “Wash Away Your Sins” options: a bubble bath, cleansing bar, and moist towelettes.
The label on the bubble bath promoted the contents as “baptism in a bottle” and “the sanctified soak.” The product was directed at “liars, cheaters and wrong-doers” and promised to remove “stubborn guilt” and to help “redeem sinners the easy way.” This “100% holy,” “Bishop-tested” and “Cardinal-approved” cleanser was said to leave “no visible sin scum. The directions for use? “1. Kneel before thy tub. 2. Reflect upon wrongdoing. 3. Run warm bath. 4. Pour in enough bubble bath to equal your sins (double the amount you estimated). 5. Submerge thyself in blessed bubbles. 6. Soak. 7. Arise cleansed from sin and ready to do-it-again.”
The experience of all of this was said to send one off bearing abroad in the land a “tempting ‘do-it-again’ scent.”
If the $12 bubble bath didn’t do the trick, one was also invited to call upon the radical power of the soap. The cleansing bar was promoted by the shapely nun on the box as “easy to use,” and good for “all 7 deadly sins.” This “sinner’s necessity” promised to remove sins, kill odors and reduce guilt by 98.9% or more—all for just $8.50 a bar. “1. Open box, remove soap. 2. Engage water supply. 3. Moisten oneself. 4. Lather vigorously. 5. Rinse. 6. Repent.”
I came across these little “treasures” at a store in Wayne, Pennsylvania, which—quite appropriately, as it turned out—bore the name Anthropologie.
Anthropology is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as “the scientific study of the origin, the behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural development of human beings.”
What a study we have here in human nature, behavior and development!
Shouldn’t one anticipate that, once a culture has abandoned the word “sin” in favor of “dysfunction”, the “original” problem would make its way onto a parodying bottle of bubble bath sold in a store named Anthropologie? Humans characteristically deny sin, or make a game of sin, or look for ways to wash away or hide sin. SO offended are we by the word sin that some of us try to erase the word from common usage in verbal discourse, while others make a joke of it.
The Wash Away Your Sins products were displayed in the store next to Blue Q’s Dirty Girl line of cleansers, “designed to transform even the dirtiest girl into an immaculate, sweet-smelling specimen of beauty.”
Mitch Nash, who owns and runs Blue Q with his brother Seth, told me Dirty Girl in particular, with its “feisty female sensibility and playful quality,” had been a “phenomenon for the company.” The Wash Away line, which was designed by a woman raised in a Catholic household, was also doing well, especially with women in the “16 to 40ish demographic.”
“It’s about redemption,” Nash noted, “but done in an offbeat way.” Interestingly enough, he said, the company had never received any calls complaining that the products were “inappropriate or disrespectful.” Rather, Nash said, he had heard of “many people of the cloth giving them away as
In addition to the soap and bubble bath, the company sold a Wash Away Your Sins lip balm in a “cheap red wine flavor.” This “anointment ointment,” with an SPF of 18, was said to provide “handy salvation for a sinner on the go.”
One could find these products on-line, where there were some compelling enticements:
· “Haven’t had time to repent your sins lately? Well, maybe a good wash with this soap will hold you over.”
· “Confess in an altar of bubbles with Blue Q’s Wash Away Your Sins. Just as effective as confession!”
· “If only what this bottle claims were true! Remove stubborn guilt. Yes, please. Wash Away Your Sins Bubble Bath formula isn’t vastly different from other bubble baths, but we like the idea of “symbolically” washing away the guilt. Have another drink. Crank call your nemesis. Order the Spice Channel. Do whatever your naughty side wants. And let your bath fix it all (if your conscience can handle it).”
· Finally, on one site where Bite the Hand that Feeds You Dog Biscuits and You’re a Mess Mirrors, were on the offer, the lure to buy the “easy-to-use” products wass simple and direct. “Sinners rejoice, yes, there is hope!”
Wow, what an opening for a presentation of the Gospel! Yes, indeed, there is hope! Through Blue Q we’d been given an “altar to the unknown God” opportunity. Left to their own devices, aren’t human beings a mess, and don’t we bite the hand that feeds us? Aren’t we loaded down with the weight of guilt and sin? Aren’t we called to be 100% holy? Couldn’t we use a good cleansing, a vigorous strengthening of our characters? Wouldn’t we like to have about us a sweet, appealing scent?
Yes, Blue Q was right. we should kneel, reflect upon wrong-doing, repent of sin, be baptized and wash away our sins.
There was one crucial ingredient unaccounted for in the product line’s formulae, but without it, the sinner could never be fully clean; she or he would always feel in need of another good soaping. Missing in all this hype was mention of Jesus Christ.
But as too few Christians are about spreading the gospel, many folks may continue to seek an easy way to deal with the burdens of guilt and sin. I went in search of the Wash Away products and could only find them on EBay. There I managed to find not only the cleansing bar, but a “genuine leatherette” change purse that would remind you to “spend your way to a cleaner conscience.” And…there was entire “soul-saver pak” with bubble bath, holy water and guidebook. What I haven’t been able to locate are Blue Q’s handy dandy moist towelettes aimed at killing sin on contact and righting wrongs with a wipe. Oh, well.