Friday, October 21, 2005

"monstrous" woman of the week for God, Home, and Every Land

Welcome to the third in a series of biographical sketches that I plan to publish on Fridays.

These entries will briefly tell about women I believe have done many things to further the cause of Christ in America, and some even around the world, and have maintained a godly femininity while doing so. They will be women whose choices in life have also disqualified them from being given the godly woman status in some of today’s hyper-patriarchal circles, though the hypocrisy certainly has escaped some of these list keepers! Grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy! Oh, and feel free to emulate.

This week I am featuring not one “monstrous” woman but actually an entire regiment of them. Just after the end of the Civil War, in the fall of 1873, a group of women met together in New York State to address the growing problem of alcohol abuse in their homes and communities. Seeing the destruction of families by men who were abusing alcohol and spending their hours in saloons rather than with their families, the women first began times of prayer in the 2nd Presbyterian church of Fredonia, New York. It was out of these first prayer meetings that the Women's Christian Temperance Union began.

By the end of the 19th century, Americans spent over a billion dollars each year on alcoholic beverages compared with $900 million on meat and less than $200 million on education of children. As concerns rose around the country, Christians began to rise and take a stand against the abuse of alcohol. Women, the guardians and keepers of home and hearth, led the charge. Eventually Women’s Crusades were held and the women marched into saloons, drug stores, or wherever liquor was sold. They prayed on sawdust floors or, being denied access, knelt on snowy pavements or in the doorways until nearly all the sellers had given in.

According to E.P. Gordon, author of Women Torchbearers, one crusade in Ohio lasted 50 days and “in fifty days drove the liquor traffic, horse, foot, and dragoons, out of two hundred and fifty towns and villages, increased by one hundred percent the attendance at church and decreased that at the criminal courts in like proportion."

I chose these dear ladies to be lauded this week for several reasons. First of all, my husband’s grandmother and two great aunts, all three godly women who worked their entire lives for the preservation of the American home, were at once suffragettes and lifetime members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.* When I think of godly women who have gone before us, their names certainly deserve to be included on that list.

Secondly, there appears to be resurgence among Christian men today who have no qualms about spending both their time and money in saloons rather than in their homes with their families and, sadly to say, sometimes under the guise of “Christian fellowship.” This is heartbreaking when you realize that as little as one drink of an alcoholic beverage can cause judgment to be impaired, a loss of self-control, an unrealistic feeling of well being, a release of inhibitions, coordination and alertness to be impaired, and an increase of collision while driving. Note that a drink contains ½ ounce of alcohol and is defined as 1 can of beer (12 oz; 4-5% alcohol), 1 glass of wine (4 oz; 12% alcohol), or 1 shot of most liquors (1 oz; 40-50% alcohol). At times "a drink" is really the equivalent of more than just one drink, like when you order a drink with more than one shot of alcohol in it, or you do a shot followed by a beer.

What sadness for a godly wife to know that her husband is purposefully placing their family in harm’s way by public drinking in places of temptation. Perhaps it is time for Christian women everywhere to unite, once again, and take a stand against this renewed threat to our home and nation.

The original WCTU members rallied under the banner which read “For God and Home and Every Land.” Today they would quote the Greek Philosopher Xenophen in describing temperance this way: "moderation in all things healthful; total abstinence from all things harmful.”

For anyone who is interested in what my own personal conviction is on this matter, it could best be described here.

*Note that the woman's right to vote was, in part, a result of the need to protect women who were married to alcohol abusers. Not being able to own property and having no rights for custody of children if a divorce occured were just two injustices that women suffered and were directly related to alcohol abuse.


At 12:49 PM, Blogger Corrie said...

Great post! I didn't really know anything about the temperance movement except from Doug Wilson where he blames women for taking dark beer away from men and giving them wimpy light beer in its place. I also enjoyed reading John MacArthur's answer concerning alcohol usage. I am not a tea-totaller and I am not against any use of alcohol and I do have a glass of wine or a beer every once in a blue moon but I am very, very concerned about all the Christian leaders making a sport out of drinking alcohol and promoting its use and mocking those that have a problem with it.


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