Posts Tagged morality

Virtue can be stolen (and it has nothing to do with rape)

One of the discussions running around feminist circles is about the use of Moroni 9:9 in President Dalton’s talk on virtue. The hurt expressed from using this scripture is the assumption that the loss of chastity and virtue means that the women were raped.

To show the scripture:

9 For behold, many of the daughters of the Lamanites have they taken prisoners; and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue—

Sure, it’s easy to say this means rape, nicely tying chastity and virtue to it, but I think this misses that these women were taken prisoners. This could be the effects of months or even years in the hands of their captors.

These women were subjected to a period of time being prisoners. It would be likely that eventually they would come to empathize with, or even defend the actions of, their captors. The effect of this would have been a loss of virtue and chastity. Would they have the blame for this? No, it would be described that their virtue and chastity – their innocence – was taken by their captors, even if no sexual component was involved. We’ve only recently given this kind of thing a name – Stockholm syndrome.

Something more to remember are the other usages of virtue in the New Testament, when it was used to heal, as in Mark 5:25-34 and Luke 8:43-48:

43And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any,
44 Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.
45 And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
46 And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.
47 And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.
48 And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.

Virtue, even when paired with chastity, does not mean sex. No one would argue that the woman (and others, Luke 8:19) healed by the Savior in any way sexually violated Him, but in every case, it was described as a loss of virtue.

Virtue is power used to heal others, physically and spiritually. No, I am not saying that the Lamanite daughters were used as physicians, but that in their time as prisoners their ability to heal themselves and each other waned over time in what must have been an unbelievably horrific situation. In modern times, we seem to have gone to the easy answer in interpreting the words of Moroni. The worst thing we could imagine happening to a woman was rape, but we find with sad experience that there are worse things. To be kidnapped, kept by people doing horrific things, and seeing glimmers of false hope and trust in your captors can change you, taking away the virtue and chastity you once had.

For the sake of those who have had to live through the horrors of rape and kidnapping, we need to change our usage of Moroni 9:9. I think the recent use of it by President Dalton was a good step, but it is going to take a good deal of work for all of us to un-learn our hurtful interpretation of this. Rape and sexual abuse is damaging and vile. The burden of repentance for this should never be placed on the victim. No virtue or chastity has been taken from them, even though their innocence is lost. Using our virtue to heal should be foremost in our minds, not the erroneous idea that they are somehow to blame. We’ve bludgeoned our daughters (and sons) with this long enough.

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Happiness, Belief and Morality

I recently read a blog post from an atheist site that derided the surprise of someone that Atheists could find happiness without God. I found it particularly amusing that I agreed with the atheist writer. Why shouldn’t Atheists be happy? Yes, knowing God has help make my life happier, but that does not mean that I could not have found happiness if I did not find God.

This brought me to a thought that tends to go with the thought that Atheists cant be happy – that those who do not share the same beliefs you do must be amoral (or immoral, which is different).

This is one of those ideas that works to divide, rather than bring together and uplift. Our history is resplendent with it. Native tribes had to be “converted”, since their clothes and ways were different. Jews had to be purged since they had crucified Jesus. Catholics had to become Protestants to free them from being told what to believe by the Pope.

From this kind of thinking, rumour and gossip abound: “They treat women like cattle!”, “They kill babies!”, “They let men and women worship together!” – biased (and often baseless) accusations designed to make us feel better about persecuting them.

We have to remember that all of these people are also creations of God, our brothers and sisters, or at the least, fellow human beings. They are struggling just as much as you are to learn who they are and what they want to do with their lives. Your beliefs and traditions can be just as foreign to them as theirs are to you. These beliefs do not make them immoral any more than yours make you immoral. They are simply different.

If you truly wish to help – work to improve your life so that you live up to your beliefs. Then, invite and show others how your beliefs have improved your life and happiness. Let it be their own choice, if they have a desire to change. And, no matter what they choose, continue with them. Perhaps you will even learn something from them that will strengthen your own beliefs.

Everyone has morals. Each persons morals have been shaped over the years by many more things than their beliefs. Everyone can be happy, no matter what they believe.

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The Separation of Religion and Politics

One of the biggest issues coming out of the gay marriage debate is the role that different religions have in influencing people one way or another, some decrying a lack of separation between “The Church” and “The State”.

Historically, we Americans tend to love having religion, so long as no religion becomes big enough to tell anyone what to do. We have had anti-Catholic riots, anti-Mormon mob killings, and various other anti-religion demonstrations of varying degrees of force. Currently we continue with anti-Muslim sentiment (because “they” must all be the same and want to take away my rights) and a renewed anti-Mormon sentiment (because “they” told their followers to be against gay marriage).

I don’t pretend to know what the founding fathers were thinking when they put in the First Amendment of the Constitution “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” nor do I know how the Supreme Court defines the “Separation of Church and State”. What I want to know is – how do you separate someone’s religious beliefs, no matter what religion they belong to, from their political beliefs?

To me, religion can’t directly influence politics. People are extremely free to go in and out of any religion if they don’t agree with what the Church as a whole believes. If a Church declares that it is against Gay marriage, and directs its members to work against it, each person has to decide if they believe the same as that Church, or if they do not. You do not have to believe what anyone tells you to believe, and if you don’t believe what your Church believes, why be part of that Church?

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