I submit that there are limits

February 1, 2013 § 32 Comments

The Catechism of the Council of Trent:

It is then the duty of the husband to treat his wife liberally and honourably : it should not be forgotten that Eve was called by Adam ” his companion :” ” The woman,” says he, ” whom thou gavest me as a companion.” Hence it was, according to the opinion of some of the Holy Fathers, that she was formed not from the feet but from the side of man ; as, on the other hand, she was not formed from his head, in order to give her to understand that it was not hers to command but to obey her husband. The husband should also be constantly occupied in some honest pursuit, with a view as well to provide necessaries for his family, as to avoid the languor of idleness, the root of almost every vice. He is also to keep all his family in order, to correct their morals, fix their respective employments, and see that they Duties of a discharge them with fidelity.

On the other hand, the duties of a wife are thus summed up by the prince of the Apostles : ” Let wives be subject to their husbands ; that if any believe not the word, they may be won without the word, by the conversation of the wives ; considering your chaste conversation with fear : whose adorning let it not be the outward plaiting of the hair, or the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel, but the hidden man of the heart in the incorruptibility of a quiet and meek spirit, which is rich in the sight of God. For after this manner, heretofore, the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord.” 3 To train up their children in the practice of virtue, and to pay particular attention to their domestic concerns, should also be especial objects of their attention and study. Unless compelled by necessity to go abroad, they should also cheerfully remain at home ; and should never leave home without the permission of their husbands. Again, and in this the conjugal union chiefly consists, let them never forget that, next to God, they are to love their husbands, to esteem them above all others, yielding to them, in all things not inconsistent with Christian piety, a willing and obsequious obedience.

(Emphasis mine)

This is consistent with the more general teaching that:

In the case of the positive moral precepts, prudence always has the task of verifying that they apply in a specific situation, for example, in view of other duties which may be more important or urgent. But the negative moral precepts, those prohibiting certain concrete actions or kinds of behaviour as intrinsically evil, do not allow for any legitimate exception. They do not leave room, in any morally acceptable way, for the “creativity” of any contrary determination whatsoever. Once the moral species of an action prohibited by a universal rule is concretely recognized, the only morally good act is that of obeying the moral law and of refraining from the action which it forbids.

(Emphasis again mine)

§ 32 Responses to I submit that there are limits

  • Elspeth says:

    Can of worms, LOL!

  • Elspeth says:

    What I meant was this bold part?

    ,in all things not inconsistent with Christian piety,

    This is where it gets tricky. It’s ambiguous wording, unless my understanding is off. It’s why I usually prefer to say that a wife should submit in anything that is not blatantly sinful (as outlined in Scripture)..

    That said, I appreciate this Catholic position. It’s far clearer than what most of us get from Protestant direction.

  • Zippy says:

    Elspeth:
    My suspicion is that this is one of those subjects that is unlikely – the full truth of it is unlikely – to sit comfortably with much of anyone.

    Many ‘manosphere’ types won’t like it that yes, women are moral agents and yes, they are responsible for their acts and no, “my husband made me do it” isn’t a moral disinfectant.

    On the other hand simply seeing this in black and white at all is likely an uncomfortable experience for many others.

    “Things not inconsistent with Christian piety” is vague but it isn’t that vague.

  • Dalrock says:

    Many ‘manosphere’ types won’t like it that yes, women are moral agents and yes, they are responsible for their acts and no, “my husband made me do it” isn’t a moral disinfectant.

    Which “manosphere types”? Do you mean the players? The MRA/MGTOWers? The ones who support traditional marriage? This is not that different than saying “those internet types”. It doesn’t really mean anything.

    But speaking for the pro marriage segment (to the extent that I really can) I would say this isn’t really worthy of objection. We discussed this at length on Cane Caldo’s post Advocates Under Authority. Of course women are moral agents. In fact, if anything my disagreement with more mainstream Trad Cons is their assertion that players have a moral obligation to stay away from sluts because women can’t be expected to behave morally. Both the sluts and the players have the same moral obligation regarding fornication, and each tempts the other. In fact, you can see Gabriella and I having this very exchange on Cane Caldo’s post.

  • Pilgrim says:

    whose adorning let it not be the outward plaiting of the hair, or the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel, but the hidden man of the heart in the incorruptibility of a quiet and meek spirit, which is rich in the sight of God.

    A little off the subject of these comments, but my question is, is it wrong for a woman to try to look pretty – wear makeup, pretty hairstyle, attractive clothes? Where does one draw the line?

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:
    No, I hadn’t seen it. How one should act toward a legitimate authority when that authority attempts to command one to do evil is a pretty broad and deep subject. A good, respectful attitude which does not pretend to in any way undermine his legitimate authority is a basic requirement under my understanding of authority.

    We’ve covered the subject of the limits of authority here before in different contexts of government authority, a property owner’s authority, etc. My position has been that the ‘license to disobey’ – which is really an inherent limitation on the juridical authority of husband/owner/government, not a permission slip for disobedience – is very circumscribed. In my view the ‘disobedience’ is permissible (actually mandatory) when the authority attempts to create a moral obligation to do evil, that authority in general does not obtain outside of its defined spheres, but that authority to command morally good acts within the sphere of juridical authority remains intact even for the ‘tyrant’.

    To simplify a complex discussion: a legitimate authority has the capacity to create moral obligations. That’s what “authority” means. By definition he cannot create moral obligations to do something immoral. Furthermore, the notion that authority is limitless even in the sphere of commanding morally neutral acts just sets us up for the tyranny/anarchy antinomy. So all earthly authority has limits outside of which the tyrant merely pretends to create moral obligation: there is no actual moral obligation in such a case.

    Legal positivists and other critics have proposed that once an authority attempts to command evil he abdicates his authority completely, in all things. I think that is ridiculous: it is just the anarchy side of the anarcho-tyranny coin.

    Dalrock:
    This is not that different than saying “those internet types”.

    Hah! Good point. I’m still getting used to the mosaic with a name.

  • Zippy says:

    Pilgrim:
    A little off the subject of these comments, but my question is, is it wrong for a woman to try to look pretty – wear makeup, pretty hairstyle, attractive clothes? Where does one draw the line?

    My view is that reasonableness lies somewhere between, and a great distance from, both the burka and the slut walk. As with asceticism, though, it is probably prudent to bias things more toward the burka given the context of the society we live in.

  • Dalrock says:

    @Zippy
    How one should act toward a legitimate authority when that authority attempts to command one to do evil is a pretty broad and deep subject. A good, respectful attitude which does not pretend to in any way undermine his legitimate authority is a basic requirement under my understanding of authority.

    We’ve covered the subject of the limits of authority here before in different contexts of government authority, a property owner’s authority, etc. My position has been that the ‘license to disobey’ – which is really an inherent limitation on the juridical authority of husband/owner/government, not a permission slip for disobedience – is very circumscribed.

    I think this is the key. There is a legitimate question as to how far a husband’s authority goes, but 99% of the time the challenges in this area are really a challenge to the very idea of a husband having authority. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the feminist age we live in. There is a legitimate discussion there, it is just that very seldom is that the actual topic of discussion despite the stated pretext.

    Making this worse is the tendency of Christian leaders to fuel the flames of rebellion. Empath recently dissected a sermon on his blog where the pastor suggested the problem with Christian marriage is husbands saying “go get me some chips”. This is cowardice designed to appease the wives who are in rebellion and cut husbands off at the knees. The whole frame denies 40+ (really much, much more) years of feminism and pretends that husbands are on the rampage. Likewise I saw a book on husbands leading their wives in prayer the other day. The very first endorsement was a pastor claiming that his wife is “light years closer to God” than he is, and therefore “men need a plan”. Men do need a plan, but being chopped in half by the man who should be supporting him isn’t a good start.

    The problem is dumping on the average Christian husband is the only easy option. He is the only one not in rebellion, and therefore he is willing, even eager, to take correction.

  • DeNihilist says:

    No one has the authority to tell, force, coerce another to sin! Not even a husband. Zippy, if my father had countananced me to rob a bank, then yes, his reign of authority is over. Point blank! No get out of goal free card.

    IMO, Florita has every right to boot that degenerates ass right out of their home! There are times, when a woman seeks seperation that are justified, and this is one of them!

  • Zippy says:

    DeNihilist:
    No one has the authority to tell, force, coerce another to sin!

    Agreed. Because “authority” by definition means the creation of moral obligations, there can be no authority to command immoral acts.

    However, it is not true that a person with authority loses that authority across the board just because he sometimes attempts (and fails) to create moral obligations to do evil.

    In general, we tend to try to undercut authority because authority is human and therefore flawed. Authority which falls short of perfection is presupposed to be no authority at all. Because all human beings fall short of perfection, this makes real authority impossible.

    This is the same anti-authority trick that John Wyclif and the Lollards used to attack Catholic ecclesiology, and it is the same thing that drives the destruction of standards by insisting that any standard which in practice has non-uniform results is a double-standard. In the end it is just outrage that men are not God, and yet men still have real authority.

    IMO, Florita has every right to boot that degenerates ass right out of their home!

    I wasn’t rendering a judgement on a particular case here, even in the comments. At first I wondered what you were talking about; but it must be the specific case Cane linked to. Having gone back and re-read those few comments, I don’t agree that there are grounds for separation expressed in them. (There is doubtless more to the story — I’m giving my view on the comment content, not the full situation whatever it may be).

    There are times, when a woman seeks seperation that are justified, …

    Agreed. Actual violence is an obvious one. But a husband’s petty wrongs aren’t good grounds to deprive children of their father. Cane’s advice is sound in my view: calmly decline to do evil, but don’t turn that into grounds for nuclear rebellion.

  • DeNihilist says:

    Hmm, I see the authority of the the father doing illegal and immoral acts as a signal to the children that these things are fine. As recent studies are showing, the father can have a strong impression on the children,

    http://www.canada.com/life/parenting/Traditional+dads+more+likely+raise+girlie+girls+says+researcher/7882118/story.html

    even their daughters. By turning a blind eye to his transgressions, in my mind, the mother is abdicating her moral duties to her children. As discussed in the most recent threads, mercy is not turning away from the sin and forgiving without the sinning party taking full responsibility and contrition for their sins. If either parent is immoral or doing illegal things, the other parent is justified, IMO, to go nuclear, if their is no contrition.

    You state that authority is the state of creating moral obligations. How is Cane’s advice of going on bended knee and accepting this type of authority, Christian or moral?

  • Zippy says:

    DeNihilist:
    I agree that when parents act immorally that sets a bad example for kids. So does breaking up the family over stealing cable.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @DeNihilist

    I thought you might have come back to this.

    As recent studies are showing, the father can have a strong impression on the children,

    http://www.canada.com/life/parenting/Traditional+dads+more+likely+raise+girlie+girls+says+researcher/7882118/story.html

    even their daughters.

    Interesting notion there, that I put in bold. “Fathers are SO POWERFUL they can even corrupt impress their moral superiors.”

    Of course it strikes you, a feminist, as depravity to use the feminine wiles of submission to steer that patriarchal force to good–to Hell with the kids, family, fathers, and especially husband/fathers. No, no! We’ll have none of that: We didn’t pluck that fruit of godlike knowledge for nothing! You’ll be damned rather than bend your neck after all that.

    Poor DeNIhilist: It must have killed you to read how thrilled Florita was to hear the Word. The Sheep really do know the sound of their Shepherd’s voice.

  • RUs says:

    DeNihilist, there are extremely few fathers in the world who are without sin, and there are certainly many good men around (perhaps all of them) who have convinced themselves that certain sins are not really sins. It’s easy to imagine men who may erroneously (I think) believe that there is nothing tangible stolen when they hook in for free cable. After all, most were raised in the context of free TV over the airwaves. You can argue how wrong or stupid they are if you want, but that doesn’t change their moral situation, and it doesn’t disqualify them from being a good father. Therefore, when you say “If either parent is immoral or doing illegal things, the other parent is justified, IMO, to go nuclear, if their is no contrition.” you pretty much justify the destruction of all families everywhere today and throughout history. You have forgotten some of the most basic lessons of Christianity, my friend.

    It’s worth noting that probably the main reason it is a sin for the father to steal cable is because the valid authority over commerce laws that govern electronic media says it is, and the reason a man might be convinced it is not a sin is because he rejects authority–perhaps even on the basis of the body of authority engaging in immoral behaviors. Such a relationship with authority and the justifications to break the authority’s laws are very much like what you are encouraging.

  • DeNihilist says:

    Zippy. it is more then stealing cable, this guy threatens his family by driving them when he is impaired, has his wife falsely sign tax forms, etc. In this case, IMO, it may be better for the kids and wife to go nuclear. Of course if the father follows the pattern of some know, he probably moved his wife and kids to a town where she can get no support, so she just may have to stick out the toxic situation longer.

    Cane, Zippy’s rule here applies, don’t analyze me over the net. You are way off about my thoughts and feelings on feminism.

    So a teacher signs a morality clause, breaks it, and we all agree that she should take her punishment like a “man”. Yet when a father breaks his implied morality clause, to lead his family, and as Zippy puts it, “Because “authority” by definition means the creation of moral obligations.”
    He’s given a pass. Why, because he is a man, so therefore our standards for him are lower? Nope. The standards have to be higher, because he is supposed to be the moral authority for himself and HIS family. But hey, you know what, God works in mysterious ways, so maybe Florita can pronate herself before her husband and not get walked on, who knows.

    RUs, like Zippy you are only looking at the corporal sins. I am talking about the moral sins. He forces his family to get into a car whilst he is impaired, etc. He is supposed to be the leader, the one his family looks to for guidance. This is not about cable, this is about the abuse of authority. It is also, to me, about how we agree that the teacher was justifiably terminated, but this father should be given a chance, shown mercy, for his leading his family away from God. That doesn’t work for me.

  • DeNihilist says:

    Oh yeah, Cane. I went back to that study to show just how wrong most feminists and their lackey’s are about the impression a father has on his children. We are far more powerful in directing our childrens future lives then what has been suspected.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @DeNihilist

    Cane, Zippy’s rule here applies, don’t analyze me over the net. You are way off about my thoughts and feelings on feminism.

    The application of Zippy’s rule is a good rule for two ships passing on the high seas: only pirates attack unbidden. However; if you fly the flag of feminists, I’m going to blow holes in you, and celebrate your demise.

  • DeNihilist says:

    Cane, LMAO!

    Let’s not take this thread off topic. Suffice to say you do not have a clue.

  • Zippy says:

    DeNihilist:
    this guy threatens his family by driving them when he is impaired, has his wife falsely sign tax forms, etc.

    Nobody has advised her to go along with those things. Quite the contrary. The disagreement is over how she should go about refraining from doing them.

    So a teacher signs a morality clause, breaks it, and we all agree that she should take her punishment like a “man”. Yet when a father breaks his implied morality clause, to lead his family, …

    I’d suggest that equating cessation of writing a paycheck to blowing up one’s family is more like what my critics did in that discussion (e.g. drawing moral equivalence between refraining from writing further paychecks and stoning to death).

    and as Zippy puts it, “Because “authority” by definition means the creation of moral obligations.”

    That is precisely what authority is, when it is legitimate. When a person in authority asserts that authority legitimately, this creates specific moral obligations for those under authority.

  • DeNihilist says:

    Ah, I see. We are looking at the glass from different perspectives. I get your point now, I think.

    I am seeing what I consider a destructive force for the childrens’ rearing and the wife’s well being. My opinion is coloured here, as I had a friend who was married and had 2 kids. He would leave for golf and cocaine trips with another buddy, sometimes for 2 weeks. The destruction he had on his children was palpable. She finally nuked him, and last time I saw her and the boys, they seemed well mannered and confident. I am sure that they would not have been that way if she had kept him in their lives.

    You are seeing it from another perspective all together, You are looking at what options are open to the wife, that she may be able to bring her husband in line. May be possible, but in my experience, not the way Cane suggested. If this guy is anything like my ex friend, he will take this submissive attitude as sign of complete control and things will only get worse.

    But as I said, my view is quite jaundiced in these circumstances.

  • Zippy says:

    DeNihilist:
    As I mentioned before, it is impossible for me to pass judgement on the actual situation from a few comments. Heaven only knows what it is, and I’m frankly grateful that I don’t. If I can die without knowing everyone on earth’s dirty laundry in detail I’ll die that much happier a man.

    All I can do is comb the actual comment for substantive grounds for the nuclear option, being careful not to read any of my own prejudices into the words of another person; and when I do that to the best of my ability, I come up empty.

    The same could be said of the situation with the fired teacher. All I can pass judgement on is the public information (a bit more extensive but still obviously limited). Given that information, and given that those who condemn the school do so on a manifestly specious reframe of ‘mercy’ to mean something different from actual mercy, I conclude as I do. But as I mentioned in my very first post on the incident, revelation of new information might change my judgement.

  • RUs says:

    RUs, like Zippy you are only looking at the corporal sins.

    No. I gave one example, and you, for some reason, want to extract the morality out of that particular sin. By definition sin pertains to morality. Do I have to use the tautological “sin against morality” in order to be understood by you? I’m discussing morality, whether you relegate some sin to merely “corporeal” or not. You wrote the line I quoted as some general, non-specific principle, and the principle is clearly wrong, as Zippy’s continued discussion reveals.

  • DeNihilist says:

    Hey RUs, as stated above, I am possibly too close to this from my own experiences. Accept my apologies for reading past your points.

  • Laceagate says:

    DeNihilist, I think you’re using your personal experiences and observations with too much weight here.

    The main point Zippy’s making is to use a degree of discernment within the context of being a submissive wife, in a woman’s case. No, no one is forcing Florita’s hand in those decisions and I daresay, her willingness to go along with everything without even such a question places just as much blame on her. Have you ever read the book The Excellent Wife?

    In the book, the author outlines how a wife is supposed to use her judgment when decisions are made which are clearly wrong– and a wife is not absolved of her responsibility in using such judgment simply because she has “covering.” In other words, exercise prudence.

    Every wife had to go through that some time or another. The problem is this issue is limited to the black-and-white.

  • Scott W. says:

    Placeholder comment–last night’s Downton Abbey featured a kerfuffle over a former prostitute hired to work as a cook. I know a certain other blogger watches the show. Let’s see if we get an entry comparing Zippy to Lord Grantham. 🙂

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  • Cane Caldo says:

    @DeNihilist

    I obviously didn’t get your sarcasm at the time. My apologies.

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