New Liberal Christmas Tradition: Mary Was Raped
Valerie Tarico wrote an article at Alternet, republished at Salon, that should get her a lot of invites to ironically themed liberal Christmas parties. The title: "Why rape is so intrinsic to religion."
Tarico lays out a series of myths from pagan traditions, mostly Greek and Roman, in which women are abducted, violated, and coerced. We have Danae, Europa, Rea Silvia...and, what do you know, the Virgin Mary.
Notably, Tarico avoids using the same dire language for the Blessed Mother that she uses for the pagan myths: "[I]n the Gospel of Luke, the Virgin Mary gets pregnant when the spirit of the Lord comes upon her and the power of the Most High overshadows her." No "cutting" or "overcom[ing]" or "imprison[ing]" here – but it still, per Tarico, equates to Mary not "giving consent."
At this point, anyone with even a passing understanding of the Bible must be hearing alarm bells. That, and seeing a coruscating marquee that reads LUKE 1:38:
And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.
This passage has been read over and over (and over!) again in Catholic Masses throughout the world as Christmas approaches. Protestants, too, are quite clear on it; be it done to me according to thy word is one of the most oft-quoted and well-known phrases of the Advent season.
The best Tarico can do is complain that "Mary assents after being not asked but told by a powerful supernatural being what is going to happen to her[.]" Yet Tarico apparently couldn't be bothered to read the rest of the source she's citing:
And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. (Lk. 1:46-48)
Read Luke 1 in its entirety. It doesn't get much more "consent" than that.
So one must chalk this up to incredible, mind-blowing ignorance by media figures who purport to cover religion: Tarico is so oblivious to what she's trying to cover here, and so desperate to blast Christianity, that she cites one of the rare religious stories that actually contradicts her claim – that chronicles a woman not only consenting, but consenting enthusiastically.
The coronation of the Virgin. She consented.
Tarico is indulging the much-beloved anti-Christian pastime of "zooming out" – i.e., ham-fistedly putting all faiths under the indistinct blob of "religion" in order to make the fatuous point that religion is very bad. Never mind that Christianity in its earliest stages came out explicitly, and at great personal cost to its adherents, against the paganism that characterized the wider world at that time, and that populates Tarico's piece in this time. The ancient Israelites too went to great lengths to separate themselves from the barbaric pagans who surrounded them – see Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, pretty much the entire Old Testament, and a little-known treatise called the Ten Commandments.
In other words, this is not obscure stuff.
In the Greek and Roman worlds, entitlement claims took the form of assigning supernatural paternity to public figures. The Christian tradition, somewhat awkwardly, tries to lay claim to both of these – tracing the lineage of Jesus through his father Joseph back to King David, while simultaneously denying that he had a human father.
Never mind that Catholic tradition, at least, holds that Mary was of the House of David as well. And any awkwardness here is only in Tarico's poor understanding of her subject matter – it's easy to unravel the "simultaneously denying" conundrum Tarico is struggling with, but she would have to want to learn something in order to do it.
Finally, this may be the most embarrassing part:
This is the context for the miraculous conception stories, and in this context, the consent of a woman is irrelevant. Within a society that treats female sexuality as a male possession, the only consent that can be violated is the consent of a woman’s owner, the man with the rights to her reproductive capacity – typically her father, fiancé, or husband. Many Christians are surprised when told that nowhere in the Bible, either Old Testament or New, does any writer say that a woman’s consent is necessary or even desirable before sex.
Liberals are already getting pilloried for supporting "affirmative consent" laws that make college campuses into Puritan witch-hunting grounds, and for cheering on rape hoaxes à la Lena Dunham and Rolling Stone. Now, Tarico says, Christians should hold it against the Bible, whose most current narrative takes place almost two thousand years ago, that every sexual liaison did not conform to 21st-century liberal dogma. Incredible that the story of Jacob and Esau did not include a written and signed permission slip between Isaac and Rebecca – or a continuous trail of them (have to keep things affirmative!).
To sum up, "Mary was raped" requires a few assumptions. First, that rape does not have to include sexual intercourse of any kind. Second, that the archangel Gabriel visiting the Blessed Mother is the same as Zeus turning into a bull and hauling off Europa. And third, that Luke 1:46 onward – a passage in the very same source Tarico cites – does not exist. In other words, "Mary was raped" makes perfect sense if words have no meaning, all religions are the same, and the Bible actually is the straw-man caricature Tarico tore into on Sunday.
Jaw-dropping ignorance of Christianity among liberal commentators seems to crop up with extra strength around Christmas and Easter. Perhaps the Valerie Taricos of the world figure that those who would usually debunk such nonsense are off enjoying the season. But instead of flouting Abraham Lincoln's wisdom (which – surprise! – appears in the Bible) on remaining silent and being thought a fool, oblivious anti-Christian curmudgeons ought to try enjoying the season themselves. They might learn something for a change.
Drew Belsky is American Thinker's deputy editor. Contact him at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter @DJB627.