Obedience and the Christian Life

There is no way around it: the Christian’s life is to be one of obedience. “Let him who has ears to hear, hear,” says Jesus. That does not mean that we are beholden only to God, under our own understanding of who God is and what He wants from us. God in His mercy does not abandon us to our vagaries. He chooses to save persons through persons, says Saint Edith Stein, recommending, for progress in the spiritual life, that we seek a director, and heed the person’s advice; and this wisdom holds even for people who by the grace of God have advanced beyond where their directors are. Jesus did not found a club of like-minded individuals. He founded a Church, and said to Peter and the apostles, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” If men reject you, said Jesus, they reject Him.

Nor must we obey only in spiritual matters. “Be subject to the authorities,” says Saint Paul, “because all authority is of God.” Even in our personal dealings with one another, in matters outside of the purview of the State or the supervision of pastors and bishops, we should cultivate the virtue of obedience. “Let there be subordination among you,” says Paul.

That sounds strange to modern ears. We hug ourselves for being independent, thinking for ourselves, following our dreams, obeying the voice within, and so forth. A lot of nonsense. Observe how we live. We allow, without a whimper, encroachments upon political liberties far beyond anything ever imagined by the amiable George III. We allow “experts” to tell us how to dress, what to eat, how to discipline children, what they should be taught in school, what toothpaste to use, how often we should evacuate our bowels, what prayers we may say in public places, whom we may insult with impunity and whom we must not refrain from praising, and so forth. We suffer meekly the imposition of laws that no legislator has ever read, adding daily tonnage to a vast mass without structure, small portions of which surpass the capacity of any citizen to comprehend. The whole of contemporary sales, polling, politicking, and schooling would collapse in a cloud of dust, like a big rotten mushroom, if we really were the independent thinkers and leaders we say we are.

Far be it from me to urge “leadership” upon poor suffering mankind. Thanks be to God, true leaders are rare. Leadership is not a virtue so much as a heavy duty that certain few people must accept, often against their inclinations. What’s more, if you are moved by an obvious passion to lead others, that may be ambition, in Latin literally a going round and round to canvas for votes, and ambition was considered, by both the pagan Romans and the early Christians, to be a disreputable and dangerous vice. That view persisted into the modern era. “But Brutus says that Caesar was ambitious,” says Shakespeare’s Mark Antony to the crowds, knowing well that ambition alone would justify the assassination, and therefore slyly suggesting that the truly ambitious men were Brutus and Cassius.

If it’s true that few men are meant to lead, it’s also true that everyone, even leaders, must obey. Let’s not fool ourselves. We obey the Lord who commands only what is good for us and forbids only what is harmful to us, and whose law sets us free, or obey the lord of the darkness below, whose boastful non serviam is the primal lie; who tempts us with license, to imprison us forever. We obey, or we obey. There is no third choice.

Here I hear the objection, “You are recommending blind obedience! What of those German soldiers who obeyed Hitler?” It’s the newest of fallacies, this argumentum ad Adolphum. Show the most superficial resemblance to something that happened under the Nazis, call it evil, lift your nose in the air, and walk off stage. One might as well swear off driving cars because Hitler built the Autobahn, or kick Rover because Hitler liked dogs, or eviscerate the army because Hitler started a war, or never march in public because Hitler loved a parade. I’ve never heard, by the way, of anyone swearing off fornication because Hitler had his Eva Braun.

True obedience is not blind; it is keen of hearing. That’s what the Latin word oboedire means: to hear what is spoken to you, to heed it, to take it into yourself and make it yours. “Faith comes by hearing,” says Saint Paul, and he means more than advertising. He means listening, hearing, heeding. Really to hear the words of Jesus are to keep them, as a treasure within; as the Psalmist meditates upon the law of the Lord as he lies upon his bed at night. A man without someone worthy of obedience is a wanderer in a trackless forest, wherein nothing he sees or hears can guide him in the way to go. Perhaps that’s why the one man whose faith causes Jesus astonishment is not a thinker, or an ambitious fellow, but a centurion—a sergeant, who lives a life of obeying and being obeyed. “I too am a man under authority,” he says.

Yet problems can arise when your superior commands one thing, and you wish to do another. We must obey God and not men, the apostles say. “And I will place within them as a guide / My umpire Conscience,” says the Father in Milton’s Paradise Lost, and the conscience too, that stern monitor, must be heard. What then?

In this article and several to follow, I’d like to look at kinds of difficulties posed by the virtue of obedience. The first: what should we do when the authority commands us to do what we recognize as good, but we wish instead to do something we believe is better?

Let me give an example. Suppose the father tells his son to go down to the sheepfold to mend a fence, which has been battered by a storm. The son prepares to do just that, but when he arrives, he notices that the storm has washed out the land under a portion of the fence at the back of the pen, leaving a gully through which animals can get in and out. He can’t call his father. He says, “I’ll do what my father would surely want me to do first. I’m going to pile up those boulders to seal off the gully.”

Is he disobeying? Far from it. Is he deferring his obedience to a more opportune time? No, not even that. He’s taken his father’s command and made it his own. He has heard. He does not presume to be wiser than his father. He doesn’t say, “My father wants this farm to bear fruit, and I know better how that is to be done.” In other words, he does not dismiss the father’s authority. Instead, he allows that authority to be a fount of increase in his own heart and mind. He becomes his father’s delegate. It is precisely because he is really obedient that he does what his father would do, if he himself were there. Notice that the more obedient you are—the more your ears are open to the desire of the legitimate superior—the freer you are; you are like the good son, exercising your initiative under and by means of your father’s authority.

But suppose the son does deny the father’s authority in principle. He doesn’t say that what the father desires is bad. He has no qualms of conscience on that score. Instead he feels the urging of independence, of ambition, of a desire to be out from under the father’s rule. Or maybe he is simply inattentive, and in love with his own thoughts. In any case, he wants not to fulfill his father’s intent but to replace it with something he deems better. So instead of repairing the fence, he hangs about the marketplace dickering with the merchants for a good price on the wool to be harvested.

Even if he comes back with a fine deal, he has disobeyed, and has done more harm than good, since he has undermined the very principle upon which the farm is run. Such disobedience may appear to “work” once in a while, in the short run, but the immediate personal and spiritual harm is to sever the son from the father; the father will not trust the son, and the son does not respect the father. There is a way which appears good to a man, says Solomon. It leads to destruction.

Suppose a magisterial document from an ecumenical council were to specify that, for liturgical music, the pipe organ holds pride of place, and that the laity ought to be taught the Church’s great heritage of chant. Suppose also that the document encourages composers and musicians to work with a range of “new” instruments, in concord both with the culture and with the sacred purpose of the Mass. It is clear what the document means. We can “hear” it by humble reception. It is not really so difficult, since there is no contradiction between learning ancient music and being guided by that same ancient music to compose new music fit for the liturgy, even if one employs instruments that had not been employed before.

Now suppose that a son of the Church, call him Heedless, says, “Finally, we may compose as we please. They don’t really mean what they say about the organ and chant. What I want will be better anyway, and I’ll point to that last sentence if I raise any hackles.” Heedless admits there is nothing wrong with the old music; it is not a sin to play it; he could obey; but he marches to the beat of a Different Drummer.

I don’t write in jest. If obedience—hearing—brings understanding, as Jesus says, then sin is the earwax of the soul. The children of Israel are never condemned for listening too closely, or being too humble, or not setting forth in New Directions. “All they like sheep have gone astray,” says Isaiah. They have ears, but they do not hear. Jesus recommends otherwise.

Editor’s note: The image above is a detail from “Delivery of the Keys to St. Peter” painted by Pietro Perugino in the Sistine Chapel in 1481-82.

Anthony Esolen

By

Professor Esolen taught Renaissance English Literature and the Development of Western Civilization at Providence College for two decades. He will begin teaching at Thomas More College in the fall of 2017. Prof. Esolen is a regular contributor to Crisis Magazine and the author of many books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery Press, 2008); Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Books, 2010) and Reflections on the Christian Life (Sophia Institute Press, 2013). His most recent books are Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching (Sophia Institute Press, 2014); Defending Marriage (Tan Books, 2014); Life Under Compulsion (ISI Books, 2015); and Out of the Ashes (Regnery, 2017).

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    « d’autant que l’obeyr est le principal office d’une ame raisonnable, recognoissant un celeste superieur et bienfacteur. De l’obeir et ceder naist toute autre vertu, comme du cuider tout péché. » Apologie de Raimond Sebond – Montaigne II.XII – “forasmuch as to obey is the proper office of a rational soul, acknowledging a heavenly superior and benefactor. From obedience and submission spring all other virtues, as all sin does from self-opinion.”

    St Thomas teaches that after the virtue of religion, obedience is the most perfect of all the moral virtues, because it unites us closer to God than any other virtue, inasmuch as obedience detaches us from our own will, which is the main obstacle to union with God (S T IIa, IIae, 104)

    • joan

      Michael, thank you.

      I try so hard for obedience to God to be first and foremost in my life – living that life that i hope is pleasing to Him. However, what i discern doesn’t seem to always flow through or agree with what human authority presents. I know God makes His good come out of all things, but how can i go against what is so strongly in my heart as not God’s Will or way or plan, but being presented by the human authority? I can’t, I’m not outright disobedient, but respectfully it feels like a lie. I do realize that church authority does have extensive education, but that is not a requirement by God. I’m speaking here of what is man-made law, man-made rules that to me have no truth in justification and appear to me to be a lack of faith in the power of God. What do i do with something like that in my heart?

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        St Faustina says that demons can simulate any form of humility other than obedience to a human superior.

        Amma Syncletica of Alexandria (270-350) a lady hermit says: “In the beginning there is struggle and a lot of work for those who come near to God. But after that there is indescribable joy. It is just like building a fire: at first it is smoky and your eyes water, but later you get the desired result. Thus we ought to light the divine fire in ourselves with tears and effort.”.

        • joan

          Michael, could you please tell me the first para. in another way? I’m sorry, i’m not sure i understand.

          And it would almost contradict what M Eisbrener says.

        • April Spring

          AMEN!

          Our nation is lost and confused but cry no more because the Springtime is here!

          Come Join the Magnificent Revolution!:

          http://www.treeoflifetheology.org

  • Everyone practices obedience. The question is to what and to whom. Raised where the only sure way to avoid pain was immediate obedience. The practice of ignoring my will has proven useful my entire life. The portion of Matt 7:21 that first called me as a child, “he who does
    the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” had me wonder,
    how to discover His will. Obedience to any other may only lead to disaster.

    • slainte

      “… The question is to what and to whom…”
      .
      The response likely requires discernment relative to whether a call to act (or refrain from acting) emanates from one’s conscience or one’s will.
      .
      And must one’s conscience be “properly formed” in the Faith to properly guide us toward right action?

      • I suspect that is the correct answer… and when we are off the path of ‘right action’ there are signs and suffering if we pay attention.

    • And to God is freedom and to any other opposed to God is slavery.

  • TheAbaum

    While this is on the whole a balanced essay, it does not address the strain of thought that insists that obedience is an absolute that should be provided joyfully, even to civic authorities, except by erecting the Hitler straw man.

    For most of us, our principal dealings with government are the payment of taxes and the occasional interaction with municipal or state police enforcing traffic laws.

    With regard to the latter, I once heard a speaker on the local Catholic radio station (Ray Garendi?) urge that should one be interdicted by a police officer for a routine traffic stop, we should joyfully thank them. I almost spat out my coffee.

    I routinely travel Interstate 81 for long distances, and I observe “stateys” traveling well above the posted speed limit that I set my cruise control on. Some could be responding to calls, but most are not. As a former resident of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the author has no doubt observed a police car approach a red light, put on the alert lights, enter the intersection (risking a collision) and immediately turn them off after exiting the intersection.

    It is well known among people with knowledge of government fiscal affairs, that enforcement is “all about the revenue”. Some years ago, the PSP took issue with then Governor Tom Ridge and went on a “ticket strike”. As I recall, he sheepishly backed down. (Of course, he also allowed Kermit Gosnell to stay in business, so dereliction of duty wasn’t beyond him)

    That’s why police interceptors are hidden and located at the bottom on hills, where gravity assists drivers in inadvertently exceeding the posted limits. There are places where limits change arbitrarily and capriciously, with the purpose of ensnaring drivers into exceeding a posted limit.

    Worse, far more dangerous and equally proscribed activities go unchecked. There is a new highly public joint enforcement effort targeting aggressive driving of “eighteen wheelers” on I-81 due to several recent fatal accidents involving those trucks. In other words, the MSP & PSP are going to actually to enforce other parts of the vehicle code-at least until the furor dies down and they return to their singular focus on speeding, because it generates so much revenue.

    So as for me, I set my cruise at the legal limit, unless conditions dictate a lower speed. If I am pulled over, I will provide the required documentation. I will not answer questions like “do you know why I pulled you over” or “where are you going”, because the first question is designed to elicit a self-incriminating response, the second is none of the officer’s business in a routine traffic stop.

    I will not thank the officer.

    • Tony

      Friend Abaum: This is but the first in a series. I will be drawing Thomas’s important distinction between obedience and compliance. Sometimes we are justified in complying with stupid or even unjust laws; sometimes we are fairly required to refuse to obey unjust laws. A variety of situations can arise, and I’ll try to deal with each of them.

      • TheAbaum

        Don’t keep a dang fool in too much suspense.

    • Art Deco

      because it generates so much revenue.

      How much?

      • TheAbaum

        in 2007, the National Motorists Association, noting the inability to obtain official statistics, estimated that speeding tickets were raising between 3.75 and 7.5 BILLION dollars per year.

        A billion here, a billion there and soon you are talking real money.

        http://blog.motorists.org/traffic-tickets-are-big-business/

    • Objectivetruth

      As a fellow descendant of Northeast Pennsylvania coal miners, I understand!

  • JP

    Humility is part of obedience. We are called to obey God and humble ourselves. Easy to say, very difficult to do.

    • joan

      thanks so much!

    • Interested

      As they say the measure of humility is obedience.

  • Julie

    For 40 years I tried to make my own way in this world. One person cannot figure out the right way to live, raise children, be a spouse on their own. I am smart and I read everything I could to make the right decisions. It was like being on the ocean in a storm without a rudder, motor or map. When I finally gave up my pride and started looking into what the Church offered, I was amazed at the logical, reasonable, compassionate and right ways that the Church taught. But more importantly with the Eucharist and the Holy Spirit the strength and guidance is spot on. Thank you Lord Jesus for establishing your Church! Amen.

    • Tony

      I learned the same thing, Julie. I don’t know what took me so long.

    • one comment

      I was going to write a response to this article but you have said it, thank you!
      “I was amazed at the logical, reasonable, compassionate and right ways that the Church taught. But more importantly with the Eucharist and the Holy Spirit the strength and guidance is spot on. Thank you Lord Jesus for establishing your Church! Amen.”

  • John

    Amen to that . . . and especially with respect to the magisterial document regarding liturgical music . . . just supposing of course.

  • Paul

    Interesting article I must say. With a few minor changes this could easily be titled as “Obedience and the Islamic life” ? And we only have to see how Muslims see us as the Devil (with Israel as the little devil) and the atrocities they carry out in the name of God ?
    My belief strictly in Catholicism is that Catholicism actually opens my mind and rigorously demands that I have to question ALL laws, religious or secular. The questioning is not some form of self-absorbed vanity but is designed to get us closer to God and to understand Christ’s teachings thus enabling us to defend our Faith. What I am saying is obedience has to be coupled with questioning otherwise it can lead us to rationalise sin and commit wrong like the Muslims.

    • Tony

      Paul — stay on topic, please. This particular essay had to do with what obedience requires of us when the choice is between the good thing that a legitimate authority asks us to do, which our consciences acknowledge as a good, and a different good thing that we want to do instead.

      Catholicism has opened my mind too. But Scripture really is quite clear on the relationship between obedience to Jesus and to his delegates, and understanding. It is all right to ask, “Why does Jesus ask us to do this?” or “Why does the Church condemn this?” That is not what the article is about. The article is specifically about obedience. And I cannot make my obedience dependent upon my understanding. Nowhere is that ordering to be found in the New Testament.
      But if I am obeying the catechism of the Church, or the words of Jesus as the Church interprets them, how far can I go wrong? Can I go wrong at all?

      • Objectivetruth

        “But if I am obeying the catechism of the Church, or the words of Jesus as the Church interprets them, how far can I go wrong? Can I go wrong at all?”

        This pretty much sums it up. Sometimes things are that simple. In an increasingly ridiculous secular society that is trying to inflict its own often times perverted morality upon me, I now ask: “But what does the Church teach us?” Then I go to the Catechism and Church encyclicals and I find the peace I am looking for. The peace of Christ.

        Christ is the Good Shepherd, I am the sheep. I’m keeping my eyes on the Shepherd, and His earthly voice box, the Catholic Church. Lest I stumble over the cliff.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        Thus, in Exodus, the people receive the Torah with the words, “We will do and we will hear” (24:7) – Do first and understand later.

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  • shieldsheafson

    ‘Obedience is the mother and guardian of virtue’

    St Augustine.

  • bill b

    St. Pope John Paul II apologized for a number of things Catholics did under obedience including violent acts of the Inquisition ( see Brian Harrison’s essay on Torture at the Roman Forum). That means that sometimes obedience is siding with the arrested side of the Church that God is trying to cleanse.
    I myself will not obey the current magisterial verbal anti death penalty campaign in voting because I read EV and the thinking has more holes than Swiss cheese and no cited research …and God authored Romans 13:4 in the setting of a very imperfect empire which had inescapable life sentences ad metalla…in the mines. The US Supreme Court during its moratorium on the death penalty found from studies it saw as superior that the death penalty saves future lives by deterring not passion murders but premeditated murders ( the kind that make heavily Catholic Mexico a holocaust of murders).

    • Tony

      Bill — There is no question that human beings both err and sin. It’s another question, though, what you should do when a legitimate authority commands something that on the face of it appears to be evil. I will deal with that situation later.

      On the death penalty: I remain to be persuaded on its being illicit. I don’t think the Church has gone so far. But it is a reasonable position, to say that we should refrain from exercising an option that in itself is just. As far as I know, the Church has not actually forbidden any Catholic to take part in capital punishment. It has not defined CP as evil. And there doesn’t seem to be a way to affirm that one MUST exercise that option, regardless of what the Church says; that it would be evil to refrain from the execution…

      • bill b

        They’ve gone so far verbally with St. John Paul II calling it ” cruel and unnecessary” in St. Louis in 1999 to the world media and with Benedict congradulating Aquino on its abolishment in the Phillipines in his first year, one of the worst nations for child trafficking by the way. So you have a catechism that was forced to grudgingly affirm the dp because of Rom.13:4 and you have a verbal magisterium contradicting their own catechism’s affirmation of its, in their mind, rare need. They theologized a mixed ethical/scientific area probably with about three hours thought all told and no reading of penology studies which our Supreme Court did read.
        To understand both men, someday check sect.40 of EV wherein St. John Paul II insinuates that the death penalties of Leviticus inter alia were not from God as scripture says they were in the first person imperative but from unrefined Jewish culture. Then read the identical critico-historical theme in sect.42 of Benedict’s Verbum Domini where he is saying the herem or massacres of the OT were not from God as scripture again says they were. Then watch as Benedict totally ignores that the worst herem was actually in the New Testament times in 70 AD ( 1.1 million killed- Josephus) and was predicted by Christ who gave it’s theological reason.
        Both Popes were late life pacifists and their and the Bishops’ campaign will get victims killed for centuries to come…many as inmates being killed by lifers in states that can’t execute prison murderers….the case with both the murder of Fr. Geoghan and of Jeffrey Dahmer…both murdered by lifers in states with no death penalty. Inmate and guard deaths yearly exceed execution numbers in the US. Japan by the way by UN figures is about 60 times safer than the two largest Catholic populations…Brazil and Mexico who both have no death penalty. China with hundreds of millions of poor people has 20 times less murders than those two heavily Catholic countries. How do you convert intelligent Asians when six Catholic countries are egregious in murder rates and Hong Kong. Singapore, Japan and China are some of the street safest countries on earth.

        • The point is that in most cases the death penalty is unnecessary. With the refinement of modern prison systems, the danger to society is removed simply by the murderer being in custody. One can often render the inmate incapable of murder through restrictions on technology, visits, and interaction with other prisoners. If that doesn’t work, then it would seem that the death penalty could legitimately be used in a trial for a second murder offense.
          Japan and China both lack firearms, and the latter is an oppressive authoritarian regime…

          • bill b

            All you’re doing is apriori catechism reciting….which means after Exsurge Domine by Pope Leo X in 1520, you would have burned Protestants to death in the 16th century as per article 33 condemned. Now those Protestants are trusted by you as doctors, dentists, and ambulance workers.
            The catechism is 95% great. The death penalty article stinks and is only about captured murderers in a perfect prison. Latin America has porous prisons in Brazil and Mexico…the two largest Catholic populations. Mexico has prisons that a justice official there said are 60% controlled by cartel gang members and it has tens of thousands of uncaptured murderers. You’re dreaming that the catechism’s perfect world exists and it does not outside Malta and Luxembourg and Scandinavia where there are no gangs. Gang lifers have court ordered rights to use the phone…on which they can order by code words…murders out on the street…300 years ago in a ten year period in California according to the NY Times. The catechism is written by Cardinals…and this one on ccc 2267 did no research into the largest Catholic area…Latin America. Watch this video and you’ll see Mexican prison guards allow cartel gang members to machine gun rival gang members then compare what you see to your words and the catechism’s:

            http://youtu.be/Wt5Aw1rvVSc

            • Then the death penalty can be used in those countries that are unable to control their prisons, no? That’s precisely the point of the CCC article, although it does so with great reservation.
              And no one knows that any one particular inmate is going to order hits out on the street or in jail. If he does, then he should be executed after his second conviction. But not when he is first convicted, because at that point there is no threat to society.

              • bill b

                Lol….no Pope has lifted a finger to activate the rarely necessary clause of ccc 2267 and point out that it is needed in Mexico. Watch…you’ll never see a case as long as you live where from Bishop up, a magisterial figure promotes the rarely necessary clause. They are imaging as the new non inquisition Church. That was a mistake and so is this new anti dp campaign. We go from one extreme to its opposite. We killed 5000 people we should not have and now…we will get more than that in murder victims killed in centuries to come …by imaging and campaigning against the dp. Outside the catechism, they are encouraging abolition, the nullification of the rarely necessary clause, as when Benedict congradulated Aquino for abolition of the dp in the Phillipines….or John Paul called the dp “cruel” in St. Louis.

                • Well, I would consider lethal injection cruel, especially after the events in Oklahoma. A firing squad might be less cruel, actually.
                  You have to consider St. John Paul and Joseph Ratzinger’s perspectives. It’s obvious that their youth spent under totalitarian regimes led them to take a very hard stance against the death penalty.

                  • bill b

                    Peace….I’ve read both men closely on violence issues and they are not men deeply imbedded in the whole of Scripture…but simply the nicer parts. Here’s Benedict in section 42 of Verbum Domini: ” In the Old Testament, the preaching of the prophets vigorously challenged every kind of injustice and violence, whether collective or individual, and thus became God’s way of training his people in preparation for the Gospel.” That is totally false and not one paid Catholic author on such matters will say it.
                    That my friend means he never reads vast stretches of the Old Testament. Elijah killed 552 men minimum; Eliseus cursed boys who dissed his office ( Aquinas) and bears killed 42 of them and Eliseus was mandated by God to kill any of the house of Ahab that escaped Jehu; the prophet Samuel “hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal”; Jehu was a prophet king whom God mandated for the killing of the house of Ahab and he did so. The later prophets protest one form of violence…that of the Jewish rich against the Jewish poor. Here is Jeremiah telling the Chaldeans that they must kill the Moabites thoroughly because that task is directly from God to them:
                    Jer.48:10 ” Cursed are they who do the Lord’s work carelessly; cursed are they who hold back their sword from shedding blood.”
                    Frankly…the prophets were violent because pre Christ mankind needed more violence than post Christ mankind does. But six Catholic nations badly need to hear Romans 13:4 instead of the ccc 2267.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        Without wishing to be captious, it is not quite true that the Church “has not actually forbidden any Catholic to take part in capital punishment” for clerics have always incurred irregularity by doing so, not as something wrong (ex delicto) but ex defectu lenitatis – defect of mildness. Hence, in the Middle Ages, a Vidame or High Steward heard capital cases in courts usually presided over by ecclesiastics, such as the Vice-Chancellor’s court at Oxford University.

        • slainte

          To delegate to another what one will not do directly is hardly honorable.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            Slainté
            Do you butcher your own meat?
            There is nothing immoral in being a butcher, yet the callousness that such a calling induces was held to render them unfit to sit on a jury in capital cases.

            • Slainte

              No, MPS, I do not butcher my own meat because if I had to engage that process, I would choose instead to abstain from eating meat.
              .
              Such is the hypocrisy I engage in when I cause another to do what I would not do myself.
              .
              I am not honorable in this regard and neither were the clerics who handed off capital cases to others when they would not engage such cases themselves.

              • TheAbaum

                There are two things a man (or woman) should not see made for him (her). His (Her) laws and sausages.

            • Ford Oxaal

              bloody well interesting!

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  • JoAnne Braley

    Obedience and the Christian Life is the subject. Let us hear. Well, let’s have the homilies spoken! Mexicans are listening to evangelicals now because they say “stop that drinking,” Also, the priest would say a woman must do what her husband wishes, even if he hits her. We need priests to study how to give good sermons like some of the Baptists do. We need to mention Jesus more, and not take up extra collections for parking lots or fish fries. We need catechism explained more thoroughly. I’ve been to a convent school and know it all, and used to know the Mass in Latin and sang Gregorian Chant. So many who are in church today have no idea what is really going on. Our religion is a wonderful one, and we need better communicators. We need the spoken words to build us up to living our every day life with heaven in mind. Yes, obey, but consider the source. Does it sound like what Jesus would say?

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