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:
3 Lo, sons are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the sons of one’s youth.
5 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.”
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.