“This Saying is Hard”

This past Sunday, the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, we read the feminists’ favorite passage from Ephesians 5 (the full version).

Brothers and sisters:
Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of his wife
just as Christ is head of the church,
he himself the savior of the body.
As the church is subordinate to Christ,
so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything [see my note below].
Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ loved the church
and handed himself over for her to sanctify her,
cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,
that he might present to himself the church in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
that she might be holy and without blemish.
So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one hates his own flesh
but rather nourishes and cherishes it,
even as Christ does the church,
because we are members of his body.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
This is a great mystery,
but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.

To satisfy my curiosity, I have some questions for the Catholics who went to church this last Sunday. 1. Was the short or long version of the above read? 2. Did your homilist talk about it? 3. If yes, what did he say? 4. Did the homilist make light of the reading?

The homilist at my mass explicitly avoided talking about it. At the beginning of the homily he said, “I’m not even going to touch the second [epistle] reading.” Some of the congregation chuckled. He went on.

He said the readings talked about creeds. The Israelites after Moses’ death had to reaffirm their faith in God as the Apostles had to reaffirm their faith in Jesus. Many of the children of Israel left and served other gods and some of Jesus’ disciples left him.

Joshua, Moses’ successor, said, “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” While Peter said, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We [the Apostles] have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

By leaving out the second reading from Ephesians, it left out a deep dimension of God’s Love. In Jesus’ future act on the cross (alluded to in the Gospel reading today and explicitly the last few weeks), He gave himself up for His bride the Church to make Her holy. In a similar way, the married bridegroom gives himself up.

Should we, the Church, Holy Bride of Christ, be offended that we are to serve the Bridegroom? He gave himself, his life for us. Does that diminish our freedom or worth or relationships? Does that mean that Christ is our master and we are His slaves? He is our Brother and Friend.

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. –John 15:13-15

A bride is not a slave; she is the first friend of her bridegroom. We are to be "subordinate to one another under Christ." Friends do things for each other out of Love. We should try to do everything for Love [note: everything].

This is a very personal topic since I try as hard as I can to base my marriage on Ephesians 5, and my wife and I had it read at our wedding (by a dear, married sister in Christ). (I also referred to it in my post on the homosexual Bible study.)

What do you think?

Comments 38

  1. Maggie wrote:

    wives have to be subordinate to thier husbands but husbands have to love their wives as Christ loves the Church and Christ died for the Church. Husbands have to be willing to offer total self giving sacrifice to thier wives.

    That was the gist of the best homily I ever heard on this passage. This was also confirmed by a scripture professor who said that too often homilists stop at the subordination of wives to husbands remark and leave out the total sacrifice that is asked of the husband.

    Only when a couple is willing to give all for all is a marriage capable of lasting for a lifetime.

    Posted 28 Aug 2006 at 10:19 pm
  2. Rob wrote:

    I think a better reading takes the first sentence as a topic sentence: Be subordinate to one another. The wife is subordinate to the husband, and the husband is subordinate to the wife.

    Mutual submission, always putting the other before self, is the goal.

    Mutural love, not abusive tyrany, is the goal.

    Posted 28 Aug 2006 at 10:59 pm
  3. Funky Dung wrote:

    Actually, no, the husband is not subordinate to the wife. Christ is not subordinate to the Church. His love is self-emptying and sacrificial, but the Church is always subordinate to Him and not the other way around.

    Posted 29 Aug 2006 at 9:28 am
  4. Amy wrote:

    Short answers:
    1. long
    2. no
    3. n/a
    4. no

    It’s a shame, too, because our pastor is pretty good at explaining scripture. If he had talked about it, we probably would have gotten a fairly academic theologically sound explanation of it that shouldn’t have offended anyone.

    Posted 29 Aug 2006 at 9:29 am
  5. Stuff wrote:

    1. long
    2. yes
    3. see below
    4. no

    our homilist began with a story of a native american grandfather teaching his grandson an important lesson about life. i’m not nearly as eloquent in the retelling, but the basic gist is that inside each of us there is a war going on between two wolves. one wolf is anger, greed, self-pity, revenge, pride, etc. (i can’t remember all the qualities, but i took it as “insert vice here”). the other wolf is self-denial, self-sacrifice, humility, generosity, etc. (“insert virtue here”). the grandson asks which wolf will win the war, and the very simple answer is this: the one you feed.
    it was much better when he told it. anyway, he extended this lesson to marriages – he clarified that two wolves are not the two spouses (ha, ha), but that the two as one flesh have to work together to feed the right wolf.
    the rest of the homily was lost in spit-up, but he did tie in the other readings in a summary of the love between Christ and his spouse.

    in any case, i’m with you.

    Posted 29 Aug 2006 at 10:48 am
  6. edey wrote:

    1 short
    2 we didn’t have a homily. we had a guest speaker.
    3 n/a
    4 n/a

    g-as surprising as it might seem, i’m also with you 😉 it’s all about complementarity and each using his masculinity or her femininity to build up the relationship. part of that masculinity is leading, part of the femininity submitting.

    stuff-i like what your priest had to say.

    Posted 29 Aug 2006 at 3:48 pm
  7. Dennis wrote:

    What a great Bible passage.

    I was traveling on the road and the church I went to had the long version although the priest did not comment on it.

    My wife and I had the long version read at our wedding too. I asked our priest (who did his licentiate on that passage) to comment on it in his homily.

    His comment was that, “Christ meant that in a very real way…what does it mean? It means…’Let him (meaning me) love you! (meaning my wife)’

    It was very powerful. The way that I read it is that a husband must love his wife so much that she can trust him to be subordinate to him…knowing that she can trust her entire life and afterlife into his care and that he will lead her to Christ.

    So, I am called to guide my wife so that everything I ask her to do leads her to God. If what I ask of her does not lead her to God then A. it’s not love and B. she’s not called to be subordinate.

    Thanks for bringing this up.

    Dennis

    Posted 29 Aug 2006 at 4:20 pm
  8. John wrote:

    It’s really disingenuous to rewrite this passage to try to justify it to a modern moindset. At the time it was written it was interpretted as saying that a husband exercised full soveriegnty over his wife and continued to be interpretted that way for almost two millenia.

    If we allow our social norms to influence our interpretation of what the text is directly saying we end up stripping the text of any real meaning. It can mean whatever we decide it means.
    This risk is particularly present here, because while a direct reading of the text has relatively little light to shed on the modern institution of marriage, it has a great deal to tell us about our relationship to Christ.
    We as a society have decided that marriage is to be an institution between equals. If we try to retroactively insert that into this passage, the more important lesson of our relationship to Christ ends up getting very muddled. (as seen in the exchange between Rob and Funkydung).

    Also, to try to tap into any knowledge people might have, does anyone know much about marriage in the first century? Was it built around people falling in love, daughters being traded away, influence being peddled? Knowledge of that could only serve to inform our understanding of the passage.

    And does anybody know what word for love showed up in the original Greek in this passage. I know that they had different words which we translate into love, but actually had very different meanings.

    Posted 30 Aug 2006 at 1:51 am
  9. Laudemus wrote:

    Short version.

    The priest — who normally does not shy away from any controversy — did not comment on it, however. The parish is primarily students, and he spent time talking about the passages from Joshua and from the Gospel (“Choose this day whom you shall serve” and “Lord, to whom shall we go?”) and serving Christ in the setting of a major secular research university. (This was the first Mass at which most of the students had returned from summer break.)

    Posted 30 Aug 2006 at 7:15 am
  10. Laudemus wrote:

    Brief correction: My parish is about half students, not primarily students.

    Posted 30 Aug 2006 at 7:16 am
  11. Dennis wrote:

    John,

    When was marriage decided to be an institution of equals? Marriage is an institution where two become one (same in the first century as now). (Kinda like yin/yang). It’s not about equals.
    The way this passage reads to me is that marriage is a covenant between the husband/wife and God. The wife MUST be subordinate to the husband; the husband MUST love his wife (as Christ loved the Church); and both MUST submit to Christ.

    If that formula is not evident then it can be argued that it’s not a valid marriage. More importantly, if that formula is not evident then the marriage will be that much more difficult to sustain.

    Regarding being subordinate, Christ did not enslave us to do His housework or cooking. Rather, by being subordinate to Christ, He frees us from slavery so that we can follow Him to eternal life. Why? Because He loves us. A husband must love his wife the same way. So he can lead her to eternal life. He must be willing to die so that she may live. It’s not to allow her to do his bidding.

    As for which Greek word, I’m 99% sure that the word was Agape (as opposed to Eros) as Paul compares the love between husband and wife to Christ’s love.

    Regarding love in marriage, the love isn’t evident before marriage (as you mentioned). The love is evident after the marriage. The love that’s present when some difficulties arise (which always do) such as an ill wife or a husband who’s lost his job and the other is there to console. The love is evidenced physically by having children. A child is a direct result of the love between the husband and wife. That’s love in marriage and it has been that way since the beginning of time.

    I think our society is trying to redefine marriage. Our society wants to weaken marriage.

    Our society wants to destroy marriage. We have to say no!

    Posted 30 Aug 2006 at 9:36 am
  12. John wrote:

    Who is “our society”? And when does it hold meetings to plot that destruction of abstract institutions? What does it hope to gain from this destruction?
    And who is this “we” that is distinct from society?

    I follow the news fairly closely and have seen no piece of legislation proposed that would prevent any heterosexual couple from getting married (it’s worth noting the irony that the only people who are putting up bills to stop people from getting married are the ones ranting against the “destruction of marriage”).

    It is possible that fewer people are choosing to enter into or stay within marriage, but marriage itself seems to be pretty safe. Nobody is going to take it away from you.
    Also, it would seem that many of our societal norms around marriage have improved significantly. We’re slowly but surely rejecting the idea that it’s okay for a husband to beat his wife. Likewise it is less acceptable for husbands to push their wives out of the decision making process.

    In brief, marriage has stopped being an institution that marginalizes half our population. To me that would seem to be the opposite of destroying it.

    Posted 30 Aug 2006 at 11:57 am
  13. Dennis wrote:

    John,

    I’m sorry if my last statement was unclear. By “our society”, I am referring to our current culture and when I say “we” I am referring to Catholics and all Christians.

    The weakening of marriage is much more subtle than any proposed legislation. Ephesians 5 very succinctly defines marriage as a covenant between God and Husband and Wife. Husbands love wives…wives be subordinate to husbands…both be subordinate to Christ.

    Our culture today weakens marriage in a couple ways:

    1. It takes God out of the relationship
    2. It blurs the line as to what is a marriage

    The Catholic definition of marriage is very beautiful. The gift of marriage from God is the gift of each other in love through sexual union. And in that union is the possibility of having offspring. That is part of marriage’s sacramentality. The love that can be visibly seen in marriage is a reflection of the love that is invisible between God and man.

    Our culture takes the gift of each other in love through sexual union and tells the individual, “you don’t have to be married…go ahead and enjoy.”

    Our culture removes the “perceived threat” of having children by telling the individual, “Take this pill and you won’t have a baby!” Thus removing God out of the equation. The married couple (or single individual) can selfishly look at God and say, “No thanks, God…we’ll do it our way!”

    Our culture seems to say, “it’s not until death do you part…it’s not for better or for worse…if things get tough, get a divorce.”

    In this weakening, we have seen our divorce rates climb and we have seen marriage weaken. We see higher rates of infidelity and pornography rampant throughout society. Instead of a husband beating his wife (which was NEVER acceptable…per Ephesians 5) our culture gives us a woman marginalized to the point where she is no longer a human being but rather an object and makes half our population think that they’re better off.

    Posted 30 Aug 2006 at 2:54 pm
  14. gbm3 wrote:

    Who is “our society”? And when does it hold meetings to plot that destruction of abstract institutions? What does it hope to gain from this destruction?
    And who is this “we” that is distinct from society?

    I would like to address your questions (not necessarily in order).

    Marriage is not an abstract institution. It is a physical reality.

    [Jesus] said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Matthew 19:4-6

    Society is the entire human race. When members of that society have sex out of marriage, block God’s procreative Will, kill innocents from sex outside of marriage or for selfish motives, and when homosexual couples claim to be married even though they can never be one flesh to create a person from their physical love, it diminishes the sanctity of marriage. Why? Marriage is made less holy (sancta) because the above unions are not what God had in mind from the beginning (as revealed by Jesus). They essentially say that marriage is not necessary. Why give totally of yourself if you can take what you want without giving yourself totally to your spouse and/or God.

    I don’t know why some of society wants to destroy marriage. Perhaps they lack wisdom (wisdom only comes from knowledge of God).

    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7

    We are those who see marriage as sacred as instituted by the Creator of all things from the beginning, as it is meant to be. We are a subset of the society as a whole.

    Posted 30 Aug 2006 at 2:54 pm
  15. gbm3 wrote:

    Wow!

    Dennis and I posted at approximately the same time.

    It’s interesting to see the similarities and differences.

    Posted 30 Aug 2006 at 2:59 pm
  16. Donna Marie Lewis wrote:

    Of course, the simplest way to deal with the whole thing (and the way St. Paul himself recommends), is to stay single.

    Posted 30 Aug 2006 at 4:34 pm
  17. John wrote:

    “Marriage is not an abstract institution. It is a physical reality.”

    Have you ever seen a marriage walking down the street? Have you ever held one in your hand? Can you tell me how much a marriage’s mass or temperature or wavelength?
    Marriage exists, it’s real, but has none of the characteristics which make something physical. Perhaps it’s metaphysical, but physical is well defined, and exludes it.

    “…it diminishes the sanctity of marriage”

    The bulk of this reasoning seems to state that we have usurped the power of God. That He sanctified marriage and we have somehow undone that.

    Furthermore, if marriage is a covenent entered into through God, then only marriages performed by Catholic priests are marriages as referenced and sanctified by the Bible. Then all that other stuff is seperate from it.

    I have never seen any evidence to indicate that rates of premarital sex and extramarital sex are at any kind of historical high. Even in Puritan New England, most brides walked down the aisle pregnant. Marx looked at marriage in the nineteenth century and dismissed it as a system of wives in common.
    Every generation wants to believe that it’s reinvented sex, but it’s really just a whole lot of history repeating.

    There is a marked rise in the number of children who are born out of wedlock (about 1/3 at this point), and that is disturbing. But this is occuring largly amongst people who feel dispossessed of society, not people who are part of the cultural mainstream. Illegitimacy rates amongst college graduates is at the same level it was in the post-war period.

    As to “our culture gives us a woman marginalized to the point where she is no longer a human being but rather an object,”
    You overstate the problem, but even if that was true, at least the last no longer views women as their husband’s chattel.

    The long and the short of it is that nobody is conspiring against Christians in this country. That is a ridiculous notion, and it would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. There are no Protocols of the Elders of Maintstream Culture. You’re not a victim.

    Posted 30 Aug 2006 at 5:32 pm
  18. Bryan Davis wrote:

    John said,

    Also, to try to tap into any knowledge people might have, does anyone know much about marriage in the first century? Was it built around people falling in love, daughters being traded away, influence being peddled? Knowledge of that could only serve to inform our understanding of the passage.

    While marriage was the focus of my classical studies (especially not in Judea), one could probably draw patterns from descriptions of marriages in Egypt, Rome, and Greece (as well as the several of descriptions of marriage from the Bible) to come to the conclusion that you really only have to go about 100 years back to see the same kind of patterns. Basically, people married for all sorts of reason, definitely including love, including money, and including a desire for security and children. The biggest differences between marriage then and in Western society today are:

    There seemed to be no real expectation of a marriage based on romantic love. It could certainly happen, but it wasn’t a societal norm. Romantic love was for affairs, and mostly for men.

    People rarely married outside of their societal groups. Marriage across wealth or racial divisions would have been very remarkable, but still not unheard of.

    Marriages were often pre-planned or arranged by parents in ways that would cement other social or business relationships. This was more of a societal norm than a marriage born of romantic love, but it would be unusually hard parents who wouldn’t consider their children’s desires and future happiness in planning the wedding.

    I don’t know how this affects the argument as it’s progressed. But it is worth nothing that in most classical societies, especially in the eastern half of the Mediterranean, women tended to have no legal social standing (they usually could not own property, could not testify against men, etc.) This was not always the case, but generally was so. Wives and daughters (because you were essentially always one or the other, or a ward of your nearest male relative) were not slaves, but they were the Puerto Rico to the male United States.

    Telling women to submit to their husbands was like telling children to obey their parents – it wasn’t ground-breaking – it was reinforcing social norms. As John also wrote above,

    …a direct reading of the text has relatively little light to shed on the modern institution of marriage, [but] it has a great deal to tell us about our relationship to Christ.

    One could say the same about the historical institution of marriage.

    One interesting side note about this passage reinforcing social norms becomes evident when you consider that Christianity had a strong reputation for the first few centuries AD of being a favorite of independent women and wealthy widows. Passages like this could be used to prove to the skeptics that Christianity wasn’t a danger to society – i.e. that it wasn’t threatening the institution of marriage!

    Posted 30 Aug 2006 at 8:42 pm
  19. Steve Nicoloso wrote:

    Much to my surprise (in my suburbanite parish) we were treated to the long version. Great! UN-fortunately, some pseudo-intellectual, modernist dork writes introductions to the weekend mass readings (always with the advertised purpose of “aiding our understanding” but rarely doing little else than skirting the authoritative teachings of the church, and undermining the faith (and common sense) of the faithful). In this case, the passage was thereby prefused (pre-defused) with the following “information”…

    Today’s second reading provides an excellent illustration of Catholic teaching that the Bible is the Word of God, written by human beings. Since God works through human authors, the Bible is shaped by human cultural limitations and customs. The author of Ephesians, trying to promote proper conduct in the church community, draws upon the Greek, patriarchal family structure with which he is familiar. In our times, these words should not be taken as a divine sanctioning of ancient cultural practices, but as urging believers to put their lives at the service of one another, just as Christ gave his life for the Church.

    [Emphasis mine.] So you see, God is limited by “human cultural limitations”. Strange how he only seems to be so limited where the plain meaning of Scripture is contradicted by cultural “norms” unique to modern sexually liberated folks.

    How do we know for example that the phrase “wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord” was culturally conditioned, but that the phrase “husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church” speaks clear and eternal truth and not the other way around? Ooh ooh… I know… it’s because our helpful handlers want to believe one, but not the other. They are proud of the one idea, and utterly embarrassed by the other. Because such handlers hate the people they are, and seek acceptance among the elite influence peddlers. With apologists like this, who needs enemies? With apologists like this, who needs faith?

    And notice also that our “helpful” introduction dares not name the Apostle Paul as the author, for “smart people” everywhere “know” that it wasn’t really Paul who wrote Ephesians…. because, you see, modern critics living 2000 years later are so much smarter than those stupid, “patriarchal” ancients. And, you see, the real Apostle Paul would never say anything so misogynistic as “wives submit to your husbands”.

    And what the hell is so friggin’ dirty about patriarchy anyway? It doesn’t take much of an imagination to figure out how such arrangements, wherein the father is merely the final authority in the home, clan, or tribe, might naturally arise, for the long term benefit of social groups. (Please note that patriarchy does not by definition require rape, female circumcision and dressing women in burkas.) Even goddam evolutionary psychology is on the side of patriarchy. Yet our unnamed pseudo-intellectual gelded handlers spew forth this self-loathing drivel that makes a mockery of A) what Scripture plainly says, B) what the Church has always taught, and C) what anybody can reason out on his own anyway. It is the basis for a religion that undermines the faith of the faithful while simultaneously providing cannon fodder for even the half-witted skeptic… in short a religion fit for nothing except mockery. St. Paul’s wish in Galatians (a letter even the textual critics agree he wrote) that some would go ahead and cut “the whole thing off” finds an entirely new application here.

    Dale Price has sympathetic and far more articulate thoughts here in his Dyspeptic Mutterings.

    Read Touchstone’s Steve Hutchens’ (a Protestant no less) antidote to all this egalitarian bat guano in his A Maid to Order Bible, a scathing review of Stackhouse’s Finally Feminist: A Pragmatic
    Christian Understanding of Gender
    .

    No preview… so here’s to hoping all those html tags came out right….

    Cheers!

    Posted 31 Aug 2006 at 12:51 am
  20. John wrote:

    Well let’s just see some other things that must be divine truth and not the product of human cultural limitations.
    How about when Ephesians 6:5 says:
    “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.”
    Would seem to be a pretty unequivocal acceptance of slavery. So slavery must be what God has in mind. (Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus are chock full of statements legitimizing slavery).

    Or when Deuteronomy 22 says that if a woman is raped she is to be put to death.

    I could readily go on with instances from both Testaments that support things we would now consider morally reprehensible.

    So was the Bible created against the backdrop of the existing culture, or should I be allowed to sell my daughters as sex slaves?

    And in a purely tangential note the statement “Even goddam evolutionary psychology is on the side of patriarchy.” was really funny. It really takes chutzpah to blaspheme while attacking people for not being devout enough.

    Posted 31 Aug 2006 at 2:04 am
  21. gbm3 wrote:

    I could readily go on with instances from both Testaments that support things we would now consider morally reprehensible.

    Yes. However, Jesus fulfilled the law. In addition, he and the apostles after him only had a few things that Christians had to do. This effectively changed the laws for the world too (since the True Word (Jesus) revealed it; see my post on a homosexual bible study for references about what laws are still applicable). Even circumcision is not necessary any more (a BIG deal for Israel).

    Here’s an interesting article I got on slavery.

    Have you ever seen a marriage walking down the street? Have you ever held one in your hand? Can you tell me how much a marriage’s mass or temperature or wavelength?
    Marriage exists, it’s real, but has none of the characteristics which make something physical. Perhaps it’s metaphysical, but physical is well defined, and exludes it.

    It’s real. I would rather not go into specifics, but it requires a man and a women. This physical reality has the potential to create another physical reality. That’s it. This is what God willed marriage to be.

    You’re not a victim.

    I am not. But look at Europe. Less marriage equals less children (and perhaps more of what happens when marriage diminishes).

    I’m not too worried. God will handle the world’s view of marriage. Eventually those who hold marriage as a divine institution will procreate (on average) so as to change society’s view.

    Posted 31 Aug 2006 at 9:53 am
  22. Stuff wrote:

    Eventually those who hold marriage as a divine institution will procreate (on average) so as to change society’s view.

    Stuff and Squat’s official score = 3 and counting!! 😉

    Posted 31 Aug 2006 at 10:14 am
  23. Steve Nicoloso wrote:

    Blasphemed? Evolutionary psychology?!? O well, I’m sure it won’t mind.

    And no, slavery is not an objective and unmitigated evil. But neither does Scripture suggest that slavery is an unmitigated good and the clear will of God (except perhaps as punishment in the hope of redemption). Nor does it suggest the same for polygyny. I, in fact, am a “slave” (in the Pauline sense) to a large impersonal corporation. Am I bound by law to stay in its employ? No. Will the rangers come after me if I quit and try to run away? No. But I am bound by exigency. Someday, God willing, I may earn my freedom, as St. Paul recommends. Perhaps when my large impersonal corporation decides she can no longer house and feed me, that will be my ticket to freedom. Most of us work for “the man” in one way or another. Some of us (not me) event want to.

    The fact that the Bible is neutral on things that are, per se’, morally neutral shouldn’t surprise us. It is not neutral on the question of whether slaves ought respect their masters, neither whether masters ought treat their slaves with justice and mercy. Cultural context has nothing to do with it. In a similar manner, as Scripture is not neutral on whether wives should be subordinate to their husbands… (nor is nature) just as husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church, i.e., in a self-sacraficing way (a point on which nature is far more opaque).

    That is… to say… John unless what you really mean is:

    “slavery” := “chattel slavery”; and
    “patriarchy” := “misogyny”

    in which case we are not arguing except to disagree on the meaning of words. Please note that many if not most modern translations translate the Pauline “slaves” as “servants”.

    Posted 31 Aug 2006 at 10:31 am
  24. gbm3 wrote:

    How about when Ephesians 6:5 says:
    “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.”

    This statement doesn’t logically lead to the conclusion that Paul approved of slavery. It’s just that some Christians happened to be slaves (or servents as Steve Nicoloso reports), and Paul exhorts them to act in a Chirstian way.

    Posted 31 Aug 2006 at 10:39 am
  25. edey wrote:

    stuff and squat
    congrats on katherine (sp? k or c)! i’m sure the little archangels are also excited about her as well.

    Posted 31 Aug 2006 at 1:16 pm
  26. Donna Marie Lewis wrote:

    What I don’t get is, why bring nature into this ? What’s so great about nature, anyway ? Don’t we measure how far a civilization has come by how much people in it can ignore nature if they wish ? Hence cars, air conditioning, heating, computers, etc.

    Posted 31 Aug 2006 at 7:10 pm
  27. Bryan Davis wrote:

    As much as I think John’s call here:

    It really takes chutzpah to blaspheme while attacking people for not being devout enough.

    was very funny and right on the mark, I have to agree with Steve N. here:

    That is… to say… John unless what you really mean is:
    “slavery” := “chattel slavery”; and
    “patriarchy” := “misogyny”

    There is a huge difference between the chattel slavery practiced by and now repudiated by America, and the slavery practices in classical antiquity. Likewise for patriarchy and misogyny. They’re both cases of the pendulum swinging too far, or to mangle a paraphrase, hating the sinner along with the sin.

    Kind of like the title of Funky’s latest post. Cigarettes aren’t evil. They’re tasty. Cigarette companies, on the other hand… I think they may all have embassies in hell.

    There’s a lot to be said for patriarchy – one could make a logically sound case for it. I don’t think it’s the future, but it’s a workable social solution, and it definitely seems to be endorsed by the Bible, the church fathers, and the current Catholic Church. Although, despite Steve’s rants about the origin of Ephesians and New Testament hermeneutics, I think it’s very easy to make the case that the Christian church re-established itself as patriarchal (sloughing off the neo-platonism and reacquiring some cultural Judaism) in order to combat its external appearance as a fringe and women’s movement at a time when being a fringe movement of that sort was very dangerous.

    Posted 31 Aug 2006 at 7:22 pm
  28. Bryan Davis wrote:

    Incidentally, gbm3, you said,

    Less marriage equals less children (and perhaps more of what happens when marriage diminishes).

    , but doesn’t Paul encourage less marriage? Everyone who can be celibate should, but it’s better to marry than burn?

    I thought we were out of the “Be fruitful and mulitply” contract.

    Posted 31 Aug 2006 at 7:27 pm
  29. gbm3 wrote:

    D]oesn’t Paul encourage less marriage? Everyone who can be celibate should, but it’s better to marry than burn?

    Let’s get the Bible out. (It is long, but jam packed with stuff.)

    Now in regard to the matters about which you wrote: “It is a good thing for a man not to touch a woman,” but because of cases of immorality every man should have his own wife, and every woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his duty toward his wife, and likewise the wife toward her husband. A wife does not have authority over her own body, but rather her husband, and similarly a husband does not have authority over his own body, but rather his wife. Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control. This I say by way of concession, however, not as a command. Indeed, I wish everyone to be as I am, but each has a particular gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. Now to the unmarried and to widows, I say: it is a good thing for them to remain as they are, as I do, but if they cannot exercise self-control they should marry, for it is better to marry than to be on fire. To the married, however, I give this instruction (not I, but the Lord): a wife should not separate from her husband –and if she does separate she must either remain single or become reconciled to her husband–and a husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (not the Lord): if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she is willing to go on living with him, he should not divorce her; and if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to go on living with her, she should not divorce her husband. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through the brother. Otherwise your children would be unclean, whereas in fact they are holy. If the unbeliever separates, however, let him separate. The brother or sister is not bound in such cases; God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband; or how do you know, husband, Only, everyone should live as the Lord has assigned, just as God called each one. I give this order in all the churches. Was someone called after he had been circumcised? He should not try to undo his circumcision. Was an uncircumcised person called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision means nothing, and uncircumcision means nothing; what matters is keeping God’s commandments. Everyone should remain in the state in which he was called. Were you a slave when you were called? Do not be concerned but, even if you can gain your freedom, make the most of it. For the slave called in the Lord is a freed person in the Lord, just as the free person who has been called is a slave of Christ. You have been purchased at a price. Do not become slaves to human beings. Brothers, everyone should continue before God in the state in which he was called. Now in regard to virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord, 11 but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. So this is what I think best because of the present distress: that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a separation. Are you free of a wife? Then do not look for a wife. If you marry, however, you do not sin, nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries; but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life, and I would like to spare you that. I tell you, brothers, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away. I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction. If anyone thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, and if a critical moment has come and so it has to be, let him do as he wishes. He is committing no sin; let them get married. The one who stands firm in his resolve, however, who is not under compulsion but has power over his own will, and has made up his mind to keep his virgin, will be doing well. So then, the one who marries his virgin does well; the one who does not marry her will do better. A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whomever she wishes, provided that it be in the Lord. She is more blessed, though, in my opinion, if she remains as she is, and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

    He may imply that less marriage is better. However, if we will sin due to lack of a spouse, then we are to marry.

    With the state of affairs nowadays with sexual promiscuity (as it always has been, just more in the open: apparently less shame), maybe more marriage is a good thing.

    (Side note: Note too that marriage to a non-believer essentially helps out the non-believer.)

    I thought we were out of the “Be fruitful and mulitply” contract.

    I haven’t thought of that. But…

    First of all, it wasn’t a contract; God commanded it (the first commandment).

    Second of all, Jesus implies that marriage is good and is sanctified by God.

    Thirdly, he admonishes those who give themselves up for the kingdom by not marrying. It is sort of a precursor of what is to come in the Kingdom of Heaven.

    Posted 31 Aug 2006 at 9:17 pm
  30. Bryan Davis wrote:

    He may imply that less marriage is better. However, if we will sin due to lack of a spouse, then we are to marry.

    I agree! I think, actually, that’s pretty much what I said.

    As for the state of sexual promiscuity, don’t believe for a moment that in the vicinity of the churches to which Paul was writing, sexual promiscuity was any less than it was today. Granted, they didn’t have our fetishistic behaviour, but those kinds of pathologies don’t develop so quickly when there are willing and devoted temple prostitutes a short walk away.

    First of all, it wasn’t a contract

    I know… I was being flippant. :) Sorry.

    God commanded it

    Though I couldn’t easily support the position now, I’d been under the impression that along with living sacrifices, scapegoats, strict sabbath rules, circumcision (etc.), we were able to check this one off the task list.

    Posted 01 Sep 2006 at 9:02 pm
  31. gbm3 wrote:

    Though I couldn’t easily support the position now, I’d been under the impression that along with living sacrifices, scapegoats, strict sabbath rules, circumcision (etc.), we were able to check this one off the task list.

    God’s command to be fruitful and multiply was before the covenant with Abraham, His (apparent) pact with Noah, and the Mosaic laws (of which some were written because of Israel’s “hardness of heart”). As I interpret it, that would mean that any law or command before those was a law “written on our hearts” so to speak that was for all of creation for all time.

    Of course, I could just be wrong.

    Posted 01 Sep 2006 at 9:53 pm
  32. gbm3 wrote:

    What I don’t get is, why bring nature into this ? What’s so great about nature, anyway ? Don’t we measure how far a civilization has come by how much people in it can ignore nature if they wish ? Hence cars, air conditioning, heating, computers, etc. -Dona Donna

    Sorry, all I can think of is…

    Hence air pollution, global warming (due to human outputs), more asthma, less natural resources, wars for those resources, a decline in interpersonal relationships, more depression, less acknowledgement of God in all good things, etc.

    I’m not saying that we should all be Amish. We just shouldn’t measure progress by these inventions (that God gave the gift of invention to conceptualize/build). (There are some ST:TNG episodes on this very subject. Remember (the Romulans and) that race that took (their) technology who were basically kids in a candy store?)

    Posted 01 Sep 2006 at 10:08 pm
  33. Lightwave wrote:

    Eventually those who hold marriage as a divine institution will procreate (on average) so as to change society’s view.

    Without making too lite of this quote, allow me to makes two sobering observations:
    1. “Those who hold marriage as a divine institution” often do a lousy job of passing on their values.

    2. A lot of those who do not hold marriage as a divine institution procreate a lot faster. (obviously excluding gay marriage)

    Caveats: In the USA, but certainly in many other areas. Present company (hopefully) excluded.

    Posted 02 Sep 2006 at 10:43 pm
  34. Steve Nicoloso wrote:

    Donna asks:

    What I don’t get is, why bring nature into this ? What’s so great about nature, anyway ? Don’t we measure how far a civilization has come by how much people in it can ignore nature if they wish ? Hence cars, air conditioning, heating, computers, etc.

    What’s so great about nature? It was created by God and pronounced (unequivocally) good. And no, civilization is not the ability to ignore nature? You are confusing “civilization” with “technology”. The two may (or may not) be correlated, but neither is necessary or sufficient cause for the other. By such measure, those who most ignore nature would be the most civilized. And nothing could, IMO, be further from the truth. The great statist ideologies of the 20th century were in all cases highly technological, utilizing technology to extend their power (over men and over nature) to enslave and murder in unprecedented magnitude. No societies could be further from being civilized.

    Practitioners of contraception and foeticide today use technology or technique to defeat nature, insofar as it is natural for any species to seek to propagate itself, and any healthy member of that species to propagate itself as much as possible. Who is more “civilized”?

    And toward the point at hand, i.e., patriarchy, we have nature on its side. Men, by nature, are horny chaps who will, by nature, want to “cat around” and mate with the youngest and most attractive thing around. But this turns out very badly for those with whom they mate, and even worse for their offspring, who benefit immensely from having stable two-parent homes in which to grow and learn. So for the benefit of civilization, it is not hard to imagine how patriarchy naturally arises, i.e., an arrangement in which men agree (by and large) eschew the “lower” parts of their nature and commit themselves to monogamous family life on the condition that, since they don’t get to father 100s of children (who would turn out in general to be weak, politically and economically speaking), they get absolute lordship (naming rights, property rights, &c.) over the ones they do father (who will, by and large, turn out much more capable at self and community governance).

    This can be illustrated by the plight of, largely Christianized, African Americans today. An obscenely high percentage of African Americans are born out of wedlock. They have the true faith (of a sort), but lack patriarchy. An obscenely high percentage of these children continue therefore to live in poverty, fail to prepare themselves for life in the world as it is, and turn to drugs and/or crime.

    Compare this plight to blacks in the deepest Africa, where the perverted arms of the West have yet failed to reach. (Yes, this is a hypothetical, because such uncorrupted tribes are getting extremely rare.) They have no Christianity (nor AC or computers), but only animistic tribal beliefs and traditions. But they DO have patriarchy (because it is the natural state of all civilizations). Are these really worse off than their westernized cousins? Who is the more civilized?

    Posted 03 Sep 2006 at 12:13 pm
  35. Steve Nicoloso wrote:

    Who is the more civilized, that is to say, the black thirteen year-old male with cable TV, AC, indoor plumbing, and cellphone who has never known his father (and never known another boy his age who has known his father), who has therefore been socialized and sexualized by the “law of the jungle”; or the 13 year old black male of the “jungle” who has never known Western technology or mores, but has nevertheless been carefully and vigorously raised by a father who cared more for him and his future success (and his ability to carry on the traditions of his fathers such as they are) than just about anything else in the world?

    In short, St. Paul, in his prescription for wives, was communicating what everyone everywhere had at all times already known. Christianity did not appear to turn nature on its head, but rather to redeem it.

    Posted 03 Sep 2006 at 3:15 pm
  36. gbm3 wrote:

    ‘Eventually those who hold marriage as a divine institution will procreate (on average) so as to change society’s view.’

    Without making too lite of this quote, allow me to makes two sobering observations:
    1. “Those who hold marriage as a divine institution” often do a lousy job of passing on their values.

    2. A lot of those who do not hold marriage as a divine institution procreate a lot faster. (obviously excluding gay marriage)

    Caveats: In the USA, but certainly in many other areas. Present company (hopefully) excluded.

    I agree with 1. I’m not too sure about 2.

    However, even if my natural mechanism for change doesn’t hold, I have faith and hope that a supernatural force will change the world eventually, even in our lifetime. It’s possible.

    I liken it to evolution. The theory of evolution works. However, it falls apart if something happens all of a sudden.

    Posted 05 Sep 2006 at 10:51 am
  37. gbm3 wrote:

    A big “thank you” to the people who responded to my questions in the original “This Saying is Hard” post.

    gbm3

    Posted 07 Sep 2006 at 10:37 am
  38. Tom Smith wrote:

    “Actually, no, the husband is not subordinate to the wife. Christ is not subordinate to the Church. His love is self-emptying and sacrificial, but the Church is always subordinate to Him and not the other way around.”

    I feel like I need to mention something here. Perhaps this leaves space for a middle position between those of Rob and Funky Dung. Christ is, in a certain limited sense, subordinate to the Church — remember that Christ invested the Apostles with the authority to bind and loose, and to forgive or retain sins on Earth and in Heaven. In this way, the Apostles and their successors decide when Christ’s power to forgive or retain sins should be used. So, in a very specific regard, Christ *is* subordinate to the Church. But we can’t take this proposition too far, because the Mystical Body of Christ and our Lord Jesus Christ are really one and the same Thing in a deep, ontological sense; hence, it is obvious that speaking of Christ and the Church as being at loggerheads is a nonsensical thing.

    Posted 12 Sep 2006 at 6:21 pm

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 1

  1. From Elige Ergo Vitam on 30 Aug 2006 at 1:41 am

    Many bloggers have also been blogging about the second reading from Mass this Sunday, from Ephesians 5:21-32. Domenico Bettinelli (Bettnet) says there’s no need to apologize for St. Paul. Gutter Ball Master (Ales Rarus) agrees, and wonders how many Catholics heard little or nothing about this reading during the homily. Gerald Augustinus (The Cafeteria Is Closed) perhaps takes a more moderate approach. We turn now to a match made in hell!

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