Jamaica Patois Wisdom – Virtue

by Jefferson David Tant

The Jamaican Patois dialect is colorful, unique, and humorous. It is my desire to share some of the philosophy shown in this mix of colorful phrases that are witty as well as thought-provoking. I hope the readers both profit and enjoy. In my quarter-century plus of teaching there, I have come to appreciate some things about their culture.

Patois: It betta fi dem call a gal haatless dan a matras

English: It is better for a girl to be called “heartless” than to be called a “mattress”

Meaning: It is better for a girl to be virtuous than to be sleeping around

In the Patois dialect, when boys can’t get a girl to have sex with them, they call her “heartless,” thus accusing her of having no warm feelings. On the other hand, the girl who is willing to have sex with this one or that is called a “mattress,” i.e., she lies around here and there having sex.

It is obvious in the 21st Century that moral values are far removed from what they were even 50 years ago. Among my high school friends, I knew of only one girl who had been sexually active. I knew of only two or three boys who may have been sexually active. In 1900, some 90% were virgins at marriage.

I read of a teacher who took a dozen roses to class. Among the students were 11 boys. The teacher took one rose and passed it around for each student to examine. Then he put it back with the others. Later each boy was to take a rose home to his mother. Can you guess which rose was left? It doesn’t take a genius to know that the rose that they “passed around and handled” was left. What’s the point? Why would you want to marry someone who has been passed around and handled by who knows how many others?

In America today, studies show that only 3% wait until marriage to become sexually active. So, what are the results? Instant gratification may seem good, but there are other consequences. One might say that a dose of heroin produces instant good feelings, but the consequences of drug addiction are not pleasant.

As of 2014, the percentage of children born out of marriage was around 40%, up from 24% in 1965. And this does not include the number of abortions (murders), about 600,000 a year. With respect to sexually transmitted diseases, those aged 15 to 24 contract 10 million of the 20 million new cases every year. By some estimates, there are over 50 STDs, and AIDS is not the only one that kills. Furthermore, there are some STDs that have no symptoms until they are fully grown.

There are other consequences. The divorce rate for those who are virgins at marriage is much lower than for those who were sexually active. The national welfare costs for single parents are staggering. Children growing up without a complete set of parents are much more likely to repeat the same pattern of behavior, have a much higher rate of crime and incarceration, have a lower feeling of self-worth, etc.

Since the God who made us knows what is best for us, those who are wise will follow the “Owners Manual,” which is called the Bible. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

As a final admonition, consider God’s warning: “But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone; which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). And what are “fornicators?” Those who have sex outside of marriage. Thus the end result is not pleasant. If one who reads this is practicing this, you can change. The apostle Paul wrote about these and others: “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:11). With God’s help, you can change.

So, girls, if you are called “heartless,” take it as a compliment.

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