Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Ever Virgin Mary

Dawn Eden had a good post the other day about Our Lady and how her example of chastity teaches us that chastity is a positive, self-sacrificing virtue, not one of negativity or unbearable burdens. The accompanying comments, sadly, broke down into an ill-informed debate over whether Our Lady was Ever Virgin. It started out with Protestants who didn't understand the issue in the first place, was defended by some Catholics (including me) and then screwed up again by Catholics who don't know the difference between the Immaculate Conception and the Incarnation. Some suggested that if Mary and Joseph never consummated their marriage, it was invalid and an aborration to the Catholic view of marriage.

What these people don't understand, of course, is that the sexual act within marriage is a reflection of the union of Christ with our souls. It is the best reflection we have, but in the face of the Divine action, it is simply a poor reflection. Christ's desire to unite Himself with us is not a reflection of sex, sex is a reflection of Christ's desire to unite Himself to us.

Mary and Joseph were certainly a special case and I don't claim to know the theology behind it, and for basically all other marriages, consummation is necessary to make the marriage valid. But Mary is Theotokos - she carried Christ Himself within her womb. Joseph was Christ's father on earth and had daily interaction with God Incarnate. They were completely united to Our Lord in a way that would make human sexual union unnecessary. There was no need for an imitation of the Divine Union when Mary and Joseph had completed it by having Christ Himself in their home. Why would they settle for an imitation when they had the Real Thing?