Sex in history, by Gordan Rattray Taylor

And in the Church at large, algolagnia was once more elevated to a virtue. The repulsive tastes of the Alacoque have already been described. Her spiritual director said:

“I do not disapprove of this hatred you have for your body and this pleasure you experience at seeing it perish away according to the spirit of the gospel.”

(This from the Church which had thrown up its hands in horror at the Endura!) From her visions of the bleeding heart of Christ was derived the dreadful movement known as the Adoration of the Sacred Heart, which continues to this day. As the movement developed, the Sacred Heart was represented more and more bloodily, and, finally, as in all fetishisms, the object of libido was portrayed in isolation, divorced from the sacred person, a single lump of bleeding muscle: until, in the present century, the Jesuits, who study psychology, must have warned Rome what was happening. The Pope, in approving the cult, had been careful to stress that the Heart must be worshipped only as symbolic of Jesus’s love, but the Bishop of Paderborn — a centre of the cult — later gave the game away by stating explicitly that it was the actual physical organ which the devotees of this cult worshipped, and not the symbol. (127)

In analysing the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation as slightly differing bids for the restoration of a restrictive and guilt-ridden system, it must be recognized that there were many other factors at work. The growth of knowledge, and various sociological developments, were altering the whole framework within which any such bid would have to be made; and such a bid would only be effective in proportion as there were persons to whom such a system would appeal on economic or social grounds — as well as on the psychological grounds which we; have already considered — or who could adapt it to their ends Perhaps the most important of these factors was the fact that a middle class had emerged, a bourgeois, that is a towns dwelling class, a trading and manufacturing group between the agricultural villein and the feudal lord. These craftsmen and traders, banded together in townships and already united by professional associations (gilds) had set up town councils which won the right to levy taxes and maintain order within the town limits. Thus there had emerged, for the first time since the collapse of the Graeco-Roman world, the idea of an authority set up by the governed for their own convenience and able to be dismissed if ever it forgot that convenience: in a word, the beginning of democracy. The dangerous thought had been born that authority could be exercised which was not derive from God and bestowed by the Church or the Crown. Such facts as these transformed the context within which a religious movement must operate.

The trading class was more interested in the commercial an domestic virtues of honesty, public order, respect for proper and avoidance of bastardry (which complicates the inheritance of property) than in the knightly virtues of bravery and courtesy to women, on the one hand, or the churchly virtues of prayer and self punishment, on the other. A new bourgeois morality was slowly emerging. Here then was a group naturally predisposed to cast off the discipline of the Church and to reject the ecclesiastical system of law which, since it claimed the right to try even the dead and to confiscate their property if need be, made all contractual arrangements uncertain. (142)