Dear church leaders, fix this, now.

When I read this article about Elizabeth Smart, I was, as always, impressed with her courage and wisdom. I was also disheartened to learn that she had heard the chewed gum analogy (and I’m willing to bet it was from a seminary or church teacher, or at least a Mormon school teacher). Generally I think we are (finally!) abandoning the chewed gum, licked cupcake, wilted rose object lessons–I can’t recall ever having been taught them and I feel reasonably certain that my daughter will not hear them. That’s why I allow her to attend church!

However, the very first scripture girls are required to study in their Personal Progress work on the value of Virtue is Moroni 9:9, which describes young women as having lost their virtue by being raped. That scripture reference needs to go, NOW. And we need to start explicitly teaching that this scripture reflects a cultural mistake among Book of Mormon peoples in their understanding of virtue, one which fails to properly apply the principle of agency and denies the power of the Atonement. The chastity in which the Lord delights (Jacob 2) is not merely virginity, and cannot be taken away by another person, especially not by violence or abuse.

Take this reference out of the Personal Progress manual. Do it now.

Please.

Comments

  1. Amen!

  2. I admit to being tempted to sneak downstairs and just rip this page out of my daughter’s PP book.

  3. Yes!

  4. Yes, yes, and yes. Shout this one from the housetop sister!

  5. Great point! I’ve always found the YW curriculum to be a little too black and white for my taste, but this is overtly detestable.

  6. Mark Brown says:

    Do it yesterday.

  7. Word.

  8. Shawn Tucker says:

    Mormon Matters recently did an excellent podcast on this very issue: http://mormonmatters.org/2013/04/22/170-171-toward-expanding-and-improving-lds-discourse-about-sexuality/

    Amen, sistah!

  9. EmJen, why sneak around? Strike it out with a black marker and explain to your daughter why you have done so. Why wait around for a correlation committee to do your parenting for you?

  10. Here, here! A dear friend lost her virginity while drunk & passed out. Obviously, she shouldn’t have been drinking and that was something to repent for, but this poor girl “knew” that she was now “damaged goods”, no worthy RM would want her, she had blown her chance at being virtuous. And since virtue wasn’t an option for her anymore, there was no reason not to seek love and validation from the only guys who would want an “unvirtuous girl” (AKA: sleaze bags).

    You can guess the downward spiral that happened. If just one person had taught her that virtue and virginity are not synonymous, that she could repent and be clean of the bad choice she made (underaged, unsupervised drinking) and that losing her virginity that way was NOT something she deserved and that the atonement could help her heal from it (not repent of it- that’s up to the scumbag boy who did it, but HEAL from it), and that she could still be worthy and virtuous enough for a good husband… what a difference it would have made.

  11. Thanks Kristine! This is vital.

  12. I think we should all make videos of blacking out/ripping out the relevant scripture from Personal Progress books. Who’s with me?

  13. liz johnson says:

    AMEN. I’d definitely black this out of my daughter’s PP book if she had one. That reference is hideous. Our conversations surrounding this scripture should center around the horror of using rape as a tool of war, not as a reference for virtue or chastity.

  14. It’s feels like someone did a quick search for the word “virtue” and zoomed in only the “precious” part of the scripture, not its context in an explicit reference to rape, torture, and brutal murder, of young women in Moroni 9:9-10. It’s a passage that should remind us of the horrors of a voilent and misogynistic culture, not the wonders of virtue.

  15. Robert Flynn says:

    Virtue can never be taken only given away

  16. Kristine says:

    What?? Mormons prooftexting and ignoring context? Inconceivable!!
    ;)

  17. Amen!

    And Deborah, here’s another Amen for you: Amen!

  18. Unacceptable.

  19. Sherry Johns says:

    This what i posted on my FB page after reading the article – I SO ADMIRE Elizabeth Smart. Now I admire her even more! Why – for speaking out as to why she didn’t try to escape from her kidnapper/rapist. She thought she was no longer of value – because she was taught that in her church. That if a woman loses her virginity, she is no longer worthy of anything good and is to blame. What wrongful thinking!!! Maybe church leaders, especially those who work with young women, and parents, will re-think what they teach…it’s about time. That same analogy is taught in the LDS church. Also used is a licked cupcake, etc. And the excessive focus on virtue being the same as chastity is being taught by the YW leaders at the highest level. Read Sister Dalton’s talks. No woman or man is any less when they’re been raped – it is not their fault, ever. A dear young friend of mine was raped by an awful LDS man, on a date. She went to her bishop and SHE was punished and made to think it was her fault. I’ve been raped, many times by an X-husband, and I felt I was less than, worthless, deficient. Why – because LDS culture blames the woman. That’s what a Bishop told me – “your husband has needs – your job is to satisfy them.” Horrid! Recovering from rape is difficult, especially when your culture/religion teaches you are unworthy because of it and when that culture religion does not teach sexuality in a helpful manner.

  20. Amen, in a huge way.

  21. KerBearRN says:

    I had no idea. So much about the young womens program is just wrong (I’m grateful for inspired local leaders here who have made it a much better program). I hope and pray that Ms Smart will continue to speak out on this. She is a brave woman and can make a difference to our cultural backwardness. Thank you Kristine for this!

  22. Nathan Hadfield says:

    Deborah, how does the context of Moroni 9:9 change the meaning of the words, “and AFTER DEPRIVING them of that which was MOST dear and precious above ALL things, which is CHASTITY and VIRTUE”?

    For me, this passage of scripture came immediately to my mind, without needing to search for it. I knew that it said something about torture and murder as well, but what I specifically remembered was that it said that the women had been DEPRIVED of their CHASTITY and VIRTUE. Even if the context somehow suggests it isn’t actually about depriving them of virtue, your point affirms that it doesn’t belong in a section of the Personal Progress workbook about virtue.

  23. Amen!

    (I cringed when I read that in the Elizabeth Smart interview too. I truly hope those teaching our young women now know better!)

  24. Bonnie Flint says:

    The cult of virgin-worship is alive and well in our culture. Johnny Lingo (still shown!! YUCK!) was willing to pay 8 cows for a lovey virgin, his father-in-law profited from his daughter’s virginity, Deuteronomy 22 is a twisted and heart-breaking exposé of virginity and punishment, a recent (April 2013) conference talk reminded us that our virtue is our most prized-possession, and a recent search of Sugardoodle.com (a website used by many YW advisors to find inspiration) found a current chastity object lesson which equates chastity to a shiny penny as opposed to a tarnished, well-worn penny. The object lesson ends by having the teacher give each girl a shiny new penny which she has wrapped in white netting and tied with a soft colored bow, with the challenge that each girl keep herself “shiny and unused for our future husband”, and that they carry that penny with them as a reminder of their goals to not start marriage out tarnished.”

    Let me just say. I survived the Kimball years when I was told that my parents would prefer me to come home in a box than come home without my hymen in tact—even if it was a result of rape. Please let’s work together to ensure that no other girl learns that her hymen is all she has that is of worth. I’ve accomplished MOST (if not all) of my greatest feats without said hymen. Virginity is not what makes a person valuable. It is the ability to love, think, inspire and uplift. No hymen required.

  25. cookie queen says:

    Church leaders read this?? Hmmmm.
    A big AMEN.

  26. Kristine says:

    Nathan, Deborah can speak for herself, but I think what she was saying is that the context is necessary to understand why verse 9 is the wrong scripture to use for this purpose, even though it has the words “dear” and “precious” and “virtue” in it.

  27. healing from rape is complex enough without having to navigate around and past the corrupt views of those who would shield themselves from the harshness of reality.

  28. KerBearRN says:

    I remember a quote from Pres Kmball (probably from Miracle of Forgiveness and I assume in my youth booklet from days of yore). In it, he said “Forcibly raped women are under no condemnation from the Lord.”. However, in the VERY NEXT SENTENCE, he said that women should be willing to fight “to the death” to “protect” their “virtue”. Even as a teen, I knew that was just wrong and contradictory. But or many years I believed that I was somehow unfaithful for disagreeing with a general authority. When a bishop gave my son a copy of MOF to read for the pron and M issue, we as his parents discouraged him from reading it, and instead recommended prayer and scripture and frank discussion with us when he needed support. I love Pres Kimball. But this wrong-headed culture about S-E-X, rape, M, etc, needs to go bye bye. It becomes a torment instead of a tool of progress.

  29. KerBearRN says:

    And amen to Bonnie too. No hymen required.

  30. Amen and amen! I haven’t seen a YW manual for a long time. I think I’m about to buy one and go through it carefully. My granddaughter will start YM in a year.

  31. I meant YW. But she might enjoy YM better. Do they start off with this scripture too?

  32. I have never heard of any of those analogies you are mentioning. However the teachers in our church are just people and they sometimes make mistakes and interpret gospel in their own way. However I do know Moroni 9:9 and you are totaly wrong on your interpretation of that scripture. It simply condems rape as one of the gravest crimes that men can inflict on women. Furthermore it explains to our girls and women that our virtue is most valuable. Heck I want my girls and grandchildren to hear that every day.

  33. Matthew says:

    Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:

    “I solemnly testify that when another’s acts of violence, perversion, or incest hurt you terribly, against your will, you are not responsible and you must not feel guilty. You may be left scarred by abuse, but those scars need not be permanent. In the eternal plan, in the Lord’s timetable, those injuries can be made right as you do your part. . . .If you are now or have in the past been abused, seek help now. . . .Talk to your bishop in confidence. His calling allows him to act as an instrument of the Lord in your behalf. He can provide a doctrinal foundation to guide you to recovery. An understanding and application of eternal law will provide the healing you require. He has the right to be inspired of the Lord in your behalf. He can use the priesthood to bless you”

    Just because people have misunderstood the purpose of quoting that scripture here does not mean that it should be taken out. The scripture is quoted to show how important chastity is to the Lord. Mormon’s writing of that scripture was not meant to say that the women mentioned had done anything wrong, but merely had something taken from them, against their will, which is true. There is no mention of guilt on the side of the women. If you or other Young Women leaders are misinterpreting the purpose of this lesson, the LDS Church is not to blame for that.

  34. From the LDS CES Manual Commentary on Moroni 9:9–

    If you have been the victim of sexual abuse, be assured that you have not transgressed the law of chastity. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:

    “I solemnly testify that when another’s acts of violence, perversion, or incest hurt you terribly, against your will, you are not responsible and you must not feel guilty. You may be left scarred by abuse, but those scars need not be permanent. In the eternal plan, in the Lord’s timetable, those injuries can be made right as you do your part. . . .If you are now or have in the past been abused, seek help now. . . .Talk to your bishop in confidence. His calling allows him to act as an instrument of the Lord in your behalf. He can provide a doctrinal foundation to guide you to recovery. An understanding and application of eternal law will provide the healing you require. He has the right to be inspired of the Lord in your behalf. He can use the priesthood to bless you”

    It would seem that this myth is perpetuated by naivete not inactivity by church leaders.

    I think calling for that removal, or denouncing the cultural understanding of a people extinct for 1500 years, are both silly.

    What of Luke 8:46, where Jesus said that He perceived virtue going out of him when the woman touched His robe? Was Jesus less virtuous for having healed someone?

    I don’t think the problem here is that the Personal Progress manual is messed up, that we need to suppress scriptures or declare ourselves more holey and doctrinally in tune than Moroni or Joseph Smith (whomever we give the credit of the scripture to).

    Rather, I think that the problem is on her end of understanding what the scriptures mean when they talk about virtue, and her isolating a single use of a word and applying a modern filter.

    While someone else can certainly make another feel like their innocence and loveliness before the Lord is gone, of course the scriptures aren’t saying that a victim is somehow guilty or less in the sight of God. It’s not saying that anymore than it’s saying that the Savior is less virtuous because He healed a humble and faithful believer who came unto Him, as He calls each of us to do.

  35. Liane, Moroni 9:9 does condemn rape, which is super. It also says that the act of rape deprives the victim of her “chastity and virtue.” That is simply false. If you’re going to teach girls about chastity and virtue, then great. Don’t do it using that scripture.

  36. Kristine says:

    As those quotations from contemporary church leaders show, it is simply wrong to think that one’s virtue or chastity can be taken by rape. We have reinterpreted that scripture, and the YW manual needs to reflect that fact to be in line with current prophetic teaching.

  37. KerBearRN says:

    @Margaret– awesome Freudian slip! I do know my daughters would far rather do camp outs than sewing, so YM would have probably been a better fit LOL.

    @Liane– you’re kidding, right? Are you honestly not understanding that virtue is an act of Agency? And that people who are raped have that taken away? But it is NOT their virtue that is taken away. The Moroni scripture is. Understandable from an adult perspective. But teens are developmentally black and white– and to many of them, this says “if you are raled, you aren’t longer virtuous.”. Church leaders can make all the mistakes they want, so long as it is only affecting them.. But when it goes into manuals and teachings that affect how entire generations of kdds think about themselves and others, then no. No thanks. They don’t have a right to make those particular mistakes.

  38. I recall that Elizabeth’s bishop said she was “pure before the Lord.”

  39. KerBearRN says:

    Sorry, “if you are raped”, not raled.

  40. I think you would accomplish more by writing letters to the General Young Women’s presidency than by venting this issue in a forum they are unlikely see. And, I must say how uncomfortable it makes me to read criticism of the prophet, past or present. This is the first step on the road to apostasy. Perhaps trying to understand what was said, get it in context, PRAY for understanding would be a better path. I was a teenager, and new convert, when Pres. Kimball made his statement and you know what, I would in deed have fought to the death to protect my virtue, as I would now – I’m a mother of five, married almost thirty years, but I am a chaste and virtuous woman all the same. And as I teenager I knew that a woman who has been raped is not held accountable for that terrible act, and for her chastity and virtue become solely a spiritual thing, rather than being both spiritual and physical. Though I agree that using Moroni 9:9 might not a great idea in the Personal Progress book, again, look at the context, the horror that Mormon was trying to express to Moroni when he wrote it. Isn’t it our responsibility as parents to help our daughters understand these things? To teach them to guard their virtue, yet to understand that they are not responsible if this is taken unwillingly?

  41. What part of Moroni 9:9 says rape? I know that’s been the unpopular interpretation of it for the past 50+ years, but why do we assume that virtue here means something different whan virtue when it is taken from Jesus? Fix the interpretation, don’t make the scripture untouchable.

  42. I appreciate the sentiment that women should not be beholden to the “chewed gum” or any similar notion. And I agree that the scripture cited under virtue is an unusual one to use. However, nowhere in that verse or the ones before or after it does it refer to the loss of worth of the daughters throughout their ordeal as prisoners. It expresses horror that something highly regarded (their innocence, their virtue) was violated. This was a description of the brutality of the captors and illustrates the serious nature of a person’s virtue. I see the point you are making, but this scripture does not back your argument. Consequently I don’t see the merit of ripping the page out of the Personal Progress book unless you are unwilling to talk to your daughter about your feelings on the matter. That is just how I see it, you may disagree and that’s fine, I just thought it important to share a different point of view.

  43. Matthew says:

    The scripture does not need clarifying if you understand it correctly, which I have never heard anyone (until today) misinterpret it. It is unfortunate that anyone would do so, and in such a drastic way. The simple fact is that people looking for mistakes will find them. Taken in the correct spirit, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this reference.

    From the lds.org description of chastity:

    “Chastity is sexual purity. Those who are chaste are morally clean in their thoughts, words, and actions. Chastity means not having any sexual relations before marriage. It also means complete fidelity to husband or wife during marriage.”

    Do any of you honestly believe that anyone undergoing an experience such as rape will remain completely unaffected in any of these ways?

    You can see then, that Moroni meant exactly what he said. Chastity was in fact taken from them. Forcefully. Against their will. That does not mean that they are to blame for it, or that they have committed some sin. That doesn’t mean that the victim is completely unaffected. There is going to be a healing process involved. That’s what Elder Scott has speaking of in his talk, a wonderful talk, that you can read here:

    http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1992/04/healing-the-tragic-scars-of-abuse?lang=eng

  44. Yep, those danged Lamanites forced the Nephite women to be morally unclean. Only in this case, they’re apparently morally unclean in a not-sinful way.

  45. >Though I agree that using Moroni 9:9 might not a great idea in the Personal Progress book,

    Tammie, just stop there.

    >And I agree that the scripture cited under virtue is an unusual one to use.

    Ditto, RD. You are defending the indefensible and you know it. The power that infallible church manuals has over common sense!

  46. Matthew says:

    As others have mentioned, the best thing to do here is, rather than rail against church leaders, or ripping pages out of booklets, take the opportunity to speak to your daughters about the subject and make sure that they understand it correctly. Especially if you’re worried about YW leaders misinterpreting it and teaching incorrect doctrine.

  47. Yup, remove it now. I like virtue as taught in Proverbs 31:10-31. Moroni 9:9 used in this way to teach young women in particular about virtue is a gross miss application. I don’t even like to read this chapter very much on its own. Rape, torture, murder and cannibalism are not things I like to think about much. I understand that horrors inflicted on the innocent should documented even in scripture and there is some purpose to this record but it is not for using to teach about young women virtue. Virtue is more broad and encompassing concept than sexual purity alone. Virtue includes chastity but virtue does not equal chastity, and more importantly virtue does not equal virginity.

  48. Oops, I mixed up Nephites and Lamanites. It was the NEPHITES who robbed the Lamanite women of their moral cleanliness and made them sexually impure.

    I have an old friend who was a victim of incredibly heinous molestation for most of her childhood. Matthew, it’s good to know that even though you apparently consider her impure and unclean that you don’t think she’s a sinner for it. Very comforting.

  49. “This scripture reflects a cultural mistake among Book of Mormon peoples in their understanding of virtue.” Well, it seems like a euphemism for rape that reflects a problematic cultural understanding of virtue, but I’m not sure if the euphemism originated with BoM peoples or with Joseph Smith’s translation. I agree it’s a problem either way, though.

  50. The mental gymnastics and general inanity of the defenses here of using this verse the way the YW uses it are just embarrassing. The account of the hemorrhaging woman who touches Jesus’ robe has nothing to do with virginity our sexual purity. The Moroni verse and _especially_ the Miracle Of Forgiveness quotes do. It requires a special kind stubbornness and stopped up ears to deny that the new discourse of Virtue identifies virtue with virginity and unspoiled sexual purity.

  51. Tammie, why would you fight to the death to protect your “virtue” if you believe a woman who is raped is in no way accountable? I guess I’m struggling to understand the moral calculus here: leaving your children motherless would be an acceptable sacrifice if the alternative is to live as a rape survivor who nevertheless continues to be every bit as chaste and virtuous as she was before?

  52. I believe that people are talking past each other. One of the synonyms for Virtue is Chastity. One of the Synonyms for Chastity is Virginity (also purity). I believe that Moroni 9:9 uses both Chastity and Virtue to mean Virginity. Part of the problem is that generations past (more than today) would use terms like purity, chastity, and virtue as euphemisms for virginity to the detriment of the more spiritual meanings of those words.
    I do not believe that in our modern understanding of the Law of Chastity a YW can break that law by being raped (although her technical virginity may be taken from her). Does a married woman retain her chastity and virtue and purity even when she is no longer a virgin? If so then I would argue that a raped woman (as someone that has kept the Law of Chastity) retains her chastity and virtue and purity.
    Finally, there are other definitions of the word virtue. To imply that Moroni 9:9 is not about rape OR that Jesus lost his virginity when the woman with the blood issue touched the hem of his robe is, for me, an unbelievable stretch.

  53. MDearest says:

    Yes, please.
    For those of you who have put yourselves in the unfortunate position of opposing this post, remember that this scripture was misused in the most recent YW general meeting, in the very way that we are dismayed about, to teach young women about the value of their virtue. It needs to be specifically removed from this context in all our discourse; from the pulpit, in the classroom and in teaching materials.

    Also, if you have never been a victim of sexual assault, please don’t presume to lecture real victims of assault on how you can imagine what they must think and feel. Just don’t go there.

  54. I am in agreement with the premise that the culture of the church has often taught virtue and chastity in ways that could be in some cases damaging for sometime. The used gum, nail in the board, candy wrapper, analogies like these are damaging in so many ways. But, you bring up an additional point, should Mormon 9:9 be the manual? I don’t know. But before I personally can categorize the cultural vs doctrinal use of virtue in this scripture, I think there is more about our understanding of the Lord definition of virtue that should be considered.

    Virtue is very often associated with chastity and moral cleanliness that is guarded, protected, and cherished by choice.

    But it is also something more and I think maybe there might be some deeper meaning to the use of virtue here. Virtue is also spiritual power. Consider this use of virtue in Mark 5:30 when Christ speaks of being touched by the woman with an issue of blood who desired to be healed if she could but touch the hem of his garment:

    “And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?”

    Often, a our cultural definition is thought to allow us to replace virtue as a synonym to chastity. If that would the case, this verse could equally be read “Jesus…knowing chastity had gone out of him, turned…”

    That doesn’t work, does it?

    I have known women who have been raped or molested. The pain is nearly overwhelming. They have been clearly damaged…spiritually and psychically for no fault of their own. I think anyone would agree that they have been “robbed” of their peace, robbed of their sense of wholeness, robbed of their self worth, robbed of their sense of safety. All of those things sap ones spiritual power. Indeed it saps the “wax(ing) strong” of confidence that is described by scripture when virtue “garnishes (ones) thoughts unceasingly.”

    To be clear it robs power from the victim through no fault of their own. It robs them of power that does nor should not be returned through repentance.

    If we consider the idea of healing coming from the Savior in the form of a spiritual power known as virtue, that would suggest that there is a difference in the healing that comes from needed repentance because a chosen unchaste act is a sin and healing that comes from virtue that is power offered to one so that they might be made whole and have their confidence and purity (lost when defiled by a wicked act imposed upon them) restored. The former requires the “virtue” of Christ as does the latter but for completely different reasons. Both are unchaste acts, one by choice the other imposed by force.

    One leaves one mired in darkness brought on by sin, the other mired in darkness brought on by mental, physical, and spiritual violation and injury. A violated son or daughter of God needs to have their virtue restored. Their thoughts need to be cleansed, healed, purified, so that the power of the perpetrator (both the perpetrator and Satan) can be rebuked and light can return.

    Understanding virtue as power, rather than chosen chastity, underscores the multidimensional power of the Atonement to not only make one clean from sinfulness, but also to heal and strengthen with power or virtue that cannot be generated from within or given from anyone but Him who’s power it is to give. That power comes not because one who has been hurt must earn or qualify for it, but simply when the injured “reaches out” in faith as the woman that needed to be healed did.

    Again, I am not suggesting that this verse is correctly or incorrectly used in the manual, what I am suggesting is that reading the verse in this context might suggest that the cultural application of Mormon using virtue this way may not be at issue at all. Rather it is our cultural understanding and use of virtue that is in question.

  55. Does the PP manual (by which I assume you mean the YW lesson manual – PP is more of a weeknight thing) actually contain the chewed gum/licked cupcake analogy? It’s been awhile since I’ve had a YW calling, so I don’t remember. Or is it one of those things being passed around by well meaning leaders who feel that they need a cute object lesson to get the point home? I see that kind of thing happening a *lot* in the church. (I grew up in the pre-Internet days and had a lot of these horrors foisted on me, and I’m sure with the prevalence of Sugardoodle and Pinterest it’s increased exponentially.)

    My main beef with the way the youth programs handle chastity is that it’s typically been pounded into the girls’ heads WAY more than the boys. I have a lot of hope that with the new youth curriculum, where the YW, YM, and youth Sunday school lessons are all pulled from the same manual, girls may come away from church feeling that they’ve *learned something* and not just been yelled at about sex.

  56. I agree we should write to our leaders as a more productive way to change the way leaders talk about these things, and that we ABSOLUTELY should talk to our daughters (and sons) about it, but that DOES NOT mean we shouldn’t also talk about it here and everywhere else members are willing to think and discuss it. Because we need to change the whole culture of the church, not just in our own families, and not just wait for leaders to make it better.

    Matthew said (quoting lds.org): “Chastity is sexual purity. Those who are chaste are morally clean in their thoughts, words, and actions. Chastity means not having any sexual relations before marriage. It also means complete fidelity to husband or wife during marriage.”
    Do any of you honestly believe that anyone undergoing an experience such as rape will remain completely unaffected in any of these ways?”

    I believe with my WHOLE HEART that someone who is a victim of rape is no less chaste than their “virtuous virgin” peers. They may have lost some of their naivete, the innocent ignorance of childhood, which is a shame, but is no sin and makes them no less worthy or capable of being in a virtuous marriage.
    I also don’t believe that chastity/moral purity is based on one’s sexual history but rather, where they are now and where they are trying to be. Even if someone is not raped and commits a sin of “chastity”, if they repent they are no less worthy/virtuous than a virgin. Anyone who believes in God’s power to forgive should be able to see that- God goes off the state of the heart, we are more than a sum of our past mistakes, there is no mistake that God can’t help you get past.
    “Carnal knowledge” of the opposite gender does not make one unchaste. You can’t “unknow” some things, but you can control the state of your heart, you can set worthy goals for yourself, you can work to be forgiven or healed, you can be whole again in the ways that count.

  57. Nathan Hadfield says:

    Deborah, apologies if I misunderstood your point. (Thanks, Kristine.)

  58. Frank said: What part of Moroni 9:9 says rape?

    Frank, when it talks about how women are taken prisoner, “deprived of chastity and virtue,” and then “murdered in a most cruel manner” “torturing their bodies even unto death” and then “devour[ing] their flesh,” it’ does not take much to assume rape — which remains one of the most common war crimes/”military strategies” in our world today. “Rape and pillage” is not a common phrase for not. Could these young women have been violently tortured, murdered, and then eaten without also enduring explicit sexual violence? I suppose, but it strains logic, given the world “chastity” as part of the litany of abuses.

  59. After I was raped I was pregnant and got told to repent for being raped I left the church over that and haven’t looked back

  60. Nathan, I think we are on the same page :)

  61. It should be noted that the latest edition of For Strength of Youth includes the following:

    Victims of sexual abuse are not guilty of sin and do not need
    to repent. If you have been a victim of abuse, know that you
    are innocent and that God loves you. Talk to your parents
    or another trusted adult, and seek your bishop’s counsel immediately.
    They can support you spiritually and assist you in getting the
    protection and help you need. The process of healing may take time.
    Trust in the Savior. He will heal you and give you peace.

  62. ” Virtue is also spiritual power.”

    Yes. And it’s still not taken away via sexual assault. It wasn’t taken away from Jesus. The point there was that instead of the woman’s social/ritual uncleanness transferring to Jesus and making him unclean (according to the logic of ritual and social purity of that time), the transfer was in the other direction. An unclean person touching Jesus did not contaminate him, but rather the opposite. The event totally undermined the logic of social and ritual purity in that cultural world.

  63. The problem with teaching that a loss of virginity means an unrecoverable loss of virtue/chastity (whether through rape or immoral choice) is that it doesn’t give individuals a path back to virtue.
    As I said way earlier, a friend was raped (partially because of bad choices she made, though her loss of virginity was not her fault or choice) and felt like she could never again be considered virtuous/chaste. Once you remove their hope/ability to set virtue as a goal again, you assign them to a life of non-virtue.
    If we teach virtue as synonymous with virginity, we teach that it is a binary state rather than an evolving scale- a switch that once flipped, you can’t go back, so why try? Whether you think it is truly binary or not, it simple isn’t a productive way of teaching it. If we teach that there is no coming back to chastity/virtue after the loss of virginity, we might as well tell them to not even try. “You made a mistake, you can’t ever be chaste again.”
    You’d never hear someone say “you told a lie, you can’t ever be honest again” or “you had a doubt, you can’t ever be faithful again”. Pretty much all of us are in a constant state of overcoming past mistakes- that’s as it should be, it’s how we learn and progress and why we are on earth. It’s why God gave us a system of repentance. Don’t teach anything that might lead people to think they can no longer progress in the right direction.
    How can anyone not see the harm in that?

  64. Brad, judging by your response, you did not read/comprehend my post. I was not speaking of transfers back and forth…I was speaking of robbery perpetrated by a violator and healing offered by the Savior.

  65. Jenn,

    Were you responding to my post?

  66. Deborah – if a woman is kidnapped, we know that she can build a relationship with her kidnappers, even going as far as defending them and willingly doing things with them they would not have done before their time prisoner. Do we blame them for that, or do we say that their changes were the fault of those who had done the kidnapping?

    We have an additional record of this heppening earlier in the BoM, when the Lamanite daughters are taken captive by the Priests of Noah. Their captivity had changed them enough that they begged for the lives of their captors, the very men who took them from their families and forced them to have their children. These women, through captivity, became like their captors.

    No matter what actions your equate with being “deprived of chastity and virtue”, this should not be used for assigning punishments, even social punishments, for actions that are not the fault of the victim.

    We should not be using two different definitions for virtue, one for Moroni 9:9 and one for everywhere else in the scriptures. These women need not have been raped to lose their chastity or virtue. We do ourselves and those this has been used against a disservice by jumping to the “obvious” worst thing that can happen, rather than looking at it and seeing what it actually said.

  67. Kevin Barney says:

    I think that the folks who are defending the use of this scripture for our young women are not reading it in full context. So I’m going to copy it together with its surrounding verses:

    7 And now I write somewhat concerning the sufferings of this people. For according to the knowledge which I have received from Amoron, behold, the Lamanites have many prisoners, which they took from the tower of Sherrizah; and there were men, women, and children.

    8 And the husbands and fathers of those women and children they have slain; and they feed the women upon the flesh of their husbands, and the children upon the flesh of their fathers; and no water, save a little, do they give unto them.

    9 And notwithstanding this great abomination of the Lamanites, it doth not exceed that of our people in Moriantum. 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—

    10 And after they had done this thing, they did murder them in a most cruel manner, torturing their bodies even unto death; and after they have done this, they devour their flesh like unto wild beasts, because of the hardness of their hearts; and they do it for a token of bravery.

    So we have young women being subjected to the forced cannibalism of their own fathers; gang raped; tortured; and finally murdered. And yet somehow in this process it is the young women who lost their chastity and virtue. That is an absolutely unacceptable message to be conveying to our young women, and I fully support the call to remove the reference from the curriculum.

  68. Jaygarlick,
    Not particularly. Actually I agree with what you were saying- a few minor quibbles about semantics but I think overall we’re on the same page.

  69. Thanks Jenn.

  70. To the people defending the use of this scripture in this context: I think you must be forgetting that this REALLY happened. A young Mormon girl was kidnapped and raped repeatedly, and as a direct result of what she had been taught regarding her virtue she felt such guilt and shame and worthlessness that she stayed with them rather than try to return to her family. And you think the conversation about virtue and virginity doesn’t need to change?

  71. The idea that virtue is not a matter of agency is what is so damaging. Such as this quote that many survivors of sexual assault were made to read throughout the years, as the Miracle of Forgiveness was the recommended book by their bishops:

    “Also far-reaching is the effect of the loss of chastity. Once given or taken or stolen it can never be regained. Even in a forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation where there is no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.”
    – Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, page 196

    Using the Moroni scripture as the leading scripture to YW about their value of virtue shows that it’s something that they need to be valued, yet it’s not in their agency. Exactly what Elizabeth Smart took away from her lessons on this subject.

    What is also disturbing here is references to women “being raped,” or even being raped partly through their own choices. I think even just the first few minutes of this talk should show how the rhetoric in these comments are out of order. Women are not at fault here, nor should the chance that a woman not be in the presence of a rapist be held up as a value and a virtue for her, as it is beyond her agency: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTvSfeCRxe8

  72. The idea that virtue is not a matter of agency is what is so damaging. Such as this quote that many survivors of sexual assault were made to read throughout the years, as the Miracle of Forgiveness was the recommended book by their bishops:

    “Also far-reaching is the effect of the loss of chastity. Once given or taken or stolen it can never be regained. Even in a forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation where there is no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.”
    – Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, page 196

    Using the Moroni scripture as the leading scripture to YW about their value of virtue shows that it’s something that they need to be valued, yet it’s not in their agency. Exactly what Elizabeth Smart took away from her lessons on this subject.

    What is also disturbing here is references to women “being raped,” or even being raped partly through their own choices. I think even just the first few minutes of this talk should show how the rhetoric in these comments are out of order. Women are not at fault here, nor should the chance that a woman not be in the presence of a rapist be held up as a value and a virtue for her, as it is beyond her agency: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTvSfeCRxe8

  73. Jaygarlick,
    I’m not sure I understand that last comment. Did you read my previous comment as an attempt to contradict your earlier one? The fact that I said something in addition to what you said doesn’t mean that I’m disagreeing with you.

  74. Whether the verse in question can be interpreted differently than presented in the post is irrelevant to the basic point of the post – that the verse in question gets interpreted commonly in exactly the way described in the post and then taught that way.

    As a discussion starter in an adult class, I don’t mind the verse much – since adults, hopefully, can talk about it in a mature, balanced way. As a proscriptive reference in a youth manual, I don’t like it – one bit.

  75. Kevin Barney says:

    And this call for removal is not a knock against the prophet, as some have suggested. The prophet had nothing to do with it. The manual was written by a committee. Someone did a word search, found some pretty words in verse 9 that seemed relevant to the subject, and so the verse was included. But read contextually the verse now seems to be teaching a horrible result, one which the Church in 2013 clearly does not teach or believe. That is why the verse needs to be removed from the curriculum; as it stands it is promulgating a false and pernicious doctrine..

  76. Frank: We could engage in all kinds of what-ifs . . . My point is simple: If I am a young woman reading this passage IN CONTEXT (because I have been told that studying it will help me understand “virtue’), the simplest way to interpret it = “If I’m sexually assaulted, I am no longer chaste or virtuous.” Currently, our YW are being told to study this passage to better grasp the meaning of “virtue.” It’s simply bad (perhaps devastatingly bad) verse to use for this purpose.

  77. Or, what Ray said.

  78. Tammie: “I think you would accomplish more by writing letters to the General Young Women’s presidency than by venting this issue in a forum they are unlikely see. And, I must say how uncomfortable it makes me to read criticism of the prophet, past or present. This is the first step on the road to apostasy.”

    I think a letter to the Gen. YW’s precy. would be a great idea, but I’m also glad that I was alerted to this part of the manual, and that others might be alerted to it, so as to prevent its perpetuation.

  79. Does anyone know if a letter would actually be received and read by the General YW Presidency? It is my understanding that such a letter would be kicked back to the writer’s Stake President, who would then offer counsel, probably in the form of advice about not writing such letters to such busy people.

  80. I mean, come on people: “Virtue” is the newest YM value and it is explicitly and relentlessly equated with sexual purity and the YW general president who helped oversee the creation of this new value and made it her mission to emphasize it as the most vital virtue just used a scriptural account of rape to talk about depriving women of their virtue in a GC address. She does what some have rightly suggested here by making virtue a source of profound spiritual power, but then explicitly ties that power to sexual purity/virginity. It’s really frankly just awful. To pretend that the equation of virtue with virginity in the OP is some anomalous and unfair misreading of church leaders is to speak in very bad faith about something incredibly important.

  81. a mom,

    A letter would get read, but initially it would get screened by a secretary. If it is intelligent and well worded without being accusatory, angry, or overly emotional and could make its point convincingly and in with a reasonable tone, it could very easily have an impact and get passed along to the presidency. This seems to me to be a simple error in judgement or oversight based on not seeing all the possible ways that this could be read, rather than a categorical misunderstanding about women who have been raped on their part.

  82. A common phrase we use is to “lose one’s innocence.” As in “the child lost his innocence after seeing the tragedy of the war,” or “he was no longer the innocent child he once was after witnessing the war.” Generally when we use that term we don’t literally mean to become guilty of something but more to mean to become unfortunately aware of some of the darker sides of the world. It doesn’t mean we are at fault for anything, just painfully informed. I think that the term virtue is used in a similar way here. I would be extremely surprised if someone actually read in Moroni 9 and thought that the message was that the Nephites were forcing young women to become guilty before God. I can see how someone might come to that conclusion if that were the only scripture they had ever read in their whole life and were totally unfamiliar with the church and Christianity altogether. But otherwise I think anyone would at least be hesitent to conclude that. Now if we as a culture need to become more aware that the term “virtue” is not interchangeable with chastity then we need to adjust, not the scriptures. I don’t mean to say that the texts of the scriptures is totally untouchable but we don’t change the Book of Mormon just because people today want to pick and choose when to be literal and how broadly they are willing to understand certain terms. Besides, as I said, I doubt anyone organically makes that mistake. It is probably something that comes up when individuals are vulnerable and someone tells them to read the scripture anew and reinterprete it incorrectly. How many people here honestly read this scripture and thought that this means raped girls are sinners before somoene else told them to read the scipture that way? Honestly.

    That being said, I do think we need to be more comfortable talking about things like rape in the church. No girl or boy in the church should ever have any doubt about their innocence in the case of rape. And that doesn’t mean you have to struggle until your body collapses in order to be considered innocent. I think it is a cultural issue within our church and many different societies to feel uncomfortable with this issue, and for understandable reasons. I just think it is a huge stretch to say that any misunderstanding about rape comes from Moroni 9.

  83. My oldest daughter was soured on the YW program when Virtue was included as a value because of the kind of ideas, inferences and associations of that come along when the word virtue is used in this way. She has not to my knowledge been the victim of any kind of sexual assault but she felt harmed by the way Moroni 9:9 is used directed at the YW in this context.

  84. Deborah, no, they are being told to

    Study the meaning and importance of chastity and virtue by reading Moroni 9:9; Jacob 2:28; “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”; and the section on sexual purity in For the Strength of Youth. Also read Article of Faith number thirteen and Proverbs 31:10–31.

    None of these talk about rape as something that can be used to steal virtue or chastity. Those that do talk about rape talk specifically about how the victim is blameless.

    Virtue is the the power to heal, physically and spiritually. It can be used, willingly or accidentally, just as it was when virtue was taken from Jesus, but that power can only be lost by ones own actions, not by the actions of another. Loss of chastity can also only happen by ones own actions, not by the actions of another, so how can we say Moroni 9:9, where virtue and chastity were taken, means they were raped? It means they, of their own volition, began doing things in thier captivity that meant a loss of their own virtue and chastity, none of which makes them responsible for their actions. We now call this Stockholm Syndrome.

    We need to find a better understanding of Moroni 9:9, rather than taking the easy, knee-jerk reaction that somehow virtue and chastity can be taken by rape. Even if it is removed from the YM Personal Progress manual, it’s not hard to do a lookup in the topical guide for references to virtue, or even do a word search for it on a computer. It will be found by the YW researching virtue, like it or not. We need to remove this as a weapon, not pretend it doesn’t exist.

  85. First of all, I applaud Elizabeth Smart’s courage and hope that our church culture and standard reading of Mormon 9:9 changes.

    Lots of interesting readings of Mormon 9:9. Let’s keep in mind that historically chastity and virtue meant two different things and morphed into the same basic meaning only in modern times. One of the 1828 dictionary definitions for virtue is power. So the Lamanite men robbed those women’s power to act. Mentioning chastity implies they did this through rape (I don’t think there is any other possible way to define chastity except in sexual terms)

    By using a modern definition of virtue, we miss the emphasis of the verse. If chastity and virtue mean the same thing, the verse strongly suggests that Moroni is highlighting how important it is to keep women pure. But if we read the verse as the men taking away the women’s power to act by means of rape, I think emphasis goes back to the evilness of men controlling women. In other words, I think Mormon 9:9 can be a useful scripture, but we’re reading it wrong (almost antithetical to its context) and getting the wrong message from it, especially when it’s directed at women, and not men.

  86. virtue (n.)
    early 13c., “moral life and conduct, moral excellence,” vertu, from Anglo-French and Old French vertu, from Latin virtutem (nominative virtus) “moral strength, manliness, valor, excellence, worth,” from vir “man” (see virile). source)

    Because Mormons love it when women act more like men. :)

  87. BHodges says:

    Frank said: “None of these talk about rape as something that can be used to steal virtue or chastity.”

    Actually, the verse in question does precisely that.

  88. ZacJ, I don’t think anyone is asking to adjust or editor rewrite the scriptures, I think what is being asked is that this scripture not be used to teach about maintaining sexual purity and chastity, when very obviously it is taking about kidnapping, rape, torture, murder and cannibalism.

  89. a mom,

    The same kind of conversation with a Stake President may accomplish the same thing. Stake Presidents attend a meeting once a month for their “coordinating council,” which is just a group of area stake presidents that meeting with a member of the Seventy. There is an open dialogue about issues, and there are a lot of them. A Stake President could communicate it there and/or send an email to their supervising Seventy. That channel of communication could produce the same result without going top down, but up through the lines of authority. It is a relatively short distance to the top. It is not always a cop-out to refer people back to their Stake Presidents, but rather an means to have discussions that put issues through a thorough vetting before they get to the top. Would that be better here? It depends on the Stake President/subsequent attention it is given.

  90. ” I think Mormon 9:9 can be a useful scripture, but we’re reading it wrong (almost antithetical to its context) and getting the wrong message from it, especially when it’s directed at women, and not men.”

    I agree it could be useful, but the harmful reading is not an accident. It is a natural and predictable result of constant (and recent) emphasis on aligning virtue with virginity and sexual purity and tying the spiritual power of virtue, especially in young women, to sexual purity.

  91. BHodges – the verse does not even mention rape. It just says that they were “deprived” of chastity and virtue. We have just taken the most horrible thing we can think of, rape, and replaced chastity and virtue, rather than taking the time to seek what it actually means.

  92. BHodges says:

    Frank: Even on your (creative) reading of the text you should still object to the scripture’s use in this part of the YW manual, then. The reference is directly preceded by this:

    “The power to create mortal life is an exalted power God has given His children. He has commanded that this power be used only between a man and a woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.”

  93. John C,

    Here is the 1828 dictionary definition of Virtue:

    virtue

    VIRTUE, n. vur’tu. [L. virtus, from vireo, or its root. See Worth.] The radical sense is strength, from straining, stretching, extending. This is the primary sense of L. vir, a man.]

    1. Strength; that substance or quality of physical bodies, by which they act and produce effects on other bodies. In this literal and proper sense, we speak of the virtue or virtues of plants in medicine, and the virtues of drugs. In decoctions, the virtues of plants are extracted. By long standing in the open air, the virtues are lost.
    2. Bravery valor. This was the predominant signification of virtus among the Romans.
    Trust to thy single virtue.
    [This sense is nearly or quite obsolete.]
    3. Moral goodness; the practice of moral duties and the abstaining from vice, or a conformity of life and conversation to the moral law. In this sense, virtue may be, and in many instances must be, distinguished from religion. The practice of moral duties merely from motives of convenience, or from compulsion, or from regard to reputation, is virtue, as distinct from religion. The practice of moral duties from sincere love to God and his laws, is virtue and religion. In this sense it is true,
    That virtue only makes our bliss below.
    Virtue is nothing but voluntary obedience to truth.
    4. A particular moral excellence; as the virtue of temperance, of chastity, of charity.
    Remember all his virtues.
    5. Acting power; something efficacious.
    Jesus, knowing that virtue had gone out of him, turned – Mark 3.
    6. Secret agency; efficacy without visible or material action.
    She moves the body which she doth possess,
    Yet no part toucheth, but by virtue’s touch.
    7. Excellence; or that which constitutes value and merit.
    – Terence, who thought the sole grace and virtue of their fable, the sticking in of sentences.
    8. One of the orders of the celestial hierarchy.
    Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers.
    9. Efficacy; power.
    He used to travel through Greece by virtue of this fable, which procured him reception in all the towns.
    10. Legal efficacy or power; authority. A man administers the laws by virtue of a commission.
    In virtue, in consequence; by the efficacy or authority.
    This they shall attain, partly in virtue of the promise of God, and partly in virtue of piety.

  94. Kevin Barney says:

    If the YW want some lessons on the subject of virtue, then perhaps they should follow my lead:

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2009/03/11/yw-virtue-lessons/

  95. BHodges – it’s also preceeded by this:
    “Virtue is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards”
    That’s the definition. Moroni 9:9 expresses the importance of it. The use in procreation is expressed only as a part of virtue, not the all.

    For being so concerned that our young people are going to find the parts of history that might hurt their testimony, we seem to think that they’ll only look at one scripture in this case and apply it in the worst possible way.

  96. Frank: I’m all for contemplating the multiple possible meanings of scriptural passages, but I don’t agree with your assertion that “virtue” is not a euphemism for “virginity” in Moroni 9:9. I think virtue was a common euphemism for virginity and lost virtue a common euphemism for rape in KJV-type English (which the BoM approximates).

    The discussion about what kinds of psychological and spiritual damage can be done over time by abusive captors is potentially interesting (I guess?) but it really has nothing to do with the fact that this scripture is going to be almost universally interpreted in a damaging way.

  97. “the worst possible way…”

    …which also happens to be the way they are persistently and aggressively conditioned and encouraged to read it by our current discourse on virtue.

  98. Thank you, Kristine, for this post. Yes, the manual needs to be rewritten. Too many women and young women in our Church feel marginalized and worse by the misogynistic views portrayed by that Scripture. Church leaders need to understand that at least one in four women in the Church have been sexually abused. Many hearts are broken by statements such as the one you quoted.

    Clearly, this scripture needs to be carefully reviewed and revised by Church leaders as well. It states in no uncertain terms that women who have been raped have lost their virtue. What a horrible , untrue, terrible message to send our youth and adults!

  99. Thank you, Kevin…

  100. Elisabeth says:

    In the book “The Miracle of Forgiveness” President Kimball said that a woman is better off fighting to the death than not fighting a rapist to save her own life. I don’t agree with that either. I can never figure out why so many LDS members own that book and think it’s so great.

  101. Lady Zypher Doodle says:

    Rape isn’t about sex. This MUST be understood. Rapists USE sex to achieve their abusive goals. This has nothing to do with the LDS, but women in general. Sex is fine, wonderful, great, and MANDATORY according to LDS Teaching (Multiply and Replenish).
    You should look at Moroni 9:9 from the RAPIST’s point of view: “depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue”.
    These rapists thought that by raping these young Lamanite women, they would be doing them damage, enraging their enemies, showing them who is boss. But a correct understanding of Scripture and Gospel Teachings gives us a different understanding… these women were “violated”, to be sure, AND they were then murdered, ensuring their place in Heaven, virtue and chastity in tact.
    Granted, we have misunderstood some things:
    1) you cannot have your chastity and virtue TAKEN,
    2) you can only GIVE AWAY your chastity and virtue
    3) you should defend yourself from an attacker who thinks he can take your chastity and virtue (otherwise, just letting them “have their way” is “consent”… )
    So to “give away” chastity and virtue, willingly, does make someone like old bubble gum, licked cup cakes, etc.
    But having someone try (or succeed) to take that from you isn’t like that at all. It is 2 different mindsets. Yes, the one who has “given away” her virtue and chastity can REPENT and REGAIN her Chastity and Virtue…

  102. “Virtue is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards”
    That’s the definition. Moroni 9:9 expresses the importance of it. ”

    How does Moroni 9:9 express the importance of thought and behavior? How could evil men cause women they’ve taken prisoner to change their “pattern of thought and behavior”?
    I can’t fathom that the scripture is trying to teach us about the dangers of stockholm syndrome, just in case we are ever imprisoned and allow ourselves to be badly influenced by our captors. (By the way, Stockholm Syndrome is also not a choice- it is a traumatized brain’s attempt to make sense of their situation)

    Boy, I better change the way I read the scriptures. All this talk about “seed” and “knowing” and “laying with each other”, I’ve just read with my mind in the gutter. I should stop using occam’s razor and historical context to interpret things in the “worst possible way” when there is the slightest chance I can make it more PC and consistent with current world views.

  103. Lady Zypher:
    No, nothing makes a child of God become like used bubble gum or licked cupcakes. Nothing. You can make bad choices that set you back a ways and require repentance but there is NOTHING you can do that is so bad you can’t become virtuous and chaste again. Unless “chewed bubble gum” can use the atonement to become “unchewed”, or repentance and righteous behavior can make a cupcake “unlicked”, those analogies are flat-out wrong. Teaching it otherwise is harmful, cruel, and contrary to the gospel of the atonement. As I said earlier, there is nothing productive about teaching YW that if they make a mistake, they have lost their chance at virtue/chastity.

  104. I just can’t fathom this verse being read in any way but the “worst possible” one, even if “rape” is couched in euphemistic language. It doesn’t seem reasonable to contend that the Nephites were encouraging the Lamanite women to smoke or cheat on their exams before they murdered and ate them.

  105. There is nothing, NOTHING, that can make a girl or woman like chewed gum or a licked cupcake. I don’t care how willing or complacent or “didn’t fight” she was. Ever.

  106. anonlds says:

    I have had a really hard time with this scripture. A charitable reading requires definitions that are very different from what we hear in week in and week out at church. I agree that we should lobby to not use the scripture in our manual or from the pulpit until we change that.

    We hear that the purpose of the atonement is to overcome sin. That is part of the reason for the atonement, but the larger more primary reason is to overcome estrangement from God. Sin is only one cause of estrangement from God. It may be the biggest reason, but it isn’t the only reason. The atonement is large enough to encompass all the things that need healing.

    Being raped is one of the things that I we need healed from that aren’t a result of our own sin. In that sense I do think being raped leaves us less virtuous. Unfortunately, the way we talk about rape in the church makes those who have been raped feel like they are worth less. That isn’t true and I don’t believe that. But rape victims do need healing to be made whole. We should seek to use rhetoric regarding the atonement to allows people access to the atonement without adding guilt.

    I think that means a complete revamp of how Bishops interact with people involving pain from both sins and non-sins and we need to talk more about being healed from non-sins whether as a result of other people sinning or just from life not being fair.

    I disagree that someone must be raped to have an opion on rape.

  107. I It’s very sad that young women are being exposed to this kind of thinking that shames them for no good reason. It would be bad enough if it shamed them for fornicating of their own will, but this shames them even when it was forced on them. Given the high percentage of young women that have been sexually abused, it’s sad to think that they will be further traumatized by their own religion. I think it’s interesting that the author of the article is primarily concerned with the Personal Progress manual. It really doesn’t matter if they take it out of the manual because it will still be in the BOM which they are required to read. I find it fascinating that so many people are getting so caught up with the manual and the possible interpretations of this scripture when if you just step back and look at this scripture and so many others like it, it is plain to see that they are false. Even the notion that chastity is “that which [is] most dear and precious above all things” is total bogus. It reminds me of the scripture that says that next to murder the second worst sin is fornication. What kind of psychological damage is all of this doing to the youth of the LDS church. If you slip up with your girlfriend (as so many do) you are left feeling similar to a murderer. And if you are molested (as so many are) you are left to feel like you have lost “that which was most dear and precious above all things.” This is truly disturbing and blatantly false. This article should not focus on asking church leaders to take that reference out of the manual, “Fixing this now” would be much more complicated than that. It would require church leaders to admit that the BOM is full of a bunch of falsehoods and then apologizing for all of the psychological damage that they have done to their followers for years and years. It’s ironic that JS had the gall to pen these words that have shamed so many people while he was personally having sex with 30 different women and several teenage girls. If anyone should feel ashamed it should be him!

  108. Frank Pellett: “For being so concerned that our young people are going to find the parts of history that might hurt their testimony, we seem to think that they’ll only look at one scripture in this case and apply it in the worst possible way.”

    Young Women might be forgiven for focusing particularly on Moroni 9:9—seeing as the church lists it front and center in the Young Women’s materials on virtue—and interpreting it the way every Mormon I’ve ever talked to about it has interpreted it.

    https://www.lds.org/young-women/personal-progress/virtue?lang=eng

  109. Also, Lady Zypher-
    “3) you should defend yourself from an attacker who thinks he can take your chastity and virtue (otherwise, just letting them “have their way” is “consent”… )”

    Congrats, you jsut set back the fight again rape culture about 50 years.
    Letting a RAPIST “have their way” is not consent!!! NO! Ugh, it makes me sick to think people still think this way. The nature of rape is that you aren’t in control- there is no such thing as “consent” in a rape situation.

    If (heaven forbid) my daughter is someday raped, I hope she does whatever it takes to stay alive, and I hope she feels ZERO shame for it. I value her life far more than her virginity, especially since virginity is NOT the same as virtue. I don’t care what sort of damage is done to her, we can work through it, and I am terrified of the idea that she could possibly think that “fighting back” and getting herself killed will ensure her a place in heaven.

    Rape survivors have done NOTHING wrong. NOTHING. (sorry there aren’t enough caps in the world to emphasize how strongly I feel this).

  110. g.wesley says:

    Kristine (OP), nicely put.

    kj (@10:44am), trite as my comment may be: sorry to hear that someone did that and that someone said that to you. Best wishes.

  111. It seems “defending the indefensible” is not a way of generating robust debate, but rather closing off comments to which you disagree. I thought this was a forum for discussion, not a wailing wall of complaint against perceived offenses by the Young Women’s program. The scripture cited does not anywhere state that a woman is worthless after rape. The scripture teaches us the fact that chastity and virtue are highly valued. It sounds that in the past, these things were not handled appropriately. It does sound like they now are being addressed and spoken about in an educated, compassionate manner. So, move on. Move forward with the knowledge you carry and use it where you deem it appropriate among your family and your calling. I really don’t see why there is so much outrage. We know the stigma that used to be attached to rape and other issues of chastity. I am sure to some degree they persist, but that is now the exception to the rule. It is extremely unfortunate that Elizabeth Smart felt unworthy to be found while in captivity. Now the subject has opened and I would imagine most people understand that victims of rape aren’t guilty. Apologies for the flippancy, but, duh!

  112. RD–The scripture says she is no longer virtuous. And it says virtue is the most important thing.

  113. Kristine says:

    “The scripture teaches us the fact that chastity and virtue are highly valued.”

    Yes, and it also says that being raped deprived the women of chastity and virtue. As you note, our understanding has changed. Our manuals should reflect that.

  114. “As you note, our understanding has changed. Our manuals should reflect that.”
    No, our manuals should reflect a better understanding and try to teach us a better way to look at things we have gotten wrong in the past, especially the recent past. The equating of rape with loss of virtue has only happened in the last 50 years or so. I see the use of this in the manual (and in the recent conference talk) as an attempt to fix what was broken.

  115. just another shmuck says:

    The part of this that I find fascinating is that there are many current examples of clear teaching on this by current leaders of the church, and yet we (as a group) are all set to crucify them for some individual’s misunderstanding. Wow.

    Ok, maybe even individuals’ misunderstanding. How many of us does it take to make a lynch mob justifiable?

  116. just another shmuck,

    It’s enshrined in the manual (not to mention scripture). This isn’t a little misunderstanding.

  117. Who is making a lynch mob. Since when does saying “look, people are hearing this and being hurt by it, let’s change the way we talk about it” a lynch mob?

    And RD- just because it isn’t as big of a problem as it used to be doesn’t mean it isn’t still a problem. If even 10% of those who have been molested or raped have this life-altering “misunderstanding” about their worth being tied to their virginity (and I’d wager to say the number is much higher), then it is still a HUGE problem.

  118. True, Kristine, I agree manuals should definitely reflect our new, more open attitudes about the subject. And I think that more and more they are heading in that direction.

    I differ from you and MMiles in my interpretation of this scripture. “They were deprived of their virtue and chastity.” Meaning, they didn’t have the choice of how they used this prized entity; their virtue was withheld, not robbed as they had to endure sex as a form of abuse. If someone is deprived of food, it doesn’t mean they will never be allowed to eat again. If someone is deprived of their virtue, it doesn’t mean they can never be a virtuous person again. An over-simplification, but you get the point. I personally do not see the scripture in question as a condemnation of these daughters.

    When I read it, I see that the description of the event mourns the loss of choice for the women and the poor choices of the captors. As we know, our purpose here is to make good choices and be free to do so. And when we face adversity, what we do beyond it matters. It is so wrong that people judge others who are victims of rape or other forms of abuse. And I understand how that can shake a person to the core. It does not excuse any other subsequent “downward spiral” as some have put it. It lends clarity to it, but does not permit it.

  119. RD–It is not condemning them, but it certainly is saying it’s gone for good. It’s not like food. Unless food is, “most dear and precious above all things.”

  120. Kristine says:

    It isn’t a condemnation of the women; it’s a condemnation of the men. But even saying the women’s virtue was “withheld” strikes me as deeply, deeply problematic. They were completely worthy–they were not having illicit sex, they were having a violent crime enacted on their bodies. We would never say that the wounded among the 2,000 stripling warriors were temporarily less valiant because their wounds made it impossible for them to fight. I just don’t think there’s a way around the fact that this scripture equates virtue with virginity.

  121. RD, your goals are good but your interpretation of scripture is not founded in any plain reading of the text. If you want to interpret it that way I suppose that’s just fine but it is not a particularly logical reading.

  122. “Meaning, they didn’t have the choice of how they used this prized entity; their virtue was withheld, not robbed as they had to endure sex as a form of abuse. If someone is deprived of food, it doesn’t mean they will never be allowed to eat again. ”
    But how can virtue- as the church teaches it to be “a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards”- how can it be withheld, like food? If virtue, like all of the other values and christ-like traits we strive for, is based on our own actions, it can’t be withheld. It doesn’t come from an outside source.
    I don’t believe the scripture meant to condemn the women. Not at all. But when we constantly hold the scripture up in our discussion of virtue, and use it as our primary scripture on the topic even though it implies that virtue can be “withheld”, then I can’t say I’m surprised that people use the scripture to tie a lack of virginity (even by rape) to a lack of virtue.

    Whether or not you interpret the scripture the same as me, or the same as Elizabeth Smart, doesn’t matter. Individual interpretations that leave the individual on a safe and happy path to a virtuous life- well, that’s all grand but that isn’t what I’m worried about about. You may interpret the scripture the “right” way, but if there are women out there interpreting it the wrong way, seemingly the most obvious way for them based on what they’re heard from leaders, then… we have a problem. It isn’t blasphemy or murmuring to want to change the way things are discussed in a way that still promotes “a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards” without tying one’s worth to one’s sexual history.

  123. PS, I would eat a cupcake even if someone else has licked it. That doesn’t have crap-all to do with chastity but I wanted to set the record straight re: foodstuffs. Not sure where I come down on the gum point.

  124. 3) you should defend yourself from an attacker who thinks he can take your chastity and virtue (otherwise, just letting them “have their way” is “consent”… )

    NO! NO! NO! This is so wrong. How can you say that after reading E. Smart’s account? How can anyone here even argue that young women wouldn’t possibly make the connection between being raped and losing their virtue? That is exactly how Elizabeth felt. She says so.

    It’s a problem people. Why isn’t this verse used to teach YM the evil of taking advantage of and abusing women? Why is this verse only used the teach YW about virtue and sexual purity?

    I sure hope those Lamanite women fought for their virtue and chastity before it was forcibly taken from them. I hope they didn’t consent by “just letting them have their way.”

    Great post, Kristine, I fully support this. I think I’ll bring it up with my YW pres and stake pres.

  125. BHodges says:

    I’m just glad Frank is here to remind us that we’re misreading the text while meanwhile we have other people here saying stuff like this:

    Lady Zypher Doodle: ‘you should defend yourself from an attacker who thinks he can take your chastity and virtue (otherwise, just letting them “have their way” is “consent”’

  126. I don’t see any offense in Moroni 9:9. A man or woman can rob a little child of his or her innocence, and yet the child is still innocent. Moroni 9:9 condemns the guilty, not the innocent.

  127. I completely agree with this article, yet I feel you need to be less abrupt when you say “Do it now” considering your addressing a higher authority. I feel you have a very good point, but please don’t command them like this. A simple suggestion or please would have been enough.

  128. You’re right, Jenn. If I were to use the definition you gave of virtue, that would mean that it couldn’t be withheld. I guess the word I should have stuck with is innocence, or something along those lines.
    And, of course, I wasn’t making my point to compare food to virtue! Even though I would contend that some view food as “most dear and precious above all things”! I was trying to illustrate the fact that simply because a person is treated in an unchaste manner does not mean that they can never again be chaste or virtuous. So, I would tend to agree (where my knee-jerk reaction was initially to disagree) with the previous remark that there should be a broader discussion for the distinction of virtue and virginity.
    And, it can be said that I am reading this scripture with rose-colored glasses. I don’t think that’s all bad, especially given the fact that I am not going into it naive or with some type of blinder on. The sentence reads, “after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue—” So I am not off the mark when I don’t automatically read, “they are no longer worthwhile people” or “they are tainted”. The message is just not there when I read it, no matter how many times you say I am not seeing it.

  129. Norman says:

    I think Kristine is right in calling for this juxtaposition to be removed from the PP manual. Perhaps just as important is that each of us take action as we attend meetings where such sentiments are repeated. As with any significant change, top down action is required but grassroots action is also required to help shift the culture. My own feeling is that we have seen significant change on this issue over the last 30 years at the level of individual ward leaders, parents, and general authorities. That such an association would be made in a PP manual surprises me. It should be brought to the attention of sympathetic general authorities such as those listed above.

    At the same time, it is important that each of us have the courage to confront in a Christ-like way (sometimes gentle teaching, sometimes something more aggressive) those comments that occur in our weekly meetings. I struggle with that at times as I am not always sure what is simply wrong as in this case and what falls under the category of personal opinion that bears no more weight than anybody else’s best thinking. In the end, however, it seems to me that even if it is only my best thinking, that voice still warrants being heard in a Sunday School class just as much as somebody else’s best thinking. Indeed, the discussion should lead us to a better understanding and hopefully open us to spiritual direction. My experience both in and out of Utah, however, has been that our meetings are not seen as a place of candid discussion as much as a place of rehearsing time-worn shared understandings. Taking a stand and pushing for a frank discussion usually puts one into being viewed as a bit of a rebel or someone whose testimony is in doubt. I do think there is a silent majority (or maybe just a significant minority) who just will not voice due to past experience. Somehow we need to support each other in fostering discussion.

  130. BHodges, I can hardly remind you of something you never believed in the first place.

    As for the idea that not resisting is implicit consent, -that- idea needs to be ripped out and beaten to sub-atomic particles.

  131. “Restitution for sin. When one is humble in sorrow, has unconditionally abandoned the evil, and confessed to those assigned by the Lord, he should next restore insofar as possible that which was damaged. If he burglarized, he should return to the rightful owner that which was stolen. Perhaps one reason murder is unforgivable is that having taken a life, the murderer cannot restore it. Restitution in full is not possible. Also, having robbed one of virtue, it is impossible to give it back.” – President Spencer W. Kimball in https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1980/10/president-kimball-speaks-out-on-morality?lang=eng just to add a bit more context in the call that we need to amend some of this discourse.

  132. Taylor B says:

    I’m trying very hard to phrase this properly for several reasons.

    1: I’m a male, so that automatically carries biases and perceptions that limit the empathy I can feel towards a woman raped or not, in this world. I would empathize fully if I could, but it’s not possible.

    2: Rape is an absolutely horrible (in the sense of true horror) thing, and the wounds it leaves run deep. I don’t wish to bar anybody from the healing process I hope attends all victims and their families.

    3: I am not fully formed on this opinion. It’s where I’m at presently, but it’s by no means an end destination.

    Please politely disagree with me so that we can reason together. You will not further truth by screaming for my head when I have said my peace. In any case, I would never wish you harm or bad feelings.

    I absolutely agree with getting rid of the analogies of chewed gum or licked cupcakes. They damage, harm, misinform, and devalue all victims of rape. I absolutely believe we should instruct men that they are agents to themselves, and stop blaming victims, their clothes, their personalities, etc. That change can’t happen soon enough. I also agree that we should press extraordinarily hard to ensure that victims of rape feel that they are loved, and that they still have value. Anything short of this is wrong.

    But the use of the word “loss of virtue” to describe being raped I don’t think is entirely without accuracy. Many of you reading this likely were victims of sexual abuse. So correct me if I am wrong, but after being raped was not some sort of innocence lost? Some peaceful ignorance of what rape really was? Memories are foisted on the victim I don’t think they’d want. Many describe thinking about the rape every single day. You can’t just undo all that, there are scars that while they heal, are still visible.

    I feel like we lie about the horror that is rape by talking down its lasting impact. By no means should we let victims languish in pain after being raped, but we shouldn’t pretend like something reverse-able took place. We can help the victim heal, but we can’t pretend they haven’t lost anything. Maybe that something isn’t their “precious virginity” but there’s something that’s gone forever. I wish I had a word for it, but I am coming up short. Like the day my best friends abandoned me and joined my bully’s clique. A realization that friends could betray you, could harm you. That absolute trust in the goodness of friends, gone. I had enormous difficulty making friends after that, but I did. And yet that memory lingers, though I have forgiven my former friends. I lost something when that happened, as sure as a person loses a type of ignorance when they have their first positive sexual experience.

    I’m writing too much, and I fear I haven’t hit my point squarely, but I hope it helps somebody who read its realize that the Book of Mormon authors were not trying to devalue women, but to describe a very real loss that happens when a person is raped. A ‘loss of virtue’ doesn’t seem like the worst description of it.

  133. Kristine says:

    Just a word about tone. I definitely should have given this a title something like McSweeney’s “Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond.” If I had any illusions that any church leaders would read this or care about my thoughts, I can assure you I would phrase things differently.

  134. melodynew says:

    As a woman who suffered violent rape in my youth I will say this: Thank you, Kristine, for just saying it. Thank you for not mincing words. “Dear church leaders, fix this, now.”

    As a woman who has suffered in the same way the women in the referenced scripture suffered while being told by my attackers that, they were, in essence “depriving [me] of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue—” Dear church leaders, fix this, now.

    There are young women in the church today, right now, who have conscious and unconscious threads of spiritual and emotional destruction being reinforced (albeit unintentionally) by the use of this scripture. Dear church leaders, fix this, now. Thank you, Kristine, for just saying it.

  135. Nate W. says:

    It seems that the only way to argue that the word “virtue” in the scripture should be understood as meaning something other than sexual purity or virginity is to ignore the words “chastity and” that directly precede it. The scripture directly says that the Nephite men were depriving the Lamanite women of their chastity, and no amount of wresting of the text can overcome that.

    BTW, the phrase “chastity and virtue” is a classic binomial pair construction, meaning that the words are meant to reinforce each other and to express one concept rather than two distict concepts.

  136. The subtext and propaganda value of this post are clear. Superficially, this is about sympathy for victims of forcible rape, which no decent person would disagree with.

    What it’s really about is diminishing the seriousness of premarital sex. Some of the comments make this explicit, such as Bonnie Flint May 6 AM (“cult of virgin-worship” LOL). (Not to single her out — plenty of similar comments.)

    A woman who has even ONE pre-marital sex partner substantially increases her risk of divorce. By the time she has had more than about 4, for marriage purposes she may as well have had 20+. Source: http://socialpathology.blogspot.com/2010/08/defining-slut.html

    LDS young women today are more sexually active than the young men (source: the BYU pub “Shield of Faith”). Women who’ve sold their virginity cheaply HATE the traditional/scriptural notion that they’ve irreversibly damaged their marriage market value. They are eager to show this as a barbaric and irrelevant prejudice by linking it to the shaming of rape victims.

    This, like the feminist strawman that “wives shouldn’t be chattel property of their husbands” (and therefore biblical marriage as commanded in Ephesians 5:22ff is wrong) is a foot in the door. It will take one more generation to push through the full sexual revolution programme — the time it takes for the current crop of unchaste young women to grow up and impose their media-provided rationalizations on the church.

    Look for LDS “Slut Walks” in about 20 years.

  137. BHodges says:

    Wow, Aaron. That fallacious slippery slope jeremiad is the most openly misogynistic comment I’ve ever seen at BCC.

  138. Frank, Mormon 9:9 is in fact communicating that the women were raped which, in the view of the author, apparently took away their chastity and virtue. So using it in this way in the YW’s personal progress program is not beneficial to the young women. It inadvertently teaches them that if they are raped, they are morally culpable somehow, i.e. they lose their chastity and virtue. It is also a fact that this is how the passage was recently used in Sister Dalton’s general conference talk, which reinforces that this is how it is being used in this instance.

  139. (I mean Moroni 9:9, obviously.)

  140. katie88 says:

    I worked as an Education Coordinator at a Rape Recovery Center for several years. To say that a woman who has been raped no longer has chastity and virtue is to hold the view of the rapist, who blames their victims and believes they want to be or deserve to be raped. This core belief was common in the 19th Century and even later, when women who experienced sexual abuse of any kind were considered “damaged goods.” Under British and American law in that time, women were considered to be property of their husbands and could be beaten and raped with impunity.

    It wasn’t until Self v. Self in 1962 that a US Court ruled that men could not beat their wives, but few courts prosecuted husbands for doing that and it wasn’t until the 1980s that US Courts began to rule that men could not rape their wives, although marital rape was rarely prosecuted.

    Moroni 9 is not written from the point of view of the Lamanites but is written is the supposed words of Mormon to his son Moroni. Mormon apparently held the belief that women who are raped have lost their virtue and chastity, and this is false doctrine. Their virtue and chastity is totally intact. Surely, God does not believe that anyone, male or female, who is a survivor if sexual abuse has lost their virtue or chastity, and this must never be taught in the Church to anyone!

  141. Sorry, but I think people here are focusing too much on their view on the word virtue. To me it seems obvious in reading the verse in question that saying virtue isn’t attacking that person, but that the scriptures aren’t going into a modern verbage on the intricacies of rape. I mean really is it that hard for people to understand this?! Choosing to nitpick over details in wording from so long ago contrasted with your willingness to describe in detail that same event proves that you’ve lost sight of the real message.

  142. @BHodges

    It’s not a slippery slope — read these comments for yourself. How many are some variant of “… and it’s high time we get over this whole obsession with virginity anyway”?

  143. It takes a lot to stun me. Congratulations, Aaron.

    My issue isn’t with Moroni 9:9. If it was in the Old Testament (or even the New Testament), we would dismiss it without argument as a cultural statement and not as doctrine. Since it’s in the Book of Mormon, it carries more weight with many of us – even though we don’t believe in inerrant scripture, and only the “translation” is considered to be directed by the spirit of God.

    Also, it’s not like we teach the same theology that is recorded in the Book of Mormon. In some important cases, we don’t. We see some things differently than they did back then (even the prophets), so why do we feel we have to defend this verse as if it came from God’s own mouth as an accurate statement in all ways?

    Having said that, my issue is with HOW the verse is used. As I said earlier, I am fine having this conversation in an adult class where deep discussion can occur about multiple possible meanings and the nature of scripture. My problem is with it linked in a YM lesson and taught in the most negative (in my opinion) way possible – which absolutely still happens in the Church on a regular basis.

    Don’t delete the verse from the scriptures; simply remove the direct link to the lesson being taught in, generally, an extreme way.

    And eliminate now the analogies mentioned in the post and any others like them.

  144. *YW* lesson – although I don’t want it linked in a YM lesson, either.

  145. liz johnson says:

    Holy crap, these comments.

    I just want to say “amen” to Tracy M – NOTHING EVER makes a girl (or boy) a licked cupcake or chewed gum. Not consensual sex, not abuse, not rape, not anything. No way. Talk about dehumanizing language.

    Also – I was also taught the “chewed gum” analogy as a teenager. And I read about it in The Miracle of Forgiveness – that I was better off dead than raped or not a virgin. As a youth, I was told by a member of the stake presidency that the best gift I could give my husband was my virginity, and no virtuous RM would have me if I didn’t have that to lay upon the wedding altar. These conversations are perpetuated by the problematic use of Moroni 9:9, regardless of how you interpret that scripture in your head. And these things are so, so, so damaging. It has to stop, and a good way to start the healing process is to remove that reference from the PP manual. NOW.

  146. That’s the thing, Ray. I’ve not seen anyone recommending deleting that verse from the scriptures. But some commenters seem to think that suggesting that the YW pamphlet in which this appears as a verse meant to teach something about chastity and sexual purity should be changed to remove this reference as a misguided attempt to teach the principle is tantamount to suggesting that it be removed from the Book of Mormon. Or they seem to think that because it appears in a Church pamphlet that it must therefore be inerrant and a direct revelation from God. It’s just a pamphlet some committee put together. Kevin Barney is completely right that it looks like someone on the committee searched for key terms relating to “chastity” and “virtue” and this verse came up and the verse was used without thinking through the context and the meaning that it inevitably, though inadvertently, conveys.

  147. Jayce:

    Sorry, but I think people here are focusing too much on their view on the word virtue.
    -Yes. The writers of the YW program, for instance.

    To me it seems obvious in reading the verse in question that saying virtue isn’t attacking that person, but that the scriptures aren’t going into a modern verbage on the intricacies of rape. I mean really is it that hard for people to understand this?!
    -Not sure what you mean here. If you mean that Moroni 9:9 isn’t attacking the victims, you’re partially right; it’s clearly not their fault but they also have lost some key attribute.

    Choosing to nitpick over details in wording from so long ago contrasted with your willingness to describe in detail that same event proves that you’ve lost sight of the real message.
    -Nitpicking over details and describing something in detail don’t contrast with each other; they’re actually quite similar. As to the real message, we’ve clearly lost sight of it — what is the real message, please?

  148. Kristine says:

    I want to thank Aaron for perfectly demonstrating why I wrote this post, and all of you for your thoughtful contributions. I think we’re done here.

  149. PS — UPDATE: I’ve tried the chewed gum. It all depends on the kind of gum and how chewed it is and who was going the chewing. Again, it has jack-all to do with virtue or whatever but at least I can say that I’ve been exorcising the word.

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