John C. has up a good post at BCC, The Value of Shame in Mormonism, about the recent New York Times piece by the 35-year-old Mormon woman visiting Planned Parenthood for birth control – she has decided that obedience to Mormon ideals of chastity has kept her a child and deprived her of normal human development, and now she’s going to grow up. John rightly points out that how a Mormon interprets her account will depend upon whether we think she is seeking birth control because she’s about to be married, or because she has decided the law of chastity is preventing her from reaching her personal definition of adulthood. John also explores some differences between how Mormons and non-Mormons will interpret her account.
Among some good discussion, there are crude remarks by anonymous/pseudonymous drive-by commenters. Their sneering at Mormon teachings is to be expected; I yawn at both their tiresome predictability and their boorishness. But there is also some evident ignorance of chastity exhibited by a few otherwise inoffensive comments. This is too long a comment to post there, and posting it here means I won’t have to put up with at least some of the contempt it would draw over there.
You’ve probably heard the story of the visitor who observes three men at a construction site. From outward appearance, all three are performing identical manual labor. But when queried as to what they are doing, one responds, “I am earning a living”; another, “I am cutting stones”; and the third, “I am building a cathedral.” The parable is a popular one used by management gurus and religious folks to illustrate the difference which “catching the vision” can make in a person’s life.
You can fast, or you can merely go without food and drink.
You can follow the Word of Wisdom, or you can merely abstain from tobacco, alcohol, tea, and coffee.
You can teach and testify, or you can merely talk until the bell rings.
You can serve, or you can merely fill an assignment.
You can have a marriage, or you can merely live with your spouse (a possibility even after a license and ceremony)
You can make a home, or you can merely cook and clean and pay the bills.
You can observe Thanksgiving, or you can merely eat too much.
You can be an adult, or you can merely have lived past your 18th birthday.
You can build a cathedral, or you can merely put in your time.
There is a vast gulf between living the law of chastity and merely living without sex (or, in a married context, limiting sex to one’s spouse). Those of us, married or single, who are chaste due to commitment and choice and covenant are actively living a principle with recognizable benefits and blessings (cleanliness, self confidence, the respect of ourselves and those who matter most, mastery of spirit over flesh, power in the priesthood, companionship of the Holy Ghost, the ability to stand before God in His temple without fear or shame) that go unrecognized either by those who are merely going through the motions or those who have abandoned the principle altogether. Nobody with a cobweb’s hold on reality believes that chastity is easy, or that celibacy is desirable, or that we wouldn’t prefer chastity in marriage to chastity in loneliness, or that we fit easily into a church of family ideals — those are separate issues thrown in as red herrings in any discussion that denigrates chastity.
Nothing — derision, doubt, or incomprehension by the unchaste — lessens the genuine worth of chastity.