Since the Fall of Man, men and women have been locked in a contest of power. Instead of the order of humility and charity created by God, Adam and Eve chose pride and rebellion against God and each other. Pride produces a contest of power because pride cannot be satisfied unless it obtains more power by the accomplishment of its own will. This is Satan’s non serviam. Thus, during the period before Christ, the Prophet cries out, O Lord set a Lawgiver over them, that the heathen may know themselves to be but men (Ps. 9:21).
When our Lord came to Earth, He made a new creation. He became the New Adam, and Mary the New Eve. Instead of the contest of power from Original Sin, Mary and Christ were both free from this stain. Instead of the disobedience of Eve’s pride, Mary emptied herself in humility: ecce ancilla Domini, fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum . Not to be outdone in humility, Christ emptied himself, taking the form of a slave (Phil. 2:7). In the new creation, the contest of power was transformed into a striving for humility. This is the contest in which all the saints have competed and won a crown.
Mary and the Living Authority of Christ
It is particularly in being born of a woman as a man that Christ makes definite the contest of humility in the world in order to instantiate humility to a living authority. God made Himself known not simply as an abstract idea or a transcendental reality — something the contest of power and pride could easily empty of all true, living authority in daily life. Rather, God was made known by Mary in order that we may be humbled under a living authority. St. John Henry Newman speaks of this reality in the context of the liberal Protestants of his day:
The world allows that God is man; the admission costs it little, for God is everywhere, and (as it may say) is everything; but it shrinks from confessing that God is the Son of Mary. It shrinks, for it is at once confronted with a severe fact, which violates and shatters its own unbelieving view of things; the revealed doctrine forthwith takes its true shape, and receives an historical reality; and the Almighty is introduced into His own world at a certain time and in a definite way. Dreams are broken and shadows depart; the Divine truth is no longer a poetical expression, or a devotional exaggeration, or a mystical economy, or a mythical representation. “Sacrifice and offering,” the shadows of the Law, “Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou fitted to me.” 
Heretics hate Mary because it is through her that Christ confronts their prideful opinions in person. Because of the Incarnation, Christ is made present in the clerics and hierarchy of the Church who pass down the Sacred Tradition, to which the heretic will never submit. Thus, the heresies of the first millennium sought to attack the Incarnation in Mary in order to remove the fundamental, living authority of Christ in His Church. The contest of power led by the heretics was always countered and defeated by the striving for humility, rooted in piety to the Tradition and the living authority of the Church, first manifested in Christ and Mary.
Lamentably, one by one, the Assyrian Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Eastern Orthodox churches were separated from the universal Church due to many factors, not the least of which was the contest of power. But because they still gave reverence to Mary, the basic structure of the living authority in the bishop remained intact. A humility toward human authority in Mary helped maintain the same toward the bishop. This also safeguarded the glory of femininity for their women, who could still ascend to the “truly regal throne” as well as become consecrated virgins. “But,” as Newman continues:
… when [the bad spirits] came up again from the realms of darkness, and plotted the utter overthrow of Christian faith in the sixteenth century, then they could find no more certain expedient for their hateful purpose than that of reviling and blaspheming the prerogatives of Mary, for they knew full well that, if they could once get the world to dishonour the Mother, the dishonour of the Son would follow close. The Church and Satan agreed together in this, that Son and Mother went together; and the experience of three centuries has confirmed their testimony, for Catholics who have honoured the Mother, still worship the Son, while Protestants, who now have ceased to confess the Son, began then by scoffing at the Mother. 
Here Newman correctly sees the relationship of Protestant denigration of Mary with the modern liberal movements of his day, which also included feminism and Marxism, as we shall see. By removing the cult of Mary from Christian life, the Protestants were able to reintroduce the contest of power into the heart of every Christian family and every Christian soul. By removing Mary as the channel of the Incarnation, they could remove the living authority of the Church and that of Christ, which would then lead directly to the complete removal of the authority of Christ the King from all society.
The Degradation of Women by Protestants
Protestantism by its fundamental doctrines was an attempt to sanctify the contest of power. Everything in Christian life was subjected to this contest of power so that the cult of the Virgin was seen as a contest with God, the priest’s power as a contest with the priesthood of the people, the authority of the Church with the individual believer.
Because pride sees power as the source of dignity, any power that is not equal — and thus every hierarchy in general — is viewed as an unjust rival.
The Protestants’ answer to this perceived injustice was a constant revolution in order to wrest power from the “unjust oppressor.” Instead of the striving for humility within the marital, Church, and state hierarchies, the Protestant saw rebellion (pride) as a virtue. But for women, the denigration of the Mother of God led directly for their degradation as women. Just as the exaltation of Mary had led to the glory of woman in her “truly regal throne,” the removal of Mary caused the removal of the duty to honor women.
The prestige of the woman suffered an incalculable disaster by the abolition under Protestantism of the veneration and cult of the Mother of God. With the disappearance of conventual life women were again shut out from a recognized status in social life outside the married state which the religious life had previously afforded them[.] … The attitude of the husband towards the wife naturally tended, once the Church’s authority was removed … to return to the pagan ideal of a master and an owner, rather than a loving friend, companion and protector. Clear evidences of the sad deterioration of the woman’s prestige can be seen in the English literature of the 17th and 18th centuries, when the withering effects of Protestantism on social life had begun to be felt in full. The chivalrous regard and respect for [women] … reflected from the peerless glory of the Queen of Heaven disappeared from the English literature[.] … The woman was now again valued only for her sex; and the one who did not, or had ceased to, exercise sex attraction was too often made the target of coarse jest so repulsive to the truly Christian mind. 
Immediately — and predictably — a wholesale impure license was unleashed by the Protestant men. Indissoluble marriage, monogamy, and mutual and particular rights and duties in marriage — all of which restrained the fallen, dominating masculinity for the sake of the woman — were founded firmly on the veneration of Mary and the Sacred Tradition of the Church. By removing Mary and the Tradition, the Protestant men could then pursue their lusts with impunity.
This was manifested throughout the Protestant movement, from the public and repeated adulterous second “marriages” of Henry VIII and the monk Luther marrying a nun to the Lutheran protector Philip of Hesse taking two wives and the wanton harems of John of Leiden and Bernhard Rothmann. Luther himself facilitated the destruction of virginity and chastity, just as he and his imitators dishonored the Virgin Mother:
Trafficking in nuns had become one of the chief ecclesial transactions of the Reformed party in Germany, and throughout the 1520s [Luther’s] Wittenberg became one of their favorite meeting places[.] … Libido culminating in broken vows was the engine that pulled the Reformation train. It was a uniquely effective way of organizing ex-clergy in opposition to the Church. 
One contemporary witness remarked that “Luther’s counsels had been carried out to such a degree that there is absolutely more chastity and honor in the married state in Turkey than among evangelical [Protestants] in Germany” . Luther himself could not find a basis for disallowing polygamy in principle and removed the sacramental dignity of marriage itself .
Holy Mother Church Responds
Against this debauchery dishonoring our Lady and womankind in general, the Council of Trent thundered in defense of indissoluble marriage, virginity, and chastity, all reflecting the fundamental veneration due to the Virgin Mother:
If anyone says that matrimony is not truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the evangelical law, instituted by Christ the Lord … let him be anathema.
If anyone says that it is lawful for Christians to have several wives at the same time and that this is not forbidden by any divine law, let him be anathema.
If anyone says that the Church errs in that she taught and teaches that in accordance with evangelical and apostolic doctrine the bond of matrimony cannot be dissolved by reason of adultery … let him be anathema.
If anyone says that clerics constituted in sacred orders or regulars who have made solemn profession of chastity can contract marriage … let him be anathema.
If anyone says that the married state excels the state of virginity or celibacy, and that it is better and happier to be united in matrimony than to remain in virginity or celibacy, let him be anathema. 
The excesses of the revolutionaries’ debauchery was severely checked by the definitive decrees of Trent. The cult of the Virgin Mother was firmly defended, and with it the hierarchical order of the family, Church, and society. Women were protected under Catholicism just as the Virgin Mary was accorded the sacred glory due to her. Trent became the bulwark for the Church to weather to storms of Protestant bloodshed and chaos, which tore at the fabric of society and debased women contrary to their rightful honor.
Like the Eastern schismatics, the Protestants still managed to retain some reverence for Christ and the Holy Scriptures, which alone prevented their blind pride from completely subjugating women again to pagan slavery. It would be for the Marxists and feminists to accomplish this end.
 Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38).
 Rev. E. Cahill, S.J., The Framework of a Christian State (Roman Catholic Books reprint 1932), 432
 E. Michael Jones, Degenerate Moderns: Modernity as Rationalized Sexual Misbehavior (Ignatius: 1993), 244
 Heinirch Denifle, Luther and Lutherdom (Somerset, Ohio: Torch Press, 1917), 298n. quoted in ibid., 245
 “I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the word of God.” Martin Luther, De Wette II, 459, in Hartmann Grisar, Luther (1916), Vol. 5. 329–330. Luther did, however, discourage the practice while allowing it in principle. For a discussion on the Catholic understanding of the polygamy that was permitted before Christ, see St. Thomas and St. Augustine.
 Session 24, Canons 1, 2, 7, 9, 10
Timothy S. Flanders is the author of Introduction to the Holy Bible for Traditional Catholics. In 2019 he founded The Meaning of Catholic, a lay apostolate. He holds a degree in classical languages from Grand Valley State University and has done graduate work with the Catholic University of Ukraine. He lives in the Midwest with his wife and four children.