Sunday, October 08, 2006

Consecration and confusion

There's an interesting story, here, about a woman, Lori Cannizzaro, taking vows to be a consecrated virgin, vowing to keep her virginity as part of her dedication to Jesus.

This is an interesting kind of issue to me.

You see, for myself, I don't like the entire idea of sexual abstinence being an issue of spirituality. I think that sex is a moral issue only insofar as it has risks to others, and giving up sex makes you no more godly than giving up marshmallows (though marshmallows only present a risk to yourself, not to others. Unless you're tempting people with marshmallowy delights).

But that means only that this is not my path. I shouldn't choose such a path for myself; it wouldn't be more meaningful to me than giving up marshmallows. For her, it is clearly more meaningful.

I would never suggest to her that she would be wrong to make that choice for herself. It doesn't hurt anyone, and the very decision to make sexlessness a part of her spiritual life makes it a spiritual thing for her.

At the same time, I would be disappointed if one of my daughters made that choice (if I had daughters). I wouldn't try to talk them out of it, but I'd be afraid that they felt that sex was something unclean, or impure, or lessened one's spirituality, and I think that idea has caused a great deal of damage to our society.

So there's a tricky path to tread. On the one hand, it's an idea that I think is based in something that disturbs me. On the other hand, who should care if it disturbs me? Certainly not Ms. Cannizzaro!

This is something that's bothered me for a while. I've seen a few interblog spats about attacking a person, or a person's ideas, in another blog. Now, a large part of blogging is not just talking about what you want; it's also talking about what's going on with other blogs. On the other hand, it's possible to talk about other people and their ideas without getting nasty. On the third hand, one person's "strongly worded discussion" is another's "hatefest", and on the fourth, well... let's avoid the whole question of censorship (or even social pressure) based upon content or style!

What I finally decided is that, if you're risking hurting another person's feelings with what you say, you need to consider that. You need to think of it as a cost. You need to measure that cost versus what you want to say. If what you say is important enough that the need outweighs the cost, you have to speak; if not, then perhaps you shouldn't.

Ah, but where is that balance? Especially since feelings heal, and unspoken ideas fade? Add in that you can never know what will hurt another's feelings, nor how badly, and then mix with that "wonderful" tool of oppression: "Yes, but let's not make a big fuss; upsetting people will slow down acceptance."

I suppose, in the end, there will always be the fuzzy ground, where there are those who would scorn Ms. Cannizzaro's choice, those who could scorn my discomfort with her choice, and those who can cherish them both, as reflections of the individuality, and search for meaning, that is at the center of a great many lives.

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