Thursday, 18 August 2011

Riots and Chastity

This series of posts is based upon two premises. The first is that the motivations and circumstances of those involved in the disorder in some of the cities of England appear to be very varied; a range of factors appear to have been in play rather than a narrow set of "causes". The second is that, as Pope Benedict said in Westminster Hall, the role of religion is not to propose particular political solutions but instead to to offer a purification of reason applied in the search for objective moral principles.

It seems reasonable to suggest that saying to young people that there are no rules in one area of their lives is going to make it difficult to maintain that there are rules in other areas. Saying that in one area of life there is no need for restraint does make it difficult to insist that restraint is proper to other areas of life.

One feature of the riots that has been the subject of comment in both national and local media is the ferocity of the violence directed against the police; there has also been some comment of points where rioters turned on each other. The attack on a 68 year old in Ealing after he had remonstrated with rioters, leading to his death, also manifests this violence against the person. What is quite shocking about this is the lack of regard for the human person which underlies this violence.

But if respect for self and respect for the other is undermined in one area of human living, then should we not expect that lack of respect to also show itself in other areas of living?

During my summer tidy of the bookshelves, I came across an article in my trade union's magazine entitled "Gang culture", written by one the trainers that the union uses to deliver a course on managing challenging behaviour.
Breakdown of the family unit, loss of parental and family role models, poor parenting skills, a lack of moral guidelines, no sense of community and fear for safety has led to an increasing number being involved in gang culture.
These words were published in November 2010. It is necessary to recognise the contribution that the extent of divorce and remarriage, the extent of child bearing outside marriage, and the extent of short term "relationships" outside of marriage make to this situation. The re-defining of the idea of "family" to include every possible variation from its traditional meaning does not help, creating as it does greater uncertainty in the human relations involved.
Can. 599 The evangelical counsel of chastity assumed for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, which is a sign of the world to come and a source of more abundant fruitfulness in an undivided heart, entails the obligation of perfect continence in celibacy.
The Church has three things that it can offer to the common good:

(1) celibacy, exemplified by the religious life, is also something that should be promoted to those who are single, particularly the young
(2) marriage is a permanent and life long commitment of one man and one woman, ordered towards children

(3) underlying both the single and married states is the principle that restraint in matters of sexuality will develop a respect for the other that is for the general good.

No comments: