Monthly Archives: February 2016

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #105

Over on Dalrock’s most recent post Novaseeker left an excellent comment which I thought was worth repeating in full. Before doing so, I think a little context might be in order:

Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
    cursed are you above all cattle,
    and above all wild animals;
upon your belly you shall go,
    and dust you shall eat
    all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your seed and her seed;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing;
    in pain you shall bring forth children,
yet your desire shall be for your husband,
    and he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife,
    and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
    ‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
    in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you;
    and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face
    you shall eat bread
till you return to the ground,
    for out of it you were taken;
you are dust,
    and to dust you shall return.”

(Gen 3:1-19)

This is the story of the Fall, and the perfect place to introduce Novaseeker’s comment:

The fundamental problem that underlies all of this nonsense teaching is the premise that women, by default, are moral and good unless somehow corrupted by a failure of proper male leadership.

This stems from an improper, and that’s being charitable, reading of Genesis 3. The problematic reading in question is that Eve sins in Genesis 3 only because Adam was failing to exercise proper headship over her, and that if he had been, she would not have sinned, so in a sense her sin is less real, or at the very least, derivative from, Adam’s failure to supervise/lead her properly. This reading really refuses to take the text at its own word (and God at His own word as He speaks in the text). Adam does sin by listening to his wife and eating of the apple, breaking the commandment – God is clear enough about that. But nothing is said of Adam’s culpability for Eve’s sin by God here — not one word. In Genesis 3: 14-19, God is remarkably clear about what was Adam’s sin in 3:17, and it consisted in (1) listening to his wife’s suggestion that he eat the apple and (2) actually doing so in violation of the commandment. So, yes, by listening to his wife, Adam failed to exercise moral agency over his own actions, and that is a part of his sin, together with the actual breaking of the commandment concerning eating of the fruit of the tree.

But this sin — his “listening to his wife” — has nothing to do with Eve’s own sin, as we see in 3:6. The sequence is clear — Eve partakes of the apple, finds it good tasting, and then gives some to Adam to eat and he takes it and eats — his “listening to his wife” and eating of the fruit both take place *after* Eve has already eaten of the tree, and therefore after her sin has already occurred. Eve’s sin here is portrayed in 3:6, and also by God in 3: 14-19, as being independent of Adam’s two sins, and is separately called out and punished by God in itself, and for its own sake. This makes sense given how the events are timed, sequentially, in 3:6.

The rest of the argument is extra-textual it seems to me (or at least extraneous to the specific narrative of these events in Gen 3 — other texts that are extrinsic to the narrative tend to be bought in to buttress the argument). It runs something along the lines of “well, Adam was tasked with being Eve’s steward, and failed at that, so he’s responsible for her sin, too” — which is an interesting argument, because God Himself fails to mention this sin when he rebukes Adam in Gen 3:17, while otherwise being quite specific in calling out the sins Adam committed (listening to his wife rather than following God’s commandment). If Adam’s sin had really been failing to exercise proper stewardship over Eve, and therefore bearing responsibility for her sin as was as his own, it seems extraordinarily unlikely that God would have overlooked this in His rebuke of Adam in 3:17, yet this is the precise argument that is often made in support of the idea that Eve wasn’t really responsible for her own sin, but Adam was.

This isn’t merely academic. The issue goes to the root of how some (many?) churches today are teaching about men and women and male/female relationships. A proper reading of Genesis 3 precludes any notion of women being innately good and virtuous unless corrupted by men. So Genesis 3 must be read in a very specific, and odd in the sense of being extrinsic to the actual narrative itself, way in order to support the idea that all corruption comes from men and women are innately virtuous, or at least will continue to be so unless corrupted by men’s evil.

When the actual narrative itself is read, the sequencing and delineation of the sins *is* instructive to male/female relations, but it isn’t the message that much of the contemporary church wants to hear.
It is this: women are somewhat more easily subject to demonic temptation than men are, and will tend to give in to that temptation, whereas men are subject to being morally weak in the presence of women and female suggestion, such that they will prefer honoring that to keeping God’s laws — and that therefore the way the demons will seek to corrupt men is by corrupting the women first, and then using men’s natural predisposition to please women against them by making them choose between that and obeying God, knowing full well that many (most?) men will fail and become corrupted themselves in that process. That is the story of Genesis 3, full stop. It’s also exactly what is happening in the contemporary culture, and the contemporary church. Almost to the tee, actually. And yet this is precisely the message that the church by and large refuses to take from the clear narrative of Genesis 3.

Novaseeker explains the situation far better than I could, and so I will leave his words to stand as they are. What I would like to explore, however, is a concept that he touches on. Specifically, I am curious about this shifting of blame to a higher authority (I think the legal field calls this vicarious liability?). What I am curious about is whether there is any Scriptural support for the notion that the sins committed by a person under authority are transferred to the person in authority.

I know that my grasp of Scripture is still pretty shallow, but so far I haven’t found anything to support that argument. Do any of my readers know of any Scripture which would support, or while we are on the subject, refute, that kind of “moral vicarious liability?” If so, please leave the verses/passages in the comments below.

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Saturday Saints- #104

It is finally the letter W’s turn for another saint. Today’s saint is Saint Werburg:

Werburh or Wærburh (also known as Werburgh and Werburga) (d. 3 February 699 at Trentham) was an Anglo-Saxon princess who became an English saint and the patron saint of Chester. Her feast day is 3 February.

A snippet from her wiki:

She was born at Stone (now in Staffordshire), and was the daughter of King Wulfhere of Mercia (himself the Christian son of the pagan King Penda of Mercia) and his wife St Ermenilda, herself daughter of the King of Kent. She obtained her father’s consent to enter the Abbey of Ely, which had been founded by her great aunt Etheldreda (or Audrey), the first Abbess of Ely and former queen of Northumbria, whose fame was widespread. Werburgh was trained at home by St. Chad (afterwards Bishop of Lichfield), and by her mother; and in the cloister by her aunt and grandmother. Werburgh was a nun for most of her life. During some of her life she was resident in Weedon Bec, Northamptonshire.

More can be found here.

chester_cathedral_-_refektorium_ostfenster_1_st-werburg

 

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Masculine Monday- #2

Today the series returns. The topic is discipline and self-control.

In my opinion, and I know that doesn’t count for much, self-control is one of the quintessential qualities that makes a man a man. Without it a man will be hard pressed to achieve anything, whether in this life or the next.

Part of this development of self-control relies on self-denial: to deny yourself things you might otherwise have, for some good cause. Sometimes it is because putting it off will yield greater rewards in the future. Other times it is because a more fulfilling path is available by giving something up. And yet other times denial can help one build mental fortitude- the will to resist, the will to say no.

This final reason (of those listed, others exist) is what drives me to post today. Today marks the beginning of the Great Lent in the Eastern Church, at least according to the Gregorian Calendar. The Byzantine fasting tradition is considerably more… serious than that of the West, at least nowadays. Whereas in the West one is to lightly eat on Fridays, and not eat meat at all, in the East (or at least the Eparchy where I live) fasting is done on Wednesdays and Fridays, and no meat, dairy or egg products are allowed.

This is the first time that I’ve attempted the Eastern fast. Giving up meat is something I have practiced for a long time, but giving up those others will be a new experience. Especially for two days every week. But all the same, I think it is an important effort on my part. I have had to deny myself a number of things over the years, some of which are known to my readers. I can look back now and see where that helped me build discipline, discipline that has helped me in numerous areas of my life.

So if this post is to have any lesson, it is this: men, consider fasting. While not easy- especially when you take it all the way, it pays off in the end. It helps put *you* in control of your life, and not your Appetites and instincts.

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything.

(2 Timothy 2:1-7)

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #104: Rise Up!… And, Er… Ignore The Elephant In The Room

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

(Genesis 1:27)

While this blog is focused first and foremost on masculine matters, I devote plenty of time to discussing women as well. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most important is the simple fact that the fates of men and women are intertwined. One can only change men so much before further developments are impossible without affecting women as well.

Sometimes this can be forgotten, both by men outside of this neck of the woods, and by those within. Here is an example of the former. A quote:

In our culture today fathers are becoming less and less a part of our children’s lives and the absence of fathers has led directly to the downfall of Christian culture in America. Currently, 40 percent of American children do not grow up with their biological father.

That number is on the rise as more and more couples choose the lifestyle of cohabitation and decide not to get married at all. Since the men in those relationships are not bound by any marriage vows, they feel less responsibility to stick around, especially if the marriage or childrearing starts to get tough. What are the results of fatherless homes? Let’s take a look at the statistics:

The author goes on from there to talk about the perils of fatherless families. He is absolutely right in this, of course. But at the same time, he missed the huge elephant in the room: divorce. Now Dalrock has covered this blind spot plenty, and I don’t feel it necessary to repeat his many, many posts on the subject. However, this blind spot is not unique. There are others.

To get an idea of one, lets look at what this author talks about next:

Now this absences of fathers in everyday does not only apply to the demise of domestic life. In fact, what we are also experiencing in our culture is the absence of fathers in the spiritual life of the home, even when the father is present in the family. As pointed out by Doug Barry in his “Battle Ready Rally,” we typically praise our grandmas for passing on the faith in our family. We almost never hear about fathers or grandfathers passing on the faith to their children. Typically, “church” or “religion” is viewed as something reserved for women.

These Polish men failed to see that their primary responsibility as head of the household was to fight the spiritual battle for the lives of their family. As Saint Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” It is our duty as fathers to fight that battle and to be a firm foundation for our family. If we don’t do it, our society will continue to crumble around us.

All well and good. I don’t disagree with his general argument- Christian men do need to lead the spiritual life of their families. But as I indicated earlier, the author here is missing something important, something essential. What is missing?

Well, leadership, of course. He mourns the loss of spiritual leadership. But if a man is not a leader in other ways in his family, how can he flourish as (much less be encouraged to be) a spiritual leader. And where does this take us? Why, authority in the family, naturally.

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

(Ephesians 5:22)

Men cannot fulfill their role as spiritual leaders in their family if the rest of their leadership is cut off at the knees. How effective will a man be if the children see his wife, their mother, constantly rebel against his leadership? I think we all know the answer to that.

Ultimately, the real blind spot here is to the way that the Church treats men, husbands/fathers in particular. The lack of respect, the lack of support for a husband’s authority, all of these undermine any desire or efforts for men to be the spiritual leaders of their families.

As Deep Strength and others have pointed out, men (like women) respond to Incentives. this applies to actions within marriage, as well as before or without. Now, does that excuse men who don’t try to carry out their duties? Of course not. But the blame is not only theirs to share.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes!

(Matthew 18:5-7)

If we want more men to act as spiritual leaders in their families, the Church needs to stop treating men like trash. It needs to encourage and admonish, yes, but also respect and acknowledge. Further, women need to be taught to encourage and aide their husbands in being leaders, rather than be taught to belittle them and usurp their authority.

Male and female He created us. The behaviors of both need to be addressed if we want to see positive change. Ignore one sex entirely, and you will never get very far at all.

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Saturday Saints- #103

The letter “V” is featured in today’s post. Thus, our saint is Saint Venatius Fortunatus:

Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus (c. 530–c. 600/609) was a Latin poet and hymnodist in the Merovingian Court, and a Bishop of the early Catholic Church. He was never canonised—no saint was canonised till Saint Ulrich of Augsburg in 993—but he was venerated as Saint Venantius Fortunatus during the Middle Ages.

His is not the life of your average saint, assuming there is such a thing. So I would encourage my readers to learn more about him at his wiki, located here.

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Too Much of A Good Thing #2

As a general rule, I tend to have no problem with women being fit. It doesn’t reduce their attractiveness, and for some body types, probably helps. But a little bit goes a long way. And there is definitely such a thing as “too much of a good thing.” Example A:

Too Fit Woman

This woman is far too built up in her upper body. She has mannish arms, which creates a stark and unappealing contrast to what is otherwise a fairly appealing package.

Let this be a lesson to any ladies who read my site: don’t get this muscular. It is not a good look. And to my male readers, pass this on as well. Parents, I trust you to also clue your daughters in on this.

There is fit, and then there is going overboard.

[Update: Forgot to credit Mrs ktc for this. Here is her post on it.]

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A Wicked Project

A somewhat random post here that I am writing for the benefit of my readers, especially the newer ones.

If you have been around these parts long enough, odds are pretty good you’ve seen something like this:

  1. ‘Spherian writer pens a post in which he takes a stand that goes against the common grain (as far as general society is concerned). The goal of the writer in this instance is to make things better, at least within his own perspective.
  2. A woman reads this and blows up. She says that the post is evidence that the men of the sphere are horrible human beings and that the writer has something wrong with him. If the woman claims to be a Christian it usually involves an allegation of a dark or twisted soul.
  3. Men, sometimes the writer, sometimes the commentators, try to tell the woman that nothing malicious was meant. They carefully try to explain to her the logic involved, and why she should reconsider.
  4. This doesn’t work.

The reason why this ultimately doesn’t work is because the woman is not thinking logically, she is thinking emotionally (or rhetorically, if you prefer). Furthermore, her thought processes are centered around projecting- both emotions and intentions. It goes something like this:

  1. Woman reads something she doesn’t like.
  2. Woman becomes upset about it, because it upends some part of her self-image or her understanding of the way things are supposed to be.
  3. The woman recognizes how upset this makes her at a subconscious level.
  4. She tries, again at a subconscious level, to figure out why she is upset.
  5. Her default settings kick in, which involves projecting her own nature upon the person writing.
  6. Her thought process is something akin to- a) this person made me upset, b) I would only make someone upset if I meant to make them upset, c) therefore this person intended to make me upset.
  7. If this person intended to make me upset, then they are not a good person, and therefore what they have written has a malicious purpose behind it.

Emotions and projecting drive this behavior. Appealing to reason and logical will never work with the woman because she isn’t thinking logically. You cannot convince her of your good intent (or at least no malicious intent) because no amount of logic will affect her emotional reaction to what she read.

My advice in this situation is to always let the woman be. Ignore her ranting. She won’t be swayed by anything you say or do aside from total capitulation. You will simply waste your time, and probably derail the whole conversation. Now, perhaps my readers have some ideas on a way to “solve” this problem, but I haven’t seen anything work to date.

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