By Hanna Seariac
Recently, I read an opinion piece regarding the Virgin Mary and the reception of virginity in modern culture. The writer of this piece argued that the Christian community uses the Virgin Mary as a vehicle for encouraging abstinence as a social construct to oppress women. The author correctly asserts that many different traditions differ in belief on virginity, but illogically concludes that “archaic Judeo-Christian society” has unnecessary policed the sexuality of women. This conclusion falls into numerous logical fallacies and the trap of moral relativism.
The first fundamental, irrefutable flaw of this piece is that the author neglects two valuable ideas: that virginity and chastity are different, and that they indeed apply to both men and women. While virginity is simply abstinence from sexual relations, chastity is a state of mental purity and holiness as made evident in 1 Peter 2:11 “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” and again by 1 Thessalonians 4:7 “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.” Every person, whether male or female, is called to the same purity of mind and heart.
Only married couples are permitted to engage in physical intimacy and every thought or act must be directed towards the spouse. 1 Corinthians 7:3-4 reads “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” The article rests its entire premise upon doctrine’s sexual oppression of women, but, in a tune of loaded sexism disregards that the male must also abide by the same doctrine.
Furthermore, the article reads “If not an indication of the sheer magnitude of what constitutes healthy sensuality, the concise and deferential deviation in the myths of chastity we see across indigenous traditions on a global scale must surely show that the one widely-adopted by those traditions who follow the King James Biblical tradition offers only one of many.”
This statement’s first logical fallacy is that since other traditions do not believe in chastity, chastity’s only value is oppression. The author seems to be laboring under the delusion that morality comes from circumstance, not a matter of nature, which is a philosophical theory known as moral relativism.
Moral relativism declares that separate individuals and/or societies can each declare their own separate standard of morality. However, in this line of thought, a society of racist, genocidal slavery would be morally sound. If moral relativism is acceptable, then slavery must also be accepted; if the aforementioned society declares itself right, while its standards may not be acceptable to you, it has every right to declare its own morality. If you, dear reader, have thought that the absence of slavery is preferable to another society’s conception, you are disowning moral relativism. There can be only one standard. And as for chastity? Again, there can be only one standard.
Changing standard tenets of beliefs according to society means that your God is not God, your God is society. If you believe in the teachings of Christianity, it is an inherit contradiction to say that premarital sexual activity is not a sin. If you believe that your beliefs trump the standards that God has explicated in religious teaching, then who, do you believe in and what do you really believe? God’s standards are His standards, not ours or society’s to dictate.
The second logical fallacy is author’s supposed understanding of “the King James Biblical tradition.” In fact, the King James Bible was composed for political reasons, is full of confusing archaisms, was translated by translators untrained in Koine Greek (the language of the New Testament), and is not used by any sects of Christianity, excluding Anglicans. One must understand that this translation of this Bible is not considered the chief document of Judeo-Christian tradition, or is even a good reflection of it.
Truth -and proper translations of the Bible- hold that chastity and virginity are important, but not for oppression. Every good Christian man and woman, regardless of denomination, is called to not only to abstain from sexual acts until marriage, but also to maintain mental purity at all times. Even non-Christians should understand this merit. In Sex, Love, or Infatuation: How Can I Really Know?, Dr. Ray E. Short, a professor emeritus of sociology, presents research on how couples that engage in premarital sex are more likely to break up, divorce or have affairs, and become depressed. Furthermore, abstinence offers the best prevention of STDs, and unwanted pregnancies. Perhaps we should not only refrain from calling women “sluts” and “whores”, but we should respect the Christian ideology as well.
Photograph Credits: A Culture of Life