Magdalene’s Demons are Ours Too
Photo by Carmelle Gacasan
“Mula noon, binansagang kalapating mababa ang lipad.”
—Magdalena, Freddie Aguilar
We have all been fooled to believe that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. A woman from Magdala and from whom seven devils were cast out, she had this common reputation of being one who offered sexual pleasure in exchange for money.
It could be our thirst for controversy or our desire to create something interesting out of her seemingly boring life that led us to believe the hearsays, as if having seven devils cast out of her body was not interesting enough. People more likely want to dwell on the idea that “Magdalene was used by so many men that she needed Jesus to save her from being stoned to death”, rather than believe the ancient document that says she was cured from her demons.
We choose to trust the former, perhaps because it gives us something to talk about, or because it makes us feel better about ourselves, or because stories and songs written about Magdalene tell us so. Despite knowing that she was just a woman from Magdala, was evil-possessed and then healed, people would rather presume that she was a slave to her sexual desires.
Sex, after all, is more interesting. Her demons were, after all, unnamed. What if one of them was named “Promiscuity”?
The sad truth, though, is that we are slaves and this is truer than what we believe Magdalene to be — slaves to our own idea of what is right and wrong that we force this to other people, slaves to our self-righteousness that we would demonize pre-marital sex and people who engage in it, slaves to society and slaves to false recognition of purity.
We have the freedom to assume that Magdalene was a loose woman. Ironically, we cannot escape our ancient tendency that is to stone a supposedly immoral person to death. The woman who is open about her sexuality is still at the pit, being thrown insults and abusive remarks by people with chains of morality around their feet.
Yet when asked what made us hate the woman, we do not know what to say.
Magdalene’s demons are ours too but unlike her, we have not been cured. For as long as we judge people by the way they own their body, as long as uttering derogatory terms like easy, promiscuous, slutty, bigaon, hitad, maluwag seems normal, as long as we are disgusted by sex workers as if they are less human, as long as we pray to God to forgive us from our trespasses while we proudly curse and condemn the people who has not sinned against us, we are more than slaves and our shackles are far from breaking.
Perhaps we should ask ourselves, when did we start looking for the wrongs of other people in order to build ourselves up? Why do we take so much pleasure in laying out others’ faults and weaknesses as if it makes us any better of a person? Why are we so threatened by people who do not share our morals and beliefs?
We would rather believe that Magdalene was a prostitute rather than straighten up our twisted ideals. Her demons are ours too but unlike her, we have not been saved.