The First Duty

Not long ago, I stumbled across this post. Click that link with care; it is not for the faint of heart or the easily offended.

Basically his premise was simple: Mary, a young shepherdess, wasn’t getting what she wanted from her aging husband Joseph, so she got up to a little hanky-panky with a handsome young shepherd on a hillside somewhere. She got pregnant, and to save herself from death by stoning, she claimed that it was “Immaculate Conception”. And the rest is history — or at least mythology.

What he is saying, in effect, that Jesus, far from being the son of God, was a bastard.

His post had more logical holes than swiss cheese, so I wrote a comment refuting his posting and submitted it. I was instructed that it would be posted after moderation.

Days went by. Then a week. It never showed up.

I’m guessing that it was probably “moderated” out of existence. I can only assume that some people don’t like public criticism of their public statements. Fortunately I kept a copy of my post, which I have embellished slightly and include below:

Aren’t you a little bit young to be this cynical?

Do you really believe that in over two thousand years, nobody else has ever considered this possibility?

Don’t you think that Joseph’s thoughts wandered where you have so graphically been?

Sadly, your theory falls down on several fronts:

1) The Virgin birth was prophesied by Isaiah, more than seven centuries before. That would be like someone in William the Conqueror’s Court predicting the Declaration of Independence.

2) Virginity was a Big Deal in those days. They had tests. While they were not foolproof, they were fairly accurate – and in a contentious case like this, there would have multiple checks to confirm.

3) Joseph did not have to marry Mary to save her from being stoned. Scripture says clearly that he had it in mind to divorce her quietly, and was going to do so, but…

4) …an angel came to him in a dream and told him not to. To me that sounds more far-fetched than the idea of a Virgin Birth, but Joseph seemed to think otherwise. And frankly, if it was good enough for him, I’m not going to argue. But you, apparently, know better.

5) There is absolutely no evidence to support your “Mary-was-a-shepherdess” theory. In those days, those who tended sheep were a class apart from “ordinary” people. Mary came from a good (though not rich) family, as her lineage attests.

6) Mary became pregnant _before_ she and Joseph got married. They were betrothed, in their culture, betrothal is is a pre-contract for Marriage. It is not “shacking up”; under the rules of their culture, they did not live or sleep together. But don’t let the facts of the matter get in your way.

You can choose to believe or not to believe that Jesus was the son of God. We can agree to disagree on that. You can choose to believe that some denominations are a little obsessed with Mary. I would tend to agree with you. But being deliberately offensive does you no credit.

Lest you dismiss me as narrow-minded/bigoted/etc., here’s an exercise for you: feel free to write a similar screed on Mohammad (who, according to their holy writings, had six wives, while good Muslims were limited to four; who talked of peace until he had gathered an army; who preached poverty while being one of the richest men in the Middle East, to name just a few of his inconsistencies), and wait for the fatwa – see how long they let you live.

One more thing; If you choose not to believe in the existence and divinity of Jesus Christ, I trust that you will not be engaging in the hypocrisy of taking Christmas Day off as a paid holiday – a word which is, after all, a contraction of “Holy Day”.

I used to subscribe to your RSS feed and read your writings regularly, but after reading this, I canceled it. Aside from debating this point with you, I shall not pass this way again.

The title of this post comes from a Star Trek: TNG post, from which comes Picard’s enduring quote: “The First Duty of every Starfleet Officer is to the Truth! Lies should be challenged…”

And that, my friends, is why I am here.

And unlike my learned colleague, I invite constructive criticism.

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  • wealthartisan  On December 14, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    What an excellent post! Many people will deny Christ as much as possible, because of how they live. People love to wallow in sin, and if Jesus Christ did live, and was the messiah, then they have a big problem on their hands.

    Look at the universe around us, and tell me you believe it was an accident. People think that because they haven’t seen God, he must not exist. The average life span of an ant is anywhere from 2 – 6 months, think of how many ants that have died without ever seeing a human, but there is over 6 billion of us on this planet.

    Consider that the universe is far more vast than the human to ant ratio. In perspective, we’re smaller than ants. In terms of spacial distances, our lifespans are shorter than a flash. It’s easy to put your head into the sand, turn on the TV and Xbox, and pretend nothing supernatural is around us.

    But look at space, look at the vacuum, look at the radiation, and then consider that we’ve got a properly magnetized atmosphere protecting us from the radiation, cold, and vacuum. We are just far enough away from the sun to stay warm, but not freeze to death, and tell me it was all an accident.

    Anyone who can manage to still claim “accident” is doing it because the consequence of God being real does not bode well for them. Luckily Jesus was sent so that we can accept that we are imperfect, but say we are sorry. He was sent so we have the choice to not face hell, but we spit in the face of this option.

    Big Bang does not address the very beginning. You cannot create nor destroy matter or energy, so how did the matter and energy get there that formed the beginnings of the big bang? Science doesn’t know, I wouldn’t be able to know, and this fact is rarely publicized in text books.


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