Monday, August 26, 2013

"Is Good Character Beyond Your Reach?"

This is the question Mrs Andelin asks in Chapter 16 of "Fascinating Womanhood" after she enumerates the basic qualities which constitite a worthy character. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by our duties. It seems like you are doing everything right and yet nobody seems to care and estimate it, not even your immediate family. The work of wife and mother is of such nature that it's often only noticed when she hasn't done it for today.

You may try hard to develop such qualities as unselfishness and honesty, yet you see all around you that people cheat, commit fraud, care only about themselves and seem to be rather successful, while you are taken for granted by everybody, including your own children.

It's difficult sometimes not to get discouraged, and instead of asking yourself whether you can acquire fine character, you think along the lines of: is it even necessary nowadays? 

Helen Andelin suggests in her book that good character is essential if you want to win your husband's love, but I think it goes much further than this, since as an old saying puts it, Virtue is its own reward. Simply put, we should do what is right, simply because it is right. To paraphrase the Bible, the one who knows what is good and doesn't do it, to him it is sin.

Doing what is wrong, or sinning in Christian terminology can literally destroy you. Mrs Andelin mentions it  when she writes about the consequences of sexual sin while discussing the virtue of chastity: "We live under spiritual laws which emanate from God. When we commit an immoral act, we come into conflict with spiritual laws, resulting in a feeling of guilt and emotional distress. Again I quote Dr. Max Levine...'There cannot be emotional health in the absense of high moral standards.' "(p.221, F.W., Bantam Books 1992.)

I'd like to draw your attention to this article  which suggests that immoral behaviour, such as habitual dishonesty, can and will negatively influence your brain and create a patology in the way it works. The same topic was discussed at length at the Orthosphere, however our main motivation in developing good character should be not self-preservation but pleasing God.

Helen Andelin points out that we should not be discouraged by the thought that fine character is unattainable, but rather make "a diligent effort" and pray for the Divine guidance. As she puts it: "The goal is too high and the forces of evil too strong to gain success without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You can become a good pianist, tennis player, or public speaker by persistence alone but the perfection of character is not within the reach without the promptings of the Holy Spirit." (p.224, idem).

Mrs Andelin reminds us that our character is not fixed or unchangeable, and in times of trial or crisis we may discover that we possess the qualities which we never suspected we had.

I'd like to end this post with  the list of the traits which constitute  good character, according to "Fascinating Womanhood":

1. Self-control
2. Unselfishness
3. Charity
4. Humility
5. Responsibility
6. Diligence
7. Patience
8. Moral Courage
9. Honesty
10. Chastity

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