Monthly Archives: July 2014

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #32

A couple of short snippets from St. Paul’s letters make up today’s post. We begin with the Second Letter to Timothy:

10 Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions, my sufferings, what befell me at Antioch, at Ico′nium, and at Lystra, what persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived.

(2 Tim 3:10-13)

For too long we Christians (at least in the West) have forgotten that part I put in bold. Indeed, we have done everything in our power to forget or ignore this. But the time will come, and in fact has already arrived, when we can do so no longer. We cannot hide from the fact that the world will persecute us for trying to live a godly life. The servants of the Adversary grow less subtle day by day. We all of us will have to make a choice soon- whether to flee persecution by abandoning our faith, or accept it by keeping fast to the Lord.

The next passage is from the Letter to Titus:

Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.

(Titus 2:3-5)

It never ceases to amaze me how many Christian women grow up without being taught what is explicitly commanded here. I know very few young women, Christian or otherwise, who cannot even manage themselves much less a household. There is no excuse of Christians to fail in this, yet we do all the time. In fact the long-standing pattern has been for Christian parents to teach their daughters anything and everything but how to manage their household. Instead, young Christian women go pursue an education and a career. And when they marry, if they marry, and if they still claim to be Christian, many if not most will try to keep up with that career and work away from home even after having children. This is a clear sin, and yet it embraced  wholeheartedly by almost all Christians. They are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it.” (2 Tim 3). There is a lot more that can be done with that passage, but time constraints require me to stop for now.

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Saturday Saints- #24

Today’s saint is Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg:

Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg (c. 934 – October 31, 994) was bishop of Regensburg in Bavaria from Christmas 972 until his death. He is a saint of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches (canonized in 1052). He is regarded as one of the three great German saints of the 10th century, the other two being Saint Ulrich and Saint Conrad of Constance.

Saint Wolfgang lived an eventful life. He was a missionary, a bishop, a religious reformer, a tutor of royalty and at the end of his life became a hermit. More can be read about him at his wiki, found here.

St. Wolfgang

 

 

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Slipped Through The Cracks

In my last major post, I discussed the important role that parents need to play in helping their children marry. As a brief summary, I advocated that parents: 1) help their children find worthy spouses and 2) help their children marry those worthy spouses while young. Such an effort would help children to maintain a virtuous life and keep away from sexual immorality, something which pervades every drop of modern culture.

But what about those for whom this advice comes too late? Once children are “out of the nest” the ability to help them in this way diminishes rapidly. What about young Christian adults whose parents didn’t help to prepare or aid them in marrying young? Parents can make up for this to a degree- while training and preparation might not be possible any longer (or of limited value), they can still help their children find worthy spouses. Unfortunately, not everyone grows up with God-fearing or responsible parents, or even an intact home.  Those with parents who aren’t willing or aren’t able to help are truly in a forlorn position.

Its understandable for those parents who still have young children to not be overly concerned with young Christians who have “slipped through the cracks.” When the world at large is constantly attacking you on every front, and seeks to destroy or corrupt everything you hold dear, there is a natural inclination to enter a “bunker” mentality. Everything not connected to you and yours is simply pushed out of your mind and disappears into the nebulous aether of “out there.” Again, understandable. But in my view a mistake.

I believe that this is a classic instance of similar interests aligning such that “if we don’t hang together, we shall surely hang separately.” That means parents with young children should try and help single, young Christian adults to find worthy spouses to marry, and that young, single Christian adults should try to help parents with young children prepare their children for marriage and help them (as time passes) to find spouses for themselves. Setting aside the moral considerations (in my view this is a great act of Christian charity here), there are strong self-interest reasons to work together in this manner.

The first reason to do this lies at the heart of success for both groups: networking. More than anything else, the collapse of the old networks between between members of faith communities is the single biggest impediment to devout, young Christians marrying. In the past you used to be able to count on friends and family to help you find a spouse, or to help your children (or grand-children) find a spouse. Coupled with the relative dearth of actual, devout, God-fearing Christians (as compared to “Churchians” -those who attend church for the social value but are not Christian in act or belief), it is extremely difficult for many young Christians to find suitable mates. Those who are fortunate enough to be born to a rebuilt network, such as a traditional church or a home-schooling group, fare somewhat better. But even they suffer from the limited pool available. If both groups of Christians- parents and singles, work together they can rebuild the old networks of faith communities much faster than if they operate solo. Every new person that is brought into the network is another chance to branch out and bring even more people into the fold. In mathematical terms the growth of the network is exponential, not linear.

The second reason lies in future hopes and opportunities. If your youngest son is still in diapers, it might not seem beneficial to you or your family right now to help a 20 or 30 year old Christian man find a wife to marry. But in 20 years your son might be looking for a wife, and if that man you helped two decades earlier now has daughters… well, that might make all the difference in the world. Naturally the same logic applies for a young Christian woman as well. Remember, you reap what you sow. As for Christian singles, helping those who are parents now can benefit any future children you have. Or grand-children, for that matter. This kind of project requires long-term planning and thinking, and that means laying the foundation for the future, today.

In my next post in this series I hope to cover some of how both groups can actually help another, both in the moment and in the future.

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Random Musings And Links- #2

Here are a few things that I’ve read recently that I think my readers might find interesting.

I found this post about punctuation in ancient Greek to be a fascinating read. It helps to explain some of the troubles with translating Scripture from the original Greek.

Courtesy of Mrs. ktc, here is a discussion on wifely submission at the Thinking Housewife which is very good in my opinion: The Importance of Wifely Submission. The comments especially are worth the read. She also posted a good quote last week of Pope Leo XIII on Inequality.

On a similar note, Deep Strength has a good post up on God and Marriage, examining authority and obedience, with a special emphasis on marriage. I left a few comments there, as did others, which I think are worth reading.

In that same post Infowarrior left an interesting link concerning Eleanor of Aquitane. I believe that she was one of the West’s first feminists, and think that the story in that link provides some good evidence of it.

Elspeth wrote a post a few days back advising husbands that We Will Get Over It. We Will. Trust me. It generated some intense commenting in response, with Empath disagreeing… strenuously. In reply Elspeth walked back a bit when she examined The Chicken and The Egg of relationships. As I was busy (primarily work, but I also have another post in the hopper that will be released later today or tomorrow) I didn’t participate. Having considered the matter some, I think that women can “get over it”… if they want to. The problem is that many (most really) women don’t want to get over it. They like to revel in “emotional terrorism” and don’t want to let go of that power, and the feelings its generates. Personally, I liken rebellious wives to drug addicts- if they don’t want to get better, if they don’t want to help themselves, there is nothing that other people can do to overcome this deficiency.

Allamagoosa discussed why the idea of “pregnancy transfers” isn’t exactly as great as some feminists think it is.

Her husband NSR alerted me to a Youtube sound loop that someone created of the Enterprise-D engines idling. Not bad for a white noise effect, if that is your cup of tea.

Agapoula got hacked recently and had to switch over to a new blog as a result.

Over at Girls Being Girls, a Southern Girl’s Guide to Flirting. I was intrigued by this line/suggestion:

“Be a good listener, but play hard to get.”  I  like that she said both, if you are overly submissive and eager, he might think there’s no challenge.  If you are too aloof and cold, he will be insulted.

I’m curious- are any of my male readers looking for a “challenge” in women. Speaking only for myself, I don’t care for that at all. Finding a good woman to marry these days is hard enough as is. A woman deciding to play hard to get doesn’t make this any easier. Perhaps it is just my INTJ at work, but I don’t like hard to get- at least, not until after I’m already sure that a woman like me. Before that I don’t care for it at all.

Over at Free Northerner’s, an intriguing post on the Traditional Family. If I get time I might respond to it later.

CaseyAnn has a brief, but interesting post about Modern American Posture. This has long been a problem for me, as I used to slouch a lot- although I have gotten much better in the last few years.

A few days back Zippy had a good post up about how Sola Scriptura is Positivist. I think all my Christian readers, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant alike, would find it thought-provoking.

Apparently July is the month to celebrate all the tasty things that will kill you.

Moving on to things less likely to kill you… I am not a Zucchini person, but if you are then Mrs. C has you covered. Update with picture here.

Finally, Hearthie talks a little bit about her journey to become a better “First Officer.”

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #31

A couple of random passages in today’s post. No general theme, just some scripture that I found interesting. The first quote is a verse from the Prophet Baruch:

And the women, with cords about them, sit along the passageways, burning bran for incense; and when one of them is led off by one of the passers-by and is lain with, she derides the woman next to her, because she was not as attractive as herself and her cord was not broken.

(Baruch 6:43)

This verse got my attention because it reminded me of some of the petty (and malicious) behavior that seems especially prevalent these days in women. In particular I was thinking of “virgin shaming.” While the reference to a cord being broken was to the specific cultic practice of cult/religious prostitution, I suspect that it has a metaphorical component as well. Which suggests that the odious practice of virgin shaming is not novel to the present day.

That brings us to the second verse of today’s post, from the prophet Hosea:

I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot,
    nor your brides when they commit adultery;
for the men themselves go aside with harlots,
    and sacrifice with cult prostitutes,
and a people without understanding shall come to ruin.

(Hosea 4:14)

It always disturbs me to see Christians, or at least those who call themselves Christians, defend PUAs, at least on a moral level. Some even go so far as to claim that they are doing the Lord’s work. This is blasphemy, pure and simple. The Lord doesn’t abet or encourage evil, even though he can use it towards its purpose. Hosea here makes it clear that evil begets more evil, and the evil of women won’t be corrected when men are no better. Our response as men shouldn’t be to encourage other men to become as depraved as modern women, but instead encourage them to a higher road. In the present environment, such a road means either hold out for a “good” woman, or go their own way.

The final passage is from the first letter from St. Peter:

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed. Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory. Likewise you that are younger be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

(1 Peter 5:1-5)

Perhaps someone with a good understanding of the Greek here can clarify things for me, but when the word “elder” is used here, does it mean Presbyter? If so (and I believe that is the case), this passage reminds those in religious leadership to lead well, and those not to obey. This passage got my attention because I have long been confused by the double standard some Christians have when it comes to religious leadership. They will obey civil authorities, and preach the Gospel there, but won’t obey or respect religious authorities whom they disagree with. Such creative interpretations are anything but consistent with Scripture.

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Keeping The Reward

It is clear to anyone of good sense nowadays that something is very wrong within the Church when it comes to marriage. Divorce, once near unheard of, has become so commonplace as to be an accepted part of life. The median and mean age of marriage continues to get pushed back. And many young Millenials have decided that they simply won’t marry, for a variety of reasons. Marriage among Christians has never been in a more precarious position.

This crisis has come about due to a multitude of factors: no-fault (aka unilateral) divorce, rampant promiscuity, legalized and easily available contraception and abortion, feminism and the elevation of romantic love are just a few of them. As Christians living in a post-Christian culture, there is little or nothing we can do about many of these. In many respects it seems that the only thing that Christian parents can do is educate their children in the faith and impart as much moral guidance in them as possible. But this isn’t true. There is something that Christian parents can do, something that used to be done, the absence of which is amongst the many reasons why marriage is in such a poor state today.

What is this “something” that parents can do to help their children?

They can actively work to help their children marry young.

Parents used to do this- they used to seek out wives and husbands for their sons and daughters. They used to help arrange marriages for their children at a young age. [Contrary to popular myth, an arranged marriage is not the same thing as a forced marriage; the latter were terribly uncommon, generally found only among the nobility.]

Unfortunately, this practice, like so many others, has fallen to the wayside in recent decades/centuries. Our love of freedom and independence has lead most parents to let their children handle matters of marriage all by themselves. Ostensibly this is because young Christian men and women have the right to choose their own future for themselves. Yet in practice what is really going on is that young Christians are being thrown to the wolves- they are thrust out into a broken Marriage Marketplace that chews most of them up. A lucky few manage to make it through unscathed, but most are caught up in either promiscuity or involuntary celibacy.

Sadly, few Christians seem to be willing to take the steps which will help their children escape this fate. Again, the solution  is very simple, with just two components:

1) Help their children find worthy spouse candidates…

2) and help them marry those candidates while they are young.

The excuses are many as to why parents won’t help their children out here, and amusingly enough, they aren’t original either. My research into the early history of the Church has lead me to discover that the advice I and others are giving now has been around for a long, long time. Here is what Saint John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople and Doctor of the Church, had to say on the subject of parents raising their children and caring out their souls:

Hear this, ye fathers and mothers, that your bringing up of children shall not lose its reward. This also he says, as he proceeds, “Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children.” (1 Tim. v.10.) Among other commendations he reckons this one, for it is no light praise to devote to God those children which are given them of God. For if the basis, the foundation which they lay be good, great will be their reward; as great, if they neglect it, will be their punishment. It was on account of his children that Eli perished. For he ought to have admonished them, and indeed he did admonish them, but not as he ought; but from his unwillingness to give them pain he destroyed both himself and them. Hear this, ye fathers, bring your children up with great care “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph. vi.4.) Youth is wild, and requires many governors, teachers, directors, attendants, and tutors; and after all these, it is a happiness if it be restrained. For as a horse not broken in, or a wild beast untamed, such is youth. But if from the beginning, from the earliest age, we fix it in good rules, much pains will not be required afterwards; for good habits formed will be to them as a law. Let us not suffer them to do anything which is agreeable, but injurious; nor let us indulge them, as forsooth but children. Especially let us train them in chastity, for there is the very bane of youth. For this many struggles, much attention will be necessary. Let us take wives for them early, so that their brides may receive their bodies pure and unpolluted, so their loves will be more ardent. He that is chaste before marriage, much more will he be chaste after it; and he that practiced fornication before, will practice it after marriage. “All bread,” it is said, “is sweet to the fornicator.” (Ecclus. xxiii.17.) Garlands are wont to be worn on the heads of bridegrooms, as a symbol of victory, betokening that they approach the marriage bed unconquered by pleasure. But if captivated by pleasure he has given himself up to harlots, why does he wear the garland, since he has been subdued?

Let us admonish them of these things. Let us employ sometimes advice, sometimes warnings, sometimes threatening. In children we have a great charge committed to us. Let us bestow great care upon them, and do everything that the Evil One may not rob us of them. But now our practice is the very reverse of this. We take all care indeed to have our farm in good order, and to commit it to a faithful manager, we look out for it an ass-driver, and muleteer, and bailiff, and a clever accomptant. But we do not look out for what is much more important, for a person to whom we may commit our son as the guardian of his morals, though this is a possession much more valuable than all others. It is for him indeed that we take such care of our estate. We take care of our possessions for our children, but of the children themselves we take no care at all.What an absurdity is this! Form the soul of thy son aright, and all the rest will be added hereafter. If that is not good, he will derive no advantage from his wealth, and if it is formed to goodness he will suffer no harm from poverty. Wouldest thou leave him rich? teach him to be good: for so he will be able to acquire wealth, or if not, he will not fare worse than they who possess it. But if he be wicked, though you leave him boundless wealth, you leave him no one to take care of it, and you render him worse than those who are reduced to extreme poverty. For poverty is better than riches for those children who are not well-disposed. For it retains them in some degree of virtue even against their will. Whereas money does not suffer those who would be sober to continue so, it leads them away, ruins them, and plunges them into infinite dangers.

The above quote is from his Ninth Homily on First Letter to Timothy. Written over 1600 years ago, Saint John Chrysostom’s words ring true now just as they did in the early days of the Church. There is so much wisdom contained therein that I am not sure where to begin in dissecting and analyzing these two paragraphs.  Here is but a brief encapsulation of his sage advice and teaching, along with my thoughts about it:

– Parents ought to be concerned most of raising their children to be virtuous. Nothing else is nearly so important. If they raise them well, great will be their reward. Raise them poorly, and the punishment accordingly great.

  • This sentiment is now mostly lacking in Christian parents. Rather than raise their children to be virtuous, they raise them to be successful. How many of you have heard parents brag about the successes of their children? About the great deeds they are accomplishing, or the bright future they have ahead of them? Then ponder, if you have the stomach for it, on how many times you’ve heard parents praise the virtue of their children, and deeds which clearly manifest that virtue (as compared to the modern equivalent of blowing a horn ahead of them).

– Rather than be given great license, young Christians need to be restrained, disciplined and mentored. Discipline applied at an early age will bear fruit later in life.

  • This advice is so eminently true and obvious you almost wonder why it need be said. But sadly there are some Christian parents who clearly need it, because they spoil their children and give them free reign. What befalls those children later is entirely tragic, and entirely foreseeable.

– Train children to be chaste. The best way to do this is for them to marry young (especially sons). Promiscuity before marriage weakens the marital bonds, and invites future sin.

  • Preaching young marriage is counter-cultural even in the Church these days. I know plenty of Christians who advocate that people “wait” to marry, including many parents. They seem to have little to no concern about the dangers of temptation when they thrust their children out in a world that is fully of vice and promiscuity. Speaking from personal experience, I know that it is extraordinarily difficult to maintain a virtuous life while still single, especially in this culture. The temptations and frustrations are incredible, and many will not be up to the challenge.

– Parents take more care preparing their property for their children then they do actually raising their children. They spend a great deal of time thinking about who will work with their son, but not stop to think of who will marry him and whom he will spend his whole life with. If a child has strong morals, and is full of virtue, then they will get through life safely and securely. No amount of wealth can cover deficiencies in character or virtue.

  • This part I found disturbingly prescient. I mean, isn’t he describing the general phenomenon of parents sending their kids off to college to get an education and develop a career to a T? Parents are doing everything they can to prepare their children to succeed at life in all areas except (for many) the most important: marriage. This is an obvious recipe for disaster.

In conclusion, Christian parents these days need to reconsider how they are raising their children. Are they raising them to succeed at worldly matters, or are they raising them to excel at loving God and keeping His commandments? Unfortunately, most nearly everyone in the Church has, whether willingly or not, conformed to the world. While we may profess different things from our secular brothers and sisters, we act little different when it comes to raising our children. This needs to change.

A vital step in that change is the role Christian parents play when it comes to their children and marriage. Christian parents need to reject the secular approach of leaving marriage entirely to their children. Instead, they need to get involved early, and often, in their children’s lives to help prepare and train them to marry well. The effort begun with the Courtship Pledge by Scott and Mychael is an example of how Christian parents can do their part to change how Christians look at and understand marriage. This project, and efforts like it, is critical to restoring Christian marriage and raising up a new generation of virtuous Christians who will bring light to the world.

I would entreat all Christian parents reading this to ask themselves what they are doing to prepare their children to live virtuous lives, what they are doing to help their children maintain their virtue, what they are doing to prepare their children for marriage, and what they are doing to help their children find and marry a worthy spouse. Then ask yourselves what more you can do for those entrusted into your care, so that you might not lose your reward.

[This is cross-posted over at the Courtship Pledge]

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Saturday Saints- #23

Today is Saturday, and that means another saint is featured in this post. The letter for today’s saint is “V,” which gives us Saint Vitalian:

Pope Vitalian (Latin: Vitalianus; died 27 January 672) reigned from 30 July 657 to his death in 672. He was born in Segni, Lazio, the son of Anastasius.

Saint Vitalian lived during a divisive time in Church history. Relations between the Eastern and Western Churches had been deteriorating for many years. When he become Pope they were close to a nadir, and had been so for decades. During his Papacy Vitalian tried to improve relations with the Eastern Church, and also reached out to the Eastern Emperor (Constans II) as well. This was in many ways necessary, because the Byzantine emperor had enormous power and influence over the Eastern Church. In many respects the divide between East and West was a mix of theology and politics, as there were both difference in doctrine held by the leaders of the Western and Eastern church, as well as ties to local political leaders.

Some key points about Saint Vitalian:

  • He improved relations between the Western Church and the Byzantine emperors, starting with Constans II and later including his son Constantine IV.
  • He successfully improved relations with the Church in England, and sent Theodore of Tarsus there to be Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the church in England.
  • He resisted efforts by the Bishop of Ravenna to break free of papal authority and essentially create a new, independent church in the west.
  • When the Bishop of Lappa, John, was removed by a synod, he appealed to Pope Vitalian. John was imprisoned by the Metropolitian Paulus, who presided over the Synod, in response. John escaped and went to Rome, where Vitalian worked to have him restored.
  • Organ music in church is believed to have originated during the time of his papacy.

Those interested in the history of the Church would likely find the full wiki on Saint Vitalian interesting, as it provides a more complete explanation of all of this. It can be found here.

[For those curious why I chose him for today’s post, I did so because he seems to have been devout man that very much cared for re-uniting the church while still keeping true to the faith. Such features, sad to say, were not always present in church leaders of the time.]

Saint Vitalian

 

 

 

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