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Boxers or briefs: What would Jesus do?

WATCH | Photo shoot with Andrew Sheridan

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These days, symbols of faith seem to be in high fashion. From religious pendants and “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelets, to crucifix tattoos and Buddhist symbols, style is very important for those who believe. But while just about anyone can sport a Star of David around their neck, not every man has the cojones to rock their faith where it really counts – in their pants.

“I Love Jesus” boxer briefs are the latest incarnation of fashion’s holiest trend. The briefs were created by New York designer Jason Sutherland, the founder of the underwear company Piss & Vinegar. In their company tagline, Piss & Vinegar asks, “Do you think you have enough?”  For the consummate consumer of religious iconography, the answer is a resounding “no.” Piss & Vinegar’s newest line is called “I Love…” and for the first time, it allows men to really show where their loyalties lie. While the “I Love Girls” and “I Love Boys” shorts make a statement that should be apparent by the time the pants come off, Sutherland anchors the line with the “Jesus” and “Buddha” models, intended for those who want to hide their shame but not their religious beliefs.

“Piss & Vinegar is about living from the heart, making sure you personally push yourself to do everything you can to find the energy needed to be something and more,” said Sutherland in a recent interview. Sutherland is a pioneer in the industry, doing to boxers and briefs what Hot Topic has done for T-shirts.

While he does see the humor in his over-the-top designs, Sutherland uses iconic figures for a purpose and wants his customers to be able to express themselves genuinely.

Right away, I was intrigued by the idea of expressing myself through religious underwear. I couldn’t help but wonder, would it serve as a reminder, sort of a “WWJD” meets Fruit of the Loom, or would it simply keep my equipment warm? I decided to do an experiment: I would wear the Jesus briefs twice, with one day spent as piously as possible, and the other spent being evil. What would having the Lamb of God strapped to my groin do to my luck, and to my conscience? I aimed to find out.

The first morning of the experiment was a Sunday, and I put on the sacred shorts right under my Sunday best. The first thing that struck me was that they were, in fact, quite nice briefs. I have always been a boxers man, and the tighty-whities got me a bit closer to the Host than I would have liked, but the material – 95 percent Pima cotton  – was very high caliber. Emblazoned brightly with “I heart Jesus,” the flaming Sacred Heart replaced the standard Western love emblem and made quite a bold fashion statement.

Upon arriving at my church, I was informed that the children’s message I had been roped into participating in had been called off. Someone lost the script, so I didn’t have to do a thing. I chalked that up to a win for the man with God in his pants, and sat back and listened to the day’s sermon.

From there, the day went well, rounded out with a visit to my grandmother’s house and other chores of a family man. I wasn’t sure if I felt good because of my lucky charm or because I was playing Mr. Nice Guy, but seeing the tortured face of Jesus every time I unzipped was certainly startling. The Bethlehem briefs had been supportive so far, but the test was far from over.

The next day, with underpants freshly folded, I suited up and headed out first thing in the morning for a full day of shameless debauchery. First thing on the agenda was to get some liquor in me, so I headed into town with a couple of friends to hit up a bar. My luck was sour right off the bat, as the bar we picked gouged me on mediocre beer and put a serious dent in my deviance budget.

Next, I hopped on the subway in Boston, trying to cheat the system by using an illegally acquired discount T pass. Once again I was foiled, as a pair of undercover Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officers grabbed me on my way in and cited me for fare evasion. Did the underpants know? Were they working against me somehow?

Undeterred, I continued my trek and headed to Chinatown to meet up with a girl who staunchly claimed that her middle name was, in fact, “danger.” My omnipotent shorts must have known my intentions with this young lady were impious, because my luck stayed bad. Lunch was a series of lousy dishes and hot oil burns, but I wasn’t about to lose faith just yet.

Just as I was getting the feeling that God’s judgment had me by the balls, my underpants gambit finally paid dividends. Back at “Ms. Danger’s” apartment I was finally able to see the light: The briefs’ most important feature is that they’re hilarious. I wouldn’t usually be happy if a woman laughed when I took off my pants, but in this case I made an exception. The holy yet comical shorts ended up on the floor for a good long while.

By the time I got home, the verdict was in: Jesus wanted me to be good. Sporting an image of the Son of God while trying to get laid falls into the category of desecration of the Host, and I seem to have paid for my transgression. However, there is something to be said for making a statement, expressing how you feel no matter who sees it. And to those who are offended, remember: God gave us the free will to choose. Don’t get your undies in a bundle.

Andrew Sheridan can be reached at asher1@student.umass.edu.

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