Well, apparently The Washington Post is out to attack Mary, the mother of Jesus, over her virginity that is described in the Bible. Now WaPo is claiming that rape victims are offended at her purity.
Ruth Everhart, a “pastor” (in clear violation of what the Bible cites as qualifications for a pastor, 1 Timothy 3; Titus 1), wrote an opinion piece on the subject.
Church culture tends to be fixated on sexual purity year-round, but during Advent, I’m tempted to blame it on the Virgin Mary. After all, she set an impossibly high bar. Now the rest of us are stuck trying to be both a virgin and a mother at the same time. It does not seem to matter that this is biologically impossible. Can you at least try?
I’ll speak for myself. I was raised in the church and taught to be a good girl, by which I mean obedient, quiet and sexually pure. That worked reasonably well until I was 20. During my senior year of college, my housemates and I were the victims of a home invasion. The intruders held us for hours and took turns raping us at gunpoint. The next year of our lives revolved around the criminal-justice system.
Of course, I was traumatized. But what was harder to describe — and more long-lasting — was how the crime became bound up in a sense of sexual shame. I wondered constantly: Did I somehow deserve to be raped? Had the rape ruined me irreparably? Both questions seemed inevitable. After all, what is the opposite of being sexually pure? Sustaining irremediable damage. Being ruined.
I’m not blaming my sense of ruin on the Virgin Mary, not entirely. Protestants do not claim Mary in the way Catholics do, but every Advent I feel a sense of kinship. I know what it’s like to be a good girl whose life got upended by what someone did to her body. Of course, her story plot was good and mine was bad. Plus she was, well, a saint. And I’m not.
There are several things that should be considered here. First. Ms. Everhart is not at fault because she was raped. She was a victim of a crime and she should be pitied and loved. Many women face the same questions she does concerning their own violations. However, that does not give a right to blame Mary for one bit of Everhart’s feelings of ruin.
“I’m convinced of this: Mary is not responsible for what we’ve done to her story. Church culture has overfocused on virginity and made it into an idol of sexual purity,” she wrote. “When it comes to female experience, the church seems compelled to shrink and distort and manipulate.”
Actually, the issue is pretty straightforward. All throughout the Bible sexual purity is admonished while sexual immorality is condemned. Ms. Everhart was a victim of a crime. That is vastly different from being sexually immoral.
Furthermore, what happened to her neither justifies not holding the standard high when it comes to human sexuality nor does it justify her questions regarding Mary’s sexual purity.
In fact, to state that Mary is a saint and other believers are not is entirely unbiblical, as the church is filled with sinners who have been transformed into saints through the work of Jesus Christ.
One thing to note though, Everhart does note the unbiblical teaching that Mary remained a virgin perpetually. The Bible is clear that Joseph knew his wife Mary after Jesus was born and we know that she bore other children.
However, it’s clear to me that Ms. Everhart seems to have a real problem with the story of Mary.
“If you’re a woman, it’s a complicated gift [a woman’s body],” she wrote. “But why does Mary’s story have to oppress women when it could liberate us? What would it look like if the church celebrated Mary’s story as a hymn to the beauty of incarnation?”
That’s just it, isn’t it? The story is of the Incarnation, God veiling Himself in human flesh to save men from their sins. However, the point was that the body was fashioned in a virgin, one who had not known a man, thus making God the Creator of the fleshly body of Jesus.
In my opinion, this is a needless swipe at the Virgin Birth, but it is not surprising as she begins to make all sorts of excuses for wrong human behavior. However, again, her rape was a crime and has nothing to do with her “sexual purity.”
So, if Everhart wants to be offended at something or even put a little blame on something for the way she feels, I’d suggest to put it all on her attackers and not the Virgin Mary.
But she also went after patriarchy too, asking, “How do you feel about what the patriarchy has done with you?”
Thomas D. Williams responded rightly to her question, “It’s a good thing Mary doesn’t answer. She might be tempted to note that she fared considerably better at the hands of the ‘patriarchy’ than she has from her feminist sisters who twist her story into something political, petty, and ultimately uninspiring.”