Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Divine Grammar

Now that I have been "noticed" I feel a certain liberating permission to blog on. I feel almost like my Lutheran days, blogging boldly! All right, Ogden, let's not let this get to our head, shall we?

In my "managed posts" section I have had a saved draft for ages called "Divine Grammar." This was something that occurred to me during the readings of the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time. Specifically, a much feared reading from Ephesians.

Well, I don't fear it, and instead ...

Well, I don't fear it, and instead I am going to proclaim what I think has been centrally missed during all the fretting. The Disputations Inspiration is prodding me to finish and post this, late though it is.

Now, by this point you're wondering what I am talking about, don't you? I am talking about the "wives be subordinate to your husbands" verses, Ephesians 5:21-32

The main charge against this passage, and what tends to embarrass our High, Enlightened sensibilities (the same sensibilities that have given a green light to abortion and the "contraceptive mentality", mind you) is that it appears to be unequal at best, misogynistic at worst.

My argument? It is neither. My argument is that since these Grand Statements have two different subjects, in the Divine Grammar, the "verbs" must be different, so that there is just agreement between the verb and the subject, just as in Human Grammar. The different subjects may have different verbs, but the action being asked of them is the same. They are both asked to imitate Christ.

Consider ... Since the Apostle began with the wife, I will begin with her. She is being asked to imitate Christ's fathomless Love, by emptying herself before her husband, as Christ did. Why? So that she can save her husband, as Christ saved Humanity. Consider Philippians:

Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.


Total self-denial for the salvation of others. It is what Christ did for us, and it is what wives are called to do for their husbands.

But the husband too is asked to do the same thing. He is asked to love the wife as Christ loves the Church. And how did Christ love the Church? By suffering even death on a cross for the salvation of her members. How can the husband do so? By patient sacrifice out of love, working for her salvation.

Both, therefore, are being asked to do the same thing: save each others souls. But women and men are different, masculine and feminine in the Divine Grammar. Thus, in order to make the Divine Sentences "work" the subjects and verbs must agree, although the end is precisely the same. Husbands and wives must sacrifice in self-denial for the salvation of their spouses.

So this is why the "short form" make me cringe. We have become squeamish about the "wives be subordinate" part. We ought to rather proclaim it proudly, sloughing off this cowardice. There is something to fear in this? How can there be? When seen properly, it can only be celebrated.

This also reminds me to do a piece that has been running around in my head about "close readings" and why they are so desperately needed in regards to the Holy Scripture.

I will let the Apostle have the last word, "Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord."

2 comments:

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Ogden Chichester said...

Beautiful. Thanks, Vamps.