I confess that have no experience at all with Christianity, its teachings, or the Bible (the story of Adam and Eve is the extent of my knowledge about Christianity). I apologize if some of the things that I conjecture aren’t correct. I also confess that Christianity is really confusing to me.
In On the Training of Nuns and Contempt for the Other World, the merits of being a nun and remaining a virgin are discussed. The text says that it is impossible to focus full on God while burdened with human matters and other obligations. Because virginity was given by the Lord, by remaining a virgin until death, after death can nuns attain the reward of virginity. Throughout this text, as in the Boswell, there seems to be an inherent idea of the woman as inferior. Women are promised the rewards of virginity because “dearest sister…from all that rotates over the face of the earth, we have found nothing worthy for you to be enriched, we must ask the heavens above” (65). Specifically addressing the women with “dearest sister” seems to imply that men are exempt from this remark, that there are things on this earth that can enrich men. Later, the text even states that the female sex is the “weak sex”, which can only be strengthened with virtue (80).
Furthermore, the argument made is that because virginity is a gift bestowed from the heavens, it is only through virginity that one can find reward and patrimony. This argument itself is not specific to women, however; why are men not admonished to remain virgins as well? Were men even considered to have virginity? (Hm yeah, this is probably why only women were nuns, right?) But later the text describes the corruption done by lust, and men certainly can’t be exempt from that. Yet men are still perceived as the masters, and women as servants, who are subject to men because of the law of nature (80).
Implicitly, this just means that women are seen as fallible and that it is in their nature to be corruptible. This hearkens back to the Bible, in which it was the woman Eve who was tempted by the serpent and fell from grace. Man, who had done no wrong, and subsequent innocent generations, had to bear the burden of her corruption. Interestingly though, the text indicates that the first sin of the human race was that Adam and Eve “did not want to be as they had been created”, meaning virgins (70). Thus nuns are encouraged to be virgins in order to preserve the condition of virginity that the first humans lost in paradise. I think it’s interesting that the text refers to this sin as one done by “the first parents”, by both Adam and Eve. I would have thought the text would admonish Eve for not resisting the temptation, but instead it confers equal blame to both.
But in the end, it’s still the woman who is the scapegoat and taking the blame, because she is the offering to God. If she stays a virgin, then the whole Church wins the name of virginity. I guess she is the better for having devoted the chastity of her soul to Christ, but that sounds like a consolation prize, especially when the text literally says that so long as she pleases Christ, a brother’s guilty deeds can be looked over. It doesn’t stop with brothers either; virgins also safeguard their mothers, who sinned for being brides. And this is where I get really confused, because the text both states that a married woman is corrupted, and that God instituted marriages (purportedly so that virginity might be born), but what’s the point of producing more virgins if you had to corrupt yourself through marriage first? Would the text go so far as to suggest that the ultimate sacrifice to God would be if women ceased reproducing altogether and the human race died out? Then everyone would be a virgin and accept the gift that the Lord gave them!