Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Virgin Mary - a simple question from a young heathen

I have never been a religious person. My family, while from a Christian background, never practiced. We never prayed, went to church, read the Bible, etc. Even though I'm now fairly educated about Christianity, when I was a kid I was exposed to the stories of Christianity to a limited degree.

Rewind to Christmas, 1984. I attended a normal, public high school here in the United States. My 9th grade (14 years old) English class was having a Christmas party. We were sitting around, casually talking about Christmas. My teacher, we find out, is also a Sunday School teacher. The class begins an informal discussion about Christmas from a Christian, religious standpoint. The Virgin Mary comes up.

Now, before I tell the next part, it needs to be known that I was an excellent student. This was a gifted class. I was not a troublemaker in any way. I asked what seemed an extremely logical question:

"If Mary was a virgin, how did she have a baby?"

I might as well have said, "Jesus is a whore." The reaction by my teacher was shocking. He said something like, "How dare you ask such a foul question?" The class piled on with comments like, "That's not funny!" I felt completely dumb and didn't know why... and I still didn't know how a virgin could have a baby.

Later that day, I told my best friend what had happened. He replied, "You're lucky you didn't get sent to the principal's office." He saw the look on my face and said, "You really don't know do you?" He explained a little, not really understanding my level of ignorance.

I said, "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. It sounds like she got knocked up and made the greatest cover-up story ever told. What kind of God goes around knocking up women? Zeus used to do it all the time and nobody believes those stories."

He replied, "God didn't sleep with her. That's why she was still a virgin and it's called the Immaculate Conception."

I couldn't believe it. "People actually believe this?"

The story ends there, but it sticks with me today. I still can't believe that so many people believe it. How do these stories not seem like complete and utter hogwash? In what sort of bubble do people live to not realize that others might not believe it? How can an adult, with otherwise excellent logic, still believe these things?

I will probably never know. Nobody has ever been able to explain the suspension of logic and evidence to allow a leap of faith - a leap to something that makes little to no sense.


Anonymous said...

Your friend said, "God didn't sleep with her. That's why she was still a virgin and it's called the Immaculate Conception."

Yeah. The Christians can't even get their own silly story straight. The phrase Immaculate Conception refers to the idea that Mary was born free from sin. That's why she was suitable vessel for the "Son of God" It has little to do with the Virgin Birth (other than the fact that having sex is nasty and sinful (Well, good sex anyway) and would have left her unsuitable for God babies.

Rob said...

The "Mary was born free from sin" part was something I didn't know. I looked it up to confirm. That just adds additional voodoo to the story! :)