Recently Elizabeth Smart noted that one thing that kept her from escaping her tormenters was a comment taught her by a teacher. The teacher noted that women were like a piece of gum. When they lost their virginity, they ended up like a piece of chewed gum that no one would ever want. Having been violated, she felt no one would want her, and so did not cry out when she heard rescuers near by.
I am very glad she made such a statement, to help young women realize they are not pieces of gum, who are only useful if they stay in their wrapper, never to be used; and then once used, only good to be tossed out. Instead, they are like a gold coin. No matter how scratched or dirty it may become, it is still worth its weight in gold.
That said, some bloggers and Facebook posters have tried using her statements to attack the scriptures (notably Moroni 9) and some General Authorities, including President Elaine Dalton for statements regarding the importance of virtue and chastity.
I would like to comment on these. First off, it is sad that some would take a quality and qualified statement by Elizabeth Smart, and twist her meaning to fit their own agendas (not all bloggers have done this, but several have).
Second, we all need to stop a moment, put the politics behind us, and consider something of equal importance in all of this: the concept of charity. I would hope no one would take my words out of context. I frequently see certain people raging against the machine, whether scripture or church leaders, simply because of a statement that goes against their own grain.
I would suggest we grant that ancient writer, or the modern speaker, a little bit of charity. Are we understanding them in the way they want to be understood? Are we seeking to understand and not misunderstand? Are we uncharitably seeking a political advantage by creating a crisis, where none need be? Are we seeking to find a reason to leave the Church, being offended by an ill-chosen word?
I can understand people struggling with Moroni 9:9’s view of chastity. However, have we thought charitably about a few things? First, Mormon lived in a different world than us. Second, did Mormon originally use the word “chastity”, or was it a word ill-chosen by the near illiterate Joseph Smith (in whose time, the Victorian era, chastity and virtue were very important)? Is there a more profitable way for us to read it? I recall Moroni fearing in Ether 12 that Gentiles would mock the words of the Book of Mormon. The Lord stated that those with charity would embrace them and use them properly. Mormon and Moroni risked their lives and toiled for decades to provide us with the Book of Mormon. Such was their charity for us. Should we not provide them with equal consideration?
The same goes with our modern leaders today. I do not think for a moment that Elaine Dalton considers any young woman to be a chewed up piece of gum, regardless of what some posters have intimated. Can we not show charity to the church leaders, even as we seek forgiveness and charity from God?
Perhaps the day will come when we will stand at the judgment bar with Moroni (Moro 10), and the Lord will ask us what we’ve done with the Book of Mormon and the living oracles. Will we be found with charity in that day? Or will our politicking and digging a pit for others destroy us?