In his recent article, Kenaz notes that :
" ...to the Romans pietas, the root of our "piety" and "pity," was foremost among the social virtues. Among the multiple definitions given in the Oxford English Dictionary, "faithfulness to the duties naturally owed to one's relatives, superiors, etc.; affectionate loyalty and respect, esp. to parents; faithfulness, dutifulness" comes closest to pietas. Over the centuries this usage has drifted out of fashion. By the 19th century, English translators of Confucius could only convey this meaning by the term "filial piety"-- a phrase which would have been as redundant to the Romans as "brotherly brotherhood." "
And this is one of the reasons that piety is so incredibly crucial. It's rooted in a deep connection to one's ancestors, and the strength of that connection is what insures the integrity of one's traditions, practices, and the evolution of the same. The standards inherent in any legitimate tradition aren't arbitrary; they're drawn -- at least in polytheism--from the wisdom and work of one's ancestors all with an eye toward being and remaining in right relationship: with the ancestors and then with the community and one's friends and family, and all of this leads to doing so with the Gods. It's an inter-generational, inter-connected cycle.
I think the lack of specifically this has led us to a point where no one is surprised by child rape, or sexual abuse, or attacks on our vulnerable (be they children or not). This has become de rigeur in our society and at the same time, paganism has become infested by a polluted moral relativism that advocates excuse the perpetrators of these crimes, welcoming them into the community, all the while damning their victims.
Everyone is talking about how these horrible things make Paganism look, or how to craft a policy statement (so we look like we're doing something when really we're not), how we can make everyone happy and push these crimes under the carpet again, urging victims not to make trouble, how we have to avoid trampling on everyone's right to sexual pleasure, how abusers are people too. This is sick and polluted behavior, moreover, no one is talking about the fact that these aren't just social and violent crimes, they're religious crimes as well. They betray not only a lack of piety but a deep rooted spiritual sickness, a moral ennui, a cowardice and lack of caring that has come to define modernity (and yet we fetishize it).
I'll go so far as to say that without a celebration of piety and an encouragement to it, there is no community, or at least not one worth having. Every act of sexual violence and assault, every violation of consent should be met with outrage, disgust, and swift, swift action. It is a violation of the right relationship that is sustained and nourished by our piety. It is a violation of community.
As to the charge "abusers are people too. They just need healing." Maybe, but they also need, like anyone with an incurable, deeply harmful and contagious disease, to be quarantined. We can't cure them but we can protect those they might harm. We can remove them from frithful society, not out of hatred but out of recognition that they have been poisoned beyond their ability to function in a healthy, non-harmful way. It is true many abusers were themselves abused and I personally feel deep compassion for those who had no one to step in and save them, to step in and prevent their harm but that only gets leveraged so far as an adult. As adults we make choices, and when someone for *whatever reason* makes a choice to harm our most vulnerable, they forfeit their place in the community. The kindest thing we can do is lock them up or put them down (through legal channels) and thus keep them from miring ever further into the pit of sickness into which they themselves were so unfortunately cast and also to keep them from spreading a disease that is intergenerationally devastating in its impact.
I'm an ordeal master. I am trained to utilize techniques of pain, ascetic practices, and endurance to facilitating devotional offerings, the breaking down of blockages, and in helping those who seek me out grow closer to their Gods. You know what's sacred to an ordeal master? Consent. You know what our work is grounded in? Piety. The same holds true for those spirit workers who work with sexual practices as a sacred tool. Why are we, the people the mainstream community ostracizes and libels for our cultic work (work done only and always on consenting, informed adults) the ones to recognize what an abomination, what a complete and utter violation of frith, of community, of right relationship with ourselves, our communities, and our Powers, excusing abusers (and the abuse itself) is? Think on that one, people. We're not the ones excusing abuse. We're the ones protesting violation.
IN the end it all comes down, at least for me, to whether or not a community is grounded in reverence and piety and the courage that comes with those things. Obviously as a community we have a long way to go.