FSG: Faith, Sexuality and Gender

On the margins of orthodoxy

Token Chastity 27 March 2008

Filed under: chastity,hijab,Lydia Playfoot,Muslim veil,Silver Ring Thing — John @ 1:55 am

Been thinking about chastity – which usually means been thinking about its opposite, too. What constitutes chastity? The avoidance of sexual sin (the avoidance of which is pretty much unavoidable in my life at present, anyway) or the absence of sinful desires as well as actions? Probably the latter. If so, I’m stuck at a phase similar to that evoked by St. Augustine’s prayer: ‘Lord, make me chaste – but not yet!’. Did St. Augustine himself continue feeling that way, even just a little, after he became a celibate? If he did, there’s hope for us yet!

Wondered what the outcome of the Lydia Playfoot case had been: the girl who was going to court to defend her right to wear the Silver Ring Thing (SRT) ring at school – a token of her commitment to remain a virgin till marriage. (By the way, what a delicious name for such a news story!) It seems as though there has been no ruling as yet.

It occurred to me that the main point about items such as the ring and the Muslim hijab, to which it was compared in the case, has been lost in all the furore: they’re not just expressions of the wearer’s faith but visible manifestations of a commitment to personal modesty and chastity – in the case of the hijab, this is equivalent to being properly covered up and decent in one’s attire. Making a Muslim girl remove her hijab would be like telling a committed Christian girl to go round in a mini-skirt as is, symbolically, making Lydia Playfoot remove her ring: it’s saying not that the ring is not an integral part of her faith but rather her commitment to chastity – which of course is offensive nonsense.

Come on the courts, show some English common sense! One little ring won’t hurt – it might even do some good.

(Originally posted on http://btcp.wordpress.com on 13 July 2007.)