Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

For thousands of years, the Devil has been associated with the left hand in various ways and is normally portrayed as being left-handed in pictures and other images.

In the seventeenth century it was thought that the Devil baptised his followers with his left-hand and there are many references in superstitions to the "left-hand side" being associated with evil.

We say "do the right thing" thus favoring the right side to the left one. Jesus is portraited using his right hand and on the contrary, Devil using the left.

What are the traditions of the Church towards left handness?

share|improve this question

closed as too broad by Flimzy, wax eagle Nov 6 '13 at 20:34

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1  
Interestingly, the left hand's middle finger is traditionally interpreted in the West as the ring finger. Not sure how marriage plays out with the devil. :P –  Anonymous Nov 3 '13 at 0:42
1  
"do the right thing" is an accident of the English language, and is something that doesn't carry to most other languages. –  Flimzy Nov 3 '13 at 20:51
1  
It carries in my language :) For example, in English we say "I hope everything goes right". That phrase also exists in Greek. But if something goes wrong, we sometimes say "It went left" –  Nickolas Nov 3 '13 at 21:00
    
I like this question. It is very interesting. By "Church" I assume you mean Roman Catholicism, right? –  fredsbend Nov 4 '13 at 15:54
    
FYI, in Latin, you minister with your right - for your left is sinister. And yes, English gets those words from the Latin... –  Affable Geek Nov 5 '13 at 2:03
add comment

2 Answers 2

Traditionally, and not just in the Church, the right hand was considered more "noble" than the left, probably just because there are a lot more right-handed than left-handed people. As a result, the Church's traditional rubrics specify that some ceremonial actions be performed with the right hand, even if the person performing them is left-handed. For example, I believe priests are supposed to distribute communion with the right hand. This also applies to some actions that are not strictly governed by rubrics; for example, even though I'm left-handed, I make the sign of the cross with my right hand.

Until fairly recently, this sort of preference for the right hand was much more visible in secular society too. For example, my father, who was (like me and two of my four siblings) left-handed, was forced, as a child, to learn to write with his right hand. The preference also shows up in the English language, not only in phrases like the ones you mentioned in the question, but also in single words like "dexterous", "ambidextrous", and "sinister".

Finally, to answer the original question: No, I'm not a servant of the devil.

share|improve this answer
    
There is a practical reason for this too. Remember, we didn't always have toilet paper, so ascribing certain duties to your right hand, and well, other "duties" to your left, meant that you would never contaminate another accidentally. In India, for example, you never with your left hand... –  Affable Geek Nov 5 '13 at 2:04
add comment

In the final analysis it's not the goats sitting at the left hand at the marriage supper of the lamb. If anything it's that lady who was chases off into the desert.

Traditionally though, in Cathoiic Churches, Mary is in the right hand side of the altar and her most chaste spouse is to the left.

Also when genuflecting, one goes down on the right knee and makes the sign of the cross with the right hand. When one knelt before a human sovereign, they would go down on the left knee. And only make the sign of the cross if they were about to get their head chopped off.

All this is to put your mind at ease, as a lefty myself, I know I'm a tad less dexterous than my right handed peers (and children) but I make do. Theologically however, the left hand side just isn't as cool as the right hand side l. Sometimes infinitely less cool, but that's no reason to declare a fatwa against us lefties.

I belive the word you're looking for is gauche.

share|improve this answer
    
Hmm...didn't know that about kneeling on the left knee instead of right for earthly kings and queens..Wish I knew that when I proposed to my wife. :P –  Charles Alsobrook Nov 4 '13 at 11:16
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.