She is describing the difficulty She has with the idea that Mary was still a ‘Virgin’, when she gave birth to Jesus. It’s funny, I was describing my various parts in Nativity Plays this afternoon.
As a child of about five or six, I was cast as the Angel Gabriel. I found it a very real experience. I must admit I was worried the little girl who was playing Mary would get pregnant, but I couldn’t explain that to anyone at the time.
I then went on to explain that as an older child, I was cast as a Shepherd for a couple of years. We had beards stuck on with woolly hair stuff with spirit gum. The problem was that for the years I was playing a Shepherd no one gave us the spirit to get the beards off again. We had to peel and rub the beards off. They didn’t come off with water and soap. Painfull. It always makes me remember how Jesus had his beard pulled out. These days there would be an outcry allowing a girl to be a Shepherd I suppose. I am assuming someone might take the beards off for you. Wimps!
Anyway about that doctrine. It’s questioned, on the account Mary gave about the birth of Jesus. Why would Joseph decide he could, or should break the engagement to Mary if he knew He had his way with Her? In my opinion, He thought it was someone else that got her pregnant.
The Bible says God showed him in a dream not to divorce Mary and that She was carrying God’s child.
‘So what’, you might say. The reality was it would have been unheard of back then for an upright Jew to marry an adulterous woman. As the fact of Mary’s pregnancy was evident. Even if Mary had done the deed with Joseph, He had the right to annul the proposal, as she would still have committed adultery. Yes with Him, but this would prove she was a loose woman, and He should have no business marrying Her.
Just As an aside, My Husband decided on cooking me Mussles as our Fish on Friday treat from Waitrose, they were delicious with a lovely little crusty roll He bought to do Garlic Bread with. I said I am pleased you chose Mussles tonight. ‘Why’ He asked. So I said it looks like I have taken up the gauntlet to do some Christian apologetics.
’Whats that’? He says. So I said, That’s where some Christian offers up a counter argument to the Gospel, and the given Doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church, (That’s the worldwide community of believers. Most people think this means the Church of Rome, ... I might come back to that) and an idiot like me decides to wade in and refute the supposition. It’s an excercise in Doctrine building... Just as well we had some Spiritual Mussels for dinner. We tossed a few out, as they were not quite right, a bit underdone, But better than overcooking the whole lot. He is a good Chef my Husband.
Anyway back to the plot.
Joseph is in a difficult position. Obviously He and Mary know about Her being pregnant. She must have told Him. She would have also given Him an account of the Angel Gabriel scenario, and brought it to Joseph that She now knew for certain she was pregnant. Possibly two months pregnant. You have to be sure of these things before making hasty decisions to tell your betrothed you are pregnant when you haven’t got to know them in the Biblical sense. She might have been chucking up by then anyway.
There is no way Joseph would have lain with Mary before the marriage. He was marrying a girl of impeccable background, and they would have never been allowed alone together. I think that also answers the argument she might have got pregnant by another bloke. If she wouldn’t have been allowed alone with her future Husband, it’s pretty unlikely she was allowed alone with anyone else of the opposite sex... even Her Father I might add. Things were just different then, difficult to imagine but that’s just how it was.
She was a good girl. She could have just gone through with the marriage and not told Joseph. Then gone off for a confinement with Her cousin. She was an honourable woman. She would not have told Joseph this story about the Angel Gabriel if it hadn’t happened to Her. She could have been stoned to death if Joseph had turned nasty. She had to tell Joseph, God would have told Her to.
Besides, If she was genuinely pregnant by the Spirit of God, I suspect She had more glowing about Her than rosy cheeks. She was probably literally glowing with light. There must have been a visible presence of the impending Christ Child other than Morning sickness. The subject would have been unavoidable.
What would have made an Orthodox Reb question His core beliefs about the sanctity of marrying a girl who was pregnant? I would suggest it was the glow in the dark aura of holiness she was dressed with.
Followed up by that dream. It must have been a very profound personal experience to have such a vivid dream. Certainly enough for Him to flout all He had been brought up with. Pretty staggering really.
I pray everyone gets dreams. They are a brilliant way of getting spoken to by God.
So Anyway, in due course, with the leaping baby in Mary’s cousins womb, and Her affirmation that Mary was carrying the son of God, everyone accepted something out of the ordinary was going on.
Nowadays it is accepted that women can actually have babies who are clones of themselves, it has happened. Although I understand these babies are so far female. Jesus was not. So the fluke of nature gets ruled out.
The other theory that comes up now and again is that Jesus was a twin. There is often some reference made to Didymus the twin, This is argued by some as the twin of Jesus.
This doesn’t seem very plausible either, as there was only one crib mentioned, and I think the shepherds who were used to delivering sheep would have noticed if Mary had had twins. I think they were a very reliable source of information, and expert witnesses to a newborn. Normally it was women’s business to be the midwives, so God called up a bunch of Shepherds to verify the birth.
So as a body of evidence, I would go away and come up with the conclusion that Mary was telling the truth. Implausible though it seems, She had a miracle baby.