In a remarkable talk that Edith Stein (now St. Edith Stein) gave in Salzburg in l930, she admirably sketched some of the striking differences between the two sexes. She remarks that women are more person’s centered than men. A new born baby moves their hearts; men are likely to be more attracted by a new computer. Maternity is something so beautiful that in Holy Scriptures its perfection is attributed to God Himself: we are told in the Old Testament that if a mother were to abandon the fruit of her womb, God will never abandon his children. In his Epistle to the Galatians, St. Paul tells them that he is going “through the pains of childbirth’”( 4, l9) for their sake. It is a woman‘s mission to awaken in men a greater sensitivity for what is “human”, for what is “weak”, and thereby to “humanize” him. This is a point that Chesterton made in “What is Wrong with the World.”
Personal beings are infinitely superior to impersonal ones, and yet the craving to control and to manipulate in so strong in many men that machines will always be tempting for them.
Edith Stein remarks further that women are more concerned with the concrete than with the abstract. This is clearly related to the first difference between them. Edith Stein is pointing for man’s fascination with theories; woman are more concerned about individuals. A man can write a brilliant treatise about education. A mother educates her child, this unique little creature confided to her, so different from other children. She knows that each little one is unique, and not just a “type”. Finally -- and this is crucial, women are more interested in the living than in the non living. From the beginning, men have been the great “killers” -- in a way, it was their mission; they had to protect their family from predators whose physical strength by far exceeded their own. This challenged them to make tools and instruments that compensated for their weakness. A sword can compete with a wild bear‘s claws; man’s nails cannot.
From our very youth, most of us are, acquainted with the Bible. We read and re read it, but do we pay sufficient attention to the amazing words uttered by Adam about Eve: he calls her the mother of the living. Few qualifications can equal this one in dignity. The bond between a woman and life is so profound that it sheds light on the serpent’s hatred of the “weak sex“. Indeed, being a “murderer” from the beginning he inevitably hates life. Hence, his arch enemy is the woman. This is clearly the reason why the Evil one addressed himself to Eve, and not to Adam. St. Augustine - this luminary of the Church -, mistakenly explains it by saying that the serpent turned to the weaker one, I.e. the one easier to defeat. In fact, the wily animal addressed himself to the woman, because being exceedingly cunning, he knew how great was the power Eve had over Adam. Once she yielded, he would follow suit. This is exactly what happened.
This sublime bond between a woman and life received a new glory when Mary accepted to become the Mother of Christ, He who declared solemnly that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life. Eve was called mother of the living; Mary gave birth to the One who is Life itself. Meditating upon this makes one shudder with horror about the legalization of abortion. It is a clear indication that we have entered the Apocalyptic time, when the final and fearful duel between The Woman and the Dragon will take place.
The hour is grave: when innumerable women (who are often victims) endorse the murder of the fruit of their womb, the legion of evil spirits have a big celebration; whereas Angels (if they can weep) sob.
It is the call of the hour to wake up to the fact that sexuality is a magnificent divine plan unveiling the mutual fecundation that man brings to woman and vice versa, and to warn people how dangerous it is to limit sexuality to the biological sphere. The Theology of the Body to be properly understood (and mans talent for misunderstanding is nothing short of remarkable) should be read in its true meaning: the Theology of the Human body, that is a physical reality inhabited by a person made to God’s image and likeness.
The animal male and the animal female complement reach other biologically. Deprived of personhood, their complementariness is limited to this domain. The admirable enrichment found between man and woman is to be found in all domains of human existence, and is also expressed in their biological make up. But whereas the animal male is attracted by the female only when she is in heat (at very specific periods of the year), and has little to do with females outside of these specific periods, the mutual attraction of a man for a woman and vice versa “never sleeps”, because they know that love essentially desires union, and this desire should be “super actual“, that is not time bound.
This is mysterious expressed in the fact that a loving husband’s interest in his wife is not limited to the periods in which she can conceive. Is not God telling us thereby that the desire for union between human beings is a typical expression of love characterized by a constant “intentio unionis”.
It is high time that we fully realize that “sexuality” is much richer and much deeper than the biological complementariness we share with animals. We only need meditate on the love uniting the Blessed one among Women, with St. Joseph, a union that already realized on this earth what “sexuality” will be in eternity, where “all things will be made new.”