Sunday, December 29, 2013

The most offensive Scripture of all

Today is the feast of the Holy Family on the Novus Ordo calendar. It is notable for containing one of the selections from Scripture that are the most deeply offensive to modern ears:
Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another, 
if one has a grievance against another; 
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love, 
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, 
the peace into which you were also called in one body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, 
as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, 
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs 
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed, 
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, 
giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, 
as is proper in the Lord.

Husbands, love your wives, 
and avoid any bitterness toward them.
Children, obey your parents in everything, 
for this is pleasing to the Lord.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, 
so they may not become discouraged.
The final paragraph is so controversial that lectors have the option to omit it all together. When they've chosen to include it, I've heard priests get quite creative in rationalizing it away. They hem and haw and twist themselves into soggy pretzels explaining that St. Paul couldn't possibly have meant his words to be interpreted as they are plainly written. "Well, you have to understand that Paul was writing to primitive backwards people who were racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobic, etc."

"Yes, but he meant that husbands and wives must submit to each other equally."

"Oh, well he only meant it to apply to husbands who are worth submitting to, which all of you men in the congregation probably aren't."

I've heard variations on those themes from the pulpit almost every time those readings come up. In one sense it's understandable that priests would be reluctant to take them head on. Women pretty much run the Church bureaucracy and Father is all too aware of what side his bread is buttered on. If he offends too many feminists, he'll get called down to the chancery to be scolded over how "divisive" and "unpastoral" he is. Eventually he'll be banished to wherever it is the diocese thinks he'll do the least damage such as hospital or prison ministry.

St. Joseph was married to God's greatest creation. He was the foster father of God's own Incarnate Son. Both the future Queen of Heaven and the future Crucified One submitted to his headship of the Holy Family. Headship does not mean dictatorship. It means that whatever decisions the wife makes, the husband has the final say. Think of it like the relationship between a captain and his first officer. Ideally, the captain can trust his first officer to make sound decisions in fulfilling her duties. The first officer always defers to the captain. Theirs is not a master/slave relationship, but one based on hierarchy.

We moderns don't like structure and hierarchy. I don't know who has the stranger life, the submitting husband or the commanding wife. I do know they're both unhappy with that arrangement, no matter what they may say for public consumption. If a husband cedes leadership of the household to his wife, she will quickly come to despise him with a seething contempt that not even rapists can inspire. It's not a coincidence that frivolous divorces have risen in direct proportion to the ascendancy of feminism as a public principle.

I expect godless heathens would have a problem with the word of God. It's more than a little disappointing to see feminism make such deep inroads among Christians who ought to know better.


  1. Didn't you once have a really excellent LiveJournal blog?

  2. I knew it was you! How amazing that I should chance upon you here, after so much time, and still recognize you just from your writing style. I spoke harshly to you back then, and broke off our acquaintanceship for small and petty reasons, and for that I owe you an apology. You're a good man, Mr. Beckman. God be with you.

    1. Thank you. That's very kind. How did you find me?

  3. A Google search for fallacious public education policy, or something along those lines. If my memory serves me correctly, you once knew me as "enfarcer" on LJ...