Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Cult of the Virgin

Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived.
Mark 3:31

I was in the auditorium listening to the teacher of world history. She was an unbeliever, but fairly objective and quite knowledgeable. She casually mentioned the family of Jesus--His mother and brothers. Immediately there was an uproar from those who felt she had blasphemed Mary.

The teacher looked at me as she and I had had exchanges, in a friendly fashion over some issues of how women were treated in the Bible. I smiled at her. She was facing hostile reactions, but not from me.

How did this lady teacher dare speak of the physical family of Jesus? I had been down this road before, so I was not shocked. In fact all she needed to do was to read some passages in the Bible to confirm her statement.

I know there are those who maintain that the word "brother" in this case must refer to "cousins". To illustrate the fallacy of this view let us read on in Mark 3:33 through 35:

A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you." "Who are my mother and brothers?" he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said. "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother. "

If we say the word translated as brother in this passage, we have Jesus saying that if you do God's will, you are his cousin.

Does this impugn the virginity of Mary? In no way. The virgin birth is plainly revealed in the Old Testament and the New. We have the words of Mary herself as she speaks to the angel Gabriel. When Gabriel tells Mary she will conceive, she answers him, "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" (Luke 1:34).

What is at issue here is not Mary's virginity at the time of the birth of Jesus, but her perpetual virginity. Many have, as part of their religion, the worship of a virgin.

I am not speaking of Roman Catholics, but people of a much older religion. Egypt for one had it for thousands of years before the Bible was written. This is my concern--that people worship Mary as an eternal virgin, and her family as consisting of cousins.

To be very blunt, I think protestants pretty much ignore Mary, and Roman Catholics make her into a creature like a pagan goddess. The Bible quotes her own words.

"From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me- holy is his name." (Luke 1:48,49).

Many believe that Mary confers great favors. The Bible says she was the recipient of great things. All who know of her call her blessed.

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