Comments about ‘Elizabeth Smart speaks at human trafficking forum, emphasizes teaching children that they matter’

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Published: Tuesday, May 7 2013 9:00 a.m. MDT

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Beaverton, OR

In the light of the 3 women rescued in Cleveland, as well as JayCee Duggard who was rescued a few years ago, and others who have been raped or molested - those that have had the most precious thing stolen from them are still virtuous, because it was robbed from them. They didn't freely give it. They are not a piece of old chewing gum, but are someone who is very worthwhile to love.

John C. C.
Payson, UT

I was once taught that committing sin was like driving a nail into a board. Repentance was likened to pulling out the nail, but, they warned, the hole would remain. I know now that Christ's atonement can heal everything, including the left-over hole. I don't blame those teachers, they were well-meaning. I think they just didn't want us to commit sin deliberately in the belief it would be easy to repent afterward.

The key here is intent. Those who hurt others deliberately will have a harder time changing their nature, but they can. Innocent victims bear no blame but need help to heal--especially young children who are more likely to blame themselves when something bad happens. Christ's atonement offers a way out to both.

In all cases we should be very cautious in judging the intent of others.

The Great State of, TX

The reality is that loss of virginity (by force of rape or by choice) is NOT an indication that an individual's worth has decreased. Elizabeth and any other girl who has had a lesson likening the loss of virginity to chewed gum, licked cupcakes, or nailed boards is taught that their virginity IS their worth until they are married - when being a wife and/or mother is their worth.

What needs to stop immediately in our culture is the idea that a girl's or woman's worth is tied to her virginity, marital status, or motherhood.

And, we also need to acknowledge that a rapist CANNOT remove your chastity nor your virtue. Your virtue is NOT your virginity. There are a lot of highly virtuous, unmarried people who are not virgins. And, chastity can only be removed by choice. A girl or woman who has been raped is NOT unchaste.

Lowell Steele
Farmington, UT

@Esquire--you're being a bit disingenuous. Did you think we wouldn't listen to Ms. Smart's original speech? She did not speak out against abstinence-only education. She explained how a rape victim feels about themselves after being violated, which is pretty much universal, whether you believe in abstinence or not. She did not fault her parents, but did chastise one of her teachers who taught that someone who had sex before marriage was like a "chewed piece of gum", which would then be worthless and discarded, unwanted by anyone else.

That concept is a very damaging lie, but it is not an inherent aspect of abstinence education. When abstinence is taught correctly, it enhances and builds one's self worth, not diminishes it. The principle of repentance should be a companion teaching when taught in the home and at church. Anyone who believes or teaches the "chewed gum", or "pull a nail from a board, but the hole remains" concepts would somehow limit Christ's power to cleanse or eagerness to forgive. No individual who is raped, or who succumbs to sexual temptation, for that matter, need ever feel they can't be cleansed and completely forgiven!

Orem, UT

The LDS Church's For the Strength of Youth pamphlet says this: "Victims of rape, incest, or other sexual abuse are not guilty of sin. If you have been a victim of any of these crimes, know that you are innocent and that God loves you."

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

I would just like to point out,
That many Republicans would force a young RAPE victim like Ms. Smart to carry any pregancy full term, with NO choice.

Talk about adding insult to injury.
Tell me that doesn't send a mixed message to these victims.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Orem, UT
The LDS Church's For the Strength of Youth pamphlet says this: "Victims of rape, incest, or other sexual abuse are not guilty of sin. If you have been a victim of any of these crimes, know that you are innocent and that God loves you."


But Chastity as explained in the Temple is "...each of you...have no sexual relations... with anyone except...to whom you are legally and lawfully wedded."

By not having any distiction or exception to these rules or being taught them at all,
it DOES give a very serious mixed message.

I have talk with many LDS women at length about this matter.
It is confusing for adults, let alone young women or children.

This all-or-nothing-ism
You are either Pure and Virtuous, or you are NOT --
IS the problem.

We need to do a better job of teaching our young people that only the Sith believe in Absolutes.

Just Truth
Saratoga Springs, UT

Esquire, she did not speak out against abstinence only education taught correctly. Elizabeth still believe in not having sex outside of marriage if you have a choice in the matter. Duh!

Orem, UT

LDS Liberal, what part of "Victims of rape . . . are innocent" are you and your friends having trouble understanding? Merriam-Webster gives "pure" and "virtuous" as synonyms for "innocent." To paraphrase your words, you are either innocent or you're not, and the Church says that rape victims are innocent. So rape victims are as pure and virtuous as they were before they were assaulted. Maybe your friends would be less confused if they searched doctrine instead of talking with you. Or, you could go to the lds.org search feature and type in "rape victim" and see if there's any equivocation on the subject. (While you're there, you could look up this quote from President Hinckley: "We are under obligation, binding and serious, to not use temple language or speak of temple matters outside" ["Keeping the Temple Holy," Ensign, May 1990].)

As for teaching absolutes, that's what churches do. There is no exception to the law of chastity, but I think every grownup knows the difference between sexual relations and sexual assault. The Church's For the Strength of Youth pamphlet is there to help kids understand the difference too.

Santa Monica, CA

I would like to thank the posters on this thread for catching the fact that the author of this piece truly misrepresented Ms. Smarts message regarding Abstinence Education. And, indeed--to the editors of the Des News for allowing these posts to stand and reflect that the author did not do a very good job of representing what Ms. Smart said. The author of this piece truly owes a brave and wise young woman an apology, but again--it would have been easy for the Des News to hide the many responses that pointed out less than accurate journalism.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Orem, UT

You COMPLETELY missed the point.

1. We need to do a better job teaching our children the differences.
That was Ms. Smart's entire point in this discussion.

2. I dodn't say anything contray to my Temple convenants. I hold them most sacred.

3, The Church is not absolute. God is not Absolute. That runs dimetrically opposed to the entire Atonement.
Besides - anyone who's ever seen Star Wars knows that, only the Sith deal in abolutes. The same goes in the gospel.

salt lake, UT

As a member of Elizabeth's church and her parent's age, I remember being taught the same things. There was huge emphasis on the Book of Mormon statement that sexual sin is second only to murder in seriousness. Stories of excommunication and disfellowship abounded about youth who had broken the law of chastity, all leading to fear and horror. So, in a 14 year old's mind, there may not have been a lot of difference between consensual sinning and forcible rape. The youth should be taught that they should obey commandments around sexual purity out of love for God and not driven by fear of being chewing gum or some kind of punishment.

G L W8

LDS Liberal: "Absolute" may not be the best term to use in terms of expressing what the church and God are "not". A number of the brethren have warned us about accepting moral relativism and situational ethics. Those ideologies are probably irrelevant to the current discussion. But an understanding that God is perfect and we may become perfect is germane, even essential, to our salvation.
An understanding that we live in an imperfect mortal world to learn from experience, and that God helps us gain it line upon line, should help to clarify the issue. Also, that mortal men and women make mistakes when teaching or offering counsel--as in the gum analogy so disturbing to Elizabeth.
As we learn from out experience and move more to a Terrestrial and then a Celestial state, we will definitely experience positive change and growth. If that's what you mean by God and the Church not being absolute, I can appreciate where you're coming from. But hopefully, we won't confuse what's normally thought of as being "relative" (the antonym of "absolute") with a lack of perfection in God, or the church's desire to work towards it.

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