Monday, March 5, 2012

Why the Marian Doctrines Matter

Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, sometimes wonder if the Marian doctrines are worth it.  That is, on some level, who cares if Mary was ever-Virgin, or if she was bodily assumed into Heaven?  What does that have to do with the day-to-day life of a modern Christian?

Fra Angelico, The Annunciation (1434)
Mark Shea does a good job tackling this idea in his Mary, Mother of the Son trilogy: he shows how each Marian doctrine tells us something about Christ and/or about our redemption.  Here's a briefer version of his same explanation.  In a nutshell, Marian doctrines matter because of Christ, not because of Mary herself.  This makes intuitive sense: when Hebrews 11 lays out a litany of Old Testament Saints who achieved epic things by faith, the author's not trying to inflate their egos in Heaven.  He's showing us the power of faith.

What this means is that attacks on the Marian doctrines often devolve into attacks on Jesus Christ and Sacred Scripture.  An easy test is, “Could this argument be used against Christ, too?” You’d be amazed how often the answer is “yes” when it comes to the anti-Marian arguments.  For example, St. Paul says in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  In context, he's talking about all peoples, since he's spent the entire Letter so far comparing the Jews to the various Gentiles (rather than talking about individuals).  That is, the Jewish people are the chosen people, but they sinned and failed; the various Gentile peoples also sinned and failed.  Neither Gentile nor Jew can claim that their status renders them without need for a Savior.  Some Protestants proof-text this verse to “disprove” the Immaculate Conception by claiming that St. Paul really meant all individuals, with no exceptions. But if that's the case, then Paul is arguing against Jesus Christ's sinlessness, not just Mary's.  After all, Christ was born “under the Law” (Gal. 4:4).

There was a particularly egregious example of this “aim for Mary, hit Christ and Scripture” trend recently, and I'm unwittingly involved in it.  A Protestant calling himself MackQuigly read a post I wrote showing that the Apostles called the “brothers” of Christ have different fathers than Jesus (Acts 1:13).  The obvious implication is that these aren't literal brothers, but cousins, since they also have different mothers (Mark 15:40).  But MackQuigly takes my post and argues that this shows that the Virgin Mary had two husbands.

Literally, he is so committed to the idea that Mary cannot be ever-Virgin that he has to invent multiple marriages for the Virgin Mary, marriages never reported (or even hinted at) in Scripture. In defending why Mary couldn't remain a Virgin, he makes arguments that stab directly at the heart of Christianity. I want to look at two of them in particular.

I. Celibacy is Sinful, and a Cruel Punishment?

First, he claims of his theory:
This makes perfect sense because it would be inappropriate for God to command Joseph to enter into a sham marriage and not “render unto the wife due benevolence” 1 Corinthians 7:3. Neither would God cruelly punish Mary with a loveless barrenness, contrary to the very first command which he gave mankind, “Be fruitful, and multiply…” Genesis 1:28. 
By MackQuigly's logic, celibacy is sinful, since it's a violation of Genesis 1:28.  And to go through life without sex would be a cruel punishment from God.  Yet every mainstream Protestant concedes that Jesus was celibate. In fact, when the Da Vinci Code blasphemously suggested that Christ married Mary Magdalene, Protestants struck back by showing how ridiculous that idea is.  By  MackQuigly's argument, the fact that Jesus never had sex or biological children apparently means that God is cruel.

Worse, by not having biological children, MackQuigly's argument would suggest that Jesus violated “the very first command which [God] gave mankind, “Be fruitful, and multiply…” Genesis 1:28.” See what I mean?  In trying to attack Catholicism and Mary's Virginity,  MackQuigly has unwittingly made an argument that Christ sinned, and didn't fulfill the Law perfectly (Matthew 5:17-18).

II. Idealizing Celibacy is Paganism?

Immediately after this,  MackQuigly says:
The Roman Catholic idealization of celibacy is a pagan anachronism they retain from their marriage-shunning ancestors – the fornicating priests of ancient Babylon. (Such teachings regarding celibacy are satanic, see 1 Timothy 4:3).
Rembrandt, Apostle Paul (1635)
It's actually not from the Babylonians at all (that's absurd pseudohistory that no serious scholar believes).  Instead, we idealize celibacy because Scripture does.  St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7, explains that celibacy is the ideal, and a gift from God.  First, he writes in 1 Cor. 7:1-2,
Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
So celibacy is the ideal, but marriage is preferable to fornication, so if you can't keep your hands to yourself, you should marry.  St. Paul then explains that this idea of letting “every man have his own wife,” and letting “every woman have her own husband” is a concession to human weakness, rather than a commandment (1 Cor. 7:6-9):
But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.  I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
There he is again with that same hierarchy: lust and fornication are bad; marriage is good; celibacy is better. According to Quigley, this idealization of celibacy makes St. Paul a pagan.  And, since St. Paul has admitted to being a celibate in this passage, he's also apparently guilty of violating Gen. 1:28's admonition to be fruitful and multiply.   It gets worse, because St. Paul isn't the first to depict celibacy as the ideal: Jesus does the same thing in Matthew 19:12,
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
That is, Jesus just praised those who become like eunuchs (that is, celibate) for the Kingdom of God.  That's exactly what the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church asks of Her priests.  And Christ clearly says that he who can receive this instruction should.  In other words, not every man is cut out for a life of celibacy, but the one who is should strive for it.  You'll notice that this is the exact same hierarchy St. Paul has.

Conclusion

Much more could be said.  For MackQuigly's theory to be right, the Virgin Mary would have to have married at least three times in a very short period, since James and Judas (both “brothers” of Christ) were sons of different men.  As I explained in the original post:
Albrecht Altdorfer, Christ on the Cross Between Mary and St John (1512)
Obviously, Mary wasn't previously married (Luke 1:26-27), and St. Joseph is very much alive when Jesus is twelve (Luke 2:41-42). Since Jesus is only about thirty when He starts His public ministry (Luke 3:23), that doesn't leave a lot of time for Mary to (1) remarry, (2) have another son, (3) have her second husband die, (4) marry a third time, (5) have another son, and (6) have both of these sons grow up to be Apostles. Yet for these to literally be Jesus' half-brothers, that's what Protestants are claiming.
As a theory, it's an outlandish stretch, and there's not a shred of Biblical evidence suggesting Mary remarried even once.  One would assume that if Jesus had two stepdads, one of the Gospels would have mentioned this.

But hopefully, the theory is so self-evidently absurd that I don't need to pick it apart too much.  Instead, I just want to focus in on what I described above: Mary matters because Christ matters. If celibacy is evil and pagan, then Christ is evil and pagan.  If you can't be human and sinless, then Christ wasn't human (or wasn't sinless).  God the Father is perfect Divinity, and no humanity.  The Mother of God is perfect humanity, and no Divinity.  God the Son is perfect Divinity and perfect Humanity, fully God, and fully Man, the Son of God, and the Son of Man.  That's why understanding Mary matters.

31 comments:

  1. "By MackQuigly's logic, celibacy is sinful, since it's a violation of Genesis 1:28. And to go through life without sex would be a cruel punishment from God. Yet every mainstream Protestant concedes that Jesus was celibate."

    When paraphrased like this, MackQuigly's argument certainly looks silly. But I think it might include a key assumption which you haven't mentioned: MackQuigly would likely say that "celibacy [within marriage is sinful, since it's a violation of Genesis 1:28," not that celibacy for unmarried people like Jesus is sinful.

    As a Protestant who finds much of Catholicism very attractive, I'm still troubled by this. If Paul says that the husband and wife should only deprive themselves of intercourse periodically and by mutual consent in order to draw closer to God, why does the Catholic Church teach that Mary and Joseph never consummated their marriage? It seems odd that Paul would say perpetual celibacy is bad for married couples if it was good and even required for Mary and Joseph.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Paul says that "the husband and wife should only deprive themselves of intercourse periodically and by mutual consent" if they're struggling with lust. Here's how he puts it in 1 Cor. 7:5-6,

    "Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment."

    And certainly, in a marriage in which prolonged celibacy would lead one partner or the other into lust, it makes sense for celibacy to be only periodic and with the approval of both spouses. After all, marital sex is an important check on concupiscence.

    But St. Paul is really clear that this is (a) only for those who lack the fortitude to have lengthier celibacy, and (b) a concession, rather than a command. MackQuigly seeks to make it (a) universally applicable to the married, and (b) a command, rather than a concession.

    Of these two points, (b) is the most important. MackQuigly's argument essentially says that Mary and Joseph were commanded to do the very thing Paul says isn't a command: making celibacy a temporary thing.

    All of us all called to lives of chastity. Not all of us are called to lives of celibacy, and in fact, for some, attempting celibacy ends up increasing the temptation to violate chastity. But Paul clearly speak of celibacy having a place both as a permanent life calling, and as a more temporary way of drawing closer to God.

    I.X.,

    Joe

    ReplyDelete
  3. Arthad,

    You bring up a good point. However, I want to point out one thing that may help clarify this for you. I'm sure Joe will provide you with a good answer as well.

    What I want to mention is that there is a good chance that Mary was a consecrated temple virgin who had vowed perpetual virginity.

    While most protestants have never heard of such a thing, there is solid historical evidence for this, which you can read here and here.

    This explains why Mary asked for clarification on how she could have a child. If she intended to have sex (and being betrothed, she actually could have been having sex already according to Jewish law), the answer would have been obvious.

    The posts above explain why, with this in mind, she would have gotten married.

    God bless,
    Sam

    ReplyDelete
  4. It is not a sin to remain unmarried as long as God commands it (Jeremiah 16:2), but sham marriage is a sin because celibacy is only for the unmarried. In case you forgot, Jesus was unmarried.

    God was not a double-minded schizophrenic who ridiculously commanded Joseph and Mary to be both celibates and married at the same time! (cf., 1 Sam. 2:20).

    You failed to address 1 Timothy 4:3, and tried to ignore the word "every" that shows up twice in 1 Cor 7:2.

    It is a gross perversion of Pauline doctrine to claim he viewed celibacy as "ideal" - What nonsense! Paul required bishops and ministers to be married fathers, "the husband of one wife ... ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection..." 1 Tim 3:2,4; "Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well." 1 Tim 3:12. He also wrote to Timothy, "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children..." 1 Tim 5:14.

    The word "eunuch" means castrated, not celibate. Do Roman Catholic priests castrate themselves? Perhaps they should, but they don't - the words are not the same. Those made eunuchs in Matthew 19:12 for the kingdom of "heaven" (NOT kingdom of God!) see the cross reference is Isaiah 56:4 where it has to do with entering the millennium (cf. Zech 14:21; Isaiah 14:21-22).

    Your theory that Christ's brother Judas was not Alpheus' son along with James rests on your failure to quote from the Authorized Version:

    "James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.” Acts 1:13.

    Your bogus Bible says, "Judas the son of James" which proves (yet again) why having the correct Bible (King James Version) is so important. And so out goes your third-husband theory.

    Perhaps you can explain why Christ's mother did not bother to visit her son's body on Easter morning to anoint with spices? Was she busy playing Bingo, or visiting the nail salon? Consider:

    Luke identifies the women as, "... Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles." Luke 24:10.

    Your dilemma: either Mary is James' mother or else "Virgin Mary" was such a minor character that Luke didn't even mention her visiting her son's body.

    Mark states, "And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him." Mark 16:1 (cf. Mt. 28:1).

    Again, either Christ' mother is listed here as Mary the mother of James and Salome - or else "Virgin Mary" decided to go to Las Vegas for the weekend and hadn't gotten back in town in time. Which is it?

    Your superstitious attempt to make Mary into an idolatrous Queen of Heaven demi-god is irreverent and blasphemous (Jeremiah 44:17-25). She wasn't perfect - she even lied publicly about who Christ's father was - Luke 2:48.

    And as for the noisy woman who wanted to bless Mary: "a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked…” Christ rebuked her: “But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." Luke 11:28.

    Yea, rather ... indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Joe, I appreciate the reply. Your blogging as a whole as been very helpful to me as I've been learning about the Catholic Church.

    Here's more of the passage:

    But because of immoralities, each man should have relations with* his own wife and each woman with her own husband. 7:3 A husband should give to his wife her sexual rights,* and likewise a wife to her husband. 7:4 It is not the wife who has the rights to her own body, but the husband. In the same way, it is not the husband who has the rights to his own body, but the wife. 7:5 Do not deprive each other, except by mutual agreement for a specified time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.* Then resume your relationship,* so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 7:6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7:7 I wish that everyone was as I am. But each has his own gift from God, one this way, another that.

    You write: “But St. Paul is really clear that this is (a) only for those who lack the fortitude to have lengthier celibacy, and (b) a concession, rather than a command. MackQuigly seeks to make it (a) universally applicable to the married, and (b) a command, rather than a concession.”

    Your point A seems to imply that Paul thinks it is best for all married couples to be perpetually celibate within marriage, which seems strange to me in light of the Catholic Church’s teaching that procreation is an essential end of marriage. It’s not at all clear to me that Paul’s statement here is meant only for the weak. In v. 2, he justifies marital fidelity “because of immoralities,” but that’s certainly not because only weaker married couples need to be faithful to each other. In v. 5b, he does acknowledge the possibility of temptation, but there is no indication that he thinks some married couples are immune to it. Further, v. 6 is not necessarily referring only to the mutual deprivation of v. 5 – it may refer to the several preceding verses, to the idea of marriage in opposition to Paul’s own perpetual celibacy.

    You write: “But Paul clearly speak of celibacy having a place both as a permanent life calling, and as a more temporary way of drawing closer to God.” Here I completely agree. What’s not clear to me is why in the case of Joseph and Mary, perpetual celibacy within marriage is a good thing, while other Catholic teaching indicates that procreation is part and parcel of marriage.

    Sam, thanks for the links. The information is very interesting, and it makes sense in context, but I still have questions (which I’ve listed above).

    ReplyDelete
  6. MackQuigley,

    Your major claim seems to be that:

    It is not a sin to remain unmarried as long as God commands it (Jeremiah 16:2), but sham marriage is a sin because celibacy is only for the unmarried. In case you forgot, Jesus was unmarried.

    God was not a double-minded schizophrenic who ridiculously commanded Joseph and Mary to be both celibates and married at the same time! (cf., 1 Sam. 2:20).


    This is false. From Matthew 1, we know that at the time of the Annunciation, (a) Joseph was already Mary’s husband (Mt. 1:19), and (b) Mary was a Virgin (Mt. 1: 23). By your logic, this apparently makes God a “double-minded schizophrenic.”

    Without getting into too much detail, Jewish marriages occur in two stages. After the first stage, the man has a certain amount of time (generally a year) to prepare a place for his new bride. Mt. 1:24-25 specifies that while Mary was pregnant with the Christ Child, Joseph and Mary completed the second stage of the marriage. This is typically accomplished by consummating the marriage, but Mt. 1:25 specifies that during the pregnancy, they still didn’t have sex. I have to emphasize that none of this is required by Jewish Law, nor does the Angel Gabriel order Mary not to have sex while pregnant with Christ. Rather, the evidence suggests that Mary was (as Sam suggested) a consecrated temple Virgin.

    Your response to this is that Mt. 1:25 says “until,” suggesting that the marriage was consummated at a later point. Actually, the Greek word here (heōs) doesn’t have the same connotations that the English word does (see Mark 14:25 for another good example where the Greek and English words don't mean the same thing). Matthew isn’t trying to say that Mary and Joseph did or didn’t have sex after the birth of Christ. He’s merely establishing Mary was a Virgin both at the point of Christ’s conception and birth, in fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. (Ironically, you denied that Mary was a Virgin at Christ’s Birth in the second paragraph of your original post).

    I.X.,

    Joe

    ReplyDelete
  7. MackQuigley,

    To address the rest of your point generally:

    (1) I've addressed 1 Timothy 4:3 before.

    (2) You're again reading 1 Cor. 7:2 as a commandment, rather than a concession (disregarding 1 Cor. 7:6).  And once again, if you're saying that literally every person is required to get married, then St. Paul is preaching against both Christ and himself.  Which gets back to my original point: aim for Mary, end up attacking Christ.

    (3) You say that it “is a gross perversion of Pauline doctrine to claim he viewed celibacy as 'ideal,'” without actually addressing any of the points from 1 Cor 7.

    (4) If bishops and ministers were required to be married fathers (as you claim), then neither Jesus or St. Paul were allowed to be Christian ministers.

    (5) You claim that Paul wanted young women to get married and have kids (citing 1 Timothy 5:14), while Paul actually makes clear that it's superior for them to be celibate (1 Cor. 7:8-9).

    (6) Are you suggesting that Christ is wanting Christians to physically castrate themselves for the Kingdom?

    (7) Acts 1:13 literally refers to him as “Judas of James.” The KJV adds the words “the brother” before “of,” but those words aren't found anywhere in the Greek, or implied in any clear way.  I have no idea what motivates your decision to go with this translation, and to declare it “the correct Bible” and all other translations “bogus.”

    (8) Your claim about Luke 24:10 and Mark 16:1 turns upon the ridiculous idea that when the Gospel writers want to describe the Virgin Mary going to the Tomb, they describe her as “Mary, the mother of James.” That doesn't even pass the laugh test.  If the woman Mark and Luke are describing is the Mother of God, why would they refer to her by her relationship with one of the numerous Jameses?

    (9) You write: “Your dilemma: either Mary is James' mother or else "Virgin Mary" was such a minor character that Luke didn't even mention her visiting her son's body.”  Wouldn't an infinitely more reasonable interpretation be that the Virgin Mary wasn't in the pre-dawn group of women going to anoint the Body?  That perhaps she was coming later, or came separately?  For example, we know that the Apostle John kept the faith throughout the Passion, yet he clearly didn't join the women at the Tomb initially (see John 20:1-2).  Does that mean he's “such a minor figure” in the New Testament, as a result?

    (10) Your assaults on Mary are absurd.  You're seriously claiming that Mary was lying about Jesus' paternity in Lk. 2:48?  That she was a liar and a blasphemer?  This is sick stuff.  Does that mean that St. Luke is a liar and a blasphemer, too, for chronicling Jesus' lineage through St. Joseph (Lk. 3:23)?  The fact is, it's precisely because St. Joseph is Jesus' adopted father that Jesus fulfills the Old Testament genealogical prophesies (see Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38).  So once again: aim for Mary, end up attacking Christ.

    (11) I've addressed Luke 11:28 (along with Luke 8:19-21) before.

    I.X.,

    Joe

    ReplyDelete
  8. I humbly admit that my apologetics is appalling so if I'm wrong, please correct me. But here it goes...

    Arthad- You bring up the point that in a marriage the point is procreation. That's true. The Church does say you need to consummate your marriage for it to be legitimate. But you only have to do that once. If you wish not to engage, then you do not have to for the rest of your marriage. (From a married person's view point, it seems a bit strange, but that's the truth of it).

    Secondly, and more importantly, the relationship between Mary, Jesus and Joseph was set apart from that of ordinary marriages. Joseph knew before hand that Mary had the intention of remaining a virgin. (The assumption is that Joseph was a widower possibly with children.)

    There a number of instances in the Bible where people are set apart by God for various reasons. I think of Noah and his family or Lot and his family.

    MackQuigly- Ever heard of chevra kadisha? It's a Jewish burial party made up of volunteers, not family members. The family is in shiva, the week of morning. They don't do anything really and tear their clothes. So I don't expect Jesus's mother to be there to cleanse his body.

    And as for the lying. It's not a lie. She was married to Joseph and that makes Joseph his adopted father or step-dad.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Arthad,

    It's true that procreation is an ordinary end of marriage. What we're dealing with her are what are called spiritual (or Josephite) marriages. Historically, we've seen these sorts of non-sexual marriages in specific contexts, like an older man protecting a consecrated Virgin. Here, whether or not Mary was a consecrated Virgin, there's an obvious reason to enter a non-sexual marriage: namely, to create a stable environment in which to raise the Christ Child.

    But the fact is, Mary does seem to be a consecrated Virgin. This explains: (a) why they hadn't consummated their marriage when the angel Gabriel visited Mary; (b) why Mary expressed shock and confusion at the very idea of getting pregnant, (c) why Mary and Joseph still weren't having sex after they moved in together, and (d) why Mary was still a Virgin on Christmas Day. As I said to MackQuigley above, the angel Gabriel doesn't command Mary to remain a Virgin: she's just doing it anyway, suggesting that this is a pre-existing promise she made to God.

    Finally, let me say this: even if you find the whole thing a bit strange, the situation the Holy Family is in is unique. Ordinarily, wives don't become the mother of children who aren't their husband's. But there's a world of difference between surrogacy and the Incarnation, and attempting to shoehorn the Holy Family into the behavior expected of ordinary families strikes me as ill-conceived.

    I.X.,

    Joe

    P.S. Deltaflute, great point with the chevra kadisha. That's an incredible argument that I'd never considered. I've got a co-worker who just returned from sitting shiva for his father, and I didn't even piece the two things together. Since Mary would have been sitting shiva on Easter morning, it wouldn't make sense for her to be at the Tomb, which is further proof that "Mary, the mother of James" is another woman.

    ReplyDelete
  10. No, problem. You know I got your back, Joe.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Re. the KJV: there are some denominations, usually smaller ones, that accord an undue reverence to the KJV - I heard one person once refer to the New International Version as the New International Perversion. Some, it seems, do not even realise that it is not actually called the Authorised Version, which is more of a short-hand title. It was referred to that way only because at one time it was the only English language translation that was authorised to be read in churches (the sub-title to the KJV actually uses the word 'appointed' not authorised).in an era when there are many versions that have been authorised to be read in church by various ecclessial bodies (versions which are far more accurate translations even if not as beautifully written) the title is an anachronism.

    There are two main dangers here. One is that the KJV, beautful though the language is,is of its time; few of those reading it today are experts in Jocobean English. Word meannigs have changed. Secondly, to give this level of priority to a translation is to risk superceding the actual text.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Those that judge the Holy Bible by men's traditions are always wrong. Titus 1:14, Psalm 138:2. We judge all things by the Book. Heb. 4:12; Isaiah 8:20.

    Contrary to "shiva," scripture says the tomb was visited on the third day by Christ's relatives carrying spices, so throw "shiva" out the window with "mazel tov" and "kosher salt". (Nevertheless, Passover cancels "shiva" anyhow - so the point is moot.)

    Paul wrote, "I speak this by permission, and not of commandment," concerning abstaining from marital relations for a brief fast (1 Cor. 7:6-5). It's an otherwise questionable practice that exposes a couple to Satan's temptings. His permission was not to be misconstrued as a commandment to flaunt marital duties in a misguided pursuit of false piety (cf. Col 2:23; Gal. 5:1).

    Your blasphemous ditty, "aim at Mary, hit Christ" is the height of godless obscenity - nearly as bad as "Mother of God" or "Queen of Heaven" in its idolatrous perversity. Your are thus equating a first century Jewish woman with the third person of the Trinity. What you mean to say is, "We will elevate Mary to goddess who can hear all prayers, and we will pretend that this ridiculous pagan devotion is done for Christ's sake" - a ditty with considerably less panache.

    If Mary wasn't lying in Luke 2:48, then Jesus did when he set her straight in Luke 2:49.

    She lied (Luke 2:48), she lost her child in a crowd (Luke 2:44), she tried to interrupt Christ's preaching and he disowned her and adopted instead those who listened to him as his mothers (Luke 8:20-21; Mark 3:32-34; Matt. 12:49); when she interceded to him for a favour he ignored her (John 2:3-4); Jesus never called her "mother" only "woman" - as Christ addressed the woman caught in adultery (John 8:10), the Samaritan who had 5 husbands (John 4:21), and the woman he called a dog (Matt 15:28); and when Peter and the disciples gathered to pick Judas' successor (the only disciple ever cursed with one, Ps 109:8) nobody asked Mary for her opinion about anything (Acts 1:14).

    The word "celibacy" isn't found in scripture, but you equated it with the term "eunuch" in Matthew 19:12 - so obviously you are advocating castration as ideal over marriage ... that is, if we assume that you think words mean what they say (a Roman Catholic first). Either Romanists get out the scissors, or else stop misusing Matthew 19:12 to support celibacy (even as sodomites misuse it to advance their perversion of the truth).

    "The Virgin Mary" isn't ever called that in the bible (although bogus Bibles attempt it at Isaiah 7:14). Yes, she technically lost her virginity when she gave birth since scripture says, "openeth the womb" in Luke 2:23. The nonsensical superstition of the Vatican is that she is "ever virgin" with a womb that is "immaculate" - i.e., never opened even in birth.

    Your attempt to make Ezekiel 44:2 equate to Mary's womb is irreligious sacrilege - suggesting the unseemly notion that God had a physical relationship with Mary - but isn't this very much in keeping with the pagan origins of the Mary-cult? for Semiramus was both wife and mother to Nimrod.

    Read your Bible, people, and stop with all the foolish superstitious nonsense.

    ReplyDelete
  13. MackQuigley,

    Your comment was basically a string of mischaracterizations of my actual arguments, coupled with your own baseless assertions. Given this, I don’t intend to respond to each of the “points” you raise. If you want to advance a coherent argument about a discreet point, I’d be more than glad to respond, but if you just want to rant, you’re wasting everyone’s time.

    Your apparent hatred of Mary (and given your sixth paragraph, "hatred" doesn't seem an exaggeration at all) appears more pathological than logical. It’s quite contrary to Scripture, which says that all generations will call her Blessed (Luke 1:48), rather than a liar or a dog.

    So let me just make one major point in closing here, which I’ll lay out as a logical syllogism:

    1. Scripture praises the way that “all generations” will speak to/about Mary (Lk 1:48);
    2. In many of these generations, the only ones talking to/about Mary were Catholics (and later, like-minded Orthodox and Copts);
    3. Therefore, Scripture praises Catholic veneration of Mary.

    Note that it cannot be the Protestant approach to Mary that Scripture is praising here, since that’s not even remotely found in “all generations.” If you want to see what it looks like for “all generations” to call her Blessed, look at the way that the Medieval Church spoke about Mary. Scripture praises that (and the way that all generations speak of her). You condemn it.

    So you can parrot the same slanderous charges that we Catholics are just a bunch of “Bible-ignorant papists” and “superstitious fanatics” (as you claimed in your original post), or that we “judge the Holy Bible by men's traditions” or are “equating a first century Jewish woman with the third person of the Trinity.” All of that is false, and these cheap ad hominem attacks don’t conceal the fact that you’re clearly losing when it comes to actually examining the Scriptures like Christians, rather than name-calling and mudslinging like children.

    If you can't defend your actual point using reason and Scripture, then just admit to being wrong, or at least admit to being unable to defend your point. Resorting to calumny diminishes your contributions to this discussion, to say nothing of the damage it does to your own soul.

    I.X.,

    Joe

    ReplyDelete
  14. Mack,

    Of you use such softball arguments as "the Virgin Mary isn't ever called that in the Bible" or they celibacy isn't in the Bible, you won't get taken seriously. Everyone knows that the term Trinity isn't in the Bible either--it had to be derived from Scripture (by the Catholic Church, no less).

    Also, in regards to the goddess comment, which is obviously not true: Grow up. In retrospect, are you truly pleased with your comment?

    ReplyDelete
  15. *sigh*... I do wonder sometimes whether people who write such rants actually think they're convincing anybody. Still...at least it's being done with gentleness and respect, right? (1 Peter 3:15)

    I'm also very confused by the real blind spot they appear to have for celibacy. When I was discerning and talking with my Protestant friends about whether I was being called to a life of celibacy I was more than a little shocked by their reaction (http://restlesspilgrim.net/blog/2011/09/25/the-curious-case-of-celibacy/).

    I do scratch my head sometimes when I listen to anti-Catholics *desperate* to make Mary *not* ever-virgin.

    [shrug]

    ReplyDelete
  16. There exists a vast gap between Bible-Mary and Catholic-Mary.

    Catholic-Mary has the attributes of a deity: she is without sin, a mediator, hears the prayers of mankind, has her own altars, gets incense and candles, is lauded with titles such as "Queen of Heaven" and "Mother of God". The Book would identify this Catholic-Mary with devil worship: 1 Kings 11:33, 2 Kings 23:13; Acts 19:27-28; Jeremiah 44:17-25.

    The Bible says, "Blessed ABOVE women" - that would be above Mary - is Jael the wife of Heber (Judges 5:24). God has more respect for a brave woman who did something extraordinarily courageous, because she smashed somebody's brains out (Judges 4:21), than for Mary who only had to carry a baby. Reflect on that for a while.

    The Bible says "not to think of men above that which is written" (1 Cor 4:6). That includes Mary.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Any saint can have an altar, candles, or incense. Yet we know that latria is given to God alone. Thus the altars only are used to worship God, giving honor to the saint--which in the end is just glorifying God.

    Of course Mary and any saints can hear prayers. They are the cloud of great witnesses mentioned in Hebrews. God is of the living, not the dead.

    There is a difference between mediating grace and being the source of grace, which only Christ is.

    The main point of these doctrines is to glorify God's power, love, and grace. I don't see why there is so much hate for this. If anyone is worshiping Mary, they've clearly misunderstood. If God didn't want people to be part of salvation history, He wouldn't have made us!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Also, Mary "only had to carry a baby"? Are you serious? She carried God himself, the second person of the Bleased Trinity, the uncontainable God, in her womb! That's not just "a baby"--be careful of blaspheming. Maybe that will require some reflection on your part.

    You'll also note that the events in Judges happened much before Mary.

    ReplyDelete
  19. "only had to carry a baby". Aim at Mary, hit Jesus. Case in point.

    I've also considered (am still considering actually) a possible call to celibate life, and I have been told in no uncertain terms that celibacy is not of God. In fact, one guy even told me that it is a sin not to marry. Aim at celibacy, hit Jesus.

    Which is ironic, considering that most evangelicals are perfectly okay with contraception. It's sinful not to marry, but okay to artificially prevent the consummation of the marital act?

    ReplyDelete
  20. I mainly find fault in this because it SEEMS to attack an idiotic position, and then say "hey, look, If you don't believe in the RC doctrine you are like this fool".

    I'm not sure if some troll's already quoted this, but I'm wondering what your answer is:

    "As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you." He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.""

    Which seems to indicate that Mary's blessedness was due to her obedience - and not due to the simple fact of Bearing and Raising God Incarnate. (by which I mean, the AMAZING fact.)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Montague,

    My point with the post was to answer the idea that the Catholic Marian doctrines are irrelevant. As I mentioned in the original post, since Mariology is tied to Christology, "attacks on the Marian doctrines often devolve into attacks on Jesus Christ and Sacred Scripture." Now, that's not a universal rule, but as I think the post and the subsequent comments showed, it's a surprisingly common trend.

    This doesn't automatically prove the Catholic Marian doctrines true, I realize. But it does explain why we think that these Marian doctrines are worth fighting for.

    I'm glad you asked about Luke 11:27-28. I've written on it before, but the short answer is that you're exactly right.  Catholics don't just venerate every blood relative of Jesus.  As amazing as Mary is for her role as the Theotokos (God-bearer) and as the Mother of God (which, of course, includes a whole lot more work than nine months of pregnancy, as any mother will tell you), what ultimately sets her apart is her perfect faithfulness.

    By the way, this is yet one more reason that Mary is so important.  While Christ is, of course, the perfect exemplar of the virtues, the virtue of faith is complex with Christ.  After all, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1), while Christ already has a more perfect knowledge and sight.  Precisely because she's not God, Mary is an exemplar of faith.

    Feel free to check that post out -- I'm interested in your thoughts on it.

    I.X.,

    Joe

    ReplyDelete
  22. "Which is ironic, considering that most evangelicals are perfectly okay with contraception. It's sinful not to marry, but okay to artificially prevent the consummation of the marital act?"

    @Georg I had this exact thought as I was driving home tonight. You beat me to the punch :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. "Mary who only had to carry a baby"

    Aim at Mary, hit Jesus. Boom.

    I would suggest that Taylor's caution here is well warranted...

    The Ark was just a box with some stuff stuck in it...right? (2 Samuel 6:2-7)

    ReplyDelete
  24. "Catholic-Mary has the attributes of a deity:"

    I think it's worth to have a quick rundown of each of these.

    1. "she is without sin"

    Has the Angel Gabriel sinned? No? Is he therefore God?

    2. "a mediator"

    Do you ever ask anyone to pray for you? You've just made that person a mediator.

    3. "hears the prayers of mankind"

    God is the God of the living, not of the dead. Are you saying that it's *impossible* for those who are fully alive in Christ in Heaven to hear our petitions?

    4. "has her own altars, gets incense and candles"

    We give honour to those whom we love.

    5. "is lauded with titles such as 'Queen of Heaven'"

    In the book of Revelation there's a woman in Heaven with a crown - sounds a lot like a queen.

    As Queen of Heaven Mary is also the typological fulfillment of the pattern we see in the Kingdom of David (1 kings 2:19)

    6. "and 'Mother of God'"

    I think your Christology will run into some serious problems if you deny this. Are you saying that Mary did not give birth to God?

    Aim at Mary, hit Jesus.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thank you, Joe!

    Yeah, I sorta saw that coming. So, and correct me if I mess up, but what I seem to be getting here is:

    Mary had faith.
    Mary brought the Second Adam into the world by her faith.
    Therefore Mary is the second Eve, that is, perfect without sin.
    Therefore, Mary is the Queen of Heaven.

    Like that?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Montague,

    More or less, yes. It's not that each of those last two steps is logically required, but they certainly flow logically, and in light if the Scriptural evidence.

    I.X.,

    Joe

    ReplyDelete
  27. @Montague

    The way I'd construct that last point is thus:

    1. Jesus is the King
    2. In the Davidic Kingdom the Queen was the *mother* of the King.
    3. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Davidic Dynasty and therefore the Davidic King par-excellence
    4. Therefore Mary is His Queen, the Queen of Heaven.

    ReplyDelete
  28. ... So the matter is not entirely what clearly follows infallibly by all accounts, but rather what is Beautiful and Harmonious.

    By which I mean, it is a good doctrine. As long as it is in its place, like every good Love.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Montague,

    I was understanding you to be asking if the Marian doctrines were logically required. And, in the sense that God could have done otherwise, I suppose they're not. Of course, this is equally true of all sorts of Christian doctrines. But these doctrines are still True (not just Beautiful). That is, these are things that our Christian forebears tell us actually occurred, and we believe them. We don't understand them to have said, "wouldn't it be neat if this were true?" But being True, they're no less Beautiful for it.

    I.X.,

    Joe

    ReplyDelete
  30. One of the posts asked "why did Mary, the mother of Jesus, not come to the tomb in the morning to annoint the body?" Also, I cannot tell if any of the post are written by women. So as a woman and mother and grandmother and faithful Catholic, I would like to propose an answer. "When Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to His mother first. And this intimate moment was so private and personal, it is NOT recorded in the bible as not all of Jesus' miracles are recorded because the book would be infinitely too large to read. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Anne, I'm a mother too. I'd never thought of that possibility before. That is so likely that I can't believe it never crossed my mind.

    Thanks for bringing it up. On Easter, I will have a an added beautiful imagery in my head.

    ReplyDelete