castrating our boys for a pretty song

castrating our boys for a pretty song August 26, 2013

castrato cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

The church, like all institutions are tempted, will harm people in order to achieve its goals.

Have you heard of the castrato? It is a man who was castrated before he reached puberty in order to keep that special high voice unique for boys in church choirs. As an adult, now with unusual lung capacity due to elongated bones and ribs from the lack of testosterone, as well as intensive training, the voice of the castrato is incomparable. You can read its history here, and even hear a recording of a castrato singing.

Adhering to the Pauline injunction that women keep silence in the church, the church figured out a way to get around it with the castrati. As early as 1748 Pope Benedict XIV tried to ban castrati from the churches, but they were so popular that he feared a ban would cause a decline in church attendance.

In 19th century Europe, threatening your misbehaving sons with castration or harming their genitals was not unheard of. Circumcision and even castration were sometimes seen as a permanent cure for sexual sin and other misbehaviors. This of course gave rise to Freud’s theories of the Castration, Oedipus, Electra and Penis Envy complexes.

I can hear people say, “Ew, that’s so medieval!” Yes. But we are still capable and actually still do this kind of thing, only in modern ways.

I would like to pose the question: How have men been harmed by their oppression of women in the church?

Women are to keep silence in the church, so we harmed boys in order to get a pretty song. We aren’t just harming women, we are harming men. We are harming ourselves. By denying women the full expression of their power, we are denying that of men as well.

The mind is powerful. Once it imagines a utopia, it will shed blood to achieve it. The visionary thinking of an institution often costs lives. The goals of an organization can harm people. Like the many lives that were sacrificed to the railroad, churches will run over people in order to achieve its ends. Since we’re talking about music: how many people have been harmed for the sake of the worship music industry?

The castrato was mutilated for the rest of his life for the sake of sacred music. Countless have been spiritually mutilated for the sake of the church’s desires.

Have you?

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