In her explosively intelligent book Empress and Handmaid , Sarah Jane Boss contrasts medieval images of the Virgin with contemporary pornography:

Whereas the worshipper before the Virgin in Majesty is the servant of the Lord and Lady whose presence the statue conveys, the actors in the pornographic film or photograph are servants of the pornographer and viewer who summon and pay for their presence.

The pornographic image is degrading to its maker and user; but the Virgin in Majesty ennobles her devotee.  You may prostrate yourself before her and proclaim yourself her servant, or pour out your sins to her; but in return she will fill you with that dignity and sense of worth by which she first commanded your attention.  The pornographer perpetrates the lie that the human condition and physical world are naturally vile and degraded; but the Mother of God and her Son say truthfully that the whole creation is destined for the highest honour.


Some parallel insights can be found in Jason Byassee’s fine article, ” Not Your Father’s Pornography .”

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