Chastity Day

Texas is apparently considering a budget that requires a Title IX-esque balancing act for those universities which host centers for students whose sexual appetites fall into politically fashionable categories.  According to Inside Higher Ed, Centers promoting “traditional values” would necessarily receive funding equal to that given to GLBTQAZetc student centers.

I’m undecided as to whether this is a good idea, and I grow tired of the increasingly vapid phrase “traditional values” (the words could mean anything at all in a few decades).  It’s interesting, though, that almost every commentator on the linked story embraced a strawman when critiquing the legislation.  Back in my foolish youth when I thought it unfair that we had Mother’s Day and Father’s Day but not “Kid’s Day,” I was told that every day was Kid’s Day.  The commentators take the same approach, declaring that every day is heterosexual day, and we therefore need no centers to support our nonexistent struggles.   They point out that heterosexuals are a majority; they say heterosexuality is the underlying assumption while “alternatives” are deemed exactly that; they say non-heterosexuals are mocked & bullied by homosexuals; and they say a great many other things of this nature.  In short, they claim the entire culture implicitly supports heterosexuality, so non-heterosexuals actually need societal add-ons like campus “centers” for the support they want.  This all makes heterosexuality centers seem rather silly (and so they are).  The only problem is that the bill allegedly calls for “traditional values” centers.

If that phrase means anything at all in the hands of legislators and voters, it’s probably something along the lines of chastity–seeking out marriage as sexuality’s expression and refraining from having sex apart from it.  At the very least, this is a fairer description of the content of “traditional values” than the mere “insert tab A into slot B” of heterosexuality.  But what does this do to the objections?  The chaste aren’t exactly a solid majority on college campuses, and it seems that popular media make their representation appear smaller than it is.  People typically assume that dating relationships involve sexual activity, and those who refrain are deemed rather unusual.  Indeed, these strange people are often mocked for missing out on the great fun of promiscuity or foolishly passing over opportunities to take test drives.  Their significant others frequently pressure them into being unchaste.  Television, movies, and games add to this pressure by making unchastity the attractive norm.  Many of them find it difficult to maintain a chaste lifestyle in the face of this pressure, and yet when they try to ritualize their intentions with things like purity rings and pledges, they’re just mocked all the more.  Unlike homosexuals, the chaste don’t even have the comfort of the unwavering support offered in virtually every mainstream media outlet.  In short, every day is unchastity day at American colleges and universities.  If that kind of reasoning justifies centers for alternative sexuality, as the commentators seem to believe, how much more does it justify a student center for traditional values?

That doesn’t mean that this line of reasoning is adequate justification for centers of any kind, and even if it were, it wouldn’t mean that chastity centers are a good idea.  The very fact that its offered up by politicians is enough to make me skeptical.  Nevertheless, if there’s anything to be learned from this line of reasoning, it’s that there are vast forces arrayed against those who want to be chaste.  They could use some support from sympathetic family, friends, and churches.  Simply handing them over to that same vast array of forces and saying “remember not to have sex” as they’re led away isn’t going to cut it anymore.

About Matt

Software engineer by trade; lay theologian by nature; Lutheran by grace.
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