People send me stuff via email, and I browse through it all in the early morning, before I go offline and get to work, and that means I often wake up to some of the most disgusting, revolting, horrible messages: death threats, angry letters, and all kinds of interesting insults. But sometimes the worst comes from people who are on my side, like this message that really ruined my breakfast. It’s from a Catholic anti-choice site, full of prim certainties about gods and babies and your reproductive organs, and it has this…this…letter to a young girl, written by Alice von Hildebrand.
Be prepared to hurtle back and forth from hilarity to revulsion.
Let us take off our “secular” eyeglasses, and then we shall be able to see that women, far from being “discriminated” against, are in many ways privileged. And this is the “secret” I wish to share with you. The body of every little girl born into this world is mysteriously sealed by what is properly called the “veil of virginity”. That is to say, a “secret” is entrusted to her body, and a secret is always “veiled”. According to Christian teaching, this veil closes the entrance to a mysterious garden which belongs to God in a special way, and for this reason cannot be entered into except with His express permission, the permission that God grants spouses in the Sacrament of Matrimony. Any little girl aware of this “mystery” will feel that her body is to be modestly clothed, so that its secret will be hidden from lewd looks.
Little girls, of course, grow up. How beautiful when a bride can say to her husband on their wedding night, “I have kept this garden virginal for you, and now, with God’s permission I am giving you its key, knowing that you will enter into it with reverence”.
Moreover, when a wife conceives a few hours after her husband has embraced her, God creates the child’s soul in her body, (as you certainly know, neither husband nor wife can produce the human soul; God alone can create it.) In other words, there is a personal “contact” between God and the woman which, once again, gives to the female body a note of sacredness. Don’t forget that He whom the whole universe cannot contain, was “hidden” in the womb of the Holy Virgin for nine months. Once you realize this, you will be awe-filled for the double mystery that God has confided to you: to conceive a human being made to God’s image and likeness, and to give birth to it in pain and anguish. Do not forget that it was also in pain and anguish that Christ re-opened for us the gates of paradise – which had been shut by sin. To women has been granted the awesome privilege of nobly suffering so that a new human being, made to God’s image and likeness, might come into the world. Meditate upon this for a moment, and you will feel a deep reverence for your body. It belongs to God, and is not a “play thing” that you can dispose of as you please.
Wow. In a few short paragraphs, she’s managed to promote the cult of virginity, insist on magical ensoulment at the instant of conception, belittle the struggle for equality of women, glorify pain, and imply that anyone who doesn’t follow Catholic dogma is throwing away their body…and she does it with a kind of Victorian smugness that alone is rather off-putting.
I think I’ll go take a shower now.