Recently a professor from Minnesota State University made the controversial claim that God sexually assaulted Mary, Mother of Jesus. This claim caused great outrage.
However, it is still worth exploring this mystery further. Let’s first consider Mary’s response to Gabriel: an enthusiastic yes.
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Did God ask for her consent?
God should recognize women’s right to choose whether or not to consent to an unwanted pregnancy that could potentially endanger them and should respect that right when making decisions that could compromise human sexual rights. Furthermore, this would prove that the Bible portrays Him as all-powerful entity which goes against what most modern cultures know of God as.
The Biblical account of Mary’s virgin birth is both compelling and controversial. As the mother of Jesus Christ, Mary is revered as a role model among women everywhere for her courage and willingness to take risks in a highly patriarchal society – choosing instead to become pregnant while still remaining virginal.
At the Annunciation, Mary was visited by an angel who told her she would bear Jesus Christ, God’s son and Savior of mankind. Mary asked how this could happen since she was a virgin but the angel replied that God’s power would rest upon her and his Holy Spirit would fill her. Additionally, Elizabeth, an elderly relative was six months pregnant with twins!
Mary was making history by accepting Joseph’s plan in an environment in which women had limited influence and power. Most likely betrothed at 12, she could have faced social stigma as well as punishment from her family if her pregnancy occurred outside of marriage; or even worse she may have been forced into prostitution or another unsavory position if forced by them into having another baby before marriage had taken place.
Matthew and Luke both provided accounts of the Annunciation, but neither one of them had direct experience. Instead, they relied on various sources and eyewitness accounts that they obtained through various witnesses; their perspectives differed widely as well. Matthew was originally Jewish before becoming Christian and wanted to emphasize how Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies; Luke, on the other hand, was an educated physician who became one of the New Testament authors renowned for showing Jesus as an equal savior for all, particularly women, poor people, and social outcasts.
Did God impregnate her?
The Bible indicates that Gabriel visited Mary to inform her of her impending pregnancy and explain how it would take place, explaining that God “overshadowed” her with his power – this process being known as parthenogenesis.
People sometimes make the mistaken assumption that God impregnated Mary against her will, when in reality the Bible’s story of Annunciation clearly indicates otherwise. Mary made the choice not lightly as she knew this decision entailed a risk, yet felt drawn towards accepting what she considered God’s offer to become motherhood.
If she had refused, it would have been impossible for her to achieve the immaculate conception, and having a son without fathering would have violated laws against fornication; thus she needed to be free of sin in order to consent to this pregnancy.
Some have gone as far as suggesting that God raped Mary. However, such allegations remain seriously and unsubstantiated; it’s hard to imagine any serious theist believing this and any reasonable person accepting that as truth.
It is hard to imagine that those who authored the Bible had access to modern research into adolescent development and consent. Therefore, it would have been absurd for them to create an environment in which God could impregnate a teenage girl without her permission.
At first, people may have understood the immaculate conception as a means to explain how Jesus could have had both human parents and yet no sin, similar to Adam having one but not suffering original sin. This explanation would seem much more plausible as it does not involve God raping the Virgin Mary.
Did God make her pregnant?
Biblical accounts state that Mary became pregnant miraculously through divine intervention, with Gabriel appearing and proclaiming to her her role in bearing and giving birth to God’s son – explaining that he would save humanity with this child. Luke records how Mary was distressed at this announcement but accepted it anyway, agreeing to become God’s Mother even though this child would come into being as an earthling.
God knew she would agree before she heard of His plan, so He planned for it to involve impregnation of a virgin.
If that were true, it is unclear why He bothered asking Mary for permission; He could simply have told her he intended her to become his son’s Mother and left it up to her whether to accept or decline. It appears more likely that He directly announced it so as to convince Mary of his plans while also showing how suitable Mary was as his partner in carrying them out.
Luke also mentions Mary being betrothed to Joseph. This arrangement was common among Jewish girls at that time and usually lasted one year before the couple wed and began cohabitating and sexual relations; during this year Mary would be legally responsible for protecting Joseph from any immorality during that period.
God chose her specifically because of her virginal status, as this culture looked down upon women having sexual relationships outside marriage; any young woman having unprotected sex outside her marriage could have faced serious repercussions for straying from His plan.
As Christmas nears, some Christians are making false allegations that God raped the Virgin Mary – an indefensible claim which undermines biblical narrative and misrepresents Scripture.
Did God rape her?
The Biblical account of Mary’s conception of Jesus Christ shows that she accepted and willingly chose the role that God offered her. While some may question Gabriel’s ability to inform Mary of what would occur, an unwed pregnancy at a time without female rights or protection would likely result in her stoning; and due to Joseph’s acceptance of paternal responsibility due to guidance provided by Gabriel out of mercy and kindness towards Mary, Joseph would assume parental responsibilities out of compassion and mercy towards Mary.
Many Christians use Jesus’ story as the cornerstone of their belief in the Immaculate Conception, asserting that God’s “overshadowing” of Mary did not constitute sexual assault since she remained virgin throughout her pregnancy and found nothing sexually appealing or liberating in it. Furthermore, their all-powerful deity made it impossible for Mary to refuse him and say no.
Whoever advocates this position fails to consider that many young women who become pregnant in this way experience extremely negative outcomes. They face shame over their pregnancy, social stigmatisation, labor pains during the final weeks and months, childbirth in an animal stable, then often having to flee back into Egypt after giving birth – experiences which have proven detrimental for girls’ mental and physical wellbeing.
Furthermore, this narrative relies upon a misogynist understanding of what it means to be female in society and their roles within it. Furthermore, the Bible does not take into account modern concepts of adolescent psychology and affirmative consent – key components in defining sexual assault – nor research that shows children born to teenage mothers have more difficulty than those born to older mothers.
Finally, it fails to recognize that rape is a violation of human rights. While Harvey Weinsteins of this world might think their victims can keep quiet or don’t have the power to speak out, survivors know that God hears every word they speak out; after all, He doesn’t condone rape, violence or oppression!