Monthly Archives: January 2015

Saturday Saints- #53

The end of the alphabet has come once again. that means series is now over a year old. I intend to keep running it, although it is going to be increasingly difficult to find saints for some of the more obscure letters. Fortunately, Z still has a few left. This brings us to today’s saint, Saint Zeno:

Zeno of Verona (Italian: Zenone da Verona; about 300 – 371 or 380) was either an early Christian Bishop of Verona or a martyr. He is a saint in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Not a huge amount is known of Saint Zeno. While the existence of some of the earliest saints is sometimes doubted, St. Zeno was spoken of by some of his contemporaries. Unfortunately, exact details are lacking. Here are a few facts or speculations about St. Zeno:

  • He was probably born or raised in Africa, and then later as an adult came to Verona
  • During his childhood he received a classical education
  • When he arrived in Verona he became a monk at first, until he was elected to become Bishop
  • He is often depicted with fishing equipment of some sort, and is the patron saint of fisherman.

More can be found out about St. Zeno at his wiki, located here.

 

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Tradition Thursday- #9

We continue with the Letters of St. Ignatius. Today’s letter, a shorter one, is his letter to St. Polycarp. I’m going to include the full letter, as its length permits this. Here it is:

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to Polycarp, Bishop of the Church of the Smyrnæans, or rather, who has, as his own bishop, God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ: [wishes] abundance of happiness.

Having obtained good proof that your mind is fixed in God as upon an immoveable rock, I loudly glorify [His name] that I have been thought worthy [to behold] your blameless face, which may I ever enjoy in God! I entreat you, by the grace with which you are clothed, to press forward in your course, and to exhort all that they may be saved. Maintain your position with all care, both in the flesh and spirit. Have a regard to preserve unity, than which nothing is better. Bear with all, even as the Lord does with you. Support all in love, as also you do. Give yourself to prayer without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Implore additional understanding to what you already have. Be watchful, possessing a sleepless spirit. Speak to every man separately, as God enables you. Bear the infirmities of all, as being a perfect athlete [in the Christian life]: where the labour is great, the gain is all the more.

If you love the good disciples, no thanks are due to you on that account; but rather seek by meekness to subdue the more troublesome. Every kind of wound is not healed with the same plaster. Mitigate violent attacks [of disease] by gentle applications. Be in all things wise as a serpent, and harmless as a dove.Matthew 10:16 For this purpose you are composed of both flesh and spirit, that you may deal tenderly with those [evils] that present themselves visibly before you. And as respects those that are not seen, pray that [God] would reveal them unto you, in order that you may be wanting in nothing, but may abound in every gift. The times call for you, as pilots do for the winds, and as one tossed with tempest seeks for the haven, so that both you [and those under your care] may attain to God. Be sober as an athlete of God: the prize set before you is immortality and eternal life, of which you are also persuaded. In all things may my soul be for yours, and my bonds also, which you have loved.

Let not those who seem worthy of credit, but teach strange doctrines, 1 Timothy 1:3, 1 Timothy 6:3 fill you with apprehension. Stand firm, as does an anvil which is beaten. It is the part of a noble athlete to be wounded, and yet to conquer. And especially, we ought to bear all things for the sake of God, that He also may bear with us. Be ever becoming more zealous than what you are. Weigh carefully the times. Look for Him who is above all time, eternal and invisible, yet who became visible for our sakes; impalpable and impassible, yet who became passible on our account; and who in every kind of way suffered for our sakes.

Let not widows be neglected. Be, after the Lord, their protector and friend. Let nothing be done without your consent; neither do anything without the approval of God, which indeed you do not, inasmuch as you are steadfast. Let your assembling together be of frequent occurrence: seek after all by name. Do not despise either male or female slaves, yet neither let them be puffed up with conceit, but rather let them submit themselves the more, for the glory of God, that they may obtain from God a better liberty. Let them not long to be set free [from slavery] at the public expense, that they be not found slaves to their own desires.

Flee evil arts; but all the more discourse in public regarding them. Speak to my sisters, that they love the Lord, and be satisfied with their husbands both in the flesh and spirit. In like manner also, exhort my brethren, in the name of Jesus Christ, that they love their wives, even as the Lord the Church. Ephesians 5:25 If any one can continue in a state of purity, to the honour of Him who is Lord of the flesh, let him so remain without boasting. If he begins to boast, he is undone; and if he reckon himself greater than the bishop, he is ruined. But it becomes both men and women who marry, to form their union with the approval of the bishop, that their marriage may be according to God, and not after their own lust. Let all things be done to the honour of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Give heed to the bishop, that God also may give heed to you. My soul be for theirs that are submissive to the bishop, to the presbyters, and to the deacons, and may my portion be along with them in God! Labour together with one another; strive in company together; run together; suffer together; sleep together; and awake together, as the stewards, and associates, and servants of God. Please Him under whom you fight, and from whom you receive your wages. Let none of you be found a deserter. Let your baptism endure as your arms; your faith as your helmet; your love as your spear; your patience as a complete panoply. Let your works be the charge assigned to you, that you may receive a worthy recompense. Be long-suffering, therefore, with one another, in meekness, as God is towards you. May I have joy of you for ever!

Seeing that the Church which is at Antioch in Syria is, as report has informed me, at peace, through your prayers, I also am the more encouraged, resting without anxiety in God, if indeed by means of suffering I may attain to God, so that, through your prayers, I may be found a disciple [of Christ]. It is fitting, O Polycarp, most blessed in God, to assemble a very solemn council, and to elect one whom you greatly love, and know to be a man of activity, who may be designated the messenger of God; and to bestow on him this honour that he may go into Syria, and glorify your ever active love to the praise of Christ. A Christian has not power over himself, but must always be ready for the service of God. Now, this work is both God’s and yours, when you shall have completed it to His glory. For I trust that, through grace, you are prepared for every good work pertaining to God. Knowing, therefore, your energetic love of the truth, I have exhorted you by this brief Epistle.

Inasmuch as I have not been able to write to all the Churches, because I must suddenly sail from Troas to Neapolis, as the will [of the emperor] enjoins, [I beg that] you, as being acquainted with the purpose of God, will write to the adjacent Churches, that they also may act in like manner, such as are able to do so sending messengers, and the others transmitting letters through those persons who are sent by you, that you may be glorified by a work which shall be remembered for ever, as indeed you are worthy to be. I salute all by name, and in particular the wife of Epitropus, with all her house and children. I salute Attalus, my beloved. I salute him who shall be deemed worthy to go [from you] into Syria. Grace shall be with him for ever, and with Polycarp that sends him. I pray for your happiness for ever in our God, Jesus Christ, by whom continue in the unity and under the protection of God, I salute Alce, my dearly beloved. Fare well in the Lord.

(source)

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On The Same Page

A few weeks back I noted how Cardinal Burke is Getting There, in that he is picking up on some of the serious problems within the Church right now. Some of what he said matched up quite well with observations and critiques which have been made in the “Christian Manosphere.” Well, it seems like he is still on the same page with this part of the web. On January 23rd he gave a homily on the marriage between St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary. Thanks to Catholicism Pure & Simple, I was alerted to the homily and spotted something quite interesting. Here is one selection from that homily:

Contemplating the Marriage of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Saint Joseph, we see how, at the very beginning of the work of salvation, God the Father took care that the conception of His only-begotten Son in our human flesh be virginal, as it indeed must be, but, at the same time, completely legitimate, so that it manifest fully the truth, beauty and goodness of God. God the Son is virginally conceived in the womb of Mary, Wife of Saint Joseph. The Gospel according to Saint Matthew is marked, in particular, by attention to the juridical nature of our faith and its practice, presenting Christ as the New Moses, the New Lawgiver, most eminently in the Sermon on the Mount. It is inconceivable that God the Son, at His Incarnation, would not respect fully, indeed would not bring to perfection, both the virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the sanctity of her marriage to Saint Joseph.

The accurate understanding of the marital status of Saint Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary is important for our fuller knowledge and love of the Mystery of Faith, but it is also important for the avoidance of a confusion and an error which are common today. Reference is made to the serious situation in the revised edition of The Father John A. Hardon, S.J. Basic Catholic Catechism Course. It will be helpful to quote a part of his treatment of the subject:

The fact that Jesus was virginally conceived and born after the marriage of Mary and Joseph means that Jesus was conceived and born within wedlock. This is contrary to what so many, even priests, are saying at the present time, namely, that Jesus was born out of wedlock, like the children of so many unmarried women today, and that this is not an “abnormal” situation. A pregnant, un-wed mother is said to be, according to these people, in the same condition as Mary, who they claim was also un-wed at the time she conceived Jesus. This is false; it is indeed a very serious falsehood, for it undermines the sanctity of marriage and the reason for that sanctity. It is said by defenders of this position that Jesus was conceived after Mary and Joseph were engaged, but not yet married. (The Father John A. Hardon, S.J. Basic Catholic Catechism Course, Manual, Revised Edition, ed. Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke.),

The erroneous position described above is held not only by those who knowingly dissent from the constant teaching of the Church but also by many individuals who are simply poorly catechized and therefore fall prey to such false teaching.

I found Cardinal Burke’s message here interesting in light of a recent post by Dalrock, Don’t Overlook Single Mothers. In that post Dalrock quotes from the infamous Mark Driscoll. Here is the quote:

I’ll say one more thing, and that is for those of you men who are single, don’t overlook single moms. Don’t overlook single moms. Paul talks about this at the end of Timothy, where he talks about there are some godly single moms, he calls them widows, who should not be overlooked. But some men are looking for sort of a particular script they have written out. They want a woman just to show up, who meets the criteria and can read the lines. That’s not what God might have for you. Don’t overlook the single moms, and don’t overlook the opportunity to do what Joseph did for Jesus and that is to adopt a child that is not your biological child, and to raise them lovingly as Joseph did for the Lord Jesus. And so, this is a huge part of our theology as well and I would exhort the men not to overlook the single moms.

Sadly, this isn’t nearly so bad as another comment by Driscoll, in which he explicitly called the Theotokos a “single mom.” I don’t think it necessary to explain to my readers everything wrong with this statement. Rather, I mention it because I find it fascinating that Cardinal Burke would address it when he did. I am hopeful that he really is on the same page as Dalrock and some of us around these parts. God willing, the Cardinal is starting to get just how insidious and pervasive the rot of Churchianity has become.

Addendum: I am curious if this is just happenstance, or a sign of things to come. So I’m asking my readers to pass along to me any other indications of major leaders within the Church who seem to be “getting there” or are “on the same page.” If there are any out there, they deserve credit and recognition. And it would be comforting to know that they exist.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #60

The first passage in today’s post comes from the Second Book of Maccabees:

18 Elea′zar, one of the scribes in high position, a man now advanced in age and of noble presence, was being forced to open his mouth to eat swine’s flesh. 19 But he, welcoming death with honor rather than life with pollution, went up to the the rack of his own accord, spitting out the flesh, 20 as men ought to go who have the courage to refuse things that it is not right to taste, even for the natural love of life.

21 Those who were in charge of that unlawful sacrifice took the man aside, because of their long acquaintance with him, and privately urged him to bring meat of his own providing, proper for him to use, and pretend that he was eating the flesh of the sacrificial meal which had been commanded by the king, 22 so that by doing this he might be saved from death, and be treated kindly on account of his old friendship with them. 23 But making a high resolve, worthy of his years and the dignity of his old age and the gray hairs which he had reached with distinction and his excellent life even from childhood, and moreover according to the holy God-given law, he declared himself quickly, telling them to send him to Hades.

24 “Such pretense is not worthy of our time of life,” he said, “lest many of the young should suppose that Elea′zar in his ninetieth year has gone over to an alien religion, 25 and through my pretense, for the sake of living a brief moment longer, they should be led astray because of me, while I defile and disgrace my old age. 26 For even if for the present I should avoid the punishment of men, yet whether I live or die I shall not escape the hands of the Almighty. 27 Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will show myself worthy of my old age 28 and leave to the young a noble example of how to die a good death willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws.”

(2 Maccabees 6:18-28)

The central message there neatly ties into a message that St. Paul conveys in his Letter to the Romans:

14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for any one who thinks it unclean. 15 If your brother is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what is good to you be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; 18 he who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for any one to make others fall by what he eats; 21 it is right not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God; happy is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves. 23 But he who has doubts is condemned, if he eats, because he does not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

(Romans 14:14-23)

It is not enough that we consider our own faith, but we must also keep in mind the faith of our brethren as well. This is sometimes easy for us to overlook. Not everyone might be as capable of resisting sin and temptation. Others might lack the discipline or confidence in faith that we ourselves enjoy. Hence, it is imperative that by our faith we not only do no wrong, but also do right. And we do right by building one another up in faith and love and charity.

Finally, I close today’s post with the Gospel of John:

On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

(John 2:1-5)

Most of the time when this particular passage is discussed people tend to focus on debating whether Mary was in the wrong or not. Unfortunately, an important message gets lost in that debate. Namely, the command that Mary gives to the servants, i.e., us- “Do whatever he tells you.” This, I think, is the ultimate message of that particular passage. We are all commanded to do whatever Jesus tells us to do.  Mary was chosen to give this message (in more ways than one) in large part because she was the first of those who witnessed Him and knew Him better than anyone else. She knew, without understanding, that Jesus should be obeyed. In time she did understand, and so do we all now. We all know to do whatever He tells us, even though we may not fully understand why at any given time. Understanding will come, eventually, whether it be in our lifetimes or at the final unveiling of God’s plan. In the meantime we obey.

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Saturday Saints- #52

Today’s saint hails from a different tradition than any I’ve covered so far. It is an old one, long isolated from the traditional Eastern and Western churches. Our Saint for today is St. Yared:

Saint Yared (Ge’ez: ቅዱስ ያሬድ) (April 25, 505 – May 20, 571) was a semi-legendary Ethiopian musician credited with inventing the sacred music tradition of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Ethiopia’s system of musical notation. He is responsible for creating the Zema or the chant tradition of Ethiopia, particularly the chants of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which are still performed today. He is regarded as a saint of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church with a feast day of 11 Genbot (May 19).

More can be found out about this Ethiopian Saint at his wiki, found here.

St. Yared

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Miscommunication And Further Thoughts On Moral Agency

I.

One thing about the internet is that it exposes, for all to see, the vastly different communication styles that men and women possess. It is especially troublesome over the internet, where mistakes and the limitations of text can amply those differences. This post owes its origin and impetus to an incident that I suspect came about because of the divide in male and female thought and communication processes. I am writing this in response to a comment that was written by a woman who goes by the moniker Spacetraveller over at Dalrock‘s blog. Since it touches on Moral Agency, and because I haven’t written on it for a while, I thought a full post was a proper response.

It started with my comment in response to a few things Spacetraveller said in an earlier comment. You can find my original comment here.I will note at this point that my comment got chopped; several sentences were missing after “The answer would seem to be yes.” The missing sentences, which clarified some of what I was saying, may have tempered Spacetraveller’s response some if they hadn’t gone missing. Or perhaps not. Either way, what is said is said. Before continuing, I would encourage everyone to read my comment fully. Once done, you can read Spacetraveller’s response. The full comment is here, but as she addresses others as well I am quoting the relevant part of her comment below so as to save time:

Donalgraeme,

I am not sure what you are getting at. Is your argument one or the more of the following? Or are these strawman arguments of mine (that I have picked out from nowhere) that in no way reflect your thoughts?

1. I am a chaste man, but that’s only because no woman is chasing me. I do not expect a woman (who has many men chasing her at any given point) to be similarly chaste. It is just impossible.

2. Women have a natural desire to submit. So pre-marital sex is just another form of submission. So there…

3. Premarital chastity does NOT translate into post-marital faithfulness. All that rigorous moral training that young women used to have pre-marriage is unnecessary. All the data which shows that high pre-marital N-count is a risk factor for a woman commiting adultery because she is unable to stay faithful to one man …doesn’t count.

4. Asking a woman to suppress her sex drive before marriage leads to frigidity within marriage. All that self-control pre-marriage will just ensure that she continues to ‘control’ herself in her marital bed. (This one is my personal favourite).

5. ‘Keep your chastity’ is just as non-effective as ‘just say no to drugs’. It doesn’t work, so don’t even attempt it.

Donalgraeme, thank you for showing me the enormity of the problem we face in trying to correct the wrongs of the current SMP.
If a righteous man like yourself cannot fathom the idea that it is even remotely feasible for a young girl or woman to exercise some self-restraint before marriage, we are truly and totally lost as a generation.

You, like many well-meaning men are being hampered by the ‘women have no moral agency’ bug.
Whilst it is alright to note that many women are not doing the right thing with all the promiscuity that is going on, you seem to be resisting me for suggesting that we try to stop this. Because you see it as a ‘mission impossible’.
You make too many excuses for women. I am one, and I can tell you that we really do not need quite so many excuses, especially when it comes to sex. We are the sex that have the God-given ability to stave off sexual temptation more successfully than men (OK, I grant you, this becomes infinitely more difficult at ‘fertile time’, or ‘ovulation time’ when sexual drive in women approaches that of men…did someone say Bathsheba was in her fertile time when she decided to bathe in full view of King David? Um…if she had been in her non-fertile time, I am sure she would have bathed in a different place, away from prying eyes :)).

I am now convinced more than ever, that until this meme of ‘women have no moral agency’ is let go, things will remain as (rotten as) they are.
Which is another depressing thought.

I have just one more question: how does it benefit you to hold the views you do, Donalgraeme? Is it a self-preservation thing (‘it is impossible for women to be morally upright, so I accept that I can therefore never marry one’). Or is it a comfort to you to feel certain that you as a chaste man are morally superior to all women??

If either is the case, hey, that’s fine. I am however intrigued as to how this helps, in real life.
This level of ‘white-knighting’ is neither desired nor warranted though.
Because it gives you and other men more of the same as what you are getting – undesirable women.
I wish for you and others, that you get a better quality woman. I don’t have a younger sister (I am a ‘last born’). So the best I can do is make sure my daughter is a good one. And for that matter my son too. That is how I can contribute to the betterment of the SMP.

But it seems I shan’t be getting any help from you.
Shame, that is…
But no matter, I plough on regardless, with like-minded people.
If you change your mind in the future, please feel free to join us…

The rest of this post will try and answer her comment, and to expand/explain some of the themes connected to it. From Spacetraveller’s response it is clear that she didn’t understand what I was trying to say, much less my actual views. In the spirit of charity I assumed that she had merely misunderstood, in a dramatic fashion, and that prompted her response. Naturally I was concerned that my response was completely obtuse, and asked for second opinions to see if it was really that bad. Novaseeker helpfully chimed in and said that he disagreed with her conclusion about what I said, which has reassured me somewhat. Of course, that doesn’t mean I made sense, only that he came to a different conclusion. Hopefully this post will clear up previous misunderstandings and make my views on the matter a little easier to understand.

I will first begin by addressing each of the numbered points she brings up. Then I will cover some of her other points. Finally I will add a few thoughts of my own.

II.

Beginning with her numbered points:

1. I am a chaste man, but that’s only because no woman is chasing me. I do not expect a woman (who has many men chasing her at any given point) to be similarly chaste. It is just impossible.

In the past I am sure that the lack of women chasing me (or rather, the lack of desirable women chasing me) helped me in maintaining chastity. When I was in college in particular I think it was an aid. However, at present I think I am past that particular hurdle. By that I mean that I have built up my self-discipline to a point where I feel reasonably certain that I could resist any woman chasing me (at least, so long as I was of sound mind, i.e., sober). As for women, I believe that they can be similarly chaste. However, just as it can be difficult for a man to be chaste when he is “chased”, so too can it be for a woman. Being “chased”, especially by someone attractive and desirable, makes it much harder to resist temptation. At a young age this is especially true, when self-discipline has not been fully developed.

2. Women have a natural desire to submit. So pre-marital sex is just another form of submission. So there…

My word choice here was poor. So the misunderstanding here was entirely on me. I should have used the word yield, not submit. You see, its a pet theory of mine that women subconsciously want  to yield (sexually) to a man. But just not any man- the right man. Even as they resist the advances of men they feel beneath them, they secretly long for the man who isn’t so lowly- the man who they can “let through the gate”, if you will.

3. Premarital chastity does NOT translate into post-marital faithfulness. All that rigorous moral training that young women used to have pre-marriage is unnecessary. All the data which shows that high pre-marital N-count is a risk factor for a woman commiting adultery because she is unable to stay faithful to one man …doesn’t count.

There is definitely a link between pre-marital chastity and post-marital faithfulness. Statistics bear that out. However, there is no guarantee. A certain gentleman around these parts count vouch for that. Think of it this way- premarital sex makes the ability to bond and stay faithful weaker, but the opposite is not true. The bonding ability can only be damaged, it cannot be “improved.”

What I was trying to explain is that lumping not having sex before marriage and being faithful in marriage together ignores some significant situational differences. In the first situation, a woman (or a man for that matter) is entirely suppressing their sex drive. She has no outlet for it. In the second situation she has such an outlet, and should be using it whenever possible. A desire to “wander” on her part indicates that something more than just a desire to sate that drive is at play. A woman who has a high sex drive might have trouble being chaste before marriage. But if she marries the man she sins with, and stays with him, then there is only a slightly greater chance she will stray than if she had been chaste. Her problem was not a desire to sleep with lots of men, and be promiscuous, it was not sleeping with the particular man she wanted.

All of which is a way of saying this: I can see no advantage to requiring a woman to wait in order to demonstrate chastity, assuming she hasn’t strayed so far. That delay does not translate into something greater. And I am not the only person who believes this. In my latest Tradition post, St. John Chrysostom advised the very same thing I advise: marry children off when they are young. Help them find someone they burn for who will be a good match, get them married and give them that healthy and proper outlet for their sex drive.

4. Asking a woman to suppress her sex drive before marriage leads to frigidity within marriage. All that self-control pre-marriage will just ensure that she continues to ‘control’ herself in her marital bed. (This one is my personal favourite).

Does it always lead to frigidity within marriage? No. But it can and does. I believe that at least one of my readers and occasional commenters can vouch for the harm that the “purity” movement has caused with its antics. If you read around, you will find and hear stories that say just that. I didn’t come to this conclusion for the heck of it. It is the product of reading stories like that. Of hearing from men who married older virgins who found that they were frigid.

[DG: I am reconsidering this section, and may change my views after reflection. Understand that it may change if I come to a different conclusion]

[Here is the thing: it is not natural for human beings with a healthy sex drive to suppress that drive for long periods of time. It just isn’t. It may be required, for whatever reason, but that doesn’t mean that the consequences don’t exist. There are studies floating around which link men’s health to the frequency of sex they have. I’m not sure if similar studies are out there for women. But the point holds: everything has consequences. And requiring someone, woman or man, to suppress their sex drive for a long period of time will have consequences, whether they be physical, mental or emotional. Honestly, I’ve wondered about how I’ve been affected by my own chastity. I know that some damage has resulted, but I don’t know the extent. It is something that gives me considerable pause when marriage is concerned.]

5. ‘Keep your chastity’ is just as non-effective as ‘just say no to drugs’. It doesn’t work, so don’t even attempt it.

If all that is done is “say no to premarital sex”, then the truth is that it will be just as ineffective as “just say no to drugs” has proven. Emphasis on “all that is done.” My point being that you cannot simply say “be chaste” and leave it to that. As my original comment made clear, you cannot simply tell women to be chaste. You need to provide them the support they need to back this up, and to help them avoid situations where they will face grave temptations. Virtuous conduct is a community affair for everyone. Youth, especially, need people around them who will provide (real) moral support and look out for them.  As I indicated earlier in my original comment, sending young women off by themselves, either to college or to get a job, was not something widely practiced until very recently. At least, among those who could avoid it. When necessity compelled women to leave their homes and go elsewhere, it often did result in them being chaste.

III.

Having concluded the previous section, I will briefly try and address some of her other points.

If a righteous man like yourself cannot fathom the idea that it is even remotely feasible for a young girl or woman to exercise some self-restraint before marriage, we are truly and totally lost as a generation.

You, like many well-meaning men are being hampered by the ‘women have no moral agency’ bug.

Anyone who has read my blog knows that I do not hold such a view. Quite the contrary. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you haven’t read my blog and are mixing up some of my comments and arguments with those of other commenters at Dalrock’s blog.

You make too many excuses for women. I am one, and I can tell you that we really do not need quite so many excuses, especially when it comes to sex.

Let me assure you, I am not one to make excuses for women. If anything, I have been accused of going too far the other way.

We are the sex that have the God-given ability to stave off sexual temptation more successfully than men…

I will address that in the last section of this post.

I have just one more question: how does it benefit you to hold the views you do, Donalgraeme? Is it a self-preservation thing (‘it is impossible for women to be morally upright, so I accept that I can therefore never marry one’). Or is it a comfort to you to feel certain that you as a chaste man are morally superior to all women??

That is a good question, or a series of them, as the case may be… if I actually held those views.

This level of ‘white-knighting’ is neither desired nor warranted though.

I am not white-knighting here, trust me. I expect women to pull their own weight, just like men. However, I am also a realist. And that means that simply trusting people, without taking further steps, is not part of my approach to how to fix the problems we face.

IV.

I am going to conclude with two final points.

A.

First, I wanted to address this comment in further depth:

We are the sex that have the God-given ability to stave off sexual temptation more successfully than men…

Perhaps I am wrong here, but I find no Scriptural justification for this utterance. In fact, the Bible seems to take the view that neither men nor women are very apt to be successful here. Some of the early Church fathers do seem to have this view as well, but it is important to note the environment they adopt it in. Back then women did not act or live like modern, “liberated” women do. I will try and explain my thoughts on the matter as best as I can. Bear with me, this is difficult for me to get down to words.

I believe that in a relatively isolated situation without a lot of active temptations that women do have a greater ability to stave off sexual temptation. The primary reason for this is that the male sex drive is far more… predatory… than the female sex drive. Men are inclined to seek out sources of sexual gratification to a far, far greater degree than women. If left to our own devices, we will feel that impulse which will drive us to seek out a means of sating it. And that impulse is very, very powerful. And pretty much always active, with the exception of when we are very tired, or sick or famished. Think of the male sex drive as very pro-active. Whereas the female sex drive is more reactive. Women don’t have that same impulse to seek out sexual gratification. Nor is it as strong or constant. As St. John Chrysostom noted, “the management of them is easy.” But this only applies in an environment like what existed in his time- an environment in which young women didn’t wander the world like they do now.

When women aren’t isolated, their reactive sexual proclivities are less of a benefit to them when it comes to maintaining chastity. For one, they will be presented with more sources of temptation which could get them to react. Secondly, a woman’s sexual arousal state can vary far more than a man’s.

In most instance a man is always “on.” He is always at maximum. This means that a man who learns to control himself pretty much always learns to control himself when his sex drive is at maximum. Naturally, this is by no means an easy thing for a man to achieve. However, when a man does achieve it he is relatively immune- it becomes very hard to shake him when he is of sound mind [alcohol and certain situations might change this].Women, however, are not always at maximum. Their natural cycles affect how powerful their sex drive is. This makes is much more difficult for women to develop the discipline to control themselves when they are at their maximum. What this means is that women might have an easier time learning to control themselves during times when their sex drive is at low or medium. But they will find it more difficult to build the discipline to control themselves at times when their sex drive is a maximum because they will have less experience at it. And of course, their real maximum is not simply when they are at their cycle peak, but also when they are being aroused by an attractive man. Without experiencing both at the same time sufficiently, they won’t be ready for dealing with temptation when they are most vulnerable.

The end result of this is that in situations like today, I don’t think that women are any more suited to resisting temptation than men are. In fact, they might have a more difficult time for the reason just given- learning to control themselves at their “maximum” point is more difficult. Less opportunity means less chance to build that discipline.

B.

Also, I wanted to briefly touch on miscommunication. My suspicion is that Spacetraveller assumed that my comment was part of the larger discussion about moral agency in women that she was taking part in on the blog. It wasn’t- I was merely addressing a few points she raised in one of her comment’s, isolated from the rest of the overall discussion. What I think happened was an example of how men and women think differently. Men tend to compartmentalize ideas and discussions, while women take a holistic approach. In my mind I could see how my comment was merely a targeted addressing of a few select, discrete points of hers. She, on the other hand, naturally folded it into the overall context of the situation.

This highlights the importance of careful communication between men and women. When we talk with one another, we need to keep in mind that what is obvious to us may not be obvious to the opposite sex. While I think this particular explanation of our differences is a bit over the top, they truly are significant. The internet, because it is mostly limited to text, makes these communication problems even worse. Despite the fact that I should know better, I often forget that these differences exist. All of which means that when talking with women, I need to be especially careful in what I say and how I say it. Otherwise gross misunderstandings, such as the one in this post, will inevitably occur.

V.

That brings this post to an end. It could probably use some clean-up, but I want to get it uploaded sooner rather than later. So if anything needs fixing, I will get to it later. If anyone has any thoughts on anything I’ve discussed, feel free to express them in the comments below.

I do have one additional bit though- one of my readers, who doesn’t comment, was curious about a book called The Real Story. Are any of my readers familiar with it? And if so, what are your opinions on the book?

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Filed under Attraction, Blue Pill, Men, Moral Agency, Pair Bonding, Red Pill, Sex, Sexual Market Place, Sin, Temptation, Women

Tradition Thursday- #8

Today’s post is going to break from the pattern, and will not cover one of St. Ignatius’ letters. Instead, I am going to quote a large section of St. John Chrysostom’s 9th Homily on St. Paul’s First Letter to Timothy. This is in part a response to a comment exchange between myself and a woman who goes by the moniker “Spacetraveller” over at Dalrock’s blog. His homily will be used in a future post, which I hope to have done Friday or Saturday, concerning moral agency in men and women. The reason for this choice should become clear then. Here is the end of his homily, which started by examining 1 Timothy 2:11-15, and shifts somewhat to focus on the role of Christian parents:

Moral. Hear this, you 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 Timothy 5:10 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, you fathers, bring your children up with great care in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 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. Sirach 23:17 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 your 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. Would you 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.

Mothers, be specially careful to regulate your daughters well; for the management of them is easy. Be watchful over them, that they may be keepers at home. Above all, instruct them to be pious, modest, despisers of wealth, indifferent to ornament. In this way dispose of them in marriage. For if you form them in this way, you will save not only them, but the husband who is destined to marry them, and not the husband only, but the children, not the children only, but the grandchildren. For the root being made good, good branches will shoot forth, and still become better, and for all these you will receive a reward. Let us do all things therefore, as benefiting not only one soul, but many through that one. For they ought to go from their father’s house to marriage, as combatants from the school of exercise, furnished with all necessary knowledge, and to be as leaven able to transform the whole lump to its own virtue. And let your sons be so modest, as to be distinguished for their steadiness and sobriety, that they may receive great praise both from God and men. Let them learn to govern their appetites, to avoid extravagance, to be good economists, affectionate, and submissive to rule. For so they will be able to secure a good reward to their parents, so all things will be done to the glory of God, and to our salvation, through Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom, etc.

(source here)

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