Sexual integrity as a state of mind

February 11, 2017 § 51 Comments

I recently received a Disqus notification for a comment someone left on a long forgotten discussion about the martyrdom of St. Maria Goretti:

[St. Goretti] did not die for her purity. She died for [her attacker’s] purity. Stop calling rape victims sinners. Stop committing idolatry by worshipping mere hymens. Stop allowing a demonic obsession with physical virginity to pollute you and make you a destructive force in the world. When you call rape victims sinful you’re committing an act of Satanic worship.

St. Maria Goretti is not just a martyr to purity.  In my view she is also a martyr to metaphysical realism.  If rape isn’t an objective violation of sexual integrity worth resisting when possible then why is it wrong at all?

Suppose instead of a rapist St. Goretti’s family had been attacked by marauding Barbary slavers, she had died resisting the breakup of her family, had forgiven her attackers, her attackers had later converted, etc.  Suppose the hagiography was basically the same, in other words, but the objective violation in question was different.

Years later she is canonized a saint and celebrated as a martyr to family integrity.

This leads to an annual freakout by protesting orphans and runaways, who feel aggrieved that anyone could celebrate the defense – to the death, by a saint and martyr – of family integrity.

§ 51 Responses to Sexual integrity as a state of mind

  • donalgraeme says:

    Nailed it on the head Zippy.

  • Roman Lance says:

    I don’t think I can follow the logic of the post you referenced.

    Maybe I just don’t have enough information, but is seems like the commenter may have been a victim of a sexual offense and has some kind of conflicting feelings because they think they were sinful for finding the act not entirely to their disliking. So, in their attempt to assuage their “guilt” and the resulting interior declarations that they are no longer pure, they make some leaps of logic that leave them blaming you for condemning THEM!

    Again, I don’t get it.

  • It’s a difficult situation. Read Elizabeth Smart’s accounts of living with her rapist. She says she made a decision Ely on to do whatever he told her to so she could eventually see her family again.

    I understand the logic, but when one tries to say that Smart would have been better off dying to resist her rapist, the mind rebels.

  • Sorry for the typos – I’m on a phone. Hopefully the gist is understood.

  • Zippy says:

    Roman Lance:

    Anti-realism is never really consistent. If sexual purity is strictly and only a state of mind or a matter of subjective intentions then Goretti’s resistance of her attacker fails to preserve his purity as well — cannot preserve it, even in principle. He obviously intended to rape her, even though he objectively failed in his attempt.

  • Roman Lance says:

    @ Zippy

    Ok. I think I understand more fully what is going on.

    Thanks for the response.

  • Patrick says:

    Stop worshipping family! No saint would die for something so petty and ridiculous!

  • Elspeth says:

    Zippy, come on now. Am I missing something here?

    Yes, I understand better than I wish I did that being sexually violated undercuts a woman’s innocence, psychological, and emotional purity. You are correct.

    However, unless I am misunderstanding the commenters you are referencing, that wasn’t the point. Was not the point that this girl’s spiritual integrity and innocence before God would not have been affected had she been victimized?

    In other words, while I agree that there is a bit too much protestation from those who stoop to the crude imagery of a woman canonized for “protecting her hymen”, I also think those who go on about her canonization for dying a virgin also miss the point.

    Take any egregious errors for Protestant ignorance and talk down to me so that I get it.

  • Elspeth,

    Who was ever denying her integrity and innocence before God would have been affected? From what I can see the argument here is that purity matters, so dying to protect your purity is laudable – not that being violated would have made her less innocent.

  • Dystopia Max says:

    “If rape isn’t an objective violation of sexual integrity worth resisting when possible then why is it wrong at all?”

    It is, but the Left makes PROBLEMATIC noises whenever you defend the integrity of anything, female sex included. IT IS AN UNASSAILABLE RIGHT OF WOMEN TO RUIN ANY PARTS OF THE BODY THEY OWN ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN CHOICE…etc.

    If you REALLY want to piss off the left and its diverse fallen fetishizers you should celebrate her for defending the trust and faith of the common righteous Christian man against the cheating and devaluing claims of the unrighteous. A great many resemble that remark.

  • RichardP says:

    Dancing on the head of a pin, and all …

    Rape is the forcible taking of something that is not yours. Taking something that is not yours violates God’s command to not take something that is not yours. We see that command in the Bible. There is no equivalent command to always choose to protect your purity, even to the point of death. But I do see conversations in the Bible that God looks upon our (supposed) righteousness as filthy rags. That would include his attitude toward any claims of sexual integrity that we may profer. If God looks on our supposed sexual purity as so many filthy rags, what is the point of dying to defend it?

    Our redemption, if there is to be any, is entirely dependent on our accepting the shed blood of Jesus as the shed blood God requires for the forgivness of sin (Hebrews 9:22). A rescue for us, freely given. Grace. The only requirement being our accepting the shed blood of Jesus as the blood that God requires before he will forgive our sins. Dying to protect our purity is not the shed blood that God is looking for. Dying to protect our purity is not anywhere in the conversation about what God expects from us in order to merit his favor.

    I will be here tonight in a couple of hours, herding the children’s choir so they will make it from the practice room to the sanctuary instead of ending up out in the street. The music in both videos is from the 2008 performance in which my daughter participated. John Rutter was a director then, and will be the principle director again tonight. Cheers. It is quite a Cathedral. Our Lady of Angeles in Los Angeles. As the Grammy’s go on in the Staples Center across town. Quite a contrast in music presentations.


    Lead Me Lord – Our Lady of Angels tour


    Look at the World – composer = John Rutter

    and this one, just because.

    Candlelight Carol – composer = John Rutter

  • Scott W. says:

    Oh Saint Maria Goretti who, strengthened by God’s grace, did not hesitate even at the age of twelve to shed your blood and sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity, look graciously on the unhappy human race which has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially youth,with what courage and promptitude we should flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us from our Lord victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, and the grace which we earnestly beg of thee, and may we one day enjoy with thee the imperishable glory of Heaven. Amen

  • Zippy,

    I don’t honestly see why you’re engaging with her. She’s a vile troll.

    Elspeth,

    I also think those who go on about her canonization for dying a virgin also miss the point

    Strictly speaking, “dying a virgin” isn’t what she was canonized for. She was canonized for being killed protecting her purity. A person has an objective obligation (as in, not saying anything about subjective mitigation, fear, etc.) to avoid being so violated if possible under the circumstances. If, counterfactually, it had not been possible for her to avoid being raped, then of course the virtue in her attempt to prevent her attacker from being successful would still have been equally virtuous.

  • buckyinky says:

    AR wrote:

    I don’t honestly see why you’re engaging with her. She’s a vile troll.

    I read the exchanges between Zippy and her. I don’t intend to flatter Zippy, and I don’t imagine he had this in mind when he responded, but they were instructive to me as an example of measured and reasoned response in the face of livid, uncontrolled rage.

  • elspeth says:

    Malcolm,

    I got my information on St. Maria Goretti from this site:

    http://mariagoretti.com/who-is-st-maria/

    Unless I am misunderstanding, her canonization had absolutely nothing to do with her virginity at the time she died. She fought him off, as any number of women would have and have done.

    Rather, her sainthood seems to be about the fact that she expressed such mercy and forgiveness for Alessandro despite his sin toward her that she visited him and wished for him to repent and join her in heaven one day.

    There seems to be a consensus which indicates that if the young man had been successful in his assault prior to her murder, then Mara would not have been canonized, even if she had still prayer for God to extend mercy and visited him and implored him to repent?

    Or am I reading more into what I am reading than what was actually said? Basically, I get the impression that two different issues are being conflated.

  • Chad says:

    Elspeth
    While she would have still been innocent, she would not necessarily have been spiritually pure. Exorcists that I’ve listebed to believe that rape opens a huge door for demonic influence upon the life of the victim, resulting in around 80% having to deal with demons, despite no moral culpability nor sin on their part. It is a physical act with spiritual affects, in the same way that witch craft has no moral or sinful culpability on the victim, but they still deal with the consequences.

    So yes, she died defending her purity in the same way a man might die defending a town or his family. One is required to fight the good fight for God’s glory. She was canonized for her willingness to fight for God’s glory and law.

  • Hrodgar says:

    Probably worth noting that St. Maria Gorretti is not an isolated incident. St. Pelagia of Antioch comes to mind.

  • elspeth says:

    I see your point, Chad. Perhaps my post-modern mind can too easily conceive of a situation where she was both raped and murdered and where her murder wasn’t necessarily a result of her defending herself.

    That said, I will defer to the teaching of your Church and concede that she was canonized for defending her purity.

  • Scott W. says:

    It’s pretty plain in the 1947 Beatification declaration (my emphasis):

    Never has there been a time when the palm of martyrdom was missing from the shining robes of the Spouse of Christ [the Church]. Even today in our very degraded and unclean world there are brief examples of unearthly beauty. The greatest of all triumphs is surely the one which is gained by the sacrifice of one’s life, a victory made holy by the blood-red garments of martyrdom. When, however, the martyr is a child of tender age with the natural timidity of the weaker sex such a martyrdom rises to the sublime heights of glory.

    This is what happened in the case of Maria Goretti, a poor little girl and yet very wonderful. She was a Roman country maid who did not hesitate to struggle and to suffer, to shed her life’s blood and to die with heroic courage in order to keep herself pure and to preserve the lily-white flowers of her virginity. We can justly say of her what St. Ambrose said about St. Agnes: ‘Man must marvel, children take courage, wives must wonder and maids must imitate.’ These words are true indeed: ‘The father of a saintly child may well jump for joy. All honor to the father and the mother. Happy the mother that gave thee birth’ (Proverbs 23).

    If I recall correctly, it was precisely this quote that caused a certain potty-mouthed Catholic commentator to fly apart like a helicopter with its rear rotor shot off.

  • Wood says:

    Scott W.

    Exactly. How interesting that if this were *just* some woman being raped and killed by some man it would be considered quite typical and commonplace by modern women – a reason to have more after school specials and required college courses. It’s the *particular* reason she was murdered, and canonized, that causes this degree of rage. We all have our weaknesses – I certainly do – and if only our women would view the Church’s canonization and the anger it provokes as a reason to evaluate their own weaknesses. It’s a horrible thought, but I couldn’t help but think certain Catholic women would find this all this more comfortable if she had died – conversion experience and all – during an abortion.

  • Really, we can summarize this all by saying this:

    Aslan is not a tame lion.

  • I can relate to this.

    Not long ago I was actually arguing with a group of feminists who were trying to tell me I didn’t understand rape, that rape was worse then death. I was arguing that no, actually there’s a whole lot of things in the world much worse then rape. What I found so frustrating was the inconsistency, the idea that purity has no value, sexually empower yourself among the hook up culture, but rape is worse than death. Because why? Does purity have value or not? It cannot only have value when it is stolen, but have absolutely no value when one is choosing to have sex with random people you don’t even like for reasons you can’t even fathom.

    In truth I believe rape really is a violation of a woman’s mind, body, and, spirit. But the same can be said of casual sex, at the very least, a self inflicted invasion of your mind, body, and spirit. So in order for sexual integrity to be a state of mind there must be some integrity there to place one’s state of mind in.

    Of course, I completely believe in the purifying blood of Christ, in His ability to heal and restore, but what is He healing and restoring us to? The purity we once had before we either self inflicted sin into our own mind, bodies, and spirits, or someone else did. Therefore St. Maria Goretti’s sacrifice had value, it was a powerful statement about her worth and value in Christ.

  • TomD says:

    It makes sense when you realize that for the moderns, Will is above all, and rape is a crime against Will.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    I think the classical view of Maria Goretti’s martyrdom would be one that we moderns have a hard time understanding (based on the statements about her purity and her virginity, and upon my [poor] education of classical thought.) yet which we still intuit; whether one is for or against martyrdom for purity/virginity.

    I think it would be better said that she sacrificed for Purity itself. Of course she died for a particular incarnation of Purity (her own virginity), but the act was not limited to herself. It was a defiance of impurity and sinfulness itself. In other words: She died for God and His glory, and that’s what made her a candidate for canonization.

    If I am right, then the argument that Goretti died for her attacker’s sake is a red herring meant to distract from the worthiness of God’s glory even while appearing to allude to it. The allusion being that God was glorified by the attacker’s (eventual) salvation. The argument of “She did it for the attacker’s sake” is a way of dividing Goodness and pitting it against itself. That way demons hope no one notices that when we sew Goodness in one place, sometimes we reap Goodness in other places also.

    In other words: I see the argument that Maria Goretti died for the rapist’s sake as a statement of hatred for Purity altogether, and would treat as an enemy anyone who forwarded it, regardless of whether such a person was herself raped or not. It should be common knowledge that one vile issue from rape is that the victim is seduced towards further perversion.

  • Scott W. says:

    If I am right, then the argument that Goretti died for her attacker’s sake is a red herring meant to distract from the worthiness of God’s glory even while appearing to allude to it.

    Right. As I have said before, the Ten Commandments are supposed to get stronger in scenarios where duress increases, not weaker. Otherwise, the scoffers would have a point with the question, “Do we really need a God to tell us that deliberately killing the innocent is wrong?” and the Ten Commandments would be reduced to the Ten Suggestions to be disposed of the moment the shit hits the fan.

    As usual, it helps to break it down to the chosen act. What did she do? She refused even under threat of death to submit to an evil act. No one really has access to the subjective motives running through her mind when she chose to resist; probably several running at 100mph, but to hang the case for her martyrdom on the subjective-intention hook is an exercise in mischief and fog.

  • Mike T says:

    Not long ago I was actually arguing with a group of feminists who were trying to tell me I didn’t understand rape, that rape was worse then death

    Nothing is worse to a feminist than losing her perceived autonomy to a man. The few women I’ve met who had a story of “rape” that actually meets the traditional standard of real, forcible rape (not “regret rape”) never once behaved that way. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if I had said that their perp murdering them would have been better than rape, they’d have slapped the shit out of me. I’m sure there are women who do get seriously raped and do wish they were dead, but my impression is that women who’ve actually had a taste of something less than murder are generally 100% disabused of any notion that murder has an equal among violent felonies (short of falling into the hands of Quentin Tarantino after he snaps)

  • “I’m pretty sure that if I had said that their perp murdering them would have been better than rape, they’d have slapped the shit out of me.”

    That’s a really good point. There’s something to be said for having a near death experience, for having survived, that tends to fill you with gratitude rather than trigger alerts and the need to shriek at people about how awful rape is.

    I like what Tom says, too “It makes sense when you realize that for the moderns, Will is above all, and rape is a crime against Will.”

  • Mike T says:

    If you view modern American politics through the lens of gamification, a lot of this nonsense makes sense. Just imagine the XBox/Playstation popup when you win an achievement badge, but instead of having a game reference it says “Rape Victim +10000 perspective points.” There are a lot of women out there who dream of unlocking that achievement so that they can join the elite ranks of the oppression olympics.

  • Mike T says:

    Also, in the hyper-competitive world of feminist angst political writing, having that merit badge is roughly the difference between having a taxi medallion and a safe job and being an Uber driver.

  • Proph says:

    Absolute madness. There is a line of Roman virgin-martyrs (all named in the Canon for Heaven’s sake!) who were happy to submit to the mutilation of the very men to whom they would not yield to their virginity. Do you go to Hell for rape but not for torture?

    I am reminded of something Bonald said once, to the effect that what the Church has today is not a priest shortage but a laity surplus. That we even have to waste time and energy debating basic points of Roman piety with our nominal coreligionists is evidence that ours is a branch in desperate need of pruning.

  • Aethelfrith says:

    ours is a branch in desperate need of pruning.

    John 15:2 then?

    Be careful of wishing hellfire for your brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • Terry Morris says:

    I doubt he’s wishing hell fire on them, but rather that the Church would exercise its authority in these matters. Why, for example, are Catholics like Nancy Pelosi, et al, not called on the carpet for their blatantly anti-Catholic positions on abortion and contraception among many other things?

  • Zippy says:

    Terry Morris:

    Why, for example, are Catholics like Nancy Pelosi, et al, not called on the carpet for their blatantly anti-Catholic positions on abortion and contraception among many other things?

    Yes, and also why not all the Catholic bankers who make a living issuing usurious loans?

    At issue is not wishing hellfire on anyone but rather the exact opposite: admonishing the sinner and instructing the ignorant are (unlike jesuitical ‘pastoral’ pettifaggery) works of mercy.

  • Aethelfrith says:

    I get that “pruning = chastening” but when you make a statement like “The laity is too numerous” then one can’t help but think of ways to trim their numbers. You can either kill them or let them apostasize, but the end result for both is the same*. Whatever happened to the Church being the ark of salvation?

    *Of course, there’s the Ann Barnhardt strategy of converting your enemies to Catholicism so you can kill them guilt-free which… doesn’t strike me as particularly Christian.

  • Mike T says:

    I think many of you would be surprised, even shocked, how effective it would be for a Pope to come to the US, call a major delegation of Catholic Democrats together and publicly excommunicate them for using their offices to advance abortion. A very public and swift blow with a total ZFG attitude from someone in high authority would likely make the threat of punishing those bankers a lot more effective.

    As a colleague once noted, behavior that would get a pleb in the enlisted ranks sent to Leavenworth for 10 years might get a Colonel or General pushed into early retirement if they have the right friends. That is what our society has come to, and that is why it is imperative to strike at the top, not bottom if you want reform.

  • Zippy says:

    The crisis of leadership in the modern world is at best indirect: it is itself a consequence of terrible followership; that is, of the rejection of authority and the wildly exaggerated importance of the imperial Self and its Haaaaaaaaaapiness (a.k.a. banal and proximate gratification).

    Ideally everyone would become a better follower. But as an example for the world I take Bonald’s point (which echoes a point made once upon a time by Pope Benedict) that a smaller Church which actually acts like it believes what it says it believes could well be a quantum improvement over the current situation of universal pastoral pettifaggery.

    It isn’t my church though; I belong to the Church, not vice versa. It isn’t up to me to choose when St. Michael’s sword is unsheathed.

  • Mike T says:

    Suppose a business were coerced through various indirect means to tolerate a proliferation of non-employees milling about and randomly participating in its workings. Suppose further that at some point leadership realized that these people may constitute as many as 60% or more of the people present in the office complex the corporation owns. However, some are unsure of what to do because they fear bad press and honestly, some of those non-employees do do some really good work every now and then–when they feel like it.

  • “Whatever happened to the Church being the ark of salvation?”

    Aethelfrith, it can seem really counter intuitive, but there can be no mercy, no salvation in a church that does not recognize it’s own authority. What pulls people towards repentance, salvation is the safety, protection, provision of a strong church, a church willing to stand in it’s values. It’s actually kind of distressing to watch a church unable to discern, unable to prune, unable to stand. One does not seek refuge in such a church, for example. There is no power, no safety, and therefore no justice. Everyone becomes subject to the whims of the loudest and most powerful among the congregation and those seeking power are seldom honorable about it.

    Where I live a few hundred Catholics just held a mock ordination of a bunch of female priests. Needless to say I don’t go to the Catholic church because those people actually scare me in a lot of different ways. Nothing scares me more then their priest with his polite smile frozen on his face, his shell shocked look, his complete unwillingness to ever say anything at all.

    I hear you, though. I have a powerful aversion to bullies, to those who would condemn others rather then condemning sin, and the tendency groups of people have to toss people out of their personal country club. We live in interesting times.

  • CJ says:

    Zippy- Would you mind breaking down “pettifaggery”? I assume it’s a portamonteau of pettifog and fag, but not sure where you’re going with it.

  • Mike T says:

    Where I live a few hundred Catholics just held a mock ordination of a bunch of female priests. Needless to say I don’t go to the Catholic church because those people actually scare me in a lot of different ways. Nothing scares me more then their priest with his polite smile frozen on his face, his shell shocked look, his complete unwillingness to ever say anything at all.

    If it scares you away, imagine what it does to Protestants like me who are on the fence about a conversion. How on Earth could you justify putting your family through that sort of spiritual grinder if you go to a Protestant church that is not at all like that?

    On a related note, I think we have a new meme/title for Mark Shea: Apostle to the Bull Dykes.

  • Wood says:

    “How on Earth could you justify putting your family through that sort of spiritual grinder if you go to a Protestant church that is not at all like that?”

    “Lord, Lord: but my Protestantism was foh deh chilrin!”

    “Depart from Me. I never knew you.”

  • Mike T says:

    I have met at most maybe three Catholics IRL who could be described as actual confessing Christians. That is roughly the number of non-observant Mormons I’ve met who could be considered trinitiarian Christians by accident.

  • Wood,

    In fairness to Mike, I think you’re being unfair. If you’re genuinely on the fence about joining the Church, going to the local Fr. Just-Call-Me-Bob and seeing him roll over onto his back and pee in front of the local heretics has to be frightening.

    In between that and a Christian Pastor who acts Christian, I’d imagine it to be very hard to convince yourself that it’s better for you and your family to join Fr. Just-Call-Me-Bob’s Church.

  • […] has an excellent post up on St. Maria Goretti. I have nothing specifically to criticize it, but I want to add my […]

  • “I have met at most maybe three Catholics IRL who could be described as actual confessing Christians.”

    Oh, ouch. Sad, but far too often true. Not that it matters, but I am actually protestant, with Catholic DNA. Catholic DNA is simply a made up term that indicates there is a connection there in the blood, perhaps in the blood of Christ. I come from a long line of Catholics, all who have left the church.

    It is probably just symptomatic of where I live, but Catholics are often so far to the left of me that I have hard time relating to them, hence the internet where I can get a more balanced perspective.

  • Mike T says:

    It is probably just symptomatic of where I live, but Catholics are often so far to the left of me that I have hard time relating to them, hence the internet where I can get a more balanced perspective.

    On the Internet, I met Zippy who is one of the only Catholics I have met in either context who correctly answered that loving and submitting to Jesus is the keystone of salvation and Christian faith. IRL, 99.9% of the Catholics I meet think that belonging to the Democratic Party and repeating its platform are what gets you into Heaven. My wife has relatives in Louisiana who left the RCC because, frankly, they literally could no longer deal with the fact that Voodoo spirituality and praxis was making inroads unchecked.

  • Wood says:

    Malcolm,

    I actually agree – to the extent that my prior comment was a whole lot of what I thought about at mass tonight. Even said a prayer for Mike and Zippy and his readers at the consecration, FWIW. However, I struggle with the dilemma that 1. There are no serious Catholics and 2. When Catholics start acting seriously about *certain* points they, apparently, aren’t being serious in the right manner. I’m sure that’s a false dilemma that I’ve created and will welcome correction. If the Roman Catholic Church, for all it appears to be, is the Bride of Christ then I guess I’m willing to be unfair. Just head over to, say, Triablogue and check out how the Church is described there for a lot of these same “practical” reasons. The complaint of “I’ll believe in the Redeemer when Christians start looking a bit more Redeemed” is an old one for sure. Anyway, your point is well-taken.

  • […] came across a blog post at Zippy Catholic the other day that was a response to an ongoing debate in the comments section of another blog post […]

  • Mike T says:

    Speaking of states of mind and sex, this is practically grand master level cuckservatism at work.

    “Yonnah, I panicked so I threw the baby out the window to her death.”

    “Clearly, not planned. Probation for you, missy.”

  • TomD says:

    Zippy, you might want to look up 3638-3640 in your Denzinger: “Response of the Sacred Penitentiary, June 3, 1916”.

    3. So that this entire matter might be developed and taught in a more certain way, must a man, using such instruments [artificial onanism], truly be regarded as equivalent to an aggressor toward who the wife must offer the same resistance as a virgin would toward a rapist? – Ans: Yes

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