Religious freedomMaddi Gillel

“Self-government involves self-control, self-discipline, an acceptance of and the most unremitting obedience to correct principles.   Its demands are commensurate with its high privileges.  Duties are the inseparable companions of rights.  No other form of government requires so high a degree of individual morality . . .  

Before we import despotic principles into our own land, which are so raucously clamoring for admission, we would better count the costs.” (Albert E. Bowen)

“Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?  That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?” (Thomas Jefferson)

I wonder how many people realize what principles are.  Does it matter if we violate them?  Webster’s Dictionary defines principle as: ‘ a comprehensive or fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption; a rule or code of conduct.’ 

Some of the many principles which we know are critical to our integrity as individuals and a nation are: Industry (love of and ability to work), honesty (no stealing, lying or cheating), virtue (conformity to a standard of right, a particular moral excellence), chaste (innocent of unlawful sexual intercourse – within marriage only – , decent, pure), benevolent (kind, generous, non-jealous), devout (believing in God and faithful to Him) – you get the idea.  There are about 200 or more principles.

We have all, in our lives, been unkind or lazy or dishonest or heathen, but after trial and error, we hopefully realize what it is that gives us happiness, peace, and a feeling of accomplishment and direction.  Unfortunately for our society, Hollywood continually gives the impression that we can be un-principled and still be happy, loved, sexy, rich, admired, etc.  Therein lies the conflict between what we’re trying to teach our children and what they see over and over again in movies, television and magazines.  Being parents and grandparents, friends and neighbors, requires continual work to undo Hollywood’s influence. I believe that many in our culture want to be admired, respected and loved, and yet there are no examples (or not many) of how to become that way.

A taste for a good and decent life can be attained by reading good books- with heroes and principles throughout-  outdoor activities, work, developing talents,  giving service, and study.  We can do these things with those around us as much as possible and hopefully spread the good word of principles.

Our mom was born in 1925, when the high water mark was way up there.  She not only grew up in such a society, but she grew up in a small town in a rural area so there was extra support for principles.  She has always been a pillar of strength in our family, as well as in the neighborhood and town. She’s now 87 years old and is still influencing and encouraging her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  She is a calm, loving, wise and generous woman.  We all love to be around her.  I believe that her example encourages us to be principle-centered, even in a world that has sold out.

  • Anastasia
    Posted at 07:24h, 06 December

    Good for your mother, I hope she continues to reach out to her community…and stays in good health also! It is a beautiful thing to have experience one can give back to others, it usually leads to an improvement of ideals and certainly helps the upcoming generation. I myself want to begin volunteering with the Spiral Scouts of America in a few years (probably when I turn 30, that seems a decent age to start helping children).

    I did have 2 questions about some of the principles you chose to write about though. You don’t believe someone needs all 200 principles to be a decent member of society, correct?

    For example, you mention being “devout” and “chaste”. I personally agree on the devout…I’m very spiritually rich and pray to the Gods every day. I appreciate the sense of deeply held beliefs and togetherness that being part of a mosque/church/coven/temple can bring. However, many people I’ve met here in NY are atheists, and they are perfectly decent pillars of their communities too.

    As for chaste, well…it does not work for everyone. Using my own life as an example, I never have wished to marry or have children. I appreciate my personal freedom and privacy too much! At the same time, I *am* human, and could no longer be considered “chaste”. But I’ve *never* had casual sex, always use protection, and care deeply for my partner…as any woman should for her man. While I understand and am proud of people (men and women alike) who *do* wait for marriage for these types of encounters, being “chaste” seems a cruel “principal” for those of us (men and women alike) who have decided that they will not marry.

    That said, chastity *should* be an ideal for those who are going to pursue the path of marriage. I can think of fewer gifts that a husband can give to his wife, or a wife to her husband, that shows just how much he/she cares!

  • julie jarvies
    Posted at 09:09h, 06 December

    outstanding – the best article – agree – to Anastasia regarding the 200 plus principles – I believe we are decent members of society when we are striving to improve on living correct principles. We are here on this earth to become adept at recognizing the difference between good and evil, making good choices. When a weakness of mine is brought to mind (from reading good books, hearing a discourse, etc.) I think about it, work at it, pray and strive to become better. When I do that, I like myself better. (It might take a lifetime to become righteous.)

  • Meagan
    Posted at 09:11h, 06 December

    What do you mean by helping children before 30 as indecent–is there an indecent age to mentor young people? Or chastity is just plain cruel to mention as a principle (yes I understand some people will feel uncomfortable, but how is it cruel for others to promote something they believe is good for society–is making someone uncomfortable a serious offense)? What are you hoping to protect, defend, or prevent?

  • Meagan
    Posted at 10:35h, 06 December

    If you’d really like to know why couples look at single sexuality as problematic it’s because we receive tangible benefits from it (children, strengthened lifelong relationship), and we’re not sure what singles derive from it other than hitting a pleasure center in their brain. Repeatedly looking to hit that area for it’s own sake could lead to addiction–and addicts will go to great lengths to feel normal, good, stable, you know… it’s troubling to think about the woman who thought it would get her boyfriend to like her, or the man who hurts others because he’s made pleasure his goal. Where do these people see themselves in 30 years?

  • Anastasia
    Posted at 11:07h, 06 December


    I’m unsure why *you* think that *I* think it is “indecent” to mentor children at younger ages…I mean, “Big Brothers, Big Sisters” does this all the time! I simply want to wait til *I* am 30 since I still have to grow in my own faith a little, and hopefully by then I will have less school loans to pay off, too. It wouldn’t be right to only HALF volunteer my time. But obviously if others don’t have to work 55 hours a week, or are fully entrenched in their faith, or don’t have family/friendship commitments…then yes, they can volunteer their time at ANY age. It’s simply not viable for me right now.

    As for your questions/points about single life, I will have to address those when I’m on break. There’s a lot to clarify and discuss…but I’m at work now, so it’ll have to wait.

    I’ll comment later though!

  • Anastasia
    Posted at 15:52h, 06 December


    As promised, here is my response to your second question/post.

    You say that couples look at single sexuality as being problematic because there are no tangible benefits to it…that for those of us who choose not to marry and thus don’t have children or a “strengthened” relationship, we must only be looking for the immediate pleasure of the sex. You bring up two very good examples; The single person who gives sex with the hope for more love, and the single person who takes sex and doesn’t care who they harm to get it. Both of these are possible, and certainly do happen.

    There is a persistent stereotype about the “loose” single man or woman who goes to bars/clubs, has casual and unprotected sex every week, cares little for their partners and gets a new STD each month. When I look at my own life, I have to laugh at this.

    I am 26. I’ve never been to a club/bar, I have been in a wonderful relationship with ONE man for the last 5 years…he is *still* my only sexual partner. I enjoy playing boardgames, painting, reading, going to science/philosophy symposiums, and other quiet/geeky things. I work about 55 hours a week so that I can afford my college loans, car and private apartment. Just because I’m single doesn’t mean that I lead a wild, crazy, dangerous life!

    But, as I said before, I *am* human. We all have some basic need for companionship and physical intimacy. This can be sex, yes…but it also entails spending time with friends, going to work, chaste kissing/hand holding, going to a movie or dinner, helping family with chores, or having a class discussion. Basically all the things that couples do, but without a piece of paper that forces them to stay together and/or without the constant expectation to have children.

    I love my partner…but I’d never tie him down, and he’d never do the same to me. We both lead busy lives, work a lot, and neither of us want children. I greatly appreciate my independence, my privacy, my ability to simply go to a play or buy paints without worrying about combined finances or if anyone will wonder when I’ll be home. My freedom to come and go as I wish is most important to me…and it would be simply atrocious of me to marry and have children while living my life this way.

    So, the way I look at it I can either;
    A. Give up my personal happiness, get married and have children, and most likely be miserable all my days, OR
    B. Stay single, not get married/have children, and live my life as I choose while caring for my partner, family and friends to the best of my ability while retaining my happiness/privacy.

    To me, the choice is clear.
    Does this help you to understand why someone would remain single, Meagan?

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