“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” ~ Albert Einstein
“Curiosity is one of the forms of feminine bravery.” ~ Victor Hugo
“So curiosity, I think, is a really important aspect of staying young or youthful.” ~ Goldie Hawn
Do you ever wonder what if thus and so were true about situations, belief systems, or circumstances? I do all the time. I wonder about all kinds of things from what we’re taught about history to religion to politics. Some of the things I wonder about are rather trivial, others can be controversial or upsetting. They are just my musings but my goal for asking such questions is to make myself, and hopefully you, take a fresh look at our belief systems.
One of my earliest what ifs I had as a child, was why was it so important for Mary to have been a virgin when she became pregnant with Jesus? I was raised in the church that Joseph Smith Jr. founded in 1830. A side note, in the late 1800’s the Supreme Court ruled that the church I grew up in was the original church and the Mormon church was an off-shoot.
Anyway, having written that, the doctrine of the church I grew up in was very much like Protestant Christian doctrine. The virgin birth was one of the tenants in our belief system. I have no idea why I questioned the whole virgin birth idea. It just didn’t make sense to me, even though as a child I didn’t have a full understanding about sex. I didn’t understand why Mary had to be a virgin to be the mother of Jesus. Why did that make a difference in who Jesus was? I didn’t come to a conclusion about that until many years later.
When I was a religious studies student, I learned that the word that was translated as “virgin” in the Bible, really should have been translated as “maiden”, which meant an unmarried woman. As far as I remember from my Old Testament class, the custom of the Jewish culture was for a couple to become betrothed, and have a kind of trial marriage. Sex in that culture was looked at very differently than in ours. It was possible for a betrothed couple to have sexual relations and not have any stigma attached to them. So, it could have been entirely possible that Mary and Joseph had made love and Jesus was the result. For some reason, I liked that idea.
If God is all powerful couldn’t he have brought the two people together who would produce the amazing miracle of Jesus? In my way of thinking, that’s just as much a miracle as if Mary were a “pure” virgin and God was Jesus only father. From there my thinking goes to my belief that each new life is a miracle and we are all created in the image of God. It’s just that we each have different “contracts”, as Caroline Myss calls them, for our time here on this earth. Just like puzzle pieces, we each have our part to play in the great pattern that is this life we’re living. And as humans we can’t possibly fathom what the big picture will be when the puzzle is finished, if it ever is.
From those ideas, my thoughts branch off to a theme that irritated the heck out of me while studying various religious doctrines, and still does to this day. Most doctrines were created by religious leaders to control their congregants. The male leaders wanted to keep their thumb on women in particular for reasons we could speculate about from now until dooms day. In any case, that was most likely the true origin of the story of the virgin birth. Sex makes women impure, or diminishes their spirituality in some way, even within the sanctity of marriage. (I’d like to slap the person who came up with that idea.) While within most religions, men, aren’t diminished in any way by sex, even if they participate in it before marriage, or any other act that would condemn a woman. How unfair is that!?
I could write volumes more, but I like to keep my posts short. My purpose for this essay was to express my belief that Jesus was a miracle no matter whether Mary was impregnated by God, or by Joseph. And I could go on to argue that he is a much more interesting figure to me as an historical person who became enlightened rather than a divine being that is too far above me to be able to emulate. I like the idea that he showed us how to become enlightened ourselves if we so choose to do so. But that’s a post for another time.
I had fun expressing ideas that have been rattling around in my head for many years. I don’t get to have many deep discussions on religious topics anymore. Sometimes I miss the flurry of ideas expressed passionately and the new patterns of thinking I develop as a result. So, from time to time I’ll be writing more “What If” posts and hoping that you will participate in the discussion.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share any of my posts with friends. I’m going back to revisions of my novel The Space Between Time now. Until next week …
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016
2 thoughts on “What If … Mary Wasn’t A Virgin?”
Hi believe in miracles, but not the virgin birth kind. This story was one of many reasons I questioned and ultimately discarded Christianity when I was about nine or ten,
I have also often wondered about Jesus’s siblings. For a couple to have only one child was quite unusual in those days. Where’s the story of his little sister?
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It’s been so long since my studies in religion, but I think the Bible mentions his brothers. Unfortunately not many women get attention in the Bible.
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