Monday, April 18, 2016

An Anti-Tradition tradition: Disobedience to 1st Timothy

Much is made among people concerned with the Church about hermeneutics. The folks one would generally conceive of as conservative speak of a hermeneutic of continuity, whereas those on the left have their ever annoying hermeneutic of progess. They call it progress, anyway, but is more like a ritualized hatred of one's ancestors.

So, I have a basic idea that the general horror we suffer under today was brought about by bureaucrats. Bureaucrats have been around for a long time, but they gained significant power when the idea of an absolute king was fashionable, and seized near total power as the revolutionary movement unfolded across the Earth.
Anyone who can truly hold them accountable for their crimes is gone- sometimes one bureaucrat is sacrificed for the sake of another, but few ever feel the full consequences of their crimes. This happened in Christian circles just as much as anywhere.

But, as much as I don't like bureaucrats, there's still a problem with this approach- bureaucrats can, when they are teaching error, refer back to things of an earlier age. Sometimes they merely misuse and abuse what is there; sometimes they find writings that are genuinely problematic and wave them around triumphantly.

But I begin to see a reason:

Anthusa, the Mother of St John Chrysostom (347-407):

Anthusa was an intelligent woman living in the city of Antioch in the 4th Century A.D. She was a woman of means, being married to Secundus, an illustrious officer in the Imperial Army of Syria. The city of Antioch was the starting point of the Apostle Paul’s three missionary journeys and was one of the four chief cities of the Roman Empire. Of its population of about two hundred thousand, half were thought to have been Christian.

It was in this setting that Anthusa bore a son who she named John. While John was an infant, Secundus died, leaving her widowed when she was about twenty years old. Although she had the means to give her son a good education, she dreaded bringing him up amid the corruptions of Antioch and decided to teach him at home for a time. But the burden of rearing him, she later declared, was lightened for her by God’s support and the joy of seeing in him the image of his father.

Anthusa decided not to marry again, feeling that her child must come before her own happiness. She devoted her life to her son, who showed high intelligence and a love for beauty. It was her goal to nurture in him the highest quality of Christian character. In his early years she taught him to love the Bible and encouraged him to study and learn it. She instilled in him an intimate knowledge of the Scriptures which served to help him later in life.

A hasty (likely not the best translation) 1st Timothy quote:

9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

11 As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. 12 Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. 13 Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to. 14 So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. 15 Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.

So, we have a younger widow who refuses to remarry, and, as we know from having any interaction at all with churchmen, we know they had no will to contradict her. She was wealthy, and they needed her money. Additionally, we see she is influential to her son, who, while growing up with a near inhuman capability to deny himself, did not do so well at actually being a bishop.

If we think about a wealthy young widow refusing to marry, we can know one of the key reasons might, in fact, be that she just didn't want to marry down. This is entirely possible, and is problematic to the community. The obvious temptation to the clergy is that, for every child she doesn't have, that's more resources for them, so they tend to forget the fact they were serving the God of the Living.

Now, one could be a little bit charitable to the celibate priests and monks, who would no doubt be sympathetic and a little bit naive about a wealthy young woman professing a desire to be like them. Unfortunately, there is no modern recognition that the celibates are what they are- the spiritual equivalent to a military force. Just as today, in the secular world, people are hard at work attempting to make people ignorant of the fact that women shouldn't be serving in the military, so too was this unfortunate coordination between wealthy women and clergy.

So, I suggest it may be possible to see this feminine influence on the Church as a proto-feminism, which, when taken together with gnostic influences pushed the Church in an unfortunate direction.

Of course, I expect even Anthusa would be aghast with the current pope and his childish assumptions, but we must ask ourselves why, can't tradition protect us from such nonsense? It is, is it not, because it is broken? That which we assume is tradition is not- this is something very clear to me because of the behavior of progressives- they will meddle with anything, just because, so that when you go back to it it doesn't work. But here we can see something relatively clear, and often identifiable, since many of those disobedient to 1st Timothy gained some renown. We even know, in this case, that she strongly influenced her son. I have a feeling her example was likely a lead cause in his inability to not make comments about the empress.

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