Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Walking - The Instructor on a compendious view of the Christian life

This is a continuation of my series on Clement of Alexandria and his book, "The Instructor." If you are new to this series or are unfamiliar with Clement and his book, you may want to first read the introduction to this series. You may also want to read my introduction to this chapter as it will help you understand his views in this area.
"Also we must abandon a furious mode of walking, and choose a grave and leisurely, but not a lingering step. Nor is one to swagger in the ways, nor throw back his head to look at those he meets, if they look at him, as if he were strutting on the stage, and pointed at with the finger. Nor, when pushing up hill, are they to be shoved up by their domestics, as we see those that are more luxurious, who appear strong, but are enfeebled by effeminacy of soul." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 3, Chapter 11)
Clement believed that our entire life should be disciplined, not only our mind and emotions, but the entire conversation of our life, including our manors and behaviors. As such, even our manor of walking should be disciplined towards moderation and to avoid extremes, such as, hurriedness and laziness.

Clement also, once again, shows his disdain for the theater of his day which was full of licentiousness and open displays of effeminacy and debauchery. Certainly not a place where someone carrying the hope of righteousness with in them would frequent.
"A true gentleman must have no mark of effeminacy visible on his face, or any other part of his body. Let no blot on his manliness, then, be ever found either in his movements or habits. Nor is a man in health to use his servants as horses to bear him. For as it is enjoined on them, 'to be subject to their masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward,' as Peter says; so fairness, and forbearance, and kindness, are what well becomes the masters. For he says: 'Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be humble,' and so forth, 'that ye may inherit a blessing,' excellent and desirable." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 3, Chapter 11)
Clement, as in all his writings, opposes all effeminacy in men, either in their thoughts or in their actions. Men were to be men in all aspects of their lives, and this even included their manor of walking. They were not to look like women and they were not to act like women. They were to be, through and through, men.

Given this, a true man does his own work. He carries his own load up the hill and he does not expect others to carry him around when he is perfectly able to do it himself. Very few of us today have domestics to help us with our work, but a true man is a gentleman and is kind to all who help him and does not expect them to do what he can do for himself. He is gentle and kind to all and attentive to the needs of others, not just his own.

David Robison

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