Life's busy, read it when you're ready!

Create a free account to save articles for later, keep track of past articles you’ve read, and receive exclusive access to all RP resources.

Browse thousands of RP articles

Articles, news,and reviews with a Biblical perspective to inform, equip, and encourage Christians.

Create an Account

Save articles for later, keep track of past articles you’ve read, and receive exclusive access to all RP resources.

We think you'll enjoy these articles:

Current Issue, Magazine

Jan/Feb 2020 issue

WHAT’S INSIDE: The great moon hoax of 1935 / "Seven Wondrous Words" book excerpt / Why we should be life-long learners / Complementarianism is not misogynistic / This isn't your parents' Katy Keene...or Archie Andrews / "The Gospel comes with a house key" review / The case for biblically-responsible investing / Canada has no "right to abortion" / When the Word of God is not preached / Christian fantasy fiction for teens and adults / What you should know to survive and thrive in your secular science class / Four films to see for free online / I started my business for the wrong reasons / and much more...

Click the cover to view or right-click to download the PDF

Church history, People we should know

Rahab the whore...mother of Christ

"...the LORD your God is He who is God in heaven above and on earth beneath..." - Joshua 2:11

*****

In the house where one pays for love there arrived two young customers who had a different kind of business on their minds. They were engaged in espionage, nothing less: covert activities which required circumspect movements; activities that disguised their real intent, that even lead to the pretense of tourism, accentuated by a trip to the establishment of the local prostitute. They had been sent out by the master of strategy, Joshua the son of Nun, one of the two survivors of an earlier spy mission some forty years ago. At that time the economic intelligence gathering yielded interesting results, but the military intelligence had been devastating for an unbelieving generation. It took forty years to purge the nation of that element of destructive disbelief: they were all buried in the sands of the desert. Forty years of grave digging, forty years of sighing about "the wind passing over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more," (Ps. 103:16) as one of their offspring, David, would later sing. Then, at last, even Moses died; the LORD Himself took care of the funeral arrangements. Some safe house! [caption id="attachment_9183" align="alignright" width="300"] Rahab hiding the spies in the flax.[/caption] But now a next generation had come forth, the covenant had been renewed, and with it came a new willingness to serve, as these young men demonstrated, arrayed in their disguises. They were in the business of gathering information, and for information, they searched. This woman they met was ready to give answers to questions that had not even been raised. And so, notwithstanding the surroundings of ill repute, they had come to the right address; this too was of the Lord. Maybe they did not realize it, but they ended up in what the spy industry calls a "safe house." "Some safe house," one might mutter; hardly had they bedded down then that the local constabulary arrived for their arrest! Had the woman ratted on them? They were instructed, "to view the land, especially Jericho" (Josh. 2:1). Had they been too obvious in their observations of the land, even in their disguises? Were their questions reported? Thinking fast What do you do when soldiers come with their raucous order: "Open up in the name of the law!"? How do you respond to the gruff demand: "Hand them over, those enemy agents that we know came to your house!"? What do you do? Do you panic? Do you deny the obvious? In times of war and threats of war, house searches are not always conducted under the sanction of a warrant, the validity of which one could politely argue so as to gain some time to contemplate one's next move. But here was a woman who did not panic, who did not need to stall for time. Had her trade made her skillful in leading men astray? She surely knew how to forestall a house search! She was, likely, more than a little coy when she assured them that, indeed, these men had come to her, you know these things happen in an establishment like mine, and they left not so long after they arrived, and that is not unusual in my profession either. And you tell me they were spies? Wow!  Then, in a conspiring manner, she might have whispered, "They can't have gone far; they went that-a-way. Run after them and you'll be sure to catch up with them." The path she pointed out to the soldiers seemed to be clear route towards promotion in rank, and maybe even a decoration. The gates were opened for them and the gates were shut again after them, and the pursuers of Israel's heroes chased after wind. The “white lie” Through the years much has been theorized and debated about the possibility of "white lies." It seems that up until World War II most commentators agreed that a deception like the one performed by Rahab was still, in itself, a sinful act. But during the war many persons of great integrity suddenly faced Nazi soldiers and their loud demand: Aufmachen, Polizei!! "Open up, it's the police!" Since then the condemnation has not been so outspoken any more. Those who managed to lead the authorities down the garden path showed no remorse when later they admitted to have given their deceptive testimony. In fact, they were rather gleeful to report how several Jews were saved, the consequence of a gullible interrogator. There are some amusing anecdotes about those days. The scene in the book of Joshua is not without humor either, enhanced by this preposterous elaboration: "so the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan, as far as the crossing points..." (Josh 2:7). You could almost hear the eager conversations between then: how pleased the captain would be when they brought the spies in, and how proud their wives would be when their men would have their medals pinned on them. And then, gradually, the conversation slowed until finally they muttered: Where on earth are those fellows? But the readers of Joshua know where those fellows were all along: right there, hidden under the flax on the roof! Yet, "the men pursued them," Joshua said seriously. What a joke! Prostitute and now traitor? All this may seem somewhat goofy, worthy of an occasional chuck, but yet... couldn't we say that Rahab the whore had now added to the abominable character of her profession the sordid crime of high treason? She had joined in with the enemy camp! If we think back to World War II again, who would have anything to do with someone who stooped that low? However, is that verdict fair? Should she be displayed in the marketplace, shaven, shorn, and tarred, to have all the passersby spit on her? "The love of country is inborn in every citizen," it is said. We know all about that. During wars opposing armies claim: "We have God on our side." How convincing are the speeches of the leaders! How strong the conviction of their followers! "With honor and valor we fight for our cause, with God on our side." It has been repeated over and over at wreath-laying ceremonies. But inside this woman something had changed. Was she aware of Noah's curse over Canaan? Who were those gods that were supposedly on their side? Wasn’t it to demons that they offered their sons and daughters? The cruelty of those evil forces! Then, in total contrast, there were the stories of this large nation trekking through the desert, the children of Abraham. There was a cloud to guide them by day and a fire by night, she was told. Those were the manifestations of an entirely different God – One who loved His people, who was like fire around them to protect them, who rained bread from heaven to feed them, and who let them drink from the rock. True, He punished them for their evil doings, but He still upheld them and destroyed their enemies before them. Who knows, but that some wandering minstrel might have come by with fragments of the song of Moses "...the Lord will vindicate His people and have compassion on His servants..." (Deut. 32:36). This God was not like the demons who belong to the netherworld. He was the God in heaven above and on the earth beneath. But in His holy nation, would there be a place for her, daughter of the accursed Canaan, a woman who had availed herself of the profits of fornication? From rebel to child of God [caption id="attachment_9180" align="alignright" width="300"] Rahab helps the spies climb out over Jericho's wall.[/caption] But then this wonder took place, as miraculous as creation itself: according to His decree, God softened her heart and inclined her to believe. At the same time the crisis of possible detection having been forestalled, she ran up the stairs and blurted out her confession: "I know that the LORD your God is He who is God in heaven and on earth beneath." Would a critical onlooker find that confession a bit meager? It is probably fair to say that she wouldn’t have passed an exam in systematic theology. All we know is that in that confessed faith she bargained with the two representatives of God's holy nation: their safety for her and her family. They made a deal and it was confirmed by oath. The last words reportedly from her mouth were: "Amen, so be it" (Josh 2:21). Of these actions, undoubtedly recited through the ages, James, the leader of the church at Jerusalem, would later make honorable mention, listing them in one breath with the great works of faith by father Abraham (James 2:23-25). So it was that the first major strategic undertaking of Joshua, the son of Nun, seemed to have been upset by the tardiness of the spies. What kind of secret agent accomplishment was that, to bed down in a house of ill repute, to sneak through a window, to hide three days in the caves? Not a very good start, was it? Yes, true, it did not seem like much, but out ways are not God's ways. Just look at the valuable intelligence they received out of the hands of a woman chosen by God: "Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands; and moreover, all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of us" (Josh 2:24). God’s ways are not man’s ways [caption id="attachment_9181" align="alignright" width="300"] ...and the walls came tumbling down.[/caption] The preparations for the battle of Jericho, seen from a military point of view, seemed to be directed towards a total disaster. When the first encounter with a fortified city is to take place, what military exercises come up front? Stamina-building drills? A mock attack? Special wall-climbing exercises? None of that happened. Instead, the sign of the covenant was administered (Josh. 5:2-9). All the army was circumcised. The effect of adult circumcision was that the army was sapped of its military strength for days. If the enemies were to find out... But thus it pleased the LORD to fulfill all righteousness. And stranger yet, a patch of ground within view of Jericho was declared holy territory, where the military leader of Israel met the commander of the mighty host of the LORD (Josh. 5:13-15). Joshua, the son of Nun, was in this very peculiar way made ready for battle: he had to take off his shoes. Now Jericho, known for its mighty men of valor, was sealed up tight ready to defend itself behind its fortified walls with whatever strength still remained within its armed forces. So, we would say: "Time for action. Get on with it! Let the battle start...” But then again the events took a weird turn. Instead of an attack, there was a solemn procession around the city: seven priests blowing horns, followed by the Ark of the Covenant, and after that, the army detachments. No shouting, no banging of drums, no belligerent songs. Only the mournful sound of the seven rams’horns. The army followed silently; it was an uncanny show. Once this was accomplished, everybody headed back to their own camp and the deathly silence returned. The following days it happened again, and the next day again, and again. And every time the procession came by the house of Rahab the whore the people saw the scarlet cord hanging out of the window. And every time Rahab the whore looked out of the window and saw this strange procession going by, her heart beat wildly in anticipation. The battle of the Lord was taking shape and she had taken His side, or rather, He had taken her on His side. Now it was going to happen: the Hour Zero approached rapidly. The tension was building to an unbearable level. Finally, on the last day the procession around the city was repeated several times over, till the final trip was made and the horn blowing ended. There was a short moment of utter silence. Then the trumpets sounded their dramatic long blast, and the whole scene erupted into turmoil. The entire army gave off a loud shout, a howl of derision for the enemies of God. After that a rumbling came up, as bricks and mortar split apart, as boulders cracked and rolled away, and in their course felling and crushing the hapless defenders. Then the walls of the city fell upon them, and the ruins of the structures covered them. And through the clouds of dust, over the rubble, clambered the victorious armies of God, in endless waves, to fulfill the command of total destruction. Total destruction? Yes, the city was devoted to the LORD for destruction. Nothing was to be spared. Nothing except... The war correspondent in Joshua 6 first passes on the direct order as it was given: destroy everything. Everything, except the house of Rahab the whore. Reason for the exception? She hid the spies. Then follows the narrative: as instructed by General Joshua, the young spies went into the one remaining structure of the ring-wall. It was marked with the crimson cord. Spitting out the gritty dust of the ground granite that made film on their lips, they egged on the occupants: "hurry, hurry, quick this way to safety!" Finally comes the recap, the summing up of the total victory: the city was burned with fire. The vessels of bronze and iron were put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. End of report? No! Again it is stated, and now with greater emphasis yet, that Rahab the whore and her father's household, and all who belong to her were saved alive. "And," concludes the report, "she dwelt in Israel to this day." Why? "Because she hid the messengers, whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho," that's why. In the Hall of Fame In the hall of fame of the heroes of faith, there is a long wall lined with portraits. Hebrews 11 leads us through it. There is Abel, all scarred up, but still speaking through his faith. And look, there is Noah, that ridiculous shipbuilder on dry ground, but therefore heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. See Sarah there, laughing, because at age ninety she still conceived, and God had made laughter for her... And then...yes, indeed there she is. Rahab the whore. Even now the title of her terrible profession is still etched on the copper plate that carries her name. But her features seem familiar. Haven't we seen her somewhere before? Yes, of course, the evangelist Matthew listed her in the genealogy as a not-so-immaculate mother of Christ! The company some people keep! Look at the strange smile on her face. After all those centuries, does she still think that sending those poor soldiers on a wild good chase was rather funny? Frankly speaking, it really was funny, but it seems that the smile is not about that. No, this is a fond smile, a smile caused by amazement and expressing great love. How could she, daughter of the cursed Canaan, and practicing prostitute, how could she possibly have ended up here, among these great ones in the kingdom of Christ? Indeed, there is every reason for amazement. Here was one woman who came in last, totally unworthy, not even qualifying for the crumbs of the dogs, and yet she was given a seat of honor up front by her Great Son, the Christ, through the eternal love with which He loved her before the foundation of the world. If that does not make you smile, what else would?

In this reflection the author wants to direct us back to the text to look at it with new eyes – an oh-so-familiar story startles us once again when viewed under this different light. But like any commentary on Scripture, it shouldn’t be read instead of the text itself. Read on its own, it could become confusing as to what are the author’s thoughts, and what the text actually says. So an important follow-up then is to read Joshua 2-6. This is a slightly edited version of an article that first appeared in the December 1993 issue. John de Vos was the very first editor of Reformed Perspective.

Christian education - Sports, Gender roles

Daughters in sports

Women and men are different, so they should play differently

****

I promised in a previous column that I would address the touchy subject of daughters playing in sports, and so I guess I can't get out of it now. It is all fine and good for sons to be subjected to the discipline and competition of sports, but what about our daughters? Is it healthy for them to be competing? Here is my decided take on it: it all depends. We are not raising our daughters to be "fighters" the same way we are with our sons. At the same time, self-discipline and godly determination are great qualities for women to have. Daughters can learn a lot from sports. They can benefit from learning to push themselves, to work hard, and to be part of a team. Besides, physical activity has benefits for everyone. Women can enjoy the thrill of the race or the game like anyone else. Still, we have to look at sports for our daughters a little differently than we do for our sons. Women shouldn't be men, and vice versa The goal we have in mind in raising sons is to inculcate masculinity. And we want our daughters to embrace a godly femininity, not a worldly feminism. So when parents consider sports for their daughters, they ought to be thinking about whether her participation will help develop or hinder her. Some sports are so completely masculine that young women shouldn't even think about participating. These certainly include football, boxing, baseball, and hockey. And it is just plain pitiful to see a woman force herself onto a male team just to cause a stink and force the boys to play with her. This is just a sad attempt for attention. Once when my son played football for a government high school (while he attended a local Christian school), the other team had a girl suited up and standing on the sidelines. My husband told my son, "If she gets out on the field, don't go near her, and don't tackle her. Just stand out of her way." Tackling is no way to treat a lady, even if she is refusing to act like one. But the next important thing to consider is what kind of program is available. For example, volleyball can be a great sport for girls. But if the program is bent on treating the girls like they are boys, and they are encouraging the girls to act like boys, then I wouldn’t want my daughters participating. But if the coaches are teaching girls to play well and to play like ladies, it can be a great experience. The same is true of basketball, softball, soccer, or track. If the girls are trying to act tough and masculine, it is deadly. But if they are enjoying the game and learning to work as a team, this can be working with the grain, teaching them to be feminine and beautiful as they handle the ball or hit it over the net. When our daughter played basketball for her Christian school, the team all wore blue ribbons in their hair as a feminine statement that they were not trying to act or look or play like boys. And they were good. They didn’t trash talk or play dirty. They were taught to play like Christian women. Positive character traits So if the sport itself is not masculine in nature, and if the program is deliberately striving to promote feminine virtue, then it can be a great blessing to young girls. But there are still pitfalls. Boys need to get hit and learn to take it, but girls need security and love. When insecure girls play sports, they are more susceptible to the temptations to try to become masculine. They may be looking for attention and affirmation from the sport when they really need it from their dads and their moms. They may “feel” unfeminine, so they gravitate to sports where they don’t have to be feminine. This means that wise parents will closely monitor their daughters while they participate in sports. And if they begin to show signs of becoming “macho” or unfeminine, they should consider pulling them out. I have seen the discipline of sports teach girls to be better stewards of their time, thus causing their studies to improve. Some exposure to sports can give our daughters confidence and make them “well-rounded” in their education. My daughter especially recommends volleyball for Christian girls because it is a team sport that can include lots of people, of all ages, and is a great activity for church picnics. And team sports are revealing when it comes to testing a daughter’s character. She has to think fast, look out for others, follow directions, and develop skill. This is all good, and none of this is contrary to a biblical femininity. Uniforms Of course I have to say something about uniforms and modesty. Christians ought to insist on dressing modestly. That means we shouldn’t be wearing tank tops with huge armholes and sports bras underneath. Neither should they be wearing what are called butt-huggers. It doesn’t matter if the other team is wearing skimpy outfits. Christians ought to refuse to participate in a sport where they will have to compromise in this area. A girls’ team can be dressed appropriately and modestly, even if it is no longer “cool” to do so. And this doesn’t mean wearing knee-length culottes,  (or any length culottes for that matter). Volleyball and track teams are now wearing virtual swimsuits as uniforms, and it just isn’t necessary. You can’t tell me that they really can play better or run faster in less clothing. It’s about making the slower women’s sports more interesting to watch. Male volleyball players don’t seem too hampered by actual shorts. Sports are not evil in themselves. But bad coaches can make for a miserable experience. If your daughter is in a sport, know the coaches, be at the games, and know how your daughter is doing. She certainly shouldn’t be forced into playing a sport if she isn’t inclined to do so. But if she wants to play, parents ought not hinder her for the wrong reasons. Questions for discussion Are there sports women shouldn’t play that men can play? Do you agree with the author's list of football, boxing, baseball, and hockey? Why or why not? What is the difference between "godly femininity" and "worldly feminism"? The author gives several examples of how women can be feminine in sports. What do you think of these examples? Can you think of other ways girls can be feminine while playing sports? What is the author’s main point? Do you agree? God has given men and women different roles, but are the genders' different roles something that has implications for the sports field? Do any of our Christian school sport programs encourage girls to act masculine? If so, how so, and what could be changed?

Reprinted with permission from Credenda/Agenda, Volume 16/1 published by Canon Press (www.canonpress.com).

Adult fiction, Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEW: Greg Dawson and the psychology class

by Jay Adams 2008 / 149 pages This is a novel, but it'd be more accurate to call it a textbook masquerading as a novel – the goal here is education, not entertainment. Jay Adams' fictional protagonist Greg Dawson is a preacher who lives near a Christian college. Some of the students want to know the difference between the psychological counseling theories they are being taught and the biblical counseling Greg Dawson uses. Via a series of informal conversations with Pastor Dawson, the students learn that the psychology they’re being taught at their Christian college is built on secular counseling theories. They are asked to consider just how many different secular counseling theories there are. These theories claim to be built on insights into what Man is really like, and yet the different theories disagree with one another, and sometimes wildly. So how are we to evaluate them? Dawson points students to the Bible, asking them to examine how many of the theories line up with a biblical understanding of our inner nature. So long as these secular theories understand Man outside of our relationship with God how can they understand what Mankind is really like? Dawson asks them to also consider that most of these theories don't acknowledge our sinful nature, or understand our purpose here on earth. As the back of the book details, some of the other issues explored include: the difference between apologizing and forgiveness the place of evangelism and faith in Biblical counseling Is all truth God's truth? some specific issues such as depression, mental illness, and marriage Adams is only one of many experts to consult when it comes to biblical counseling. Others include Ed Welch, Heath Lambert, Wayne Mack, Paul David Tripp and David Powilson. But this book is an ideal introduction to the subject – the novel format makes for an easy, yet highly educational, read. And if you like this one, you'll be interested to know Jay Adams has written two other "Greg Dawson" novels: The Case of the Hopeless Marriage and Together for Good: Counseling and the Providence of God.

Assorted

Choice words – a queen’s folly

“The gossip’s words are like choice food that goes down to one’s innermost being.” – Prov. 18:8

*****

There is an old adage which says, “Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see.” Another saying rightly puts forth the idea that the phrase “They say” is often a great liar. The Bible advises us to live quietly and to mind our own affairs and the Bible also underlines that “Where there is no talebearer, strife ceases” (Prov. 26:20).

When you dislike someone, however, it is quite easy to believe gossip about that person; and when you have a disagreement with an acquaintance, how tempting it is to listen to a wagging tongue to discredit that acquaintance?

Before she was queen

We all know many factual historical news items about Queen Victoria, the long-reigning English monarch (1837-1901). When she was born on May 24, 1819 at Kensington Palace, Victoria was only one of several heirs to the throne of England. But after the death of her father, her grandfather and an uncle, she became the sole heir to that throne. She was eleven years old at the time.

Victoria’s childhood was secluded. Much of it was spent isolated from other children her age. Her mother, the Duchess of Kent and a Fraulein Lehzen, the governess, were virtually the only people with whom she had contact. She played with 132 dolls and a pet spaniel dog, but these did not make up for the devastating loneliness she sometimes felt.

The Kensington system

Sir John Conroy had been equerry – a personal assistant – to the Duke of Kent, Victoria’s father. After his death, Conroy offered his services to the Duchess as comptroller of her household. These services were accepted and the Duchess and Sir John Conroy grew very close. Together they set up a system called the “Kensington System” which regulated and oversaw every aspect of the crown princess’ life. The idea of this system was to make the young girl so utterly dependent on both her mother and Sir John Conroy, that she would be totally unable to do without the pair of them once she became queen.

The little girl had rarely been out of her mother’s sight. She slept in the same bedroom, and possessed virtually no privacy. Conroy was not especially kind to the child, bullying her with disparaging words when he could, and she disliked him exceedingly. As well, she detested the power the man appeared to have over her mother, not to speak of the fact that he often inferred that she was ill-equipped to become queen.

In May of 1837 the princess celebrated her eighteenth birthday. The celebration brought with it a coveted amount of independence, for it gave Victoria her own income. Less than four weeks after this milestone birthday, King William IV, her uncle, died. Not even five feet tall, Princess Alexandrina Victoria was immediately proclaimed Queen. Sermons were preached throughout England simultaneously mourning the death of William IV and celebrating the accession of the new queen.

The young queen immediately made appointments to form her own household. She very deliberately excluded Sir John Conroy. As a matter of fact, she referred to him as “a monster and demon incarnate whose name I forbear to mention.” There was a move to Buckingham Palace and one of the first things the young monarch did was to secure her own bedroom. Her mother henceforth would not share her sleeping quarters any longer.

Lady Flora Hastings

Three years before this, a Lady Flora Hastings, the unmarried daughter of the first Marquis of Hastings, had been appointed lady-in-waiting to Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent. However, Lady Hastings inadvertently became part of the Kensington System. In addition to the duties of lady-in-waiting to the Duchess, she had been told to serve as companion for the young princess. Both the Duchess of Kent and Sir John Conroy believed this would deter confidences between the princess and her beloved governess, Fraulein Lehzen. Victoria sensed this and believing Lady Flora to be a spy doing Sir John Conroy’s bidding, Victoria distrusted and disliked her. Given the whole history of the girl’s repression and isolation, this can readily be understood.

Lady Flora Hastings was a beautiful woman. She had an oval face, big eyes, an aristocratic nose, thick dark hair and a flawless complexion. She was also a Christian and a firm believer in her Lord and Savior. In 1839, after Victoria’s accession to the throne, she made a trip to Scotland to visit her family. Afterwards she returned in a carriage with Sir John Conroy without the presence of a chaperone. A few weeks later, Lady Flora openly complained about a pain in her abdomen. As well, she developed a noticeable swelling in her stomach as she continued to have this pain. She wrote later:

“…having been suffering from bilious illness since the beginning of December, I consulted Sir James Clark, her royal highness’ physician, and placed myself under his treatment…”

The noticeable swelling of the stomach caused tongues to wag. Gossip was rife. And Queen Victoria, that very new and young monarch, participated in many a demeaning conversation about Lady Flora Hastings. This woman, it was whispered, is unmarried, a prude, and probably pregnant. Unkind mouths went on that, very likely, the father was Sir John Conroy. The Queen’s extreme dislike for Sir John Conroy and his cronies, probably added fuel to the fire.

A shunned Lady Hastings later wrote:

“On the 16th of February, Sir James Clark came to me, and asked me whether I were privately married, giving, as his reason, that my figure had excited the remarks of the ‘ladies of the Palace.’ On my emphatic denial he became excited, urged me to confess as the only thing to save me…. it occurred to him at the first that no one could look at me and doubt it, and remarks even more coarse. I observed to him that the swelling from which I had been suffering was very much reduced and offered him the proof of my dresses. He replied, ‘Well, I don’t think so. You seem to me to grow larger every day and so the ladies think.’ He proceeded to say that it was the only supposition which could explain my appearance and state of health ‘or else you must have some very bad illness.’ I said that was possible. I had thought badly of my own state of health, but that his supposition was untrue and quite groundless. He ended by assuring me ‘that nothing but a medical examination could satisfy the ladies of the Palace, so deeply were their suspicions rooted…. and the rumor has reached the ear of her Majesty. I said, feeling perfectly innocent, I should not shrink from any examination, however rigorous, but that I considered it a most indelicate and disagreeable procedure, and that I would not be hurried into it.

It seems strange and hurtful that such wicked gossip should come to Lady Flora Hastings, not by the mouth of a female, but by a man. It would have been proper for a woman to convey these malicious rumors and for a woman to comfort her. The gossip about Lady Flora persisted after Sir James Clark’s visit and the Queen continued to believe that she was pregnant.

Both saddened and shamed, Lady Flora wrote:

“It having been notified to me that it was her Majesty’s pleasure that I should not appear (at court) until my character was cleared by the means suggested, and having obtained the permission of her Royal Highness to submit to it, as the most instantaneous mode of refuting the calumny, I sent….for Sir Charles Mansfield Clarke and for Sir James Clark, and the examination took place in the presence of my accuser, Lady Portman, and my own maid. In the evening Lady Portman came to me to express her regret for having been the most violent against me. She acknowledged that she had several times spoken a great deal to the Queen on the subject, especially when she found it was the Queen’s own idea. She said she was very sorry but she would have done the same respecting any one of whom she had the same suspicion. I said my surprise is, that knowing my family as she did, she could have entertained those suspicions.”

Even when it came to light that the doctors could find no evidence of pregnancy giving her a certificate to verify this, the ill rumor persisted. At some point, Lady Hastings, who was also a poet, penned these words:

In every place, in every hour,
Whate’er my wayward lot may be;
In joy or grief, in sun or shower,
Father and Lord! I turn to Thee.

Thee, when the incense-breathing flowers
Pour forth the worship of the spring,
With the glad tenants of the bowers
My trembling accents strive to sing.

Alike in joy and in distress,
Oh! Let me trace Thy hand divine;
Righteous in chast’ning, prompt to bless,
Still, Father! may Thy will be mine.

Scarred still

Although Lady Flora was re-included in all the festive and formal arrangements of the court after this most painful incident, it did not take away the shame and misery to which the young woman had been subjected. Her good name had been sullied. A few months later, she was unable to participate any longer in court functions. The illness which affected her kept her in bed.

The queen, to her credit, did visit the bedchamber once before Lady Flora died. A post-mortem revealed that she had suffered from a cancerous tumor on the liver. It is recorded that no word of reproach or enmity escaped from her lips and that she died peacefully.

When Queen Victoria was informed of Lady Flora’s death, she wept and ordered that every mark of respect suitable for such a melancholy occasion be observed.

Words can be swallowed, but once spoken, they can never be erased. The slander against Lady Flora Hastings is, consequently, a blot on Queen Victoria’s reign, a blot she, no doubt, often regretted. Proverbs 10:18 clearly says that whoever spreads slander is a fool. Lady Hasting’s sad story serves as a sharp reminder that we must be careful with our words.

Christine Farenhorst is the author of many books, including a short story collection/devotional available at Joshua Press here. She has a new novel – historical fiction – coming out Spring 2017 called “Katharina, Katharina” (1497-1562) covering the childhood and youth of Katharina Schutz Zell, the wife of the earliest Strasbourg priest turned Reformer, Matthis Zell. Picture credit: Queen Victoria, painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1859; Lady Flora, unknown.


We Think You May Like