Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Modesty vs. Prudishness

Dr. David Schindler continues the discussion of theology of the body, carefully pointing out the difference between modesty and prudishness. Dr. Schindler states:
A theology of the body which does not sufficiently integrate a Marian and feminine dimension in these ways, cannot but default into what becomes a one-sided and distorted male approach that treats the body too explicitly and too reductively as the object of a look (even if a “pure” one). The result is a tendency, for example, to conflate modesty with prudishness or guilt-induced shame, with a consequent displacement of modesty in its true meaning as an enhancement of genuine bodily beauty.

Fr. Angelo Mary Geiger offers some in-depth commentary as well, saying:

I will be the last person to deny that prudery is a problem. I have seen very often an excessive reliance on secondary rules for modesty entertainment and general behavior that is narrowing and sometimes sectarian. It is a real problem in certain circles. However, in matters of sexuality I don’t believe that more is necessarily better: more talk, more fascination, more flesh unveiled. What is needed is good judgment: naming the darkness of lust, without projecting it onto the body, but at the same time realizing that some mysteries need to remain veiled and should only be unveiled within the sanctuary of holy matrimony.

Which brings me back to a consideration which I have mentioned before: apologetics is not enough. Yes, there are thousands of people, who have had their innocence destroyed at a young age, who have been saturated with our pornographic culture, who have been wounded by Puritanism or addicted the satiation of their lusts.

The veil is off. “We have seen everything,” so, we are told, “and we had just better make the best of it. In fact, with this new way (TOB) we can actually transform our pornographic fascination into a holy one.”

I disagree. At some point we need to move beyond apologetics and put the veil of mystery back onto to marriage and sexuality, and especially the Blessed Mother, for heaven’s sakes. This re-veiling is a real problem, I admit, but it is also one of the real challenges of our age.

Please visit Fr. Angelo at his blog, Mary Victrix.