Chalk Circle

"Onward to moral victory! Now...which way was that again?"

Nobody can aquire honor by doing what is wrong.

-Thomas Jefferson

I’m just going to start off by saying that I am a huge honor fan.  I’ll fan it right now on facebook.  If Honor was a band, I’d be one super devoted groupie.

I respect honor in a person more than I respect creativity, or genius, or wealth, even “niceness”, or beauty.

I eat this honor thing up.  I would stay in Maeser’s chalk circle until Doomsday if I had to (or , at the very least, I respect the image of me doing so.).  I believe in honor.

Sometimes people will ask me, indirectly or otherwise, how it is possible for me to be the daughter of a military officer, and a Mormon AND a feminist liberal.

I honestly think, how can you not?

From the Military I learned justice, that some behavior is inexcusable, that oppression and abuse have no place in any free society. I learned that we all have privileges that we have not earned and that we are never entitled to abuse of power.  I learned that women and men can command forces, and I learned that we all represent something much larger than ourselves.  I learned that those who commit injustice should be held accountable and punished and  I learned that, in the scheme of things, we are not our own but a group. I learned Health Care was a human right.  I learned that the world was international.  I learned that if a structure systematically prevents the success of a worthy population, it is intolerable, and the problem should be remedied immediately.  I learned honor.

From Mormonism I learned that everyone has purpose.  I learned that doctrine is fluid and changeable.  I learned the existence of female deity ( I really did learn that from Mormonism), and human potential is godlike.  I learned that we build on the efforts of pioneers before us.  I learned that gardens are good, and people are punished for their own sins and are not inherently evil.  I learned that bodies are sacred and the human family is forever.  I learned that service to others counts, and that kindness is still a virtue. I learned a lot more than that.   I learned honor there too.

In fact, that people can be outraged liberal feminists without my background is kind of a mystery.  But we all come from our own places.

So when I got to BYU ,I was an Honor Code champion.  Ain’t no boys in my house past midnight.  No cheating coming from me.  Clean language…knee length shorts (unless working out, of course).  The whole Kaboodle.  I’m an Honor Code stickler.

BUT, just recently a review of the Honor Code revealed something startling.

Under the heading of Homosexuality it states…

Homosexual behavior and/or advocacy of homosexual behavior are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code.

and…

Advocacy includes seeking to influence others to engage in homosexual behavior or promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable.

These were changes not present on the Honor Code when I applied to BYU in 2005.   Granted, I can appreciate that in 2007 the code became much friendlier to Homosexual students by clarifying that

Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or attraction and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards.

but a clause regarding the advocacy of Homosexuality covers a lot more ground, and can be interpreted much wider than we’d all like to admit.  If I had been more public in my dislike of Prop 8…would that have counted as advocating the moral acceptability of Homosexual relations?  Depending on the Bishop, or the referrer…ya.

Now, were I to  say that I believe that Homosexuals should have a right to marry in the United States, part of that argument would include , almost out of necessity, that homosexual relations are morally acceptable in these United States- that is…were I to argue that…which I’m not…hmmm k.

And if I had a friend who was homosexual at BYU, and was brave enough to talk to me about it (which I don’t)….it would be very difficult for me to tell her or him that I believed that homosexual relations were not morally acceptable.

And that would be against the honor code.

But, could I really tell someone that I expected them to never act on their sexual feelings for the rest of their lives.  Those feelings are strong.  In fact, when London came by to say “hi” on his way to Yuba Lake ( He and Rachael, not dating anymore, by the way.) I literally had to rotate my chair to avoid looking at him all the time.  Now, if I had to embrace the idea that for the rest of my life I could never act on a romantic inclination…I’m not entirely sure I wouldn’t go some type of crazy.

And I KNOW that I’ve got friends who are way more vocal about this than I.  And for the first time in a long time I’ve had to reexamine my own honor.  It would be against my personal honor to not support something I believed in.  But my personal honor, for the first time in a long time, can’t even seem to be fudged  to fit my public declaration of honor.

I will go by the Honor Code, for now…but my heart might not be in that chalk circle all the time now.  I actually kind of hate myself for staying in there now.

Sorry Maesey. No really.  I love honor…but there are different kinds of honor.  And for some sick reason, I’ve been feeling a lot lately, I’ve never felt more dishonorable than when I do what is publically honored.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Chalk Circle

  1. C.

    To quote Miles, “Oh, when they issued you your honor, didn’t they give you the reset button?” Also there is a big difference between honor and reputation/public opinion. Another Miles-ian quote, “The great trouble comes for one when the two are not in accord…guard your honor, let your reputation fall where it may. And survive the bastards.”

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