The Guise of Purity

@khad wrote the other day, “The guise of purity is a good mask for corruption. Perhaps mostly because it discourages inquiry.” I’m thinking how true this is… moral high roads present near impenetrable barriers , few if any question them, and if they do, bam they get shot down.

That is, until light eventually illuminates the road. At that point, one can see whether such is indeed a moral high road, or merely one heck of a good game show… and it does seem to be the case there are lots of game shows.

I ame across the following from Leontius, Bishop of Neapolis. He pretty much nails the guise of purity.

Those who are eager to pursue the worthy status which can be taught to others are obliged to demonstrate in their own life the teaching of still others and present themselves to all as a model of a way of living which is a virtue inspired by God, according to the divine word which says, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” [Mt 5:16], lest perhaps they are eager to chastise, reform, and guide others before they themselves are instructed and purified through working at the divine commandments, having failed to lament their own death, while concerning themselves with the death of another, and fulfill in themselves the truthful saying, so fitting to them, which says, “He who does not do and teach these things will be called least in the kingdom of heaven” [Mt 5:17], and again, “Hypocrite, first take the log out of your eye and then look to take out the speck in your brother’s eye” [Mt 7:5]. For this reason also the wise author of the Acts of the Apostles says thus concerning our great and true God and teacher, “I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach” [Acts 1:1]. For this also Paul, the great vessel of election, wrote rebuking the Romans, saying, “You then who teach others, will you not teach yourselves?” [Rom 2:21] and so forth.[2]

Since therefore I am unable to present instruction and the image and model of virtuous deeds from my own life, carrying with myself everywhere the mark of sin, come, and from the work of others and their sweaty toils, I shall today….

He then proceeds to introduce St Symeon… who practiced a different sort of guise, namely a very pious and holy man in private, who puts on a great show of impurity and craziness in public!

Upon reaching the first church in his public ministry, he came in, disrupted the liturgy, threw nuts at the women, and then rolled the pastry tables.

It was also the saint’s practice, whenever he did something miraculous, to leave that neighborhood immediately, until the deed which he had done was forgotten….

Its a fascinating read… be forewarned, the text is translated from ancient manuscripts, it is not politically correct, it is likely to make conservative leaning folks more than a bit squeamish. A sanitized more pc description of St Symeon can be found at wikipedia.

I dont know that folks of God need to eat strange and/or disgusting food, hang out in the desert… or tie a dead dog to their robes, but certainly such an approach is a whole lot better than a guise of purity. There is only One who is truly pure.

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