When one’s most fundamental and foundational stability comes from being financially stable, there is a dollar price that one can place on anything, even if it is something as seemingly un-priceable as one’s virginity.
CNN reported of how a young lady from Seattle, Washington, whose family had lost their family home to fire and who were uninsured, had decided to pack her bags and leave for Nevada to do something that is rather strange, to say the least. She was planning to sell her virginity to the highest bidder in the only state in America where prostitution is legal.
Apparently, this story is not new. It had come out before, and it garnered some attention, one of them in the form of an on-line article by a Christian lady who had critiqued her for having no self-respect. In her defense, this woman said that she values herself, and that she is doing this for love – of her family.
I can imagine the many unarticulated responses going on in the minds of those who are reading this week’s reflection. Before jumping to any conclusions even if they may be deemed logical and sensible, it would be in the best interest of Christian charity to step into the shoes of someone like her. Perhaps understanding things from her point of view may help us to develop compassion where and when it is most needed.
This lady had said that she has intentions of one day becoming a lawyer. People don’t plan to practice law if they do not think they have the intellectual discipline that is required for the training and study for this profession. Obviously, and as she has explained, it was her unfortunate circumstance of her family that has brought her to make this choice and to take this path. She knows that there somehow is a ‘market’ out there for one’s virginity, and she wants to capitalize on this for her and her family’s benefit.
I often tell my people about the great value that God has put on our lives, shown so unashamedly by the very life of his only begotten son who died for us on the Cross of Calvary. It shouldn’t take much to join the dots and to make the connection that because God values us so much, that we too should value ourselves. In this light, one cannot help but be stirred and affected to read of this lady’s decision.
Her on-line interlocutor may have been rather stinging to say that she has no self-respect, no matter how well intentioned her remark may have been. The report said that reading the Christian woman’s comment made her cry. Obviously it showed that she had feelings, and deep inside, she knew that what she was doing was damaging to the very core of her being.
It’s not as if she was forced into prostitution. Neither is she a victim of rape. For this lady, it was a choice made willingly and deliberately. The circumstances that caused her to resort to this are undeniably unfortunate, but was this the only resolution available to her? Could it be because she had never been introduced to the God who loves her for who she is that has caused her to take this drastic option in life? Would this happen if one really knows how deep God’s love for each one of us goes?
When God doesn’t feature clearly in our approach to life, the only thing that makes any sense would be then to put the self as the centre and raison d’etre of life. This forms the basis for much of the narrative or metanarrative that we have the right to choose what we want to do with our lives and our bodies. Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ is the common battle-cry, and it is easy to see why.
When we make ourselves the highest authority in life, all morality and moral obligations outside of ourselves will have very loose foundations for their existence. This then will easily explain other choices – like how a person can make the choice to terminate the life of a child in the womb through abortion because the mother’s life and freedom (to live without the burden of caring for a bringing up a child) is deemed more important than hers. Quite often, it is also most likely the absolute freedom of personal choice that had caused the pregnancy in the first place.
I had watched parts of the third debate between the candidates for the US Presidential Election and was rather alarmed that one of the candidates was so determined to make sure that no government would have the power to stop a woman even in the 9th month of pregnancy from terminating her pregnancy if she deemed that her life would be threatened due to health issues if she carried on the pregnancy to full term, and that it would be the mother’s freedom of choice to do so. While I can understand fully the emotional turmoil of a mother who faces such an unfortunate circumstance, we need to ask the necessary question about whether a right to life is equated to the right to murder. If so, then in other extenuating circumstances, the government should also not step in if one would choose to kill an ailing parent or grandparent who is severely demented and is putting a strain on one’s family’s resources. Personal freedom then has to trump all other reasons, justifying and making moral everything. But are our lives truly about us?
Many of us who watch films of read books of a thriller nature loathe storylines that present us with easily spotted revelations and endings coming a mile away. It should disturb us that in life, we see around us so much evidence of how things in life can go awry by the moral stand and choices that we make in life. Their consequences are just as easily seen coming ‘a mile away’. If we make it our stand that in life the most important thing for us is our personal freedom to make choices that best suit us and our convenience, where we love ourselves many levels above how we love and relate with others in community, and with God, we can end up making choices in life that justifies everything, even taking a life inside a womb, a life that is facing what we would term ‘without meaning’ (e.g. a Down Syndrome foetus or an elderly person bedridden with dementia), or selling a part of ourselves away to the ‘highest bidder’.
One of the strong arguments for having any moral obligations in life is that of a person’s dignity and purpose. A book I recently picked up and read with deep interest is Timothy Keller’s “Making Sense of God”. In one of his chapters on dignity and moral obligations, Keller quotes Scottish philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre giving the graphic and rather effective analogy of ‘purpose’ using the pocket watch. If we complain that the watch is “grossly inaccurate and irregular in time-keeping”, there is justification in such a complaint. That is because the pocket watch was created to keep time. But no one would say that a watch is bad if one uses it to throw it at a cat and it doesn’t hit its target. It was simply not made for cat-hitting. Apart from being an ineffective weapon for cat-abusers, it would be an obscenely expensive weapon especially if it was a timepiece that had cost a king’s ransom.
I would recommend anyone reading this to extend this reasoning to their lives and their bodies. Our lives and our bodies, especially for those of us who love God and are God-fearing in the most objective and mature way, is to glorify God. But we misuse them and abuse them when we turn their purposes only to amuse, glorify or delight us. It would be, as MacIntyre so graphically put it, akin to using a diamond-encrusted pocket-watch to hit cats.
When we know the real value of something that is of infinite worth, no price can be put on it. We need to treat life and sexuality with the same deference. We may fight for our ‘right’ for our freedom of choice in life, but there are things that should never be priced with a dollar value, and unlike any of the items found on game shows like ‘The price is right’, there should never be a price high enough on them.