On this Friday in the Second Week of Lent, we hear from Paul’s letter to the Church in Corinth. Paul is often portrayed, and I believe unjustly so, as being against women. Today’s reading from the Daily Office (the Church’s Daily Prayer), is evidence of Paul’s true attitude:
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: ‘It is well for a man not to touch a woman.’ But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. This I say by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.
To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion. (1 Cor. 7:1-9)
Corinth was the “Sin City” in its day. It was the capital of the Roman province of Achaia and was geographically located in such a place that it inevitably became a trade center of the ancient world. As a result, people from all areas of the world, with different backgrounds and cultures, moved to Corinth. Corinth "had a reputation for commercial prosperity, but she was also a by-word for immoral living. The very word κορινθιαζεσθαι (pronounced “korinthiazesthai”), mean “to live like a Corinthian,” had become a part of the Greek language as a catch phrase for fornication, decadent and immoral living. In fact, there were 1,000 sacred prostitutes in the temple of Aphrodite on the Acrocorinth, plus plenty of prostitutes for the sailors and business folks coming through, but they were not sacred. In Corinth, women were an object. They could not vote, and they really had few rights. Contrast this with Paul.
Notice how Paul places men and women on an equal basis: “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” Such equality, treating women equally, was unheard of in Paul’s day especially in Corinth. Paul was able to say that because of Christ.
Let us pray the opening collect for the Second Sunday in Lent: O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
PLEASE REMEMBER THE FAMILY OF DOROTHY PLAVNICKY WHO DIED TODAY: Let us pray: O God of grace and glory, we remember before you this day our sister Dorothy. We thank you for giving her to us, her family and friends, to know and to love as a companion on our earthly pilgrimage. In your boundless compassion, console those who mourn. Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth, until, by your call, we are reunited with those who have gone before; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
LENTEN SERIES: RECONCILIATION - Next Wednesday, 2 March 2016 at 6 PM at Trinity Episcopal Church, the Benedictine Monks of Holy Cross Monastery, Fr. Peter and Br. Michael, in Beaumont will be our speakers.
Please remember everyone on our Prayer List, especially Bob as he is recovering from foot surgery, Audrey, John, Katie, for all those to be baptized, for the Anglican Communion, and for reconciliation.
Your servant in Christ,
Fr. Chester J. Makowski+
St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal ChurchGalveston, Texas 77550