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Medieval Sexuality and The Church

Adam’s Rib Is Not A Laughing Matter

Adam's Rib is no laughing matter

In my novels, I try to stress that 13th-century women who lived in The Midi

were generally far more independent than their Northern counterparts.

I hope my female characters embody that self-reliant ideal.

In contrast, equality of the sexes was out of the question for the Medieval

Roman Church. It taught that men were primarily spirit and purportedly

kept their flesh under control. In contrast, however, women were purely

flesh and could seldom govern their desires. Thus, so the Church said,

men were born to dominate women, who would otherwise run wild.

It was thanks to men that civilization ever got off the ground.

But let the early Church fathers speak for themselves.

Tertullian (155 – 240 CE ) developed the idea of the Trinity but had this

to say to women:

“The curse God pronounced on your sex still weighs on the world…

You are the devil's gateway….You are the first that deserted the

divine laws. All too easily you destroyed Adam, the image of God.

Because you deserved death, it was the son of God who had to die.”

Shame on women, not only for engineering human mortality but for

killing Jesus as well! It’s all their fault. Wouldn’t “Turtel” have been a

barrel of fun at a Planned Parenthood meeting?

Saint Augustine (354-430 CE) wrote:

“…only man is the image and glory of God. Since the believing woman

cannot lay aside her sex and is restored to God only when there is

no sex, that is, in spirit." Woman had to deny her flesh and abstain

from sex, "better still never have sex, best of all never to think about it.”

Uh, oh! I don’t think Augie is going to get lucky tonight or tomorrow night,

either! No sex=no reproduction= no continuation of humankind! Is this

what he wants?

Saint Jerome (347 – 420 CE) the Biblical scholar who translated the Bible

into Latin (the Vulgate) coined the phrase, “woman is the root of all evil."

"In Eden, Eve was a virgin. [People should] understand that virginity is

natural and that marriage comes after the Fall. Woman must shed

her gender of her body completely, cease being a woman, and strive

to achieve a masculine spirit. She is as different from man as body

is from soul. If she wishes to serve Christ more than the world,

then she will cease to be a woman and will become a man.".

If women became men? Was good old Jerry advocating extinction of

the species, or merely anticipating Lady Macbeth? The holy misogynist

went on to say:

“She who does not believe is a woman and should be designated

by the name of her bodily sex, whereas she who believes progresses

to complete manhood, to the measure of the adulthood of Christ.

She then does without worldly name, gender of body, youthful

seductiveness, and garrulousness of age.”

There you have it. A woman who believes not only has to becomes

a man, sort of like Lois Lane changing into Superman, but in her

dotage, she even quits prattling on and on! What an important

advance for human kind! This authoritative kind of thinking was

basic to Scholasticism, the medieval educational system.


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