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Reverence the Integrity of Others

Last week I wrote about the phrase “Reverence the Integrity of Self,” our truest, deepest Self in Christ, and how when we truly reverence that creature, we will desire to bring her to full life.  More than that, when we commit to that reverence in the Lord’s presence, we will be obeying Him.

This week I continue with Fr. Bonnell Spencer’s explanation of the vows that monks take.  So, what about the vow of “chastity?”  You might very well say, “Dorothy, what does that vow have to do with me?  I have no intention of becoming a monk or nun.”  Most of the time, those of us who are not part of those kinds of religious communities, misinterpret their vow of chastity by making it too specific – i.e. meaning celibacy – meaning not having sex with anyone.  That's all it means.  Right?

But what if I told you that’s not what Fr. Spencer’s next definition says?  He writes that chastity means to “Reverence the integrity of Others.”  Reverence the integrity of Others in the same way that we would reverence the integrity of who God means us to be as individuals.  God made each and every other person to be a magnificent creature that loves Him with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength.  Reverence their integrity, their authenticity before God, in that way.

If we were able to do that, can you see that we would never intentionally do anything that would harm them.  All our behavior toward other people would be “chaste.”  Can you see that any or all of us are called to do that, be that.  It's ever so much more than merely being celibate.  In fact, in this definition, celibacy isn't part of the picture, because this definition includes people who are married.  No, to be chaste in all our relationships is to reverence the other person's integrity as a child of God.  This is another way to view the second half of the Great Commandment:  Love your neighbor as yourself.

Suppose we already understand this and are rocking along, with good will in our hearts toward other people – at least toward those in our church.  Problems begin when other people do not have this understanding, inclination, or desire to be chaste in all their relationships.  Terrible ugliness can occur as a result. 

What do we do then?  How can we continue to reverence the integrity of that person who causes such harm?  Is there a difference between respect and reverence?  Are we supposed to forgive?  I submit to you that even if a total rupture in relationship happens or needs to happen, and that no matter how difficult it is, that there is truth in what I’m about to say.

It is possible to believe in the integrity in God’s sight, of the offender, while at the same time having lost total respect for that person’s behavior.  For the sake of our own soul, and no matter how difficult it is, or long it takes, we do need to find a way to forgive. 

This is true, even if the total rupture has happened, and we no longer even see the offender.  The offense is still in our heart.  These are tough words.  I know.  We need to find a way to forgive.  Forgiveness is an important part of our own healing.  What did Jesus say about how many times we are to forgive?  70 x 7.  That does not mean we’re to be a mat to be walked all over.  That would not be reverencing our own integrity.  Nevertheless, we need to find a way to forgive.

Next week I’ll write more about forgiveness.

Leave me a comment.  

And remember, you're awesome!  God holds you in the palm of His hand.


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