Woman of Sirach

I stumbled across a scripture that reminded me of Proverbs 31, but wasn’t devoted entirely to the praise of a good wife. It was in the Book of Sirach, in the Old Testament.

One of the lesser known books in the Bible, the Book of Sirach was written in Hebrew around 200 B.C. While it is no longer used in the Hebrew or Protestant Bibles, it continues to be a part of the Catholic Bible. My eye caught Chapter 25, and as I read on, I was a bit shocked at the condemnation of a wicked woman. In today’s society, we watch sitcoms about ‘stupid’ men and their ‘clever’ wives who disrespect them and abuse them. The feminist movement certainly did men no favors.

“Any wound, but not a wound of the heart!

Any wickedness, but not the wickedness of a woman!

Any suffering, but not suffering from one’s foes!

Any vengeance, but not the vengeance of one’s enemies! There is no poison worse than that of a serpent,

no venom greater than that of a woman.

I would rather live with a dragon or a lion than live with a wicked woman.

A woman’s wicked disposition changes her appearance, and makes her face as dark as a bear.

When her husband sits among his neighbors,

a bitter sigh escapes him unawares.” Sirach 25:13-18

Yikes, Sirach! “A bitter sigh escapes him unawares.” And look at what has happened to our society. Why do women feel comfortable behaving the way they do? Why do men tolerate it?

The other day I watched the movie, A Man Called Peter, about Dr. Peter Marshall, the chaplain for the US Congress in the 1900s. One of his sermons spoke of the societal changes in womanhood. This is an exerpt from his son’s sermon, which was based on his original work.

The emancipation of womanhood began with Christianity, and it ends with Christianity. It had its beginning one night nineteen hundred years ago when there came to a woman named Mary a vision and a message from heaven. She saw the rifted clouds of glory and the hidden battlements of heaven. She heard an angelic annunciation of the almost incredible news that she, of all the women on earth…of all the Marys in history…was to be the only one who should ever wear entwined the red rose of maternity and the white rose of virginity. It was told her…that she should be the mother of the Savior of the world.

 

It was nineteen hundred years ago “when Jesus Himself a baby deigned to be and bathed in baby tears His deity”…and on that night, when that tiny Child lay in the straw of Bethlehem, began the emancipation of womanhood.

 

When He grew up and began to teach the way of life, He ushered woman into a new place in human relations. He accorded her a new dignity and crowned her with a new glory, so that wherever the Christian evangel has gone for nineteen centuries, the daughters of Mary have been respected, revered, remembered, and loved, f or men have recognized that womanhood is a sacred and a noble thing, that women are of finer clay…are more in touch with the angels of God and have the noblest function that life affords. Wherever Christianity has spread, for nineteen hundred years men have bowed and adored.

 

It remained for the twentieth century, in the name of progress, in the name of tolerance, in the name of broadmindedness, in the name of freedom, to pull her down from her throne and try to make her like a man.

She wanted equality. For nineteen hundred years she had not been equal–she had been superior. But now, they said, she wanted equality, and in order to obtain it, she had to step down. And so it is, that in the name of broadminded tolerance, a man’s vices have now become a woman’s.

 

Twentieth-century tolerance has won for woman the right to become intoxicated, the right to have an alcoholic breath, the right to smoke, to work like a man to act like a man–for is she not man’s equal? Today they call it “progress”…but tomorrow,…they must be made to see that it is not progress.

No nation has ever made any progress in a downward direction. No people ever became great by lowering their standards. No people ever became good by adopting a looser morality. It is not progress when the moral tone is lower than it was. It is not progress when purity is not as sweet. It is not progress when womanhood has lost its fragrance. Whatever else it is, it is not progress! (from ladiesagainstfeminism.com)

As a Catholic woman, it is my duty and privilege to raise my children with the moral fibers that hold our Church together, those same fibers that have have become frayed and unraveled by the world. Yes, we have Proverbs 31 to uphold, but let us not forget Sirach 25 to remind us of what we could so easily become.

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