The Washington Post and The Daily Beast targeted the dogma of the virgin birth of Jesus to Mary of Nazareth, mere days before Christmas, the holiday where Christians mark this central tenet of their faith. Ruth Everhart claimed in her December 16, 2016 item for the Post‘s Acts of Faith site that the Christian churches have turned Mary’s story into an “idol of sexual purity.” Heterodox scholar Candida Moss followed two days later in a Daily Beast article that hyped the question of whether or not Jesus’ mother was actually a virgin.
Everhart, a minister of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), led her piece, “Our culture of purity celebrates the Virgin Mary. As a rape victim, that hurts me,” by setting up her theory about the apparent distortion of the Virgin Mary: “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.”
The pastor-turned-writer continued by revisiting her traumatic experience of being raped at gunpoint and her feeling of “being ruined” by the sexual assault. She emphasized that she wasn’t “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.”
Everhart proposed that “Mary is not responsible for what we’ve done to her story. Church culture has over-focused on virginity and made it into an idol of sexual purity. When it comes to female experience, the church seems compelled to shrink and distort and manipulate.” She revealed that her aim as a pastor was to promote the “gospel call for women,” which, to her, is “more than being a good girl”:
… For starters, I believe it’s impossible to be a good girl—meaning unblemished and pure—and also inhabit a body. It’s certainly true if you’ve been sexually assaulted, and may also be true if you are fortunate to not have been. …
I could say more about living in a female body, but it might be helpful if you just checked in with your own body right now. … Don’t get me wrong—I love having a body. A body is super-convenient for getting around in. It is a gift from God.
If you’re a woman, it’s a complicated gift. 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? (Admittedly, we Westerners could learn a few things from the Eastern Orthodox traditions.)
The fact that God chose to send Jesus to inhabit a body is powerful. Let’s not assume this basic fact. The incarnation is one of the unique aspects of Christianity. Incarnation means that it’s not a bad thing to inhabit a body. Even Jesus’ body was ushered to earth via a birth canal.
This article continues at [Charisma News] Why the Mainstream Media Has a Problem With the Virgin Mary