Isaiah predicted the coming of the Lord
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.Isaiah 7:14
The Hebrew word in the original text for “virgin” was almah, which just means “young girl” There is no reference to her sexual history in this word. When the Hebrew Bible was translated to Greek, the translators used the word parthenos. This has dual meanings. It can mean young girl, and also a young girl that has never had sexual relations (virgin).
Now along comes the author of Matthew (who was NOT the apostle Matthew), and he uses the Greek word parthenos, and then comes the King James translators, and they select the virgin meaning for the English translation. It appears that the whole concept of a “virgin birth” is just a mistranslation.
(Jana Riess gives an excellent writeup on this in her Flunking Sainthood column)
Does it matter in Mormon theology if Mary was a Virgin or not? I can see that the Catholic Church might take this very hard, but I don’t see much of an issue for Mormons. The only time we ever speak about her is during Christmas. She plays no part in our worship of God like She does in the Catholic church.
But could it be a problem in that Christ was not born of a earthly mother and a Heavenly Father? What if he was the offspring of Joseph? Then the whole story of Joseph being upset that his future wife was pregnant is not true either.
The Book of Mormon references the Lord’s mother as a virgin three times. But is this any more problem than all the other KJV mistranslations that show up in the Book of Mormon?
I looked up in the General Conference Corpus, and saw that “virgin” has only been mentioned 8 times in the last 20 years, with several of those references to the parable of the ten virgins. Only one stands out, that of 2007 when Elder Holland said “I bear witness that He was born of a virgin mother…….”. Was he actually testifying of the sexual history of Mary at the time of the birth, or was he using virgin as another word young woman, and he was really witnessing to the birth of Christ?
What are your thoughts on this? Like I asked before, does anything change in Mormon theology if Mary was not a virgin?
Bill, those who want to reject the divinity of Jesus and make him into just another man will adopt your philosophy. It is a choice. But I choose to accept Jesus as the Son of God, my Savior, my Redeemer, so it is easy for me to accept the story.
And isn’t it a wonderful and beautiful story?
Although I recognize that much has been written by members of our faith of some notoriety about how the virgin birth is necessary for Jesus to be half God and half Man to accomplish his mission, it doesn’t matter to me whether or not Mary was a virgin in the modern English sexual sense of the term. Certainly it’s easy to believe that she was, in the context of the other details of the Christmas story, but Mary’s sexual history is a relatively minor detail in the grand story of Jesus’s life and teachings. Would Jesus still have given the sermon on the mount if he had been sent as, say, Mary’s second child? Sure, why not? Would be still have suffered on the cross if that was the case? Of course! The divine love, grace, and mercy of Jesus is not in the least degree dependent on his mother’s sexual history.
BB, Thanks for your post.
I have been exploring translation of different words that were taken from original Greek New Testament translations then translated into Hebrew and eventually KJV. This is one subject that deserves study. I have found peace of mind for myself on this subject. Everyone is allowed their own storyline. As I read a portion of the article you refer to:
That story is just one of many fascinating deep dives in “The Bible With and Without Jesus,” which explores how Jews and Christians often read the same text in very different ways. Some texts that are important to Christians, such as this line about a young woman from Isaiah 7, aren’t very significant in Jewish history; others that are significant in Judaism, such as the Book of Esther, get less attention from Christians.
I find the same thing with our own phone texting and how one can misconstrue what was intended in the words.
Looking into greek meaning of perfection has also brought me peace of mind and……wholeness! PEACE…..WHAT A GREAT WORD. PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU…MY PEACE I GIVE UNTO YOU…NOT AS THE WORLD GIVETH…..INDIVIDUALLY.
I think it’s stretching to call this a “mistranslation”. There are other options for how to translate it, that doesn’t mean it is mistranslated.
I am persuaded by scholars who point out that the gospel narratives place Jesus’ divine sonship happening at different places in the text: in Mark, at his baptism he is proclaimed by God to be the Son of God. In Luke, it is at his birth. In John, it is at the foundation of the world. From a historical perspective, we also see the title used in opposition to the Emperor of Rome being called the Son of God, and that is a theme that runs throughout the gospels. I don’t think acknowledging this destroys the narrative- it seems that the authors of the New Testament didn’t have a problem with it. I think that the text itself shows that Jesus can be the Son of God regardless of who his father was without threatening his divinity or role in the atonement.
ji, your post is so utterly pointless it’s almost art. At least half of my posts are, too (including this one), but on the other side of the ledger – thusly, Rock On & Happy New Year!
I’ve ruminated on this concept over the past couple of years, tossing around in my mind the question: is Christ’s divinity lessened if he is not the literal son of God (as the virgin birth story teaches)? And what I keep feeling is “No.” If earthly parentage lessens Jesus’ divinity, then what does it also take away from the idea that each of us are literally children of Gods and also have divinity within us? I believe Jesus as a literal human is still Jesus the Christ.
Brigham Young, for one, did not believe that Mary, at the moment she conceived, was still sexually inexperienced. But in the days before IVF, that may just represent a failure of the imagination on Brigham’s part. (Just as my reference to IVF may represent a failure of the imagination on my own part.)
Bill asked a question and I gave an honest answer. I have made a choice to believe — it works for me. For me, it is the greatest story ever told — that God himself came to live among mankind. I apologize for discomfiting you.
@ji, why does it make a difference if God somehow impregnated a virgin woman vs God put his spirit into a human body created by a man and woman?
Either one is miraculous, and the latter seems less strange to me and wouldn’t take away from Jesus’s divinity. I think you can believe Jesus is the Christ without believing that God got Mary pregnant.
I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other but I do disagree that the alternative interpretation necessarily makes Jesus less divine.
I think that in the 19th century, the LDS view was quite open to rejecting the virgin birth theory. Somewhere in the mid-20th century, LDS doctrine started moving toward conservative Christian views, including affirming, at least publicly, belief in the virgin birth theory. That’s certainly where the mainstream LDS view is now, although there’s sometimes a nod to the 19th-century view with an “oh yeah, overshadowed by the Spirit, wink, wink” aside.
LDS doctrine is based on scripture, except when it isn’t. Like when it turns out a doctrine based on a scripture turns out to be based on a wildly inaccurate reading of that scripture. It’s not like the doctrine gets updated in line with an accurate reading of the scripture. Thus it is with Isaiah 7:14.
I am okay with accepting the story as it is told. Mary was young and unmarried — I will give her the benefit of any doubt. But I might return the question to you? Why is it so important to you to believe Mary was sexually active before her marriage?
It is easy for me to believe the story. If God could cause human cells to reorganize somehow to heal a leper or blind or cripple with His word, why couldn’t He command a single cell in Mary to reorganize and start a pregnancy? I believe He could.
@ji, it is not important to me to believe that Mary was sexually active. I never said I thought that or that it is important to me. I said that I didn’t think the alternative version makes Jesus any less divine if you want to believe in a divine Jesus.
I think most elements of the story are invented in order to make a point. It’s more useful to think about what I might learn from various tellings, even competing versions, than which of those tellings is historically accurate (since none likely are, and I think getting caught up in literalism actually takes away from what we might learn).
In earlier Mormon thought (McConkie and others), God the Father came down and inseminated Mary. My reading has been that it was through an act of coitus as well. So technically, she would have lost her virginity to God.
Mary is not central to Mormon teachings. She is not venerated as in Catholic tradition. Hence emphasis on her virginity is not paramount nor a bedrock doctrine. Yet virgin birth is not one of those doctrines you can express doubt in without raising eyebrows. If you think that Mary wasn’t a virgin, you have to keep quiet about that in church. For one, in the Mormon belt there are many older attendees who vividly remember the McConkie era and his insistence on Biblical literalism, if not quasi-inerrancy. I can only imagine possible responses from the old generation crowd to such a seemingly heretical thought as coming in the form of,” well, that is not what the leaders teach, you need to work on your testimony” at worst or at best “well, we don’t know” (said passively aggressively to blunt your efforts to cast doubt on miraculous fantastic phenomena that the rank-and-file seem to think a good and legit Mormon needs to believe in, and as a subtle declaration that you can’t prove me wrong, therefore I get to believe what I want).
Second, many Mormons subscribe to the slippery-slope fallacy in their thinking about doctrine. They think if you don’t believe in virgin birth, what else don’t you believe? Years ago, I corresponded with Ronald Millet of Meridian Magazine about an article he wrote insisting that a true believing Mormon needed to believe in a global flood. I emailed him politely saying that his idea was nonsense and that there were indeed many Mormons who were fairly strong believers who didn’t subscribe to the idea of a global flood. He emailed me back questioning my belief in Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith (questioning my “testimony” in essence) making the argument that if you believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ that you have to believe in a global flood. Millet is like many Mormons I know. It is all-or-nothing. It is a package deal. To believe one Mormon belief is to believe McConkie/Mormon-style Biblical inerrancy. You can’t pick and choose. You can decline to say something or stand up for something you’re not sure about, but how dare you say it ain’t true. Millet-style numbskullism seems quite common among the rank-and-file. Although the Jana Riesses of Mormonism seem increasingly common and do give me hope.
Personally, I find the idea that Brigham Young promoted is quite offensive. God and Mary having sex kind of limits God to the level of human males, without even the ability to do what modern humans can do with artificial insemination. God must be pretty incompetent. No, the prophecy said she would be a virgin, so if we believe what the Bible says we need to reject Brigham’s stupid theory.
And I really hate to agree with ji, but why do people want to believe Mary was sexually active? If we believe in miracles as told in the Bible, why not accept that God could cause a cell in Mary’s body to become a fertilized cell.
If you want to reject the whole story, but accept that there was a historical guy named Jesus, who was one of the many preachers running around claiming to be the messiah, or whose followers claimed him to be the messiah, And believe that he was crucified, but probably not resurrected because that would be an even bigger miracle than a virgin birth, Then it really doesn’t matter and the story is just all wrong and the Bible is also wrong about Joseph and Mary not being married at the time of his conception, and he is just Joseph’s child and nothing special, at al.
So, we either accept the story as written, or we decide that the Bible is just wrong . The woman chosen to be the mother of the Savior would be a righteous woman, so she was either married to Joseph and Jesus was Joseph’s son, so the whole story is wrong, or it really was a virgin birth. But the Brigham Young theory both says the Bible is wrong, and it limits God to less than a modern day mortal.
As a matter of interest, the Zoroastrian religion also believes in a Savior, who is literally the son of God born to a virgin. They explain how the virgin will get pregnant and still be virgin as she will go swimming in some lake (which name I forget) located in the Middle East, and God will rain down his sperm into the lake to impregnate her.
I fear you simply don’t understand the theological issue at all. You also don’t understand the historical issue at all. Reread I Nephi 11-13 and ask your self who the tree of life represents . You should know that the symbol for the heavily goddess in the First Temple was a stylized tree of life . When Nephi is shown the tree of life (v9) he asks the interpretation of it and he is immediately shown the Virgin Mary. Then he is immediately told about the condensation of God .Note this comment is made before any discussion of the Savior or the Father. I am nor alone is believing that the angel is telling Nephi the true identity of Mary. She is our heavenly mother. If you were the Father who would you have conceive your only begotten Son. Would it not be your own eternal spouse. Whatever you think of this issue if you had bothered to look at the historical evidence you would know that the early church Father’s and the authors of very really documents such as the Testament of James and the works of Origen
and Clement of Alexandria all vigorously assert the virginity of Mary. As do the very earliest traditions of the Coptic ,Syriac and Greek Orthodox church’s. As does the Book of Mormon. I am frankly deeply disappointed at your shallow ,cavalier treatment of an important pillar of the Restoration.
Strangites believe Jesus was the son of Joseph and Mary and was conceived in the natural way. https://gospeltangents.com/2020/05/strangite-teachings-jesus/
I find the teachings you mentioned from “McConkie and others” to be problematic, and I do not accept them. Indeed, I put them in the category of folklore. That’s me, and I believe there are some other Latter-day Saints of a similar mind on this matter. I know that one member’s folklore is another member’s doctrine.
I’m glad someone else is willing to believe in the virgin birth, but I regret both the pain you expressed and being the cause of your pain.
I believe Joseph and Mary are husband and wife and that both are children of God like the rest of us. That’s me, and I believe there are some other Latter-day Saints of a similar mind on this matter. Others see things differently.
The gate of history swings on a small hinge. It may be overstating it but look at what a difference one translation of one word can make. It’s the difference between “the Messiah shall have a mom” and “the Messiah shall be born of supernatural means,” with implications rippling across centuries.
Also, it’s interesting to compare the Virgin Birth of Jesus to miraculous births from other mythologies. This seems to be an idea that goes far, far back in various cultures from Egypt to the Iroquois to ancient China to the Aztecs. Perhaps it’s because conception and birth are such mysterious, miraculous events altogether—linked by slow, invisible internal processes—or because childbearing is such a heavy responsibility that fathers in every culture are too eager to duck away from it, leaving a hole for supernatural explanations to fill (obviously not the case with Mary and Joseph).
I am a rosary-praying, former Mormon, Anglo-Catholic. I recognize Mary as my Mother in Heaven, and I believe I am on strong Biblical and doctrinal ground by doing so. I do not believe God is a human being nor was God ever a human being. There is an ontological difference between divinity and humanity. The point of the Incarnation is that divinity and humanity meet in the person of Christ Jesus. The Ascension of Christ is the final act that concludes what the Incarnation began. Christ takes our human nature up into the life of the divine nature.
In Heaven, I have a Father and I have a Mother. When I believed on the name of Jesus Christ, I was adopted into the divine family. In other words, Christ’s Father becomes my Father. And likewise Christ’s Mother becomes my Mother.
If Jesus of Nazareth was conceived naturally by an earthly father, that which the Christian narrative is trying to tell us vanishes. I would be willing to believe that the stories of the New Testament are all metaphorical before I would be willing to believe that Jesus has an earthly father. At least that way, the deep truth of Incarnation, Resurrection, and Ascension would be preserved. Our destiny, which is our deification is embedded in these powerful ideas.
@John, I’ve always thought it was funny that we Mormons insist that Jesus being the Son of God but not God is so important. To me it makes a lot *more* sense to envision Jesus as God taking on flesh (incarnation) to show us divine love. (I also think the idea of a Heavenly Father who is like a dad and a Heavenly Mother(s, because polygamy) is parochial and prefer a God who encompasses both/all genders in one whole being, and I don’t feel connected to Jesus as a “brother” either.). Then again I did attend a Jesuit university and my favorite prophets currently are Richard Rohr and Greg Boyle so maybe I’m a very Catholic Mormon.
Anna, you mention the concept of virgin birth in Zoroastrianism. In the stories and traditions of many different cultures, heroes and gods are believed to have been born of virgins. The story of Jesus’s birth from a virgin is far from unique. In fact I would go as far as saying that cultures with basic metallurgy (Copper-age and Bronze-age many of which has no previous contact with each other, i.e., both ancient Indian and Mayan cultures believed in the virgin births of some of their gods) were wired explain the world in terms of a hero who was born of a virgin. The development of religious beliefs that promoted the idea of a virgin birth of a hero just went hand in hand with the advancement of a culture to bronze and copper usage. Development of basic metallurgy helped cultures enhance trade, build a surplus, manufacture objects that symbolized status, become socially stratified, and develop a priestly class who legitimized kings to his subjects with stories of miraculous virgin lineage. In Jesus’s time, belief that there were deities and heroic figures born to virgins had to have been incredibly common.
The significance of Mary’s virginity to LDS is a bit confusing because different people have different reasons for why they think it’s important or crucial. Some think Jesus can’t be God’s only begotten son if God isn’t the biological father. Some of the quotes of early church leaders seem to try to affirm scriptural claims that Mary was a virgin while really denmying them (Saying mary was still a virgin after sex because God is immortal). In “This Is My Doctrine”: The Development of Mormon Theology, Charles Harrell points out that LDS scripture such as the Book of Moses refer to Jesus Christ as the only begotten before he is physically born, so it’s not hard to read it differently. Latter-Day Saints would hardly be affected by reading Mary’s virginity as literary. It solves the issue of proof-texting Isaiah in Matthew, and avoids all the awkward talk of God and Mary’s relations.
Hercules was said to have been born of a mortal woman and a god. The Second Book of Enoch says that Melchizedek was born of a virgin. Alexander the Great had mixed birth myths, some of which suggested miraculous virgin conceptions, and some didn’t. Matthew may have written of the virgin birth to set the literary scene for readers to see Jesus as divine or heroic. The story of Jesus’ birth has become more meaningful to me as I have read Mary’s virginity as a literary hint that Jesus is going to be great in some way. As you read Matthew and Luke afterwards, you try and wonder whether Jesus will be more like Alexander of Melchizedek or both.
Whatever method of conception resulted in Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus could have happened whether she was a virgin or not, unless one believes that Joseph was the biological father of Jesus. Therefore, if we believe that Jesus’ father was not a mortal man, Mary’s virginity is irrelevant. However, I do accept the narrative taught in the scriptures that Mary was a young woman who conceived outside of marriage as a virgin though I do not believe that Christ’s divinity or his role as Savior is in any way dependent on how he was conceived. Likewise, the idea of Jesus being half mortal is equally irrelevant considering that we believe he had already attained godhood during his premortal existence. If Jesus was already a god prior to birth, his divinity would not be lost or lessened based on whether his physical body was fully mortal or half mortal.
The New Testament account contains possible hints that Jesus’s parentage was of at least some dispute during his lifetime. In Mark 6, Jesus goes home to Nazareth to preach in the synagogue and the attendees at the synagogue can’t believe this humble carpenter can teach so powerfully and even perform miracles. In verse 3, they say, ” this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us? And they took offense at him.”
That they didn’t identify him as Joseph’s son may suggest that Mary’s unexpected pregnancy (and presumed unfaithfulness to her betrothed) was remembered long after the event concluded. This was even a point of criticism from 2nd century AD Greek philosopher Celsus who is supposed to have claimed Jesus was fathered by. Roman legionary named Panthera (or Pantera).
There are a lot of interesting ideas being discussed here. It is fascinating to see how diverse Mormon thought really is.
Some I would agree with and some are intriguing, but I don’t see how that would be impossible. Mary as Heavenly Mother and God’s wife? Well, if she was his spirit mother and The Father was his spirit father, well that make the Heavenly Mother also God, and we have two Gods coming to earth and taking on mortal bodies…I don’t think so. Mary being married to the Father so they could conceive Jesus, well that makes God a polygamist married to women of much lower (human) status, which makes me concerned about what kind of God we have anyway. Part of why I reject Mormon thought is God the polygamist with wives like chattel. And by the old definition of concubine, Mary would be a concubine because of her lower status. Yuck, just yuck. But that is what Brother Brigham taught. So, sorry, but I don’t see how Mary can be our Heavenly Mother without being a God herself, and I don’t see how she could be a wife without the Father being polygamist.
And ji, I was joking about hating to agree with you, because as a nonbelieving former Mormon we usually come out on opposite sides of the discussions here. But I am still Christian, so we are going to agree on those things and so I am glad for those defending the virgin birth concept.
And yes, I know that the idea of a virgin birth was kind of everywhere at the time, but the Zoroastrians are a bit different in that there was intermixing (after all king Darius was converted to the religion of Danial) of the religions when the Jews were captive in Babylon and just who do you think the wisemen were. Well if you believe the Zoroastrians, they believe the religion of King Darius. Hmmmmmm. So, that makes the prophecies there of a virgin birth sort of the same prophecy. And that was my point, the prophecies say “virgin” and they mean conceived without the sex act. And why would God tell his ancient prophets one thing and then it matches the Biblical account….unless it is all fiction and so why are we even discussing a fictional character. Might as well discuss if Bilbo Baggins was born of a virgin, if it is all fiction anyway.
And DB, I agree with you that it really doesn’t matter how God the Father did it, it doesn’t change the fact that Jesus was God before his birth, but I accept the Biblical narrative. So, Mary’s status as virgin isn’t really important and God could have put Jesus’s spirit into any body. It is not Mary’s virginity that is important, but Christ’s divinity.
This has been an interesting post and discussion. As early as 1525, Tyndale had translated virgin as young woman which has been noted in the post is the more accurate reading, though this was changed back to virgin by the King James’ committee. Young woman does not preclude Mary’s virginity, but it doesn’t guarantee it either.
The thread has already touched on some of the theological underpinnings for our belief in a Virgin Birth, including BY’s uncomfortable notions of the divine family unit, but I think the modern church’s maintenance of Mary’s literal virginity rests more on the prevalence of the Law of Chastity and the argument that virtue is the same as virginity. I think in many minds, Mary has to be a virgin because any one, especially a woman who engaged in non-marital sex could not be holy enough to be the mother of Jesus. You see this attitude in BRM’s claim that Mary Magdalene could not have been a prostitute as seen in Catholic folklore because even a repentant prostitute would be unworthy to be included in Jesus’ inner circle. Infinite atonement, indeed.
Kudos to Bishop Bill for wading into unexpectedly controversial waters. I respect the viewpoints that have been expressed here, but the entire discussion has left me with a few questions/points:
1 . I’m sort of with Bishop Bill’s main point: Why does this matter so much, especially to those who still identify as Mormon? As Mormons, we (supposedly) focus more on works than grace, meaning that we see following the teachings of Christ as the most important thing we can do. If that’s so, why does the sexual status of Christ’s mother matter in the least? I’m asking that as a sincere question, not in a snarky or sarcastic way. If Mary wasn’t a virgin (and really, it’s quite likely she wasn’t if we buy into the translation snafu that B.. B. notes), how does that invalidate at all her son’s teachings and our obligations to follow them to the best of our ability?
2. Re the “beautiful story” that ji and a few others have touched on, is it the story’s power or is it its supposed truth that causes you to believe it? Again, I’m asking sincerely. In my experience, the best stories are wonderful and beautiful not because they’re “true”, but because they’re well told. In fact most stories, historical ones especially, are rarely, if ever “true” in the sense that we may intend that word. So is it a narrative’s well-assembled structure that leads us to want to believe it’s true? Or is it the truth of the story that makes it beautiful?
3. Some of the comments on here demonstrate that the patriarchy is, sadly, alive and well and influencing some interpretations and views on Mary’s sexual experience. A woman’s sexual “purity” is generally a cultural idea that is derived for a number of social and hierarchical reasons, most of which benefit men and constrain women. If God can do anything, forgive anything, renew anyone, why on earth does Mary’s sexual status matter? I can see how it might matter culturally, but not in the context of Christ, God and our obligation to follow Christ’s example. Also, to return to the notion of “story”, there is very little corroborating evidence of Jesus’s existence outside of the biblical narrative, much less documentary evidence that Jesus was born of a woman named Mary, whatever her status was. I wonder if we’re having trouble separating a faith promoting story from (a lack of) historical fact.
It does not matter to me. I think it does not matter to Mormon theology which is all over the map anyway.
It has mattered greatly enough to some Christians for them to insist that Mary herself was also born of a virgin. I suspect some have had difficulty separating concepts of “original sin” from sexual congress. While Mormons generally reject “original sin,” our scriptures include their own version of it in the claim that fallen man had “become carnal, sensual and devilish. by nature.”. Alma 42.
Fussing about sex and sinlessness has quite a venerable history that is not necessarily patriarchal::
“Mary’s freedom from personal sin was affirmed in the 4th century, but Augustine’s argument that original sin was transmitted through sex raised the question of whether she could also be free of the sin of Adam. The English ecclesiastic and scholar Eadmer (c.1060-c.1126) reasoned that it was possible in view of God’s omnipotence and appropriate in view of Mary’s role as Mother of God: Potuit, decuit, fecit, “it was possible, it was fitting, therefore it was done;” Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153) and Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), among others, objected that if Mary were free of original sin at her conception then she would have no need of redemption, making Christ superfluous; they were answered by Duns Scotus (1264–1308), who reasoned that
Christ was Mary’s Redeemer more perfectly by preservative redemption in shielding her from original sin through anticipating and foreseeing the merits of his passion and death. This pre-redemption indicates a much greater grace and more perfect salvation.
Nevertheless, it was not theological theory that initiated discussion of Mary’s freedom from mankind’s curse, but the celebration of her liturgy in the eleventh century, for the popular feast of her conception brought forth the objection that as normal human conception was sinful, to celebrate Mary’s conception was to celebrate a sinful event. Some held that no sin had occurred, for Anne had conceived Mary not through sex but by kissing her husband Joachim, and that Anne’s father and mother had likewise been conceived, but St Bridget of Sweden (c.1303–1373) told how Mary herself had revealed to her in a vision that although Anne and Joachim conceived their daughter through sexual union, the act was sinless because it was free of sexual desire.”
To some of the points made above, this discussion reminds me of something I’ve been thinking about lately — the limits of theology and the problems that result when we try to pin God down and overly define things. I’ve been studying a lot of Christian history and seeing how some of the ideas about God (and God’s relationship to humans) that have taken hold at various times have ultimately harmed people’s ability to connect with God and one another. St. Augustine is one example that gets a lot of criticism these days, and I would add the LDS conception of God as a dad in a polygamous, heteronormative marriage as one that while it may have seemed like a good idea at the time is wreaking some havoc and has painted us into a theological corner when it comes to LGBTQ folks. Maybe the Virgin Mary is another.
I think that some understanding of God is a good thing because otherwise we wouldn’t have any kind of tether to connect to, but I’m increasingly convinced that God is to be experienced moreso than described or understood with language. That’s why I said above that when it comes to scripture stories, I plumb them for the good things I can learn about God and life, don’t worry too much about what’s historically true, and also don’t worry too much about anything that makes God seem like a jealous and capricious human (because that is likely a result of us making God in our own image).
Also, sex isn’t gross, but God having sex to get Mary pregnant is. How absurd.
Elisa, since I am one who thinks God having sex with Mary or any mortal is gross, let me explain. Starting with the idea that I am not purely objective seeing as I was sexually abused by my father. So, to me it isn’t the sex, but the difference in status. I am against sex of a boss with an employee, a father with a daughter, a president with an intern, an adult with a child, a god with a mortal., a teacher with a student, a coach with an athlete, a scout leader with a Boy Scout. It is the power differential that makes it gross, not the sex act. Mary was mortal, God was God, that is not sex between equals, and God is supposed to be our eternal Father with Mary being one of his daughters, not an eternal husband. So, that’s my prejudice. Maybe I should decide that Mary really is our Heavenly Mother and therefore a goddess in her own right and Jesus was 100 percent God instead of half human and that Jesus isn’t the only time a God has become mortal. So, now Mary is equal to Jesus and we really should be worshipping her just as much as Jesus.
@Anna oh I agree. I meant it’s absurd that people like Brigham Young taught that. Not that your comment was absurd!
Anna et al. I recognize my prior comment was not well received but I will press on anyway. Do you understand what the Book of Mormon says about this ie Mary is not only the mother of Christ who is literally the son of God the Eternal Father But it also says ( for those who have eyes to see and eyes to hear ) that she is the only divine consort of the Father. This understanding is more widely spread that you recognize . Read Daniel Peterson presentation in 2012. Read Ed Ash ‘s interview on FairMormon. Read Margaret Bakers recent works. Did you know she a Methodist minister ,PhD and one of the worlds foremost Old Testament scholars says that this teaching is the greatest proof Mormons can offer of the historicity of the zBook of Mormon. She says Joseph could not have known of the connection between Ashera ,the tree of life and Mary. In 1830 . However it is now well established. Joseph use to complain that he could not teach the people because anytime he tried to teach the mysteries of Godliness the saints would fly apart like a piece of glass.If you are among the very ,very few who are really interested read Denver Snuffer talk “Our Divine Parents” I for one would be reluctant to accuse my heavenly mother of adultery particularly with her own husband. Maybe this time I can get more than 26 thumbs down.
Pd Anna every President of the LDS Church from Joseph Smith to Joseph F Smith taught it . Can it absurd or objectionable if you wish but history , authority and doctrine is on the other side of the question.