In a large portion of the Protestant world, and non-Roman Catholic world, there seems to be a low level of respect for the Mother of God. This is mostly a reaction against the Roman Catholic understanding of her as “comediatrix” with Jesus Christ.
The RCC catechism teaches “This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.” Consequently, Roman Catholics are taught to pray to the Holy Virgin as an important element in the “hierarchy” of salvation. She is prayed to for salvation, times of peril, and even at times of death, for her assistance in the preservation of souls.
There is an obvious milieu of reasons as to why such beliefs regarding Mary, Mother of God, are perilous for the Church and God’s plan for our salvation. Therefore, I will leave it at this: “And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” (Luke 11:27,28). We should honor and revere Mary, Mother of God, but only because she was given the blessed task of bearing the Word Incarnate and answered that call in humble submission. Definitely, no more and definitely, no less.
Now, the reason I bring this up is because despite the fact that much of American Christianity rejects the doctrines of comediatrix, and I would argue goes so far as to despise the Blessed Virgin, they don’t reject comediatrix as it applies to their own young women. Consider the way young women in the Evangelical culture are treated. They are constantly held to a standard of perfection which is altogether unhealthy for them.
Many young women find the pressure to be a shining example of purity and holiness for their “weaker brothers” oppressive. They are involuntarily forced into an Evangelcial convent of expectations. They are expected to be the comediatrix for our young men, giving them cause to “settle down” and inspiring them to holiness. Washing the grime and filth of their sin so that they will come to their senses and “get right with God.” While none of those things are necessarily bad, it is wrong to expect our young wives and mothers, and those who hope to enter those vocations, to bring about such reformations in the Old Adam of our young men. They themselves experience the burden of their own sin and need help in surrendering that to Jesus Christ, just as much as every other Christian. When we sideline them as both saints and sinners we sideline their desperate need for the forgiveness of sins as well. We also do a great disservice to our young men who submit their conscience to intense flagellation before they feel like they deserve one of these idols.
Although none would say that our young women are “preserved free from all stain of original sin” (as the RCC catechism says of Mary, Mother of God) the paradigm of Saint and Sinner is completely sidelined in their case. These young women are good women, daughters of God and held in the grace of their baptism as much as anyone else in the Church. However, they are also sinners in the sense that they struggle and sometimes fail in their war with the Old Adam, just as much as everyone else in Christ’s flock. We mustn’t forget that as members of Christ flock they are just as much in need of God’s Word and Sacrament as the next person. It is important for their spiritual health and the health of the Church that we treat them accordingly.
Now don’t get me wrong. We don’t simply treat our young women with any less respect. Rather, we must reevaluate the reasons we should respect them. How we understand this can be answered in how we should properly revere the Blessed Mother. Mary was a young woman, just like the young women of our time. She was called to the holy vocation of bearing the Son of God. In this, she humbly submitted herself to that vocation. How she submitted herself as a mother is what is emblematic for the women of our day. What a noble and holy task is the vocation of mother. All women who humbly submit themselves to this vocation have submitted themselves to a holy calling that all Christendom should revere and protect.
If we want to protect our young women from an “evangelical monasticism” part of that must involve teaching the Church, and especially our young men, how to properly revere the Blessed Mother. Mary, the Mother of God was both a saint and sinner, but what makes her blessed is that she bore the Word Incarnate. So too for our mothers, they are saints and sinners, but what make them blessed is that they have humbly answered the call of mother and have given themselves for us. Thus the virtue of the Blessed Mother is that she is an example of submission to God’s Word. The virtue of mothers is that they have also submitted to God’s command in raising children “in the way they should go.”
*Disclaimer* I’m not talking about all women, I’m talking about young women in the context of romantic relationships. Not all women are called to marriage but are equally worthy of our respect.