Selected Sunday Scriptures #146

It has been a while since I posted, I know, but in my defense I have been very busy. And traveling. And dealing with family matters. Typical stuff. Today’s scripture selections are chosen because they were the readings at a recent wedding I attended. The bride and groom are some former commenters here, who went by the names FeminineButNotFeminist/Cassie and (among others) Uberdeplorable Psychedlic Cat Grass. So they seem like fitting choices. The first is from the Book of Sirach:

Happy is the husband of a good wife;
    the number of his days will be doubled.
A loyal wife rejoices her husband,
    and he will complete his years in peace.
A good wife is a great blessing;
    she will be granted among the blessings of the man who fears the Lord.
Whether rich or poor, his heart is glad,
    and at all times his face is cheerful.

13 A wife’s charm delights her husband,
    and her skill puts fat on his bones.
14 A silent wife is a gift of the Lord,
    and there is nothing so precious as a disciplined soul.
15 A modest wife adds charm to charm,
    and no balance can weigh the value of a chaste soul.
16 Like the sun rising in the heights of the Lord,
    so is the beauty of a good wife in her well-ordered home.
17 Like the shining lamp on the holy lampstand,
    so is a beautiful face on a stately figure.
18 Like pillars of gold on a base of silver,
    so are beautiful feet with a steadfast heart.

(Sirach 26:1-4, 13-18)

There are a lot of valuable points in this passage. We see first, that a good wife is a valuable thing. In fact, elsewhere in this same book the author declares that a good wife is the greatest treasure a man can have. Second, we see some of the blessing that a good wife can bring: a longer life, a happier life, a healthier life, and a more peaceful life among other things. Third, we can see some of the virtues that make for a good wife (and woman): self-discipline, modesty, loyalty being some examples.

We can also see that a woman’s beauty is in fact a good thing. It is compared to the Temple of God, a place frequently considered beautiful in the OT. And a place that should be beautiful. Contra those who say that beauty is only skin deep, it does have value as well, and men are not shallow for considering it. Of course, those who read Proverbs and further in this book will know that beauty alone is no virtue, and can be quite deadly to a man.

Then we have St. Paul’s well known (and infamous in some circles) Epistle to the Ephesians:

[A]ddressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, 20 always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.

 

21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church; 33 however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

(Ephesians 5:21b-33)

Few passages are more seemingly controversial than this passage from the New Testament. And yet, when you truly read it, few passages are as beautiful. St. Paul eloquently paints out the love that Christ for all of us, and explains that same level of love is expected of a Christian husband towards his wife. Of course obedience on the part of the wife is the part of this passage which is decried. But what can I say? I think most of my readers here already know that we live in an age of ugliness.

Finally, on to the Gospel of Matthew:

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one’?[a] So they are no longer two but one.What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.”

(Matthew 19:3-9)

Unfortunately this particular translation carries with it the error of many other translations of Scripture. Contra the popular understanding outside the Catholic Church, Jesus did not provide for an exception clause here. For those curious about this, blogfriend Deep Strength has an excellent analysis and summary located here.

But to get back on topic, here we see Jesus firmly lay out how marriage is: it is a permanent affair as long as two people are on Earth. God is what brings man and woman together (just as He did in the beginning), and man cannot undo this. Any attempt along these lines is inherently disordered, and thus, sinful.  At the same time when one is not caught up in sin, one can see the beauty of it all. A man and a woman are no longer separate after marriage. They are bound up, in a mysterious way, into something new altogether. This is why the Catholic Church refers to it as a Sacrament, which is a translation of Mystery, which is how matrimony is referred to in the East. It is a beautiful and mysterious thing, just like God Himself.

God grant them both many blessed and happy years.

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A Farewell And A Remembrance

It has been two weeks now since I learned that Zippy Catholic, or Matthew to those who knew him outside this part of the web, had passed away. When I first learned about it I knew that I had to write a post in tribute to him. But for the past two weeks I have been unable to do so. Nothing I could think of seemed fitting. But I cannot put it off any longer. So here is my best attempt at my thoughts on Zippy/Matthew, unworthy as they are.


It is no joke that finding the ‘sphere was a monumental point in my life. It began a series of changes within my life which radically altered the path that I have taken since. The ‘sphere forced me to examine many, no, most of my core beliefs. And as a result many of those beliefs have changed (and I would like to think for the better). Others have become firmer, and my conviction more resolute. I could count on one hand the number of individuals who were part of the reason for that massive shift in world-view. And Zippy, no, Matthew, would be one of them.

Matthew forced me to examine everything I believed about politics. He forced me to examine core concepts like authority and power. He turned over rocks in my mind I didn’t even know existed, and forced me to look at the things which crawled out from beneath them. I cannot look at the subject as I did before, because I cannot deny the truths he laid out in front of me.

Matthew’s style was not for everyone. Many, many, many people found it quite off-putting. But they failed to understand his approach. Matthew was not some soft school-teacher who gently guided his students through lesson after lesson. No, Matthew was a wizened old sensei, a teacher who would not hesitate to slap a student who failed or was out of line. He didn’t hold back his thoughts or his wit or his tongue. If there was anyone who fit the epitome of this proverb better, I don’t know who:

As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another.

(Proverbs 27:17)

He expected his students to do their homework- to follow his points back to their origin and know where they started so they could understand where he was and why. Every lesson was not a repeat of what had gone before, but something new, either in angle or context or subject. Furthermore, he knew how to use examples to get at people in ways that upset them. I rather imagine that he and Jonathan Swift would have gotten along, at least in their style. Many missed the point, but that was on them and not Zippy.

I haven’t met many people from the ‘sphere, in truth only a couple, but there were some I hoped to meet in the future and Matthew was one of them. Now any meeting will have to be in the next life. But until then I will keep what he taught me in mind. Which is more than just what to think, or even how to think, but start thinking in the first place- about everything. Before I ran across Matthew there were too many things I took for granted, and never thought about. Not so much any more. That is a gift I cannot repay him for. But if I learned anything about him, he would find payment in my using it to the best of my abilities.

I know there is more I should say, but I still cannot put it to words. I will leave it at this, and hope it is enough. Goodbye Zippy, you will be missed.

 

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #144

Today’s post will draw heavily from the Psalms. First we have Psalm 141:

I call upon thee, O Lord; make haste to me!
    Give ear to my voice, when I call to thee!
Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee,
    and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice!

Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord,
    keep watch over the door of my lips!
Incline not my heart to any evil,
    to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity;
    and let me not eat of their dainties!

Let a good man strike or rebuke me in kindness,
    but let the oil of the wicked never anoint my head;
    for my prayer is continually against their wicked deeds.
When they are given over to those who shall condemn them,
    then they shall learn that the word of the Lord is true.
As a rock which one cleaves and shatters on the land,
    so shall their bones be strewn at the mouth of Sheol.

But my eyes are toward thee, O Lord God;
    in thee I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!
Keep me from the trap which they have laid for me,
    and from the snares of evildoers!
10 Let the wicked together fall into their own nets,
    while I escape.

(Psalm 141)

I love this Psalm, as it teaches a great deal about humility. It reminds us that we must rely on God, and have no power to compel Him. We are entirely reliant on His love for us, with no means of enforcement. It cautions us about the dangers of the tongue, and how our words lead to sin. It reminds us to watch our company, and choose well. And of course, perhaps most importantly, it tells us that it can be a good thing to be rebuked, even violently. For such chastisement can also be love as well.

Then we have Psalm 146″

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praises to my God while I have being.

Put not your trust in princes,
    in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
When his breath departs he returns to his earth;
    on that very day his plans perish.

Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;
    who executes justice for the oppressed;
    who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
    the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the sojourners,
    he upholds the widow and the fatherless;
    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10 The Lord will reign for ever,
    thy God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!

(Psalm 146)

This Psalm is hopeful, but also contains some important warnings. It reminds us not to trust too much in human beings, who are weak and prone to error. After all, we are all doomed to die, and with that death our plans come to nothing. At the same time, if we trust in God, we will not be disappointed. For the Lord saves us, and protects those who are vulnerable.

Finally, a snippet from the Gospel of Matthew:

13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people; 14 but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.

(Matthew 19:13-15)

I find it funny, in a dark way, how many human beings act like children. But not in the way that Jesus meant. Rather than be trusting and innocent, like these children, instead people are immature and rebellious. It is a reminder that maturity is about more than just age- but how we act.

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Saturday Saints- #137

I am going to resume this series after almost 9 months of absence. Until I think of a better way of doing it, I will go alphabetical again. Our saint today is one of the early Fathers of the Church, Ambrose of Milan:

Aurelius Ambrosius[a] (c. 340 – 397), better known in English as Ambrose (/ˈæmbrz/), was a bishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was the Roman governor of Liguria and Emilia, headquartered in Milan, before being made bishop of Milan by popular acclamation in 374. Ambrose was a staunch opponent of Arianism.

Traditionally, Ambrose is credited with promoting “antiphonal chant”, a style of chanting in which one side of the choir responds alternately to the other, as well as with composing Veni redemptor gentium, an Advent hymn.

He was also interested in the condition of contemporary Italian society.

Ambrose was one of the four original Doctors of the Church, and is the patron saint of Milan. He is notable for his influence on Augustine of Hippo.

Much, much more can be found out about this influential saint at his wiki, located here.

ambroseofmilan

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The Knowledge Base Spreads

A long time reader and commenter has clued me in to a series on the Orthodox Blog “Russian Faith” concerning attracting a spouse. The first post in the series is “How to Attract a Christian Spouse-Marriage Advice from a Christian Dad.” The author cites my LAMPS/PSALM model favorably at one point, although he adds on a final S to include Spirituality. I think I will respond to that point sometime later, as it is good to understand what my model is, and what my model isn’t.

He then wrote a follow up post, title Attractiveness: Beauty is Not Just On the Inside. It is very Un-PC in all of the right ways. A snippet from it:

A woman’s physical attractiveness is the most immediate and pressing point of interest to most men. Morally and spiritually, this can be quite dangerous — we all know very attractive women whose spiritual lives are a mess — but attractiveness itself is central to attraction by most men (whether godly or not).

A young lady may be a devout Christian, but if she is not physically attractive, the vast majority of men will pass her over.

This is absolutely true, and something which unfortunately is not taught enough in Christian circles (of any faith tradition). The reverse is of course true for men as well, and is one of the reasons why we have the Christian side of the ‘sphere.

One thing I found very striking about the second post is the photos. They showcase beautiful women who are very feminine and modest in appearance. Not the vulgar “sexiness” the world loves to push out.

I will be curious to see where the author takes the remaining posts. At the same time, I am already pleased to see this kind of article happen. Especially because it showcases my LAMPS/PSALM model and the understanding that goes with it. Hopefully more Christian outlets will take advantage of those kinds of resources in the future.

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A Reminder And An Update

A reader recently sent me an e-mail in which he questioned whether I should link to manosphere sites out of concern that it might other readers to occasions of sin. He suggested, at the very least, a warning message. Now, I think I have posted them in past, but the suggestion got me thinking.

Anyone who has any experience with the internet should know that it can lead to occasions of sin. There is no escaping it. Whatever the sin, you can and will easily find something to set it off. That is the danger of the internet. Therefore anyone who uses the web should be aware of this. Caveat Emptor and all that. People just need to use their smarts and understand that dangers are out there. And then take steps to compensate.

All the same, now is a good time to remind anyone reading my blog that a link, either in a post or in my blogroll, is not an endorsement of everything you will find in/on a blog. I link it because I think it has some value to my readers. Or can have value. I might disagree with everything else someone says, but that particular piece is worth reading- for whatever reason.

As for the update, I apologize for the lack of posts this whole year. I have been stretched very thin lately, between work and other matters I have very little free time. Mostly I have been focusing that small amount of time on things which relax me. Unfortunately the ‘sphere is not one of them. Hopefully I will have less burdens in the near future, and can devote more time. There is still a lot to discuss in this particular area.

In the spirit of olden times, and to generate some discussion (and controversy), I leave readers with something to ponder/discuss/debate:

Women exist in a perpetual state of contradiction.

Otherwise stated, women live their lives continuously pulled in different directions by different motive forces (appetites, instincts, desires, wishes, dreams, etc.). This explains their (to men at least) apparent contradictory and confusing nature.

 

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #143

I hadn’t realized it had been as long as it had since I posted. Hopefully no one was getting worried. The first passage today is from Acts, and is the ultimate resolution of the Council of Jerusalem:

22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsab′bas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren, 23 with the following letter: “The brethren, both the apostles and the elders, to the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cili′cia, greeting. 24 Since we have heard that some persons from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us in assembly to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

(Acts 15:22-29)

This passage is always a valuable one to keep in mind, as it shows the Apostles and elders of the Church exercising their authority over believers. In this age of everyone believing whatever they want to believe, a sign of order and authority is invaluable.

Next a passage from the Letter of St. James:

19 Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, 20 for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.

(James 1:19-25)

Our faith is meant to be a dynamic, living thing. If we are not expressing it in our lives daily, then it is dead. And so are we, once our time upon this world ends.

Finally, a Psalm with a reminder about the importance of humility:

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
    my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
    too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
    like a child quieted at its mother’s breast;
    like a child that is quieted is my soul.

O Israel, hope in the Lord
    from this time forth and for evermore.

(Psalm 131)

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