The Greater Story of Potiphar’s Wife

In the town of Maghdouche overlooking Sidon in southern Lebanon, is where legend says the wife of Potiphar (circa 1500 BC) is buried, seductress of Joseph from the Bible, which does not name her.  Jewish, Islamic, and Persian literature have her name Zulaikha. The story in the Bible is that after Joseph’s betrayal and sale into slavery by his kin (Genesis 39), he finds favor in the eyes of Potiphar, the captain of the Egyptian palace guard.  In that household, Joseph rejects the advances and seduction of Zulaikha. In the event that led to his imprisonment,  Zulaikha grabs the garment of Joseph but he escapes naked running out of the palace. She lies to Potiphar saying that he was the instigator and Joseph is sent to prison. There, Joseph finds new and greater favor and position with the Pharaoh, ultimately becoming a source of salvation and blessings for his kin, the very people who betrayed him.

This story reminds us two recurring themes of God’s grace and mercy:

1. In being wronged and betrayed, we can become a source of grace for  people, many more people and much more grace than would have been available if the betrayal and evil had never been done.  In receiving God’s grace and mercy we bring along other people too.

2. The continuum of grace always occurs through the fulcrum of chastity.

But this story is only an early chapter, with earlier, later, and other chapters to come.

The town of Magdouche is an ancient promontory and look-out post for Sidon. During Phoenician times (peak 1200-800 BC) the promontory had the shrine to Astarte, the pagan goddess of war and sexuality. The pagan legend has Astarte bearing two sons from her brother, Eros and Lust. Astarte is likely the same pagan goddess of Sidon, Ashtoreth, who captured the heart of Solomon, son of David (1 Kings 11:5).

The shrine was taken over by Christians after the Virgin Theotokos stayed in a cave there while waiting for her Son to return from preaching in Sidon.  Jesus’ work in Sidon is referenced in many places in the new Testament (Matthew 11:21-22, Mark 3:8 and 7:31, and Luke 6:17) with even Matthew 15:21 referencing the city as a place of refuge for Jesus.

It took the convincing of St. Helena in the 4th Century by the devoted town folk for the empire to issue an icon of the Theotokos, reportedly painted by St. Luke, to the cave/Byzantine chapel: the Virgin of Mantara (the Waiting) or Virgin of Magdouche.

In the 8th Century, the cave was buried and hidden by locals to escape the detection of the local Moslem governors. Unlike the Caliph Omar who spared Jerusalem, they feared the cave would be destroyed by those leaders. Many of the region then dispersed into the higher mountains or converted to Islam. The Crusaders of the Latin Rite in Sidon of the 12th and 13th Centuries never suspected the chapel’s existence even with their own castle and chapel a stone’s throw from the hidden cave.

The cave’s legend lingered however.

Under the rule of the benevolent Druze Prince Fakhriddin II in the early 17th Century, peace and religious freedom was granted to the region. Byzantine Archbishop Euthymios Michael Saifi of Sidon (1682 – 1723) offered recognition of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. Around that time, the grotto was rediscovered when a goat-herder boy went after a goat who had fallen into the cave.  The boy, we can call him Indiana Jones Jr., noticed the icon as the goat ran back into his arms.  He piled rocks to escape with his beloved goat, alerting the townsfolk of his accidental excavation. The  pilgrimages restarted.

So the worship of Astarte was replaced with love and devotion, now restarted, to the chaste and virgin Mother of God, the Living Ark of the Covenant. Her chaste and virgin Son was also wronged and betrayed, becoming a source of grace offered for all people, infinitely more than would have been available if the betrayal and evil had never been done. Lest anyone think that this is not related to the Potiphar story or that God’s hand does not sign scripture, read the evangelist Mark’s stunning account of what happened immediately after Jesus was betrayed in the garden of Gethsemane:

Mark 14:51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

The winter now is past, the rains have gone away. Arise my love, my bride from Lebanon and come. How you are beautiful my love, how you are fair. Among all women as a lily in the thorns.

Veni Sponsa Christi

Contraception and the Soul and Body Decoupling

TRINITY BY RUBLEV
TRINITY BY RUBLEV

God is triune, three Persons in One, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A glimpse of this mystery can be facilitated by looking at who any one of us are. God made man in His image. So there must be a clue in us about God.

Any one of us must be a son or daughter of someone. We can espouse and become a spouse. We can procreate or adopt and become father or mother. So each one of us can mirror the three persons in one, although we are each only one person. Even those that do not marry or do not have children, still have that three-in-one reminder of God in their very being.  We exist for the glory of God. The triune character of man or woman, has an inherent potential to be faithful, like a spouse, or care for another, like a mother or father would. The Holy Virgin has a triune character: Crowned Daughter, faithful Spouse, and Virgin Mother.  Meet the new Eve, the Realm of God’s Love. Her triune character is all for the glory of God.

In the capacity or actuality of the three-in-one character in us, there is then the mark or reminder of the Divine.  Note that this state is not contingent on having sexual relations; rather it is a primordial and eternal state of the soul.  A characteristic of the Divine substance.  The teaching and notion of the Holy Virgin embodies this truth. This leaves the sexual act in its proper place: the creation of new life. And this teaches male-female relationships without sexuality.

In creating man, God meant that no gift be not subject to the will.  Contraception. like an illicit drug,  effectively makes a decision for you and in direct opposition to the triune character.  It is replacing your will, a component of the soul, so the will weakens. In the case of the contraceptive drug, the effect can also weaken the male’s will, who has to interact with the female in everyday life. Contraception produces a subtle distortion in the soul made for the glory of the Triune God, leading to the soul’s dysfunction.  Male and female. Meet the curse of the modern age.

Now man in the image of God is created body and soul. Intimately intertwined. The body then manifests the soul, along the principle that form follows function. The bodily change that results from contraception contradicts the function.  With this understanding, such an alteration of the body might be expected to result in ill-effects on the physical health of the person. And it does. These effects of contraception have been documented in the medical literature but have been effectively swept under the rug by the main-stream culture:

Blood clots in the extremities and pulmonary emboli.  In recent decades, there was the not infrequent puzzle of explaining chest pain in young women with normal chest x-rays. With the current use (and abuse) of CT scans, small pulmonary emboli are now known to be the cause. Small and insignificant, is the the current cultural rationalization to carry on.

The cyclical nature of contraceptive drugs is designed to trick the body into recognizing a pregnancy that is not there. The ovulation is thwarted. The uterus also looses the natural cycle, now capable of denying the implantation of breakthrough fertilization. If these organs are to be so fooled on a monthly basis for most of the adult life of a person, then how can we not expect the rest of our organs and tissues to be not fooled? Month after month. What about the cumulative effects? This background is the scientific explanation of the statistically proven dysplasia in breast tissue from contraceptives that increases the risk of cancer. It is called biological plausibility, the long lost spouse of biostatistics. A doctor should be able to explain things to patients in terms they understand.

Not to be left undone, the male has his equivalent. There is the emerging realization of the link between vasectomies and aggressive prostate cancer.

And what about other tissues? The brain for example. If it is well known that pregnancy causes psychological effects, then why not monthly phony pregnancies?

The analogy of mind-altering drug use is appropriate: Illicit drugs block the intellect, will, and memory, components of the soul, and produce adverse health-effects on the body.

But can we stop with contraception?  If the person develops habits that deny the triune nature of the soul then might we not develop yet unstudied effects on the body from other inventions like barrier methods to avoid pregnancy, or even masturbation or pornography? What is the effect of the soul, our will and intellect, by these habits? Our productivity? Our peace of mind? Do we become like deer during rut season, except all year round and for all our lives?

Dysfunctional souls are easy prey for predators. Without even mentioning the devil and his goals, the dysfunctional soul becomes fodder for the proponents of population control that deny the freedom, will, and the means available to humans. They believe in animal husbandry. You are a cow in a herd. You have no control over your facilities. They propose contraception while encouraging seduction, the continual hum of the culture. Just like the medical industry  creates pathology for treatment and the war industry, conflict for hardware.

James 4: 1, From whence are wars and contentions among you? Are they not hence, from your concupiscences, which war in your members?

“Whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity. Whoever praises it makes virginity more admirable and resplendent. What appears good only in comparison with evil would not be truly good. The most excellent good is something even better that what is admitted to be good.”

Saint John Chrysostom, De virginitatae