Thursday, October 23, 2014

What Is Divorce?

"αθεοι" (atheoi), Greek for "th...
"αθεοι" (atheoi), Greek for "those without god", as it appears in the Epistle to the Ephesians on the third-century papyrus known as "Papyrus 46" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My ex-husband would leave me early in the evening so he could get into the bars before the cover charge went into effect. This, he said, was because we had so little money. Financed only with bravado, he'd shoot pool for drinks and come home drunk.

I was left with a child, no TV, poor radio reception, and a party line. My best friend was never home those evenings, so loneliness and lack of self-esteem flourished in my love-starved soul.

Neither of us were Christians, and I had never heard the admonition of Ephesians 5:25. " Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." I never knew a man, or a woman, could love a spouse so intensely. Imagine God's love for us: Jesus allowed himself to be whipped and mocked and crucified because he love us more than himself.

Because a man does not love a woman in this manner doesn't mean she should head for divorce court. But a sacrificial love is the life blood of a strong marriage. Like the lack of blood, without a love that prefers the other above yourself, the marriage will necrotize and die.

Ephesians goes on to say in verse twenty-eight, "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." It doesn't say to love yourself first. Love of self only comes with the love of your spouse.

In the same section of Ephesians, verse 22, women are simply admonished to "... submit to your husbands as to the Lord". Submission is a dirty word in our society, but its meaning is misunderstood. It does not mean to kowtow to every whim of your spouse. It does not mean your husband becomes a god you must adore. However, as we explore the definition of Biblical marriage and divorce, we will see how submission to a godly husband aids in the protection of and devotion to a wife.

Day 150: And that's that.
Day 150: And that's that. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Love, protection, respect, submission. These four elements lead to a strong marriage. Their absence is not a licence for divorce, but a steady absence of these elements will destroy a marriage. Partners may stay together because they believe divorce is unbiblical--however, divorce is more than legal papers dissolving the union.

Divorce is the absence of love, protection, respect and submission. You can still be married and yet be divorced.

What is marriage to you? What is your definition of divorce? Do you have questions you'd like to explore? Leave a comment.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Divorce: A Biblical Perspective

Once upon a time
I am divorced.

It is not the unpardonable sin, despite the theology of many churches. A sad example of how unforgiving many Christians can be about this issue is seen in the calling of a dear friend of mine.

"Sam" had been called into the ministry. With all of his being, he wanted to be a pastor. However, prior to his conversion, his first wife left him for another man. Close to suicide, Sam became a Christian and his sins were forgiven.

Apparently, all was forgiven but his divorce. He attended a neighborhood church with his new wife. There, he was flatly informed he could not preach or be involved in what they called ministry because of his pre-salvation divorce.

In a similar manner, one Baptist minisJesus Christ.
ter told me I could never remarry even though my divorce came before my acceptance of

And so I wonder. Had Sam or I murdered our cheating spouses and done our time, could we remarry? Could we minister? Is murder a more tolerable sin than ending up in an abusive relationship or with a philandering spouse and having the dignity to leave? Must divorced people be punished for all time for a sin not their own?

Even if a person destroys his or her own marriage and truly repents, should the punishment go on in perpetuity?

I, in no way, cavalierly endorse the end of a marriage. But marriage takes two people.

Then, we need to define divorce. When Michal scorned David, he never went in to her again--but never divorced her. Even in New Testament times, men could marry more than one woman, so could a Biblical divorce be the ending of support for the woman? Moses and the law allowed for it and accepted a remarriage. In those days, survival was nearly impossible for a single woman without a husband.

But what about people who stay married, live in the same house, but essentially have nothing to do with each other. Haven't they already divorced their spouses?

We do have explicit exceptions given in the New Testament, but the culture of the times would have understood some of the implicit issues.

Over the next few weeks, I'd like to explore divorce, remarriage, and most importantly, what does it mean to be a Christian couple?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fenians in Malone: Part 4

On May 27, 1870, five hundred additional Fenians reinforced the straggling,  poorly trained group at Leahy's farm in Trout River. They were well situated behind a ditch in a hops' field, had a stout barricade across the highway and woods and the river on
their flanks. Had they been well trained and well led, they could have withheld against any attack and had a successful raid on Canada.

Of course, that did not happen.

One thousand Canadian troops attacked. After a short, disorderly battle, the Fenians scattered. "They fired only a single full volley when the advance began" (Seaver 674). All these shots, and the few rounds that followed, all flew over the heads of the Canadian troops.
Only a few injuries resulted overall, so the Canadians were not much better prepared.

The fleeing Fenians escaped over the border, and the Canadian troops did not follow.

And the fleeing scene is something worthy of a Hollywood comedy. The Fenians swarmed Trout River, ran to Leahy's far and continued on back to Malone throwing away their armaments, or battering them away for food, as they scattered.

On May 28, back at the Fairgrounds, some officers tried to rally the troops for another attack. Hungry and tired, the refused. This appears to be good for them as one thousand US regulars arrived the next morning and would have suppressed the attack.

As a result of the battle, no Canadians were killed, Three or four Fenians were wounded, and one was taken prisoner. According to Seaver, the Fenians themselves were good fighters, but their leadership lacked talent.

Seaver, Fredrick. Historical Sketches of Franklin Countly. Albany: JP Lyons, 1918.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fenian Uprising--Malone: Part 3

Fenian raids
Fenian raids (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Fenians arrived in Malone expecting to find arms awaiting them. Wrong. The US government had confiscated most of them along the border. Thus, unarmed, the Fenians thought it best to not attack Canada in 1866.

Border agents seized a trainload of arms in Watertown. The Fenians recaptured them. Once more, in DeKalb, all the arms were confiscatedm and the Fenians were unable to get them back.

General Meade approached Malone with one-thousand regulars. On June 3, 1866, he ordered the Fenians to disband. Many desertions followed and all who applied for  transportation home were given it. Thus, Malone became a peaceful village once more.

Over twenty-thousand prisoners were captured in Canada and sentenced to be hung. Most were commuted to life imprisonment.

For four years, not much happened as far as the Fenian revolution. In the early spring of 1870, a second movement began. This time, they forwarded their arms months ahead of time. These supplies were hidden in the barns of sympathetic farmers. Chateuagay, Fort Covington and Hoagansburg were principle hiding places. Arms were then hauled to Trout River.

Malone was chosen as a principle invasion point. They would rush a troop into Canada. There they would wait for reinforcements. The troops who assembled in Malone did not camp here as they had in 1866. Instead they hurried off to Trout River

On May 25, 1870, they marched into Canada from the farm of George Lahey, a half mile south form Trout River. The Canadians were warned by spies, but no Canadian troop reached Huntingdon until May 26, so the place was undefended.

The Fenians advanced about three miles, and staked out a position on the Donnelly farm. Here they levied the farmers for food, raided stores and, in general, acting like invading armies.

Because their reinforcements failed to come. The Fenians retreated back to Leahy's farm on May. 26.

Next week: the conclusion of the Fenians in Malone. Do any of you have information regarding these raids you'd like to share?

All work for this article taken from:
Seaver, Fredrick. Historical Sketches of Franklin County. Albany: JP Lyons, 1918.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fenian Uprising, Malone: Part 2

Canadian Home-Guard defending against Fenians ...
Canadian Home-Guard defending against Fenians in 1870. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Canadians worried about an attack by the Fenians from the States. As early as November 1865, they placed troops at the borders and kept them on duty. In March they asked for 10,000 volunteers to guard the border and got 14,000. Eventually, they let their guard down and the volunteers returned home.

Then on June 2, 1866, reports came to Huntingdon that trains loaded with Fenians headed for Malone. The Canadians quickly re-assembled. Unfortunately, they had no firearms. Had the Fenians advanced at this point, they would have met no resistance and possibly have succeeded.

The Trout River Highway became heavily guarded and the Canadians placed at a fortification built to defend the road. Heavy rains turned that road into a quagmire and conditions persisted that would make advancement by the Fenians improbable.

Canadian farmers moved their families to their hunting cabins and some families moved in with American friends across the frontier.

On the first days of June, about 2,500 Fenians poured into Malone by train under the command of General M.J. Heffenan and Generals Murphy and O'Rielly--Civil War veterans. The bulk of the troops camped at the Fairgrounds on Main Street.

They were poorly provisioned and depended upon the locals for food and supplies. The troops were relatively ungoverned, so they had free access to the town. The residents, at times, feared their looting and rioting, but it never happened.

The only event that created a problem occured when William C. Sylvester, N.J. McGillivray and Dr. MacIntosh, all from Canada, came to see what was happening. By their dress, the Fenians assumed they were spies.

Hundreds of crazed Fenians convened by the Miller House, which  stood where the Flanagan stands today, in order to attack these three men. The commanding officers had little control over their troops. They tried to mingle with the mob in order to rescue the innocent victims.

One, Dr. MacIntosh, unhurt, hid under a lounge in the office of the lawyer William Cantwell. Sylvester's injuries weren't severe. Unfortunately, the same could not be said about McGillivray who was hidden in the attic of the south tower of the train station. Eventually, they secreted him to Pearl Street to the home of Colonel Seaver. He was badly injured. Here, his wounds were tended until the he and Sylvester could be secreted out of Malone. I assume MacIntosh escaped prior to these men.

That was the only Fenian attack in 1866.

Tune in next week for the next installment.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Fenian Uprising in Malone: Part 1

The Fenians. Just who were they? And why were they here in Malone, NY? Glad you asked.

The Fenians lived in Ireland and their movement existed primarily in England and The United States. Simply put, they wanted Ireland completely independent from England. They believed the Great Famine that hit Ireland and the poor aid from England was essentially genocide.

Several leaders came to the United States during the mid-nineteenth century. By 1866, about 3,000 Fenians gathered at our fairgrounds to invade Canada.

Why in America? They believed, according to Seaver, that because England gave help to the South, our sensibilities would be wounded and we would be eager to help them overthrow British rule in Canada (669). In fact, many were--not just from Britain's help in the Civil War, but the War of 1812, and family remembrances of the War of Independence, as well as border disputes with Canada.

Our area contributed funds in the form of bonds that would be paid off when Ireland became independent (669).

On the June 2, 1866, warnings came to Huntingdon from Chateaugay that on Friday evening, trains  loaded with Fenians were headed to Malone. Unfortunately, the British troops had no arms at the moment, and had the Fenians advanced at that time, things may have turned out differently.

But what part did Malone play?

In 1870, the Fenians tried to invade Canada once more and General Meade again intervened and cut off their reinforcements.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Malone, NY: The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad started off as not an organized group. However, federal law inflicted heavy fines and/or imprisonment. In the South, it could mean death. As with any righteous protest system, such as the freedom rides and anti-segregation marches, the Underground Railroad gained momentum.
Neil exploring tunnel
Tunnel in basement of the Congregational Church

The Underground Railroad flourished between 1840-1860, and it did reach Franklin County and Malone--although not to the degree of some other routes. New York's primary routes were in the east, up to Rouses Point or across central New York to Syracuse. From there, slaves traveled to Oswego or Buffalo. Aside from New York City, many started their New York path to freedom via Elmira.

The First Congregational Church
home of tunnels used by runaway slaves
Most fled to Canada; however, a Negro colony was established in North Elba and Franklin by Gerrit Smith.

A less known route passed through Malone, NY. However, it is not known from where the escaping slaves came or to where they fled (644). Scholars have not defined Malone's route--we must therefore assume it was rarely used. We know, from Seaver's account and from the tunnels in Malone's First Congregational Church, it did exist in this village.

According to Seaver, "A former Malone resident whose memory extended back to 1845 state...many of the negroes (sic) to whom Gerrit Smith deeded homes in the town of Franklin reached their properties via Malone, having come here by way of Plattsburgh or Ogdensburg (644).

Two former slaves made their homes in Malone. Two of which were Henry Jones and his first wife, both members of St. Mark's Episcopal Church. She refused to live in the wilderness. She insisted her grant gave her the old Miller House, where the Flanagan now stands, and ordered him out of the house (644).

Seaver, Frederick: Historical Sketches of Franklin County. Albany: JP Lyons, 1918.