Selected Sunday Scriptures- #72

A conversation I had earlier in the day, and a homily I heard, prompted me to seek out this particular part of the 127th Psalm:

Lo, sons are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the sons of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has
    his quiver full of them!
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

(Psalm 127: 3-5)

One of the points I’ve made a number of times on my blog is that life isn’t fair and that God doesn’t owe us anything. That means that he doesn’t owe us a spouse… and he doesn’t owe us any children. This particular Psalm is a powerful reminder that children are a gift from God. Given this, I have trouble understanding why so many Christians seem so eager to keep their families small. Financial hardships and worrying about having enough food on the table is one thing, but most of those I see adopt this attitude are not destitute. More than a few are quite well off. They could easily support more. For myself, I don’t understand how they can reject such a gift as that from God. I think of all those who want children, or more of them, but cannot have them, and I imagine that they must be even more frustrated than I. And I suspect that God is the most frustrated of all, for in rejecting His gift they also reject him. With all of this in mind, I would ask my readers to pray for those husbands and wives who do want children, or more of them, but cannot. May God grant them that special blessing and the joy of being a parent.

This moves me to the second passage, from First Timothy:

17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching; 18 for the scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” 19 Never admit any charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without favor, doing nothing from partiality. 22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor participate in another man’s sins; keep yourself pure.

(1 Timothy 5:17-22)

Two things interest me about this passage today. The first is that we should be generous to our elders- our priests. They do the Lord’s work, and this should be recognized and compensated by us. While they should always be in our prayers, let us also take the time to find ways to reward them for their labor. Whether it is in time, coin or something else, they deserve it.

The second bit that caught my attention is the public rebuke of sin. The scandals in the Catholic Church are an unfortunate example of what happens when we ignore scripture. While the Church should never be quick to punish a priest without verifying wrongdoing, such wrongdoing should never be covered up. Those who betray their sacred charge as inheritors of the Apostolic Tradition must be called out and exposed. It must be made clear to all that such actions can never be tolerated. We can see in the present day the terrible cost that comes when this sage instruction is ignored.

Finally, I conclude the post with this snippet from the Gospel according to St. Mark:

14 And he called the people to him again, and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house, and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters, not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man.”

(Mark 7:14-23)

It is not unheard of for some manospherian commenters to make the argument that Jesus never condemned fornication by men. They dismiss any criticism of their immoral lives by saying that it was the machinations of Jesus’s disciples which lead the Church to condemn sexual immorality by men other than adultery. This is of course utter rubbish, on many levels. The most obvious is the fact that the apostles and disciples of Jesus, whom they condemn, are the ones who brought us the words of Jesus in the first place. But an even greater retort is this passage above, as well as its counterpart in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus clearly condemns several different sexually immoral practices here, including fornication, adultery and licentiousness. PUAs pretty obviously practice the first and the last of those, and therefore have no leg to stand upon. The passage above makes for an easy counter to their arguments, and so I keep it around whenever dealing with those sorts. I don’t expect them to change their behavior, but for those wavering who are reading them, it might make a difference in helping them stay on the narrow path.

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13 Comments

Filed under Selected Sunday Scriptures

13 responses to “Selected Sunday Scriptures- #72

  1. mdavid

    You pack a lot into one casual blog post. I’ll comment on: I have trouble understanding why so many Christians seem so eager to keep their families small.

    I’ve thought a lot about this. I believe it’s due to (in order):
    1) family/cultural disunity (children = infinite work for disunified spouses)
    2) women working; lacking a homemaker makes children overwhelming*
    3) women delaying so falling short of fertility (being fat hurts here too)*
    4) debt from education/housing/medical makes $ tight in the fertile years*
    5) modern men are wary of potential child support payments**
    6) women from small families are clueless how to have large families***

    *these three are really the same trade (women devaluing their fertility) and hit the striving upper class hard.
    **I would put this second for non-Catholic families, and anticipate this will move into #1 within 10-15 years for Cathlic families too once the matriarchal high-divorce Hispanics take the Irish role in the Catholic US communities.
    ***raising a large family is a cultural skill set, like cooking, and can be lost in a single generation to be recovered only ten generations later if at all (hint: it’s over for the West).

    Ps 127 was written for men at a time when children really did “add value” to a family (only men could own property). But today children are a serious financial liability and risk to all but the most unified k-type extended families…so the Ps makes no sense to moderns. See hint above.

    Regardless, it’s amusing to watch people (esp. women) freeze when a father of many sons snaps his fingers to get instant unity. Modern peole are terrified of effective male family authority since they see it so rarely in our matriarchal times. It’s sad and one of the reasons marriageable masculine men are rare today…so rare I almost feel sorry for young women. Nah, who am I kidding? Just deserts. God is clever but never malicious.

  2. Another thing that happens frequently is that those who live in the large family set often can viciously persecute those who don’t have a large family, through no fault of their own. My sister spent her entire pregnancy in touch-and-go mode, and every day we wondered if that child would make it to term; fortunately she did, and her daughter is now 26 years old (nor is she married; hint, hint, she’s available!) But when my niece was little, my sister was viciously excluded from a number of activities with other larger families because there was only one child — and of course, they were SURE she was using birth control, right? My sister became infertile very shortly after her daughter’s birth, and counted herself lucky to have been able to have even the one!

    I have another sister who has thirteen children (eleven of them are sons). Most are grown now, but she got over the problem years ago. She decided to tell naysayers who thought she was nuts that her goal was to breed out all others and create a master race. (My brother-in-law advised against saying that; he was concerned people might get the wrong idea and then they’d REALLY get carted off to the looney bin, so she refrained for his sake.)

    I’ve decided to tell people that I may look normal, but I am really a mindless, maniacal breeding machine from a distant planet that destroyed its ecosystem with carbon dioxide emissions. Whaddya think? Do you think that will shut up the jerks?

    Just kidding.

  3. ‘Course, my youngest is almost four. So maybe my days for being confronted by the masses on my kids are over….maybe. If so, then maybe that suggestion will help someone else.

  4. Feminine But Not Feminist

    I wonder if this might be the underlying reason why birth control is a Mortal Sin (by that I mean, this might explain why not being open to life is what it is in the first place)… because it’s practice is an all-out rejection of one of the bests gifts that God would seek to give us, which is, by extension, a rejection of Him and having Him be the one that’s in control of our lives. To reject any gift that God seeks to give us is basically like slapping Him in the face.

    The part about how God doesn’t owe us a spouse, and also doesn’t owe us children, reminds me of Abraham. It’s very ironic that God told Abraham that he would have all these descendents and would be the father of many nations (Genesis 17), but then he was only given two children. And Sarah, who would be the mother of many nations, was only given one child. The Lord works in mysterious ways, indeed.

  5. Feminine But Not Feminist

    I’ve decided to tell people that I may look normal, but I am really a mindless, maniacal breeding machine from a distant planet that destroyed its ecosystem with carbon dioxide emissions. Whaddya think? Do you think that will shut up the jerks?

    Hehe, this. 🙂

  6. ‘Course, my oldest is almost four.

    Oops, that should have been my youngest.

    [DG: Fixed.]

  7. The Practical Conservative

    Christians are not eager to keep their families small, they just are making the best of a sorry situation, which is living in an anti-mother, anti-child society. The viciousness leveled against a woman for having three or four kids is as bad as if you have eight, and you won’t get any assistance, help or sympathy for staying home with them anyhow, so women seek to bear the number of children they can handle solo, with maybe a little help from hubby. And for most women, two or three, occasionally four is the limit of what one SAHM can manage with no house cleaner, no childcare, no breaks, no mother’s helpers, no relatives, no other women basically.

    And for Christian wives who aren’t SAHMing, two generally is the breaking point, because a lot of double-income families carry five figure debt levels during the “two in daycare” phase, or they space their token two out so as to minimize that expense. Either way, by only having two, the wife’s workforce income quickly becomes important even if on the lower side because such families are often very willing to avail themselves of public school. Although I have seen some striver types who keep going with private school and other striver-spenses until the kids are 18 and mom’s salary is basically all that stuff plus the college accounts.

    I am leaving the whole “marrying after 30 and being surprised fertility isn’t as robust as Cosmo says” out of this, the families I’m speaking of are all married and having kids under 30 and in probably 2/3 of the cases under 25 with the first.

    And then there are couples who do have family support (live with relatives, relatives live next door, that kind of thing) and they aren’t popping em out like pez because that can be…inhibiting in other ways.

    It’s important to remember that large families follow Pareto themselves, having usually been a minority of all childhaving couples.

  8. mdavid

    TPC, The viciousness leveled against a woman for having three or four kids is as bad as if you have eight

    1) Where we live this is not accurate (hell, 3 is not uncommon at all) and 8 gets far more reaction than 4. Do you have experience with 8?

    2) Rarely seen “viciousness”. Mostly just jealous women spouting off, and that’s pretty muted. It’s better as the ’60’s “population bomb” scare fades; modern women are so entitled nobody dares harrass them. In fact, compliments started to override rude comments probably around 2005.

    3) Large Christian families here don’t use daycare. Also, private school only if dad is well-off (<$100k), and HS for the rest. Men are generally more responsible than the women also (even to the point of SAHD). Less entitled, used to working under pressure.

    4) The entire human population is Pareto. Extinction is the norm, and the <20% populate the world. That's how humans get such wild genetic change.

  9. Els

    People look at us like weirdos and we only have 5. Even at church, when I was pregnant with our fifth, I got a lot of ‘Y’all DO know what causes that, right?”

    Once you get past three kids in this culture, people look askance at you and question your understanding of finances, life quality, and our planet’s limited resources, LOL.

    Or maybe it’s just because we live in the city.

  10. TPC,

    AMEN to your first paragraph. I bought into the “you’re lazy” line for years, until I finally realized I was just exhausted. When I went away for a week on a church retreat, I came home to an absolute disaster which took me all the weekend to clean up. I didn’t expect anybody to do anything, as I not only hadn’t asked, but I didn’t think it was right for me to give my husband the list of chores since it was his week off from work with the kids while I was away — but the mess blew me away. However, he didn’t seem to think it was a big deal at all, and certainly didn’t realize that I WORKED at home.

    Oh, well, doesn’t matter really in the long run….

  11. ‘Y’all DO know what causes that, right?”

    How about replying, “No, actually I don’t. How about if we discuss it over lunch? Your treat.”

  12. mdavid

    Rod Dreher had a good post on the riots today that applies to this thread:

    What holds us together? One might have said once upon a time that Christianity did — that’s what Tocqueville saw — and later, one might have said civic religion (generic Christianity + “Americanism”). These were ideals we held in common, and they served as shared ideals toward which we strove, despite our imperfections and failings. Now, though? What is the common thread? What is the tie that binds us to our home? What is the law that rules our hearts? It is mere anarchy; the Baltimore rioters are only farther along the line of logic than the rest of the country is.

    The old ideals of “generic Christianity” (the fantasy of protestantism, the oxymoron of “Individualistic Christianity”) never did really exist. It merely appeared to while it used up the seed corn of the prior 1,000 years of European Catholic culture. That seed corn is nearly gone now in the West, and the angry outcry from all sides (manosphere and traditional feminists) is deafening. The truth: the broader failed culture will not help in the quest for a large or stable family.

    The shorter version: Large families are not a right. They are a privilege. As a woman, expect to work your ass off if you want kids in our imploded culture. As a man, you risk your legal rights, wealth, freedom. Never consider kids circa 2015 unless their spouse is top notch OR you are willing to take the bull by the horns. As St. Paul said, it’s better not to marry.

    Just don’t tell me it can’t be done, even with a poor spouse. I’ve seen both men and women pull off 8+ kids, married to losers. Christians have forgotten even first tenet of Buddhism: Life is Suffering. And that is true for everyone, kids or no. Own it.

    You do know what causes that, right?
    My reply (earnest, deadpan) No! I’ve always wondered. Please explain!

  13. happyhen11

    The humility of infertility has taught me the valuable lesson of never assuming others motivations concerning the children they have or do not have. It is not always a choice and even when it is a choice, harboring anger or resentment or even prideful arrogance is simply adding to my own sin. That every child we are blessed with is loved and we raise that child in a manner pleasing to God is the goal.

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