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I’m hoping there’s somebody who can explain this to me.

On the one hand, it makes sense that the person responsible for giving birth to the holiest figure in a faith system would also fall in among the holiest figures in that system. So it jives that Mary, being the mother of Jesus (ישוע, if you prefer) is a figure central to Christian practice – particularly, it seems to me, within Catholicism.

But . . . why is it that one seems never to hear her name without “virgin” attached?

Yes, I am familiar with the narrative. I understand that, according to the Gospels, Mary conceived and gave birth to Jesus as a virgin. And yes, I paid attention in science class enough to know that conception typically involves some kind of intercourse (or, at the very least, aggressive sexting). I get why a so-called “Virgin Mother” is super impressive, just as I get why so many italicized words might both confuse and annoy you.

But if you’re talking about the person who gave birth the first and only physical incarnation of the omnipotent God, who healed the sick and preached against corruption and hypocrisy, who sacrificed himself as a means of absolving mankind from sin, rose from the grave a couple of days later, and will one day return again to effect the final judgment of God and usher in the Messianic age . . . the virgin part kind of loses its grandeur, doesn’t it? Clearly not.

So my question is why.

In the very first chapter of Genesis, God tells us to “be fruitful and multiply.” 

This is probably why I haven’t yet met a denomination within Christianity (or, indeed, Judaism or Islam) that opposes reproduction. The Torah (as well as much of the modern religious community) is chock full of begetting! The more conservative ideologies today are definitely against aborting a pregnancy, and often against preventing pregnancy through the use of contraceptive measures.

So it’s clear that babies = good.

(It seems like a mockingly stupid thing to say, but I don’t mean any disrespect. This is somewhat of a mystery to me, and I think it’s important to establish these basics.)

The reverence given to Mary’s virginal status sends a message to me, therefore, that women having sex presents an essential flaw in an otherwise desirable process. The reasoning sounds to me something like . . .

We want to have babies, sure, but if only there were a way around this pesky sex thing.

I guess one could make the case that Mary’s virginity is only deemed holy in its connection with Yeshua’s conception and birth.

That, to my mind, still places virginity in a weirdly prominent position. But at least it does a little bit to take it out of Mary’s identity.

That is, of course, you introduce a concept like this.  The TL;DR version of that page is that some denominations view Mary as a kind of “ever-virgin.” This, despite scriptural references to Jesus’ siblings.  And, whether you subscribe to the “perpetual virginity” idea or not, it still stands that, if Mary’s virginity is not her most dominant characteristic, it is at least the one we are reminded of first in discussing her.  (“Virgin Mary,” “Blessed Virgin Mary,” “The Virgin Mother” . . .)

So. If you are able, please explain to me why it is that many Christians tend to idolize (read into that word choice what you will) such a particular version of Jesus’s mother – a passive, sexless birth-giver.

What does that say about the Christian idea of a “perfect woman”?

What does that say about Christian ideas about God, for that matter? Do we suppose Jesus to be more divine because he didn’t result from sex? If that was a concern, why did God need to take human form or be born at all?

I’m sorry. I shouldn’t even start going on this train of thought because I’m going to do nothing but make myself sound crazy and make a lot of conservatives within the Christian community angry with me.

I just dun get it, is all.


P.S. I thought about making an “Immaculate Conception” reference in the title of this post.  I didn’t for two reasons:

  1. People who know what the Immaculate Conception actually refers to might write me off as an idiot and not worth reading.
  2. People who don’t know what the Immaculate Comception actually refers to would be no better off for my using the expression.

There is a certain segment of society – I’m not sure quite how to delineate its make up – that favor the use of certain, unorthodox tactics in the execution of argument.  Namely, the quality control workflow for their talking points appears to run as follows:

This behavior is, of course, very frustrating to us all.  My favorite example, though, was an assertion much too absurd for me to even be frustrated by.  I was delivered – with a gotcha! type of flourish – the sad news that I “don’t even believe in God.”

That’s right! I’m an athiest and I didn’t even know it.  Now, I can’t say with any certainty why this person would draw a conclusion like this. (She and I had, at the time, a passing-head-nod level of intimacy.)  I definitely can’t hazard a guess as to why she would believe it with sufficient confidence (or fancy herself adept enough a verbal sparrer) to try and use it against me.  I couldn’t even look you in the face and say I know per se that she has a brain.  But the point you have been waiting so patiently for me to arrive at is what I expect may have been her reasoning.  Why do so many people draw the society like this?

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