Arguing for Morals in a Free Society

Left as a comment on Dawn Eden’s blog as a response to this post. Do note the quoting of James 3:17 in that post, “Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

What should be disturbing to anyone who still believes the word “feminist” has positive meaning is how she, Ellen, and other chastity detractors appear unable to write about the subject without urging that opposing views be silenced. It’s as though they believe women are too dizzy, stupid, and impressionable to make an informed decision when chastity is presented to them as an option. Apparently, among those who worship the god of “choice,” one choice is verboten: the choice to be chaste.

– Dawn Eden

The question that nags at me is this: Is it necessary, when arguing for those things chastity detractors promote, to ask that certain views not be brought up at all?

The easy answers are twofold: We could say “Yes, because they’re depraved, advocating sin, and so while their arguments might use a form of reason, our common use of the term ‘reasonable,’ which implies that someone can be talked to and persuaded otherwise, cannot be applied to them personally.” We could also say that “No, it isn’t right that they demand others be silenced, and they don’t understand the nature of a free and open discourse that allows them their views.”

I think the really difficult answer is that they’re taking the hard line they take out of necessity, a necessity created, ironically enough, by living in a free society. The regime of “choice” means that certain choices have to be forbidden, because all choices have to be considered equal in dignity. If there were inequality as to the lifestyles people pick, then one could say “this is what is best,” and instantiate rule on such grounds. In fact, even without one trying for such rule, what is “best” might drive what is worse from the realm of choice, and then one would have to wonder whether there choices can be made or not.

Of course, all of these considerations stem from a very narrow conception of freedom, but it isn’t a wholly debased one. The idea behind that narrow conception, where people can do wrong as long as it doesn’t seem to hurt others (it actually hurts them quite a lot, just think about the emotional wreckage alone), is that this is a society which is humane, where people can be free to discover their conscience and have a more natural fraternal sentiment towards others. If that sounds vaguely Christian, it is. The secular as we know it seems to have stemmed from the sacred in no small part. At some point religious people in the West wanted people to be able to choose their religion, and come to God freely.

I don’t bring this up to get on a high horse or blow a lot of hot air around. What concerns me is that this “debate” isn’t going to end. They’re forced into the position they’re in precisely because you’re right. And I don’t know that the debate is fruitful, because peace is what is needed in order to sow that which is truly righteous. More fruitful is your book, which seems to emphasize the positive side of being chaste, and shows that freedom, while it may have stemmed out of allowing the lowest to do and feel as they please, can indeed be something greater for all of us, including those of us who know better.

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  1. II have either misunderstood your response, Edens point, or you have misunderstood her point.

    I think that she was/is saying that “why is it always those that advocate choice the ones that are most boisterous in there shouting down opposition to their view?” She isn’t saying, necessarily that they can’t do this, but that it seems two faced – which it is. The choice side only wants one choice, and as such does not advocate choice. They want adherence, verbatim, to their ethos or else you are no good.

    Just a thought.

    I do like performancing. It has many advantages over blogger and other such tools. It is just awkward because I have to get used to it – feel my way around a bit more. Right now I kinda feel like a blind man in an orgy. Any way.

  2. Dawn shouldn’t worry about this. She should continue to make her point celebrating chastity and let here detractors reveal their true nature. Proverbs 11:22 (NIV) says “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.”

    Opposing points of view draw attention to our positions and are therefore necessary even though they raise the hair on the back of our necks. We shouldn’t care that they want to silence us. Those who are really seeking the truth will find it.

  3. No one has noticed my bio yet. I’m a bit disappointed by that.

    In other news I have just received an e-mail from someone whom I had hoped had completely and totally forgotten me. Instead she will be back in the area in a few weeks. Sounds like she wants to see me. God, just when I think I can move on – not get over, but move on – something pulls me right back to her. It’s been two years since I last actually saw her, and month since i last heard from her. Is this some twisted joke, or cosmic fate? Now I know I won’t concentrate at all today, my mind is shot and has already sailed down that path of fantasy and memory. Dammit, I just stability and normalcy!

  4. Hah, “Born again Prim” huh? I haven’t read the book, but I don’t see why feminists are getting so riled up about it. If what she’s saying is true — that people are suggesting that she should be restrained from talking about the virtues of chastity — then it seems extremely hypocritical of them. Being equal and having “girl power” are becoming the standard (at least in California), so I believe it is even more important now for people with minority thoughts to voice them. That is, indeed, true freedom when you are given more than one choice.

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