Thar Be Monsters in our Sea of Chivalry

Game/MTGOW and Feminism aren’t Christians’ problems except as they appeal to Christians because modern Christian practice is both anti-Christian AND a losing proposition. Our problem is that Christians don’t actually believe in the word of God. They don’t believe that–as whole beings–women are weaker than men…even though we all observe it every day. They don’t believe that it is good that God gave women fathers and husbands to rule them… even though we live in a society of liberated whores. They don’t believe that women are more easily deceived…even though marketing and scams are overwhelmingly aimed at susceptible women.

What Christians actually practice is chivalry because they believe that chivalry is “real” Christianity”. Chivalry is the water in which Feminism and Game/MTGOW swim; what is necessary for their existence. If we want Feminism and Game/MTGOW to go away, we have to destroy the cultural environment created by chivalry.


Repurposed from this comment at Dalrock’s.

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An Example of the Difference Between Deception and Capitulation

For Donal Graeme, Moose Norseman, and Deep Strength; who are thinking through how men and women differently go astray.

Helen wakes and gets ready to see Tom; whom she desires. She does as she has been taught women do to get a man’s attention; what every woman she knows does. She shaves her legs. To her face she applies concealer, powder, lipstick, rouge, mascara, and eyeshadow. She films her dyed and highlighted hair with potions, and blow-dries it into a shape that defies its natural tendencies. Hose tightens and disguises her cellulite, while heels sculpt her legs and buttocks to appear longer and more pert. She puts on a bra that bulks her breasts before lifting and separating them. She tops it all with a frock which gives the appearance of bigger breasts, a smaller waist, and longer legs, and a spritzes herself with perfume to make herself smell different. She is pleased with herself, and thinks this is good for her and Tom; especially if it makes him love her.

Tom sees Helen. He is Texan and crass, and so he says to himself, “I believe I’d drink her dirty bath water.” Of course he believes nothing of the kind. It’s a funny thing to say (in a crass way, of course) because Tom knows drinking dirty bath water is foul, and wrong; just like fornicating with Helen. It’s an admittance that he’d give up his wisdom and respect for a chance to indulge himself in her deception, and her in her arrogance. He is not deceived about the nature of the event. He’s making a choice in full knowledge of what is right and wrong.

Did Helen deceive Tom with her appearance? Somewhat. He is aware it’s a show, and that it’s a show of an available woman. But keep in mind: In order to deceive Tom into believing she is more beautiful than she is, Helen has invested more than two hours in a campaign against her natural state. It is an elaborate and precarious setup which could not survive a washing. If Tom is fooled, then it is because the preparation was so intense.

To Helen he says, “What a lovely-looking lady”; whom he is not loving, and who is not a lady.

She falls immediately for his two-second line.

Recoiling from Resounding Resentment

Dalrock’s latest post challenged the findings of the authors of this paper, “Divorce Rates Have Halved for New Wives. Why?” and took some umbrage at the suggestion that men doing better is a plausible reason for women to not choose divorce. He quotes the conclusion of The Marriage Foundation paper:

Because it is almost entirely the reduction of wife-granted divorces concentrated into the early years of marriage that accounts for the overall 22% reduction in divorce rates since the 1993 peak, any explanation for this phenomenon has to account for wives being less prone to divorce. By far the most plausible explanation relates to wives perception of husbands.

In other words, husbands are doing better during the early years of marriage.

Which he rejects:

The paper he cites to back up his assertion that men’s commitment matters in marriage and women’s doesn’t is Commitment: Functions, Formation, and the Securing of Romantic Attachment.  Strangely I can’t find such a claim being made in that paper.

In the comments he goes on to say:

The reason which immediately came to my mind is 1) Women are marrying later in the UK (as I referenced here). 2) Older women divorce at much lower rates than younger women. The basic thesis is the same though, that perceived remarriage opportunities are lower. EPL isn’t about a one time family detonation, but about trading up.

and

[W]hat I found so noteworthy about the part I quoted was after he shared some astounding statistics showing that new wives were becoming far better at honoring their commitments in the UK, this was then immediately reprocessed as proof that new husbands must have suddenly had greater commitment to their marriages. This kind of doublethink is truly impressive. There isn’t even a hint of cognitive dissonance.

I think it’s possible that there’s no hint of cognitive dissonance because there’s no doublethink at play. From “Benson 2012 Marriage…”:

This gender-specific finding strongly suggests men are doing better in the early years of marriage.

It seems that what they mean by “doing better” is “getting their way” in the relationship; whether that is a choice to stay or to leave. To wit:

The rate at which wives have been granted divorce has fallen 27% during the first ten years of marriage compared to a rise of 1% for husbands. The most striking reduction is a 51% fall in the rate at which divorces are granted to wives during the first three years.

First off: Basically everyone who wants a divorce gets one. So, presumably, everyone who wants to stay married doesn’t file because they already have what they want, and everyone who does file gets the divorce they want, but the other spouse who did not file does not. Those spouses on the receiving end of divorce are not “doing better”, but “doing badly”, i.e., not “getting their way”.

Second, husbands are choosing to leave their wives in about the same percentages as they have for the last several decades; even going up 1%. (The husbands who file maintain “getting their way”, and the husbands who are not filed upon also “get their way”.) Yet wives are choosing to leave their husbands at slightly less than half the rate they they previously were. This suggests that wives are happy to continue in marriage as their path of “getting their way”; whereas before twice as many wives were filing to “get their way”. Since neither the laws and demographics have not changed, and since everyone who wants a divorce can have one: The authors of Benson 2012 Marriage Foundation have concluded that since women are happier with their husbands, (and not much else has changed) then some husbands have changed how they go about the marriage. Hence: “Doing better”.

In the early years of a relationship, constraints can be added either by deliberate intent – “deciding” – or by happenstance – “sliding”. But whether deliberate or not, every important relationship transition – such as sleeping together, moving in together, having a baby, getting married – adds an extra constraint, crucially making it marginally harder to leave and easier to stay even if things are not going well. This short term pressure to stay in a less than ideal situation is usually called “inertia” (Stanley et al, 2006) but can also be thought of as “premature entanglement” (Glenn, 2002).

[…]

Amongst couples who had been married for five years, men who cohabit before getting engaged (some “sliders”, some “deciders”) tend to have consistently lower levels of dedication compared both to men who get engaged before cohabiting (“deciders” only) and also to women in both categories. The order of events — moving in and getting engaged — thus appears to matter in some way a lot more to men than to women (Rhoades et al, 2009). The researchers concluded that some men were “sliding” into a relationship, getting stuck because of the “inertia” of cohabitation, and thus not fully “deciding” even when they got married. In other words, men’s commitment is specifically dependent on “deciding” whereas women’s commitment is relatively independent of “sliding” or “deciding”.

But, where did Benson 2012 Marriage Foundations get that it was specifically men’s “deciding” for commitment (as opposed to “sliding” into commitment )that was driving this change; instead of women’s sliding or deciding commitment? From “Commitment: Functions, Formation, and the Securing of Romantic Attachment” (by Rhoades et al):

The tendency of individuals to sacrifice, or forego immediate self-interest for the good of the partner or relationship, is strongly dependent on the presence of commitment. Not only does commitment predict the number of sacrifices performed for partners (Van Lange et al., 1997), it also is associated with both the degree to which individuals feel satisfied with sacrificing for their partner’s benefit (Stanley & Markman, 1992) and their willingness to sacrifice (Van Lange et al., 1997; Wieselquist et al., 1999). Whitton, Stanley, and Markman (2007) showed that commitment to the relationship’s future is strongly related to whether or not day-to-day relationship sacrifices are perceived as harmful to the self—especially for men

.

In other words: Does the man feel he is making sacrifices for a person and relationship he has deliberately chosen and is purposefully building; or is he making sacrifices for a relationship that he has found himself in by external forces; love, pregnancy, fear of being alone, etc.? If it’s the former, then his commitment for the long haul is strengthened. If it is the latter, then that sacrifice is a drain on his commitment; even if if marginally increases short-term inertia to stay in the relationship. Wives who feel this lack of commitment and the resentful sacrifice are more likely to choose divorce as the path to “getting their way”.

This is explained further in this section from “Commitment: Functions, etc.”:

Stanley and colleagues (2004) assessed dedication commitment in a random national (U.S.) sample to compare married respondents who did or did not cohabit premaritally. We found that married men who lived with their wives prior to marriage reported significantly less dedication to their wives than those who did not cohabit before marriage. This finding led to speculation that the well-replicated risks associated with premarital cohabitation may, in part, be due to a subset of couples in which the men were always less committed to their partners but were nevertheless propelled by the greater constraints of cohabitation into marriage. We call this phenomenon inertia, which is the property in physics representing the amount of energy it would take to move an object from its present trajectory or position to another. We suggest that living together, especially when sharing a single address, makes it relatively more difficult than dating without cohabiting for a couple to veer from a path toward a future together, even into marriage (see Stanley, Rhoades et al., 2006).Glenn (2002) referred to a similar risk to mate selection, called premature entanglement, which interferes with the search for a good fit between partners.

Now, we don’t see the number data here because those are tucked away in a boatload of other studies these two papers (“Benson 2012 Marriage etc.” and “Commitment: Functions, etc.”) reference, but if we believe they are reading those tucked-away numbers correctly, then they’ve got a pretty good argument (not definitive, but pretty good) for how male leadership itself at the various phases of relationship transition (engagement, cohabitation, pregnancy, etc.–and all the sacrifices that go with them) is its own incentive for the wife to stay; to choose continuing the marriage as her path to “getting her way”. They’re seeing that this “leadership incentive” the husband provides can outweigh those other incentives that push women to choose “getting their way” via divorce; which persist even now just as forcefully as they have over the last several decades as neither laws nor demographics have changed remarkably enough to account for a 27% drop in wife-granted divorce.

Hence: “Men are doing better”; most specifically at “deciding commitment” leading to continued marriage. I find that extraordinarily encouraging and hopeful because there are ghosts of Christian marriage haunting those studies. Yet…they are scaring the hell out of men who nurse resentment for their sacrifices; who are self-righteous towards their spouses; who did not and do not choose to decide commitment to their wives, but rather slid into it by guilt, lust, happenstance, or whatever.

The thing is: They can change that today.  And while it is no guarantee that wives will follow the freely-given sacrificial commitment into happy marriage, God will still be glorified, and such men will still be doing better.

I have every confidence that Dalrock is not one of those resentful men. My suspicion is that he (like all of us about many different topics) has over-estimated human preferences for material incentives; specifically of women, and even including “trading up husbands” among those materialist incentives. It’s a classic error of the free-market economist. Good company; all things considered.

Willow Creek Pick-Up

Christian congregations across the Western world have been losing congregants for decades, if not longer. To combat this problem, in 1992 Bill Hybels started Willow Creek, and that church became a movement and a system, called “Willow Creek”.

Basically, it was a huge re-branding service that sold the idea that the problem with church was that it was seen as “churchy”. It is characterized by things such as describing itself as “seeker-friendly”; meaning non-confrontational, and throwing out the window repentant, discerning, yoke-ing bits of the Gospel. Things like: “You’re a sinner, and you’re in danger of Hell.”, “Becoming someone new means to stop being the old you, and that means behaving differently.” No more “First Baptist of Nowheresville”. Instead the Willow Creek system would recommend something like, “The Center of Overcoming Faith”; an unfortunate yet fitting descriptor.

What was defenestrated were several of the pillars of Christianity, and in its place was brought in marketing and psychology. People were no longer sinners, they were potential consumers of Christianity. The goal of the church was shifted away from boring old repentance and discipline, and towards convincing them that Christianity was pleasant, helpful, harmless, and comfortable; that it would improve your life both in quality and quantity. People in sales and marketing like to call those who buy many and varied things “discerning”; a fact that is belied by their multiplicity and variance. It was the Gospel stripped of all nutrients, coated in sugar, and believers as consumers.

Think of this method as the applied psychology of churching. Churches being Christians institutions, you could call this disaster for American Christianity: Christian Game.

Sheepwolves

There’s a concept that’s popular among right-leaning people, [1], and it goes like this:

There are three kinds of people in the world: Sheep (who cannot defend themselves), Wolves (who use violence to prey on the sheep) and Sheepdogs (who use violence against the wolves to protect the sheep).

People will tell you that they like this metaphor because sheepdogs do good work; that the sheepdog’s willingness to meet wolves with wolf-like violence is an expression of its true love for the sheep. To those people, the sheepdog is special because–like wolves–it has claws, fangs, strength, speed, and that it delights in the hunt, and in the kill; yet the sheepdog is on the side of the sheep, and that this is called righteousness.

This belief is how police officers (those conservative heroes) become paramilitary units; how they justify themselves (proclaim their righteousness or excuse their unrighteousness) when they kick down the wrong door; murder pets; slaughter children; abuse and embarrass innocent people. Because the more closely a person believes that what makes sheepdogs special is the sheepdog’s likeness to wolves (possession and desire to use claws, fangs, etc.) the more likely that person is to prefer the sheepdog metaphor.

Cops will tell you that they do what they do–whatever that is–out of love for the people. It’s a deep deception that corrupts the officer because he begins to think he is the source of that love. Then, having made himself the source of love for the people, he begins to think that what he does as cop (particularly the use of violence) is “real love”, as opposed to whatever it is that all those who are not officers do. Whatever that is, it’s not “real love” because “real love” includes the desire to do violence, so non-officer don’t “really love”. Now he’s not only the source of love, but separate from them. He begins to think that whatever he does is born of love, and can justify to himself any action he takes–especially violent–as an act of love. This is called self-righteousness; which is wicked. We recognize it when SWAT teams bust into a house, and shoot a little girl.

It also misses the point of sheepdogs. The more a dog emphasizes its natural dog-ness the more likely that it will start cannibalizing the herd, because the nature of a dog is very much like the nature of a wolf. What is really interesting and useful about sheepdogs is not their dog-ness (their resemblance to wolves) but that–despite their natural resemblance to wolves–they pursue resemblance to shepherds. Sheepdogs, like shepherds, spend the great majority of their time leading, corralling, watching, and instructing the flock; walking, barking, and nipping at the sheep. A good sheepdog does not pursue threats to the herd, but deters them, and–once threats are deterred–returns to the herd, and concerns itself with keeping the herd together.

The cause of this is not love for the sheep–although that often develops–but love for the shepherd. The best sheepdogs seek the shepherd’s approval above all things; receive sustenance from the the shepherd’s hand. They revel in the shepherd’s triumph over the wolves even if it was their own fangs which the shepherd used to do it, because they recognize that it was the shepherd’s investment in them that delivered the wolf into their mouths. They celebrate the shepherd. Another way of saying this is that really good sheepdogs are just extensions of the shepherd; that they are, in fact, little shepherds.

In addition to what I’ve said above: Shepherds have a much longer and greater pedigree than sheepdogs. Why, then, don’t truth-loving, God-fearing, Bible-clinging, gun-toting Americans or other Westerners just pursue the life of a shepherd instead of doing this song-and-dance about sheepdogs? It’s because they believe shepherds are weak, stupid, dirty, and boring. (Sounding like the perception of fathers and husbands yet?) They’d rather be wolf-like “for” the sheep; they want to be Sheepwolves.

Sheepwolves, though, don’t exist. They never have because not only are they not real, they are impossible. They’re just wolves without any sense at all. The senselessness of would-be sheepwolves is apparent because “sheepwolves” (ironically and insanely) are the ones who can’t distinguish between sheep and wolves. It’s just the sort of damned nonsense you’d expect from demons.

You’re going to have to choose: Shepherd, sheep, or wolf.

[1]I don’t remember where I first heard it, but you can find an extended version of it here.

Making Heads or Tails of It

A few months back, one of the sermons at my church was on Luke 14:25-33

25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

The same basic sermon I will relate to you now, I’ve seen it at least twice in the Men’s Sphere. It is, in my experience, very commonly heard from pulpits. The message of this sermon is that Jesus was telling us that it’s a matter of good judgment to be a good Christian. That if we do it wrong–if we aren’t living the Christian life properly–then there will be hatred between us and our fathers, mothers, wives, children, brothers, and sisters because we have led them astray, or at least not been Christian enough for them to know that the Christian life would be good for them.

He went on to say that because we are sinners, this will happen sometimes, and these times will be like taking up a cross. We will not be able to avoid times when we have to choose between Christ and what our families want, and even between Christ and what we want. Yet, if we are careful to count the cost before we build our individual towers of family, of our professional lives, etc., then we won’t have to hate our fathers, mothers, and so on; that our careful consideration of how to live as a Christian will bring easy and solid construction of our lives.

It is then said that the fourth part of the parable is that in this world we are outnumbered; as the king of 10,000 is outnumbered by the army of 20,000. That the world’s king of 20,000 will wage war against us and try to destroy our individual towers with our individual troop of 10,000, and that we–as the religion of the Prince of Peace–ought to be ambassadors of peace to those kings of 20,000 troops. That if we make terms with the world, then peace will reign and we will be the blessed peacemakers that Christ spoke of in the Sermon on the Mount. Furthermore, that if we have counted the cost correctly, and built our towers accordingly, then we have nothing to fear from the king of 20,000 because our foundation is solid. The priest said this hearkened to the parable of the man who built his house on the rock, and the man who built his house on sand.

You’ll notice that there is some cross-referencing there (making peace, and peacemakers, tower foundations and foundations of rock versus sand), and this makes for a tidy sermon on how we ought to be good Christians. It also provides a test so we can know if we are good Christians according to this system of measure:

  1. Good Christians don’t hate their family; usually because they have Christian families.
  2. Good Christians should expect comfortable lives; inasmuch as they are doing things right.
  3. Good Christians’ towers are completed because they are well-built.
  4. Good Christians overcome the powers of the world by being kind to them, and so gain peace from the world.

Conversely, if you fail to pass this test–if you strive with family, or your situation is precarious, or people find you disagreeable–then that means you are a failed Christian, or a foolish Christian, or at least you still have a lot of work to do. And, because it is true that we are sinners who fail and are foolish who still have a lot of work to do, this all makes sense to us. Sound familiar?

I will tell you what I told our priest that day as I shook his hand after the service: “That interpretation is very wrong.”[1]

1. With the exception of husbands and wives, family are not chosen. Particularly with regard to fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters we have no control over who or how they are, and consequently no direct responsibility for how they behave or what they profess. If you choose Christ and they have not you will have to hate them. Hate, like love, being an action.

2. We should understand that “what you do is who you are” and so Jesus is also saying that our rejection of them will be hateful to them. You will end up being tortured (“on a cross”, at the least: emotionally, spiritually, and socially) by them because of Christ.

2. When you sit down to count the cost of building your tower of family, what you will discover is this: You are going to die, and it will be before your family is complete. You will be deserving of mockery if your plan is to build your own family or legacy because you will not see it through. Give up your plan to build your family, and make it your mission to build God’s family; Christ’s tower. He is the only one who will live to see it through to the end. So if you want your work to be completed and endure, then you can only being doing His work on His tower.

3. The king of 20,000 that is coming against you and who cannot be overcome is Christ. You cannot defeat Him and the only way your people will survive–the only way you can make peace with Christ–is to surrender yourself and your people to Him. If you do not: You and they will be destroyed. Your people will see this surrender as hate because submitting to Christ is not what they want to do. That hatred is evident in every child as they rage and cry whenever she is denied something that is not good for her, or whenever you discipline him for a wrong.

The key to understanding this bookends the text. Jesus starts and ends with the ultimatum: You either give up everything for me, or you are going to lose everything–now. This isn’t an argument the Greeks would have appreciated as it is utterly from the authority of Him who has power over life and death. It is a coin-toss by the Maker of people, coins, and tossing. Below are the rules of the coin-toss.

Heads: Christ wins. Tails: You lose.

We can go a lot of different places from here, but what’s interesting to me right now is the question of why this triplet of parables is so commonly misinterpreted. I think the answer has to do with a desire for control; first and foremost. There is precious little control in those allegories.

Secondly, there is the misconception that we have something to offer that Christ needs from us. We labor under the delusion that we are in a position to make an exchange with God; that there is an economy between us. This is akin to saying there is an economy between parent and child when there is nothing the child owns (or is!) that the parent did not give him. Christ is not offering a trade, but reclaiming at sword-point what is His. This is what we mean when we say Christ redeems. Whoever gets in the way is a thief, and worse.

Third, there is genuine desire on our parts to be like our Older Brother; to be helpful, and to just want to be a part. It never sounds like being a part when the people you look up to tell you to get behind them. It just feels like they’re bullies, and this feeling keeps us from recognizing that we would be added to the throng of 20,000.

Finally, there is just plain confusion on our parts because Christ literally loves us to death, and it makes no sense from a material perspective. It is beyond logical; not illogical, but rational constructs cannot contain it. We try to work this out in our tiny little minds, and we can’t contain it all, either. There are days of insight and nights of near-complete black, but mostly we see in imperfect shadows and reflections.

Making too much of the patterns we only darkly see, these desires spin and rationalize until we contrive that there’s got to be some system at work, and that if we can just crack it then we could be really useful to Jesus, and the people around us. If we could just find the all the little reasons of why God does what He does, and the cosmic interworkings of how He does it, then we could rationalize it all and create a system of how to be good people.

How to really help people–Jesus-like–without actually relying on Jesus ourselves because we are deceived into believing we’ve gained an understanding, and that understanding from visions half-seen. The first part is Satanism, and and the second part is foolishness. It replays itself over and over again among God’s people; from the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, to the worship of the Golden Calf. From philosophy, to psychology. From theology, to evolution. From legalism, to libertinism. From the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, to the desire for relevance of the Emergent Church movement. From Girl Power, to the art of seduction.

That search for the system contains the contradiction that dooms us: Good people don’t need to be saved. Good people don’t need Christ. There is no such thing as a “good” Christian and a “bad” Christian; just as a person is either human, or not; just as he is either alive, or dead. There are only Christians, and those of the world. Work which you are through fear of the King who approaches your tower, and tremble at his might. Or die.

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

For in Christ is all the wisdom and knowledge of the world; among other things.

This is why I continue writing about the dangers of approaching personal relationships in secular terms. I don’t just write against Game, as I am commonly misrepresented. I’m writing against all those things I listed above, and more. These contrivances of men have long infected the church.[2] We live among a people where tomorrow is a holiday instead of a holy day, and that holiday is named after a saint who is a saint for reasons unknown to anyone. On this holiday we celebrate sentimental and irrational eroticism. We lie, and call these desires “love” instead of calling them desires, and therefore we do not even attempt to direct them as the will should always direct emotions.

That’s what adherence to philosophies, deceits, tradition, and rudiments (these are all tools) gets us. Don’t adhere to those things: Filter them. See through them, not by them. You and we will know what you see through and what you see by according to your praise.

Edit: This should have been added and addressed above:

A Song of degrees for Solomon.

Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it:
except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows:
for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord:
and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man;
so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:
they shall not be ashamed,
but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

[1] I did continue and tell him this same gist, but I didn’t want to hold up the line. He agreed.

[2] I hope you understand that there is a starker difference between wisdom and science than there is between physics and biology. If you find yourself tempted to argue that one can’t learn algebra, or how to drive a car, from the Bible you have bigger problems than whether you can handle a woman.

Compounding Cupidity

For at least two years I’ve had the same Gravatar: “Cupid Chastised”, by Bartolomeo Manfredi.[1] You can see it here. From the comments, some of my interpretation of the piece:

I believe is it Mars whipping Cupid, and Venus interfering. I think it’s natural to assume that Cupid must have shot someone that caused a complication for Mars–either stopping a war Mars didn’t want stopped, or starting a war of which Mars does not approve. I’ve always thought the doves flying away (doves are symbols of peace) actually encourages the latter interpretation. This is a war Mars does not want.

So, we have a picture of manliness whipping Cupid for interfering, and he’s using a cord of three braids to do it. I’m fairly knowledgable of tropes, and the most common trope of cords with three braids is the three-fold cord of marriage–which makes sense. Marriage is the whip of manly civilization that brings sexual energy to useful purpose.

What’s interesting to me about Venus is: 1) She doesn’t seem to be trying very hard to stop Mars. Maybe this has happened before? Maybe she’s assuming Cupid’s immortal state will spare him? Maybe she’s afraid if she’s too aggressive Mars will turn on her?

My money says those things in her hand are the key. Yes, she’s trying to spare Cupid, but her real concern is salvaging those arrows of Eros. Just as Mars came to represent general manliness and male energy, so Venus came to represent femininity and female energy. Why save the arrows? Hypergamy in corruption seems to be a pretty good explanation.

I go on later to talk about the symbolism of the three-fold cord.

The important point isn’t whether I’m reading Manfredi correctly, but that years ago I had deduced that the problem with Christian marriages concerns the involvement of the spirit of Eros; Cupid’s Greek name. Additionally, I have been writing a series of posts called “Doublethinking Lust” as a sort of spot-treatment guide to how Christians have idolized lust–Eros, Cupid–and keep it under the their skirts.

These years later, Social Pathologist (who is always interesting) too has decided that Christians really need to take a second look at Eros; that is: Cupid. SP’s take is wildly different: He thinks we need more reverence for the spirit of Eros.

I think the errors with that should be obvious, but if I have learned one thing in my time here in the Men’s Sphere it’s this: Most people don’t know what they are talking about. Because of that, they don’t know what others are talking about. This impairment is much more foundational than definitions of Game (conversations of which irritate some people, and even I find tiresome), but it remains that I am trying to have a discussion with people who don’t know what the word spirit means. They don’t know what the Gospel actually is.[2] So when I tell them that Game tinkers with spirits and stands against the implications of the Gospel they don’t know what in the world I’m talking about. I strike them as a different species. Presumably, that means as a subhuman oppressor.

They dismiss spirit as something that is not really real, but merely imaginary. It’s mere to such people because don’t know that imaginary things can be real things because they don’t understand that the word imaginary doesn’t actually mean pretend. These things are important to know for a person who is going to preach “Fake it ’til you make it.” Fake WHAT until you make WHAT?

“Fake it ’til you make it.” is a spiritual discipline (This is probably a good time to point out that the word discipline shares the same root as the word disciple, and that the practice of the previous results in the formation of the latter.) It is imagining (making and assuming the image of a spirit with your mind) until that spirit has conformed your form–your mind, your will, your heart, your spirit–to it. What does the Bible that God used His people to write, collect, and protect) say about this:

12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Look at what it says! The whole person of the Christian is to be transformed by the renewing of the mind; which is where the spirit works. Paul continues on to say what that renewing looks like:

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

There goes self-esteem. There goes self-confidence, and in its place keeping confidence (faith with) God. There (certainly!) goes irrational self-confidence; as irrational is not sober. There goes Demonstration of Higher Value. There goes pride. Lest anyone get confused: This is criticism of worldly Christians, and the merely worldly.

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be without dissimulation.

No deceit allowed; not even to make someone feel better.

Abhor that which is evil

Stay away fornication, among other things.

cleave to that which is good.

Hooray for marriage! Hooray for what marriage represents!

10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Make it your business to show good men as successful

11 not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

No lounging poolside.

12 rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

Keep morale high.

13 distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

Be generous.

14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

No hating on non-Christians or other enemies, but hoping for their conversion.

15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.16 Be of the same mind one toward another.

Sympathize, and put your feelings to the side for the sake of others.

Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.

Don’t chase success, but make effort to make less fortunate men successful.

Be not wise in your own conceits.

See things from others’ perspectives, and don’t put too much trust in your own.

17 Recompense to no man evil for evil.

No paybacks. No revenge. No “mutually assured destruction”. No “go bags”. No plots of humiliation.

Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

Be truthful and do not lay traps for others.

18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Make effort to not only avoid conflict, but to find common ground; though not at the expense of the what has been said above.

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Not only: No paybacks, no revenge, no mutually assured destruction, no go bags, no plots of humiliation; but do good to them. Sacrifice for them. Do not fight fire with fire. The answer to the Feminist who gets mad at your holding the door is to call her “ma’am”.

Please understand that this is in contrast not only to what worldly people say and do (PUAs, Oprah, Muslims, etc.) but in contrast to those Christians who sniff that the sort of men we have today aren’t the sort of men who could have stood with Constantine, Charles Martel, or any of the other so-called “heroes” of pre-Enlightenment Christendom. Anybody who believes the might of God and rightness of Christianity was proved by martial force, cultural dominance, or even accumulated traditions of worship is making the mistake that I’ve gone on about over and over:

Here in [The Book of Job] the question is really asked whether God invariably punishes vice with terrestrial punishment and rewards virtue with terrestrial prosperity. If the Jews had answered that question wrongly they might have lost all their after influence in human history. They might have sunk even down to the level of modern well-educated society. For when once people have begun to believe that prosperity is the reward of virtue, their next calamity is obvious. If prosperity is regarded as the reward of virtue it will be regarded as the symptom of virtue. Men will leave off the heavy task of making good men successful. He will adopt the easier task of making out successful men good. This, which has happened throughout modern commerce and journalism, is the ultimate Nemesis of the wicked optimism of the comforters of Job.

Most people–including most professing Christians, and across history–have answered wrongly. Social Pathologist, Novaseeker, Vox, and those like them say that the answers to what ails Christians is a dearth of Cupid, a disdain of Aristotle, a hunger of Machiavelli, and a lack of Neitzsche–all those thinkers and thoughts which we mean when we ask, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” They speak as non-Christians when they do. Not because Jerusalem cannot benefit from Athens, but because those who mistake success for righteousness do not understand Jerusalem at all, and so they do not know that while they may mean to add to Jerusalem, what they do in their ignorance is flood it with successful invaders and say it is good.

So it’s no bad thing to learn from Roissy’s dissections that the old saw is truer than you knew: “Beauty is old skin deep, but ugly goes to the bone.” Adapting Christian marriage and the Christian view of sex is the problem. Thomas Aquinas’ desire to learn from Aristotle and pass it on to Christians wasn’t his problem. The error was trying to create a philosophy of God that satisfied Aristotelian logic; along with assumptions that success meant good merely because it satisfied our desires to want success to be the reward of virtue. Christians (Jerusalem) can certainly benefit from non-Christian (Athens) thought. It happens all the time. However, it is profoundly unlikely to happen when the Christian making the Athenian argument earnestly likens marriage with prostitution; marriage with fornication; marriage with mathematics; and even marriage with operating a car.

We’re told what marriage is like: It’s like Christ’s relationship to the Church. It’s like farming. It’s like shepherding. It’s like work. We’re also told what sex is like:

Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.

It’s like enjoying work. Let the married eat and be filled with the joy of sex and let it produce. It is a reward for the work. It draws the worker onward to more work and more reward. It is pleasurable even when not profitable with children, and reaps profits even when it’s not terribly pleasurable. Whoever is not treading out the grain should not eat, and whoever is treading out the grain should not be kept from eating. These things work together, and are self-evident.

As a general rule: If there’s something important for the Christian to know, it’s something that can be learned by even the commonest of men; like farmers, and shepherds. Simpletons can’t help but intuit the ox-and-grain truth about sex and marriage, but the educated hem and haw; harrumphing about that what we could really use here is some more Eros (from the Greeks; so famous for homosexuality that Greek is now a euphemism for sodomy) and Cupid (from the Romans who’s sexual achievements are orgies and egalitarian divorce laws).

The existence of these things among Christians is evidence of them having been poisoned with Cupidity; not a sign of its absence. We see a similar cupidity when the response to teen pregnancy is contraceptives, abortion, and college instead of marriage.

10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

The Christian who wants to consume sex must tread marriage, and sex should not be withheld from the married.

18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

[1] For a brief time, I changed it to a picture I took of a sign over an airport luggage carousel. It read: “Please Stay Off The Carousel”.

[2] The Gospel is the story of Jesus Christ: The good news that God became man, died on the cross to take away the sins of all who believe on Him and to reconcile and redeem sinners to God; hat He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven to rule. The Gospel is not lived, but told. Acceptance of the Gospel should and will inform how one lives, but it cannot be told in silence.

And the Winner Is…

Alcockell and Ras Al ghul had the right of it: We are Christians, and it has been revealed to us in Scripture that God hates divorce so we should not do it; no matter what rationalizations we might contrive, and no matter how successful we might become as a result of it. To quote Ras:

“Because divorce biblically is not morally neutral.”

Amen.

As far as I can tell there is exactly one circumstance where divorce with freedom of remarriage is permitted Biblically and unreservedly, and that is when an unbeliever chooses to divorce a believer. (We should be clear that this is Paul’s advice; not the Lord’s however.) 1 Corinthians 7

12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. 13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. 15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. 16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

What’s important here is that we’ve established that there are, in fact, tools which the Christian should be very and extremely careful about wielding. The safest bet is to shun them altogether once you learn to recognize them. In fact, it seems the only reason to study divorce is to learn to stay far away from it. This I have maintained from when I first started writing, but the fact is we don’t need to study it. We merely need to know what Alcockell and Ras Al ghul respectively said: “God hates divorce”, and “divorce biblically is not morally neutral.”

There are actually a good number of these tools that we need only to know about, and not actually practice to know they are evil; that we can just look at a picture of it and say, “Stay away from these”. One list is: fornication, idolatry, adultery, effeminism, homosexuality, theft, lust, drunkeness, reviling, extortion. For those that are interested, that particular list is in 1 Corinthians 6, just before the passage above. There are more, but these particular ones are repeatedly warned against; that if we practice them we are going to Hell. This should concern anyone who endorses a practice or applied psychology based on “irrational self-confidence” (idolatry and reviling), or pretending to participate in and win impromptu big dick contests (effeminism, homosexuality, and reviling.).[1]

There are material tools like the tool of divorce; most of them are instruments of torture or death. I, at least, cannot think of a morally good use of an iron maiden; except to say, “See that iron maiden? We don’t use those.” We don’t actually use them because they are morally evil tools. They are tools that can only rightfully be used by non-Christian people. Even then they will eventually bring condemnation.

Now, I know semantics bore many of you, but I also know (even if you yet do not) that they are important. Doublethink is taking place, and it is happening with Newspeak. Orwell was right! I’ve talked about how we doublethink various forms of entertainment to rationalize away our acceptance of lust. Briefly, I talked about how husbands literally cannot seduce their wives, but that did not seem to make sense to anyone who did not already agree with me.

The frequent counter-argument is something like “Cane, a hammer is a morally neutral tool. You can use it to build a house, or murder somebody.”, or, “A gun is a morally neutral tool. You can use it to rob a bank, or defend yourself.” Which just drives me crazy because all that shows me is that you don’t know what a tool is, and you don’t know what the word use means.

A tool is something that is fashioned for a particular use. For example: A claw hammer is a tool and not a mere material because it is made to be used for hammering and pulling nails. If you commit murder with a claw hammer, you’re not using it, but rather abusing it. Similarly, guns are made to be used for defense. If you abuse a gun to rob a bank, we can no longer trust you to not further abuse it to murder someone. Hammers are good. Guns are good. Use is good. Abuse is not.

You can see where it gets a bit trickier with guns, because guns are certainly tools with a legitimate use of ventilating bodies. That’s why we have a lot more rules about guns, and parents teach their children about guns. No sane parent should say, “Johnny, gun safety is an important topic. Let’s study and practice the tactics used by Adam Lanza and see if we can’t pick up some tips on self-defense.”, for the simple fact that Adam Lanza wasn’t practicing self-defense. He was abusing firearms to murder.

Likewise; In marriage, physical desire is not lust/abuse, it is anticipation/use, and wooing a wife in marriage is not seduction/abuse, but inspiration/use. The husband is putting his spirit into her…so he can put his spirit into her. Recall that I said the heart is in the lower abdomen-the loins. And you’re going to do it with your body; just like I described the armor of God as physical actions that make up the spiritual defense that I wrote about the other day. Sex within Christian marriage is using the whole human–actions of the body born of the will and emotions–to effect spiritual results. Of all the activities and tools of mankind, marriage of the bodies is one of the most revealing of why our bodies, minds, and hearts all matter. So, equating the sex between a boyfriend/player and a girlfriend/slut with what happens when a husband and wife have sex is just incredibly ignorant.

This is very important to understand, because the opposite of inspire is despair, and instilling despair is never loving, and opposite of the Gospel of Hope in Jesus Christ. It is also exactly the same problem (instilling her with despair) as being a nice-guy pushover, but merely feels better. That’s dangerous.

Furthermore, if you get this–really get this–then you can dismiss with all the trickery, and say, “C’mon, woman: I need you to feel my spirit.”; without false self-confidence, without pride, without seducing her into pretending you’re still boyfriend and girlfriend. That would be especially confusing to both of you if–while you were boyfriend and girlfriend–you pretended to be married by abusing each other with sex.[2]

[1] The inspiration for that post was Mackelmore and Lewis; recently famous for performing their pro-homosexual song “Same Love” at a fake mass-wedding of homosexual couples; along with Madonna, and various other fans of big dicks. To bring this back around: “Same Love” abuses words from 1 Corinthians 13 in support of gay marriage! See? My insistence on not calling abuse as use, and seduction as inspiration matter for the hedonists, too. How are they ever going to see the truth and be saved if we fail to stop Christians from doublethink? We can’t stop the doublethink if we don’t refuse to use Newspeak.

[2]That’s what the folks called Churchians advise: “Date your wife!” Even those of you who contend with me quickly see that dating your wife is foolish advice because the term date has a nice-guy connotation. (Semantics matter!) What’s irritating is that you can’t see that Game’s “Hook-up with your wife!” is an equally foolish answer for a Christian. I thought we were past hooking-up smart.

Doublethinking Lust III: Trying to Harness Seduction

Simon Grey–a favorite and friend of mine–takes me to task for what he sees as a host of errors in my recent posts about Game. Most of his accusations miss the mark because they are cascaded from his unwillingness to acknowledge that word seduction has a negative connotation; that seduction is a negative connotation. He writes:

Let’s start with consulting the dictionary.  Merriam-Webster’s defines seduction as, “the act of seducing; especially:  the enticement of a person to sexual intercourse; something that seduces; something that attracts or charms.”  Astute readers will note that this definition of seduction makes absolutely no assertion towards the morality of its ends.  Seducing a woman for sex can be good (like getting your wife into bed) or it can be bad (like getting someone else’s wife into bed), but there is nothing intrinsic to seduction that makes it good or bad.  So, Cane’s understanding of seduction is not great because he apparently doesn’t even know what the word “seduction” even means.

Let me fix that bolded sentence for Simon: “Mildly astute readers will make a half-assed effort and then congratulate themselves to note that this particular definition of seduction makes absolutely no assertion towards the morality of its ends.”

We can know this a few ways.

1. The etymology of the word means “to lead astray”.

2. The KJV, ESV, NASB, and NKJV only and always use the word seduction or seduce in the sense of “lead astray”. It is not without reason that we are taught that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”; rather than, say, “Believe in yourself to have the right answer.”

3. Most damningly, his own provided definition for seduction starts with: “the act of seducing”. Clicking to the definition of seducing returns the definition of seduce, as we would imagine. Please do look, and notice that there is a blue blurb box that gives you an incomplete definition of seduce; a sort of Twitter version of the definition. Below that, in the white box, it reads:

Full Definition of SEDUCE

1:  to persuade to disobedience or disloyalty
2:  to lead astray usually by persuasion or false promises
3:  to carry out the physical seduction of :  entice to sexual intercourse
4:  attract
se·duc·er noun

Ska-doosh. The important part of seduction is not the part about attraction or persuasion, but about disobedience, disloyalty, and leading astray. If we want to talk about attraction or persuasion, then we use the words…attraction and persuasion.

Someone who instead picks the word seduction wants to entangle harness a particular meaning. Just so: Someone who wants us to choose the word seduction wants to harness entangle us to be lead astray. Some of those people went to college. Some of those people even teach at college. Some of those people write dictionaries.

For this reason, those in Christian homeschooling circles often and wisely recommend the use of Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English language. Here is that definition of seduction:

1. The act of seducing or of enticing from the path of duty.

We ought not be the sort of people who can’t distinguish between harnessing, and entangling.

This is How We Shall Live

When I was growing up, our church devoted one Sunday a year to youth. Instead of the pastor preaching, and the music minister leading the hymns, on that particular Sunday evening service various youth were chosen to take up those roles. One of those years, I was asked to give the sermon for the Youth Service. I chose Ephesians 6:10-20. It was the only sermon I ever preached, as I rejected the path of a pastor, or priest. This is not that sermon, but it is still a passage I reflect on often, and from which others who are searching out what it means to be manly might profit.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

“Finally”: As in utterly, regardless of all else, most importantly, this is it.

“be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might”: Have confidence (confidence means “keep faith with”) put your faith with God’s love for you and in His ability to sustain and perfect you as He sent His only Son to die for your sins, and then bodily raised Him from the dead, and took Him back to rule in Heaven. Not faith in yourself; not in your talents; not in your accomplishments; not in others, nor their talents or accomplishments; not in civilization; not in progress; not in politics; not in kings; not even in priests and pastors.

“Put on the whole armor of God, “: There is a battle; a testing, and that battle is one where you will be attacked, and you need to armor-up to be prepared and protected. This armor is from God and for you.

“that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”: It is a curious thing to recommend armor against schemes. Armor seems an unlikely choice to defend against traps, subterfuge, misdirection, seductions, temptations. It is counter-intuitive to armor up against schemes. (Machiavelli and Sun Tzu would surely scoff.) To armor-up is to prepare for direct conflict; when next we are informed that the enemy will attack indirectly. Our nature is to respond in kind; to fight fire with fire; strategy with strategy; psychology with psychology; subterfuge with subterfuge; misdirection for misdirection; seduction over seduction; scheme against scheme; devilry with devilry; evil for evil. If you’ve been churched (especially Protestant), it’s very likely that what you’ve been told is this is because we’re spirits fighting a spiritual war, and “armor” and “schemes” are just poetic stand-ins for “good things” and “bad things”, respectively, in the overall battle.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”: The answer to the puzzle of “Why armor against schemes?” is in the word “we”, and what “we” are. We are flesh and blood and spirit fighting against purely spiritual things. Our inclination (again) is to fight fire with fire–spirit with spirit–but what Paul is saying is that we fight the spirit with flesh and blood also, and so we need a flesh and blood defense. He is recommending a visible armor to fight invisible evils. It’s important that others can see your armor, which is your works.

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”: Our goal is not to kill, but to withstand. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, Jesus said. That kingdom is besieged, and as the Church–the woman/son in the relationship between God and mankind–we are defenders of the hearth; not conquerors of the invaders. Our part is just to withstand, and that will be enough. Moreover: By necessity our home is our hospital, and anyone stricken down can find succor within. Having been taken captive to Christ’s home, they become free comrades. We can do this because we have confidence in Christ’s victory over Satan, evil, and death; in the power of His might.

“Stand therefore”: Get (you) up! Man (get) up! Woman (get) up! We hear little of the first, lots of the second, and near nigh of the third.

“having fastened on the belt of truth”: Take up the truth first. Whatever your starting principle is, that is your truth. It is the foundation and binding of the rest of the armor, and covers the stomach and loins. They hold fast the places of hunger and desire. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” So, keeping in mind what we’ve learned so far about man’s proclivity to fight fire with fire: While it would seem intuitive to counter bad behavior or culture with bad behavior or culture, the way we are instructed is to counter it is with taking up the Gospel. It surrounds the place where you get “feelings in your gut”; where you find the guts to continue on because of the truth that is in you. Jesus said it this way:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

This is the opposite of pride, self-esteem, irrational self-confidence, and “believing in yourself”; the opposite of greed; the opposite of lust; the opposite of wrath. This is truth encircling, covering, training, girting, and belting down animal desires.

“and having put on the breastplate of righteousness”: Righteousness performs two important tasks. Most importantly it guards your heart. Returning to the Beatitudes, Jesus says:

8Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Acting rightly will keep you from temptations, agonies, broken hearts, and sentimentality. The second task is showing your emblem, your heraldry: to Whom you belong, and what honor and decorations have been given to you. And that honor is persecution:

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Persecuted for the sake of the emblem upon your chest, the sign of your Master, and the owner of your inheritance.

“and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”: Having been equipped to stand with truth and righteousness, you will be prepared to be sent forth into dangerous terrain with unsure footing. Where once the unfulfilled law marked the way no man could go, now is passable to him who walks in the gospel of Peace; making the good news of peace wherever he goes.

In Romans Paul writes with this same metaphor:

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 and how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

It is a reference to Isaiah, one of the prophets who lived in the times of fall of Israel and Judah, and wrote of better times to come:

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings,
that publisheth peace;
that bringeth good tidings of good,
that publisheth salvation;
that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! Jesus calls those who wear the shoes of the gospel blessed, peacemakers, and the children of God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” Having girt your desires with truth, plated and polished your breast with clean action, and strapped on the surefootedness of the Gospel: Do not think you will be attacked face-to-face, and keep the faith that you are being attacked because they recognize righteousness as the mark of the evil one’s Enemy; because you are doing His work, and not because you are being punished by God.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

These fiery darts come in many forms: arrows, javelins, spears, gossip, false accusations, divorce, rebellion, mockery… More deadly are the darts that burn with the poison of flattery, sensuality, sentimentality, and seduction. Whatever you may have heard about keys and locks: The master keys of Earth, and their holders, can only open empty graves.

For there is no faithfulness in their mouth;
their inward part is very wickedness;
their throat is an open sepulchre;
they flatter with their tongue.

&

For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb,
and her mouth is smoother than oil:
but her end is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
her steps take hold on hell.

The clever among them know it, but they return to it over and over again like dogs to vomit.[1]

“and take the helmet of salvation”: The head is the container of the mind, and four of the five senses. Here we see the fading beauty of the world; we hear the gospel and the law; we taste the salt; we smell death. Altogether, we can know and reason the need for our salvation. The head is also the master of the body, and with it we command the limbs to work out our salvation as we keep the fear of the Lord ever-present in the mind, and there He does His work in our minds.

12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

which we then pass down to the body; eating and digesting His work which brings nourishment and enables our bodies to obey the head; which is protected by this salvation process.

“and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”: The one weapon of God; His Word literally embodied in Christ; and also figured in the Bible, and in the Lord’s Supper. It is a double-edged sword to be wielded offensively–to cause offense–for the defense of others. Unlike all the other pieces of the armor of God, it is never used in place, or at rest. It does not perform its task while sheathed, or simply on your person. You never complete its training; the more you use it the more it teaches you about its use. It is the only item that can cause injury to the wielder, and easily in the hands of the foolish, but familiarity strengthens the mind, body, and spirit. Swung swift and accurate, it sings, and it is beautiful, light, keen, strong, and lethal.

“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints”: Be mindful and steadfast in your defense, and more for the defense of others. Keeping communication to God open; especially for your fellow protectors, who are also under siege; sacrificing the priority of your desires, for their needs.

“and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”: This same armor is the uniform-chain of an ambassador-slave to Christ; whose yoke is easy, and who grants freedom from the world. Everywhere the servant of Christ goes in His uniform, His chains, His armor; the ambassador-slave is free from all ideologies, theories, politics, and various contrivances of men.

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

In the King James Version, it begins: “Finally, my brethren…” which tells better whom Paul is addressing. This after he addressed children and servants (among whom are wives; as some brethren are to other men). This last chapter is the summary of how we are to relate to and serve one another in our service to God.

[1] This link came in precisely as I wrote that sentence. Not sure what to think about that. YMMV.