Over the last few days a rather troubling thought has struck me, and so I thought I’d share it with you. During the last month or so, whilst the media has been awash with allegations of sexual assaults and various types of unwanted and unwarranted behaviours, it appears to me that another sexual predator has been lurking in plain sight.
His crimes may well have been committed many years go but are blatantly boasted about today. Celebrated even. These are no mere allegations, but reported as fact, with the victims deluded into thinking that happened to them was acceptable. If indeed the past is to be viewed through the lens of the prevailing norms of what is and what isn’t acceptable now, exactly how far back in the past should we go in this journey of exposing wrongs? Who is exempt?And why?
I can’t help but feel that what is happening now is happening at just the right time. I mean not the right time, in the sense this should have happened years ago, but the right time inasmuch as it is the right time of year, when the Christmas season is soon upon us. I mean Christians frequently bang on about what lessons the Bible has for us regarding modern life and how its – highly dubious – morality sets us some kind an example to follow. Nowhere is this more starkly illustrated than in the story of the “Immaculate Conception”. I contend that there’s nothing “Immaculate” about the “Immaculate Conception”. Immaculate means pure and clean and two things the “Immaculate Conception” is so not is pure and clean; it’s the very antithesis of those things.
In case you need reminding of the details, here’s an extract from the Gospel of Luke (C1 v: 26 – 38)
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
And this isn’t the first time God does this either. In verse 36, where it says “ Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month”, Gabriel admits that God did it to someone else. Like that would be of some comfort!
I know that some of you reading this will think that I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. But am I? Really? You should be asking yourself why you think that, and consider that perhaps my interpretation has validity. Some celebrate the birth of Christ like some kind of wondrous event, instead of a monstrous one. Why is this actively celebrated, in Nativity plays at schools where this kind of abuse – and that’s what it is – acted out by children? They might go further and say I’m being too literal or twisting the Bibles words. Again, am I really? It clearly says that God has found so much favour with Mary that he’s going to impregnate her. And she thinks it is a good thing? Is this really what we should be indoctrinating young girls with, that their bodies are not their own?
Just because things in the Bible are supposed to have taken place over two thousand years ago does that make it somehow alright? Whilst I might believe that all religions are basically fairy stories for grown ups, last week I had the misfortune to be in a church the other day where the preacher was an evangelical Christian and clearly believed that the bible abounded with self-evident truths, and clearly he is not alone in his dangerously erroneous beliefs.
I know that the all of the so-called sacred texts of all religions are deeply problematic, with a highly dubious morality, but as I was brainwashed as a Catholic until I read Darwin as a teenager, I can only comment on the Bible. Why does religion get an exemption from the re-evaluation of the norms of now? Perhaps the only miracle of the Virgin Birth is that some of you still think of it as a miracle!