Mary’s “In Partu” Virginity: Reply to False Charges

Mary’s “In Partu” Virginity: Reply to False Charges November 16, 2019

My article, “Biblical and Patristic Evidence for Mary’s ‘In Partu’ Virginity” was published in National Catholic Register (11-14-19). I received the following feedback, and responded to it.

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“cowalker”: Good grief. It seems compeletely insane to this elderly woman to even worry about the condition of Mary’s thin piece of mucosal tissue that surrounded or partially covered her external vaginal opening before she became pregnant. This tissue could have been destroyed by various activities before she became pregnant. But who could possibly care if this tissue were subsequently destroyed during childbirth? There could be no significance whatsoever attached to this event. Except of course by some mad male who associates fantastical significance to the condition of the thin piece of mucosal tissue that surrounded or partially covered the external vaginal opening of Jesus’ mother before and after his birth. Or the thin piece of mucosal tissue that surrounded or partially covered the external vaginal opening of his potential girlfriend. Obsess away, fellas, but don’t puzzle over why you aren’t finding women (including Catholic women!) interested in forming a permanent relationship with a man who is concerned about this factoid. Luckily for women you are displaying major red flags related to relationships that will warn away normal women, regardless of their religious affiliation.

Hi “cowalker.” You miss the forest for the trees. You are the one who is obsessed about mere biological facts.

There could be no significance whatsoever attached to this event.

Really? The whole point of an intact hymen (as in Catholic belief from the beginning, with the agreement of the Orthodox and even many Protestants, including Martin Luther) is that it verified that Jesus’ birth (i.e., the birth event itself) was completely miraculous, and that Mary was a virgin before, during, and after Jesus’ birth. The intact hymen is what is meant by “physical virginity” and Mary being a virgin “during” Jesus’ birth (in partu). That’s how the word had been primarily defined for centuries, rather than simply “lack of sexual intercourse.”

It’s not about some supposed “obsession” with female genitalia. That myth exists between your ears. It seems to be all you can see or grasp out of this discussion. It’s about the birth process itself being a further miraculous aspect with regard to the most extraordinary birth in history: that of Our Lord Jesus: the Incarnate God.

But to play along with your mentality for a moment (which looks at mere biology and misses the entire point of all this): if we “patriarchal males” are supposedly obsessed with hymens, then God Himself is really obsessed and abnormal — and far more obsessed with male genitalia, given the high importance He placed on circumcision (i.e., the foreskin of a penis). That, too, was simply a sign of being part of God’s covenant (later replaced by baptism as the “initiation rite”). Why God chose that as a sign, I have no idea, but I know that it was not a result of obsession with genitalia. Such speculations come from those who are hostile to God, the Bible, or Christianity (even, sadly, often from within Christianity).

So the two things (again, playing the game to show the falsity of the absurd charge) sort of “cancel each other out” don’t they? The Church, the Bible, Catholics (along with the vast majority of other Christians through history) and God can hardly be both “anti-female” and “anti-male” at the same time.

This discussion is about the unique status of Jesus Christ as the Incarnate God. If all someone can get out of it is biology and genitalia (leading to ludicrous charges of sexism and “mad” males and lack or psychological “normality” as a result), then I must say that it is a classic example of what St. Paul described:

1 Corinthians 2:10-14 (RSV) God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.[11] For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. [13] And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit. [14] The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

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Related Reading:

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity “In Partu” (a Miraculous, Non-Natural Childbirth) is a Binding Catholic Dogma (see also extensive Facebook discussion) [9-24-08; expanded on 9-21-15]

Luther & Mary’s Virginity During Childbirth [10-12-11]

Mary Was a Virgin During Jesus’ Birth (In Partu) [9-19-14; slight modifications and additions on 4-18-18]

Martin Luther’s Belief in the Perpetual Virginity of Mary (+ Reformed Apologist James Swan’s Belittling Contempt of Luther) [9-23-14]

Mary’s Virginity During Childbirth: Ott’s Revision & Latin Analysis [9-29-15]

The Virginitas in Partu Revisited (Msgr.  Arthur Calkins)

The Virgin Birth of Christ — What the Church Really Teaches (Fr. Ryan Erlenbush)

The Virginity of Our Lady In Partu: The Painless, Miraculous Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ (biblical, patristic, and magisterial proofs)

[many more papers about the larger topic of Mary’s perpetual virginity, can be found on my Blessed Virgin Mary page]

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Photo credit: posted from Leonardo Madonna GalleryThe Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist, by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) [Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license]
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