Sunday, July 27, 2014

Promoting the Abstinence Message Again Part 3: A Matter of Definition

by TaraElla

Regarding my last two posts on abstinence, a few people have asked me what does 'abstinence until marriage or similar commitment' mean.

'Abstinence until marriage or similar commitment' is basically the same as the more traditional 'abstinence until marriage', merely a more inclusive form of it. It takes into account that some people may want to make the same kind of permanent commitment marriage entails, without wanting actually to identifying their relationship as a marriage. This is what I mean bt a 'similar commitment'. Of course, people who are only casually dating or otherwise not committed to 'forever' does not fall into this definition.

I believe it's important to specify this inclusive language, even though it makes for less of a 'slogan', so we don't delegitimise non-marriage relationships which are otherwise as committed and as permanent. I totally support the tradition of marriage, but for the sake of stable families, it is commitment, rather than whether that commitment is called a 'marriage', that is important. Also, once we start to think that only marriage counts as commitment, it would inevitably bring on the question of what is a legitimate marriage. From there, it would be a slippery slope down to ideas like 'a marriage isn't really a marriage unless it's registered with the government', or even 'a marriage not recognised by the church is not really a marriage'. This is clearly anti-freedom, and we should not go anywhere near there, I believe.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On Complex Families

Recently, sections of the right wing have been increasingly vocal about championing the traditional nuclear family as the 'gold standard' of family, saying that it is better than blended families, step-families, single parent families and same-sex parent families.

Whilst I have long been a champion of stable family structures, I simply believe that it is inappropriate to pit one form of family against another, as long as it is a stable structure. I have long believed that large extended families are much better than isolated nuclear families for the purposes of raising children. Should I disparage isolated nuclear families then? No, because those families are still clearly of much value to their members and to society. Furthermore, each form of family has its pros and cons, and cannot be easily compared. For example, families headed by lesbian parents are often believed to be better at caring for young children and raising boys to respect women as adults. Children in step-families and co-parenting agreements have two sets of parents looking out for them.

Also, whilst I believe in stable family structures, life isn't always ideal. I am a firm believer in giving your all to preserve a marriage, always. But there are situations where people have no choice but to walk away, for example where there is domestic violence, emotional abuse or other severe problems that cannot be resolved. Families have to do their best to survive in these situations, and we have to applaud them for their efforts.

All families should be celebrated, and none should be disparaged.

Promoting the Abstinence Message Again Part 2: It's a Cultural Belief, Not a Judgement

by TaraElla

In the last post I discussed how making abstinence a logical thing rather than a 'cool' thing was a better way to sell the message. However, there is still one more barrier we have to overcome. There are sadly plenty of people in the community who see those promoting abstinence as fundamentalist religious bigots or moronic ultraconservatives. And I guess you wouldn't be able to blame them, with a lot of abstinence education being carried out by homophobic right wing religious groups.

The point we should make is that we believe in abstinence until marriage or similar commitment, we live our lives according to this belief, we support each other in living this belief, and we are happy to share this belief with others. This, however, doesn't mean we think that everyone who doesn't believe and live this way are somehow less 'moral' than us. People live differently for different reasons, and whilst celebrating and promoting our own culture and lifestyle, we cannot really judge others'.

For this very reason, I believe the way abstinence only education is run is actually bringing abstinence a bad name. We need to reclaim the abstinence movement: it's a cultural belief that we share, not a judgement on the rest of the world.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Promoting the Abstinence Message Again

by TaraElla

Not too long ago, the message of abstinence was everywhere in mainstream media. It was very common for celebrities to claim to be virgins who were dedicated to abstinence until marriage or similar commitment. There was this idea of abstinence being cool.

And then, it seemed that it was no longer 'cool' in the same way. Celebrities hardly mention it these days, it seems.

The thing is, encouraging people to choose abstinence because it is 'cool' is pointless. Things are cool one day and 'so uncool' the next. We choose abstinence for good reasons. We believe in stable, healthy families, and that requires children only be potentially born into committed families. In turn, a committed family can only exist when two people are committed to spending the rest of their lives together, when they agree not to walk away just because they don't feel like being together anymore. It's not foolproof, and some marriages do turn sour, but it's at least something we should try for, I believe.

And if you believe in the above, it appears that the only situation where those conditions are reliably achieved is with a vow of abstinence until marriage or similar commitment. Sometimes this vow may be made to look 'cool', sometimes it may be informed by religious views and sometimes not, but the most important thing is the reasoning behind it, I believe. (Note that we don't judge others who don't believe or live the same way as we do, but it's great to openly discuss and celebrate our cultural lifestyle, right?)

p.s. What about gay people, some have asked me. This abstinence reasoning is mainly based on heterosexual relationships, but in the spirit of societal-wide equality, all abstinence movements should warmly welcome gay people too. If there should be equality in marriage, there really should be equality in abstinence too! Besides, there are many other benefits to the vow of abstinence, for both straight and gay people alike.