Hypnosis VS Grace, the Serpent VS the Woman
It was 9am on a Saturday morning. My pregnant wife and I had just arrived at our destination after a half-our drive. It was our first birthing class and we were in no way prepared or excited to be there.
Within a few minutes of the start of our first birthing class, the nurse facilitator asked everyone for qualities of what they thought the ideal birthing experience would be. Two qualities inevitably came up, “painless,” and “all natural.” The nurse immediately pointed out that these qualities do exist together in one type of birthing experience. My mind locked onto the Blessed Virgin Mary.
According to Sacred Tradition, since Mary was immaculately conceived and perpetually a virgin, she did not experience pain during the birth of Christ. One of the curses of the fall was that in pain the woman would bring forth children (Gen. 3:16). By being immaculate, and thereby “full of Grace,” the Blessed Virgin Mary, that new Eve, brought forth her babe without the curses of Original Sin and therefore without pain. Remember that since she is the Ever Virgin and, as Saint Augustine says,
…a virgin conceiving, a virgin bearing, a virgin bringing forth, a virgin perpetual…
She therefore possesses all of the anatomical qualities of a virgin. And, if she possessed those qualities while “bringing forth” the Christ child, she must have done so painlessly and without detriment to said qualities.
Surprisingly, the nurse facilitator was not referring to the Mother of God. The painless and natural type of birth to which she was referring is called hypnobirth. She actually said this type of birth was how women were intended to give birth. As you might have guessed, hypnobirth is a combination of two words, hypnosis and birth. In hypnobirth, the woman giving birth is hypnotized. She is subconsciously compelled to detach her consciousness from her will to the point that she is aware of nothing, particularly the pain that comes from giving birth.
On the surface, this looks somewhat harmless. While we can see from reason that hypnosis is something we should be highly skeptical about, the Church doesn’t explicitly condemn its use. What about this then is so offensive? The fact that it is being portrayed as a natural way to give birth painlessly.
Remember that because of the fall, our nature became broken. Because of our brokenness, our natural reality is that it hurts to give birth. Supernaturally, Mary was not subject to our brokenness at the moment of her conception. What was once broken by Eve’s disobedience, is now, in the person of Mary, and in the miracle of her Immaculate Conception, restored to its right order. It was then natural for Mary to give birth to Christ without pain. Naturally pain-free birth is part of God’s singular and unique victory in Mary. To say that we have the same privileges as she does on a natural level, is to say that she is not unique, and ultimately not as important as she actually is. This way of thinking can take our eyes off of her, however so slightly, however so subtly, and harm our devotion to and confidence in her.
Now, this isn’t a blatant or obvious offense. It’s not some sexualized painting of one of her depictions, nor is it graffiti on the Pieta. It is subtle…like a serpent on his belly. There is one enmity that exists in our reality, a permanent opposition between the Woman, that Immaculate Virgin, and the dragon, that ancient serpent and murderer (Gen. 3:15). Since Satan is “the subtlest of all creatures”(Gen. 3:1), his attacks on his archenemy, the Woman, are wrought in subtlety. If he can cloud are clear view of the fairness our Mother possesses without us realizing it, over time he can gain ground on the battlefield of our souls. Mary is special. She is Immaculate. She is our life, our sweetness, and our hope, because through her and in her and by her the Son of God took on our flesh to crush the serpent’s head.
What then should we make of avoiding pain in childbearing by way of medication? Surely pain medication isn’t some subversive attack on the Immaculate Conception too. It’s a relief of symptoms. The reality of our fallen nature is still there and acknowledged, even if it is subdued by an epidural or narcotic. We don’t have the natural capacity to do this. It requires medical intervention. Hypnobirth claims to restore our natural capacity to have a painless childbirth without such intervention. And of course, it says nothing of the pain of contractions and/or the pain of the woman’s recovery after the birth if there are complications. It is therefore a lie and proves its origin from the father of lies. Say no to hypnobirth. If we can naturally restore Eden, so to speak, what’s so special about Mary? And ultimately, what’s so special about Christ? Praised be Jesus in Mary, praised be Mary in Jesus! Glory to God alone.
Categories: General Reflections