I sat in church a few weeks ago and listened to a lesson on virtue. The teacher was amazing and I found her teaching style upbeat and engaging. It wasn’t her that inspired this post but rather the numerous similar comments from the others in the room – there was a theme in the way we are conditioned to think, and it bothers me. It bothered me then, when I thought to write this and it bothers me now, weeks later, while I’m writing about it.
While I agree completely, as did everyone in the room, it quickly became evident that my interpretation of *high moral standards* was very different than theirs. You see, every single person who commented, only mentioned sexual purity; the idea of saving intimacy for marriage. I was raised this way. I get it. I understand it at my core though I no longer agree with it’s value long term. But beyond that, I think that focusing on just that only means we are missing the point.
We are missing the point.
High Moral Standards: What does that mean to you? While it can be argued that morality encompasses chastity, that isn’t all it is. Of the 7 definitions of moral, only one specifies sexual matters. One. Because morality is more than that, it is honouring who we are, what we want, and what we feel we deserve. What we are willing to do in order to achieve or maintain these things is our virtue.
I did comment in the class, twice actually, to try and bring it to this…and while I got some nods and positive responses, it always went back to chastity. But I can’t believe for a minute that someone who is unmarried and sleeping with someone (significant other or not), can’t be virtuous. The mere suggestion of that sends my insides into a panic. It infuriates me, if I’m being honest. Because it’s not accurate, it can’t be. It misses the point!
I truly believe that more than our chastity, we compromise our moral standards the moment we compromise any part of who we are, what we want, and what we feel we deserve, and we risk our virtue the moment we negotiate HOW we are willing to get that. The moment we choose differently than how we feel. The moment you accept a job you don’t feel right about, or the moment you engage in behavior against your intuition, or even the moment you participate in an activity, good or bad, that you don’t really want to. The moment you accept treatment from someone that is less than you deserve as a basic human being, and the moment you let such behavior determine your reaction. Ah, that is our virtue. And honouring these things is how we protect it.
So for me personally, it’s less about what I’m willing to do with someone and more about who I’m willing to do it with, and why. For me, not everyone is welcome to that table. I’ll be friends with anyone but my moral standards as far as intimacy is concerned, have high and strong boundaries. Perhaps I’ll post sometime on why. Guarding my virtue also means learning to sit in my loneliness and feelings of being unwanted, without expectation of anyone one else to rescue me from it. It means standing up for myself even if what I say doesn’t matter in the end. It means honouring my current low level of social energy and my need for space to rejuvenate and mentally prepare for what comes next. It means doing/having only those things that bring me joy. It means making my boundaries and intentions known, repeatedly and ruthlessly if necessary, so that I don’t find myself in a situation of unwanted stress and a need to back peddle. It means learning to say no without explanation. It means pausing before I react and taking the time to ensure I properly represent myself in the ways I respond to any situation. It means ensuring I model healthy and positive behaviors and lifestyle for my children. It means making certain that I am at peace with my choices – if I feel good about something, I choose it…if at any time, I stop feeling good, then I make a different choice. And I reserve the right to do so. It means I carry no guilt or shame, and refuse to live with regret. And it means spending a large amount of time assessing what I want….what do I actually WANT? And making sure I am clear and honest in how I’m going to get it.
This is MY virtue. I am fierce in guarding it, and these are the ways I am doing just that.
I have too much I want to accomplish in my life, that I am unwilling to risk my purpose because I let my guard down and compromised my virtue. It can steamroll so fast and take so long to recover from. I refuse to let the hard things of life sink my ship. And I refuse to let my children see virtue in such a one dimensional way, and am intent on teaching them to value and guard theirs. Their ability to have high moral standards (whatever that means for them) and consistently protect their own virtue begins as my responsibility. It really is nurtured in the home, and an accumulation of thousands of small decisions and actions. And it is not something I take lightly. In many ways, my commitment to my virtue is the only thing that has kept me sane during the difficulties over the past couple of years.
So tell me:
How do you guard your virtue?