Friday, August 6, 2010

Custom is king

One of the first things we discussed in on my philosophy classes (an ethics class) was that custom is king. What we might see as common place and accepted, another culture might not. And vice versa.

I have always been fairly open-minded, and accepting, but I admit there are some things that I just can't find a way to understand.

I might not agree with it, but I can see where the idea of "no sex before marriage" would be beneficial in some ways, at some times. Having had my child (with my husband) six months before we married, I can safely say that I broke that rule. But then again, I have never felt it applied to me, because it is not part of my custom. I can accept that others view it as sacrosanct, and I can respect them for it. Even if I just don't understand it.

A young lady I used to work with dated her boyfriend for years, and never slept with him. He held off propsing to her, despite them loving each other so much it was obvious to anyone who saw them together, or even apart. She shined with love for him. But he had cancer, the kind that required a bone marow transplant, and he didn't want to be selfish and marry her, then die leaving her with only bills for comfort. So he held off proposing until he got the all clear.

The day he popped the question, there are truly no words to describe her appearence. She glowed. Her happiness was shimmering from the inside out. Unfortunatly, he fell ill again. Though it all, they never slept together. And sadly, he passed away a few months later. She refused to give up, refused to let him break off their engagement.

I tried not to judge. Goodness knows I tried. I bit my tongue when she mentioned wanting to be one with him, but knowing it would be a sin if she did. I bie my tongue when he fell ill again, to keep from telling her to grab what happiness she could, with what time they had. I bite my tongue to keep from yelling at him that his act of selflessness was the most selfish thing I had ever seen, because he denied her YEARS worth of possible good memories. Denied her so much.

They never had sex, and she will never know what it would have been like with him, because it was sinful in their eyes. I just don't understand that. I try, and I respect their belief, but I just can't wrap my mind around it. If something had happened to my husband before we got married, I would still have had the memories and the child we made together to cherish.

Another part of religion I can't understand is one that calls for female circumcision. I do not mean to start a flame war here, just express my own cluelessness. How can something so beautiful, the joy to be found in a spouse's arms as he is sliding into you, and holding you pressed tight against him, be denied to a woman? I understand wanting to remove temptation. If I could, I would ask every single attractive woman in the area to not wear skin tight jeans and belly shirts. Especially the redheads. Hubby loves redheads. But removing a woman's clit, and sentencing her to a lifetime of not just joyless, but in many cases painful sex, for something she MIGHT be tempted to do just doesn't make sense to me.

There are so many other instances where I truly want someone to make it make sense to me, that I could spend all day typing this post. But I am sure you don't want to read a novel on my cluelessness.

Just to make it clear, I have no problem with religon. I wasn't raised with one, but hubby is very faithful to his chosen path, we have many wiccan, other forms of pagan, christian, muslim, and even a few buddhist friends. I respect them all for their beliefs, and I respect their beliefs. Our daughter is currently seeking her path, and I am supportive of her questions, and respectful of her ideas as she searches for what feels right to her.

I just don't understand many religions. Especially when it comes to sex.


  1. Michelle,

    Thoughtful as ever.

    It's a sad story about the couple who never got to consumate their relationship. Certainly, it seems sad from the perspective of people who enjoy consumating.

    However, as you say, custom is king. And if that was their custom, the knowledge that they adhered to it was probably as important to them as the joy of consumation would have been to the rest of us.



  2. Michelle - Yuck. What a waste of love and life.

  3. Hello, Michelle,

    A cautionary tale if I ever heard one. Personally, I would tend to agree with your position. However, Ashley's comments also bear thought. Perhaps if they had consummated their love, the guilt would have overwhelmed the pleasure.

    With regard to female circumcision--well, I don't really think that has anything to do with religion. From what I understand, the African societies that practice this custom did so before they converted to Islam. It's an expression of the conviction that a woman is property, not a person. It truly makes me shudder. But to the people who advocate this barbaric violation, it's like locking your doors to keep away the thieves. I believe that the religious/moral justifications come afterward.


  4. Ash -- Certainly their love for each other was evident. I just find myself wishing that they had been able to get married, and had been able to enjoy actually living with each other, in addition to all the pain they suffered. Certainly, they deserved some joy. And yeah, knowing the girl, I can very easily see where the guilt might have overwhelmed her.

  5. Kathleen -- I do feel for her. But at the same time, she had a love that I think many people would kill to have. Despite not having been intimate with her love, she still shined. I still can't help wondering what the future would have held for them had he truly beaten the cancer. Would he have been a good husband? Would they have been happy together? Watching them, it certainly helped me to start grabbing at the happy moments in my own life.

  6. Lisabet -- I admit, I don't know the history of the practice. I have only really been exposed to the modern extremist cases, where a truly pure faith base has been twisted to such a degree as to justify such a practice.

    Like I said, I don't understand religion, but I respect it. Just not when it is twisted for harm. Or used as the boogy man under the bed. Fire and brimstone and all that.

    Pure faith can sometimes be such a beautiful thing. Twisted faith one of the most hideous.


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