Mary (For the Church)
Note: Trigger warning. This post contains references and graphic descriptions of rape, murder, incest, prostitution, death, and abuse in both genders. The intention is not to wound, but to talk about reality. If you feel like this would hurt you to read, please don’t and take care of what you need first.
This Christmas, because I care, I want to talk about Mary.
Mary is a lot like me. She is a lot like your mother, and your sister, and if you’re very lucky, your daughter. I don’t know who you are, but in the world you live in, she is a lot like all of us: she sees sex as something that is indicative of her worth and her status in society.
Let me break this down: In Mary’s day, sex meant something a little more formal than what is does today. Notice: I did not say sex was more “special”, or “beautiful” or “immoral” or whatever in Mary’s day. But the Hebrew people considered it to be a big deal in the covenant of marriage; the thing that unites one man and one woman before the eyes of God.
For that reason, when Mary was knocked up by God without any prior knowledge but an Angel, holy shit would that have been scary. Listen, each of the female gendered people you know can attest to the fact that living as a woman in today’s culture is not easy pretty often. The first time I was sexually harassed and I realized it, I was an eighth grader. It happened 3 times in a row within several weeks, and I was too afraid to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit (i.e. my “conscience”) when it told me that I it was not okay and it mattered. I had nightmares about rape before I even knew love, for weeks. That means that the world that was sold in the temples in Ephesus by High Priestesses promising to “cleanse” men of sexual impurity that Jesus flipped tables to clarify is the same world you can buy for $XXX and hours spent on the Internet.
It is the same world all women grew up in. It is the same heartbreak Eve knew when Adam no longer loved her for more the children she bore and the sacrifice (including sex) with someone who never appreciates you for the love you are given by God. It is the same burden that meant I never could play with Hot Wheels or Legos because we never had them (except when my brothers did), and it is the same fear and abuse that traps women often, whether you’re married, whether you’re raped, whether you’re just a scared 13 year old girl who thought she was better than that.
This happens to both genders, I will make that clear. Men are abused. Women are abused.
This matters. If you don’t think it happens in your churches or your world, then you clearly don’t care to pay attention. My friends who are both older and younger (if not wiser for it) than I have all endured it, as have my family members. The same attitude that told me last Spring as I was walking down the street of my university’s campus as I put on tinted chapstick that I “wanted it”, the same reason I nearly cried on my way to Bible study because a group of boys followed me past my car talking about my sexual appetite. Whether or not they are of one student group or another doesn’t matter; they were Greek life students, but I experienced the same treatment living in Student Housing. It is the same world where children are sold into slavery, raped into infancy, and broken before they could ever know goodness in love.
I am young, but the children that are forgotten to this are younger than I. Sold for sick kicks in Taiwan, violated in Wichita Kansas. If you pay to support this in dollars or hours, will it change?
Do you love your daughter? Do your love your wife? Do you have any idea what she endures on a daily basis?? Because my family certainly doesn’t. Most women won’t tell you because of the shame, a guilt that was never ours to bear unless we just absorbed it. And if you are lucky enough to have children, you need to speak with them about the rights of all people. And then? You need to set the damn example. Your children will not know goodness unless they are shown it, none of us will, and most of us will not talk about it. Be the change: for your nieces and nephews, for the kids you babysit, for the children you see in passing, because Christ told you so.
Jesus says pretty clearly that if you allow his children to stumble, to him you will answer (Matthew 5:38-41, 15:10-11, and 19:13-15). The anger and shame and weeping of Jesus in a child’s face, is it so different? Little humans that simply don’t know and are exploited. Is a cross so different?
Joseph resolved to divorce her quietly sure, but Mary must have been utterly terrified. It was a death sentence so that Christ could live: She would have probably been stoned. Thinking about the faith that it would take to steward Christ for the entire womb within your flesh and be thoroughly mocked for the rest of creation in the eyes of the children that are also scared, what a prize. Yes, she was probably the most blessed of all women, but if blessing meant watching your baby boy die so that the sick shits (yourself included) of the world, each and every one of us, could be redeemed? They say that the veil tore through Mary’s own heart too; how can we forget that? Scripture distorted and broken and delivered in lies for your broken bigotry and the defenseless children she never knew but gave life to, through the only light of the world, Christ? How the fuck could you.
I believe salvation is for all of us. I believe forgiveness is each of our birthright, if we accept becoming a new creation and accepting our shortcomings in relation to God: sin. The funny thing about birthright is that it is a lottery. None of us chooses, and certainly, neither did she. Who would choose that? To be the sacrificial mother of all creation, to be that terribly scarred and scared. The wrinkles in the faces of the women older than I are a lot like scars, by that logic. They are beautiful, but they cost.
If you believe in Christ, how can you believe that anything is different? If you know sin, how can you believe your clueless children will know any better, especially if you don’t care? We all have a part to play: we are the church of God. Even if you don’t believe in Jesus, he would have never condoned this, and the broken liars that hurt all of us will judged by their own measure, just check Romans 2:15-3:14. It’s there.
God damn it, should it take Christmas to remember how broken and frightened that poor girl was when we see it every day? How sacred she would become, increasingly more and more, until he died? She was trapped in the dark, and he was the light to all, and she endured all of it.
How many people broke Jesus? The people that didn’t believe him? The people that lied to him? The people that beat and bloodied him? You and I?
If you believe that Jesus atoned for your sins, that he felt each and all of the sin of history and the entire world as part of his own flesh, how can you? How can you look upon us and know we are powerless to stop all of it alone and look away? How can you if you are a woman? How can you if you are a man?
I don’t believe in the structural hierarchy of feminism because I don’t believe in fighting -isms with –isms, but can we just agree that something is broken here and care enough to fix our own hearts so our children won’t fail to? The sin you stack on them will stay, I promise. It will carry on until you decided to forgive yourself, or they do.
Goodness was always the way, because goodness came from God. How can you look away, knowing he sees everything, even your cowardice? Would you believe it if it your looked at the bruises, scars, or the abortion statistics from rape alone? How could you??
The children I cared for today at daycare (at church) are children; they are no different than you or I. Will you take a stand to injustice, even if it is tiny, even if it is silent?
The fruits of death in this are murder, rape, and incest. We can’t fix it alone. This issue is black and white, I will not tell you any otherwise. Either you care and you realize that to fix it, we need everyone, or you do nothing and look away; against the goodness Christ brought us. You can weep with, or weep against: those are your choices. It is simple it is terrible, it is a lot like the curse of Jesus that Mary bore, before we were all saved.
And otherwise, who are you?