Ah, Christmas — the season for joy, tolerance, and goodwill amongst all. Usually in these days, media outlets queue up the glurge — the sappy stories, the tearjerker videos, and the essays about finding meaning in a season defined by religion and its observance. Everyone likes to tap into the happy memories and high ideals of the Christmas season.
Well, almost everyone. For some reason, Salon chose this week to offer two dyspeptic and nonsensical takes on religion, the most outrageous of which argues that one has to support rape in order to be Christian. God raped the Virgin Mary, so they argue, apparently without one single clue as to what the Annunciation actually was or what it means in Christian belief, as well as most other religions:
Though the earliest Christians had a competing story, in 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. …
The impregnation process may be a “ravishing” or seduction or some kind of titillating but nonsexual procreative penetration. The story may come from an Eastern or Western religious tradition, pagan or Christian. But these encounters between beautiful young women and gods have one thing in common. None of them has freely given female consent as a part of the narrative. (Luke’s Mary assents after being not asked but told by a powerful supernatural being what is going to happen to her, “Behold the bond slave of the Lord: be it done to me . . .”)
Who needs consent, freely given? If he’s a god, she’s got to want it, right? That is how the stories play out.
Talk about missing the point. One does not need to be a believer to understand the story told in Luke, which isn’t a tale of rape but a perfect assent on the part of Mary. Even stripped of its religious meaning, Mary is given the choice, asks a clarifying question, and then agrees to the, er, “nonsexual procreative penetration.” The Fiat and the Magnificat that later follows in the Gospel of Luke attests to Mary’s perfect cooperation with the Holy Spirit.
Furthermore, the gospels put Mary in a position unaccustomed to women of that time, whom Valerie Tarico notes were “chattel.” It is Mary who prompts Jesus to begin his public ministry in Cana, even after Jesus at first demurs (John 2:1-11). It is the women, and John the Evangelist, who see Jesus all the way through the Passion as the other disciples scatter, and it is the women who first recognize the risen Christ on the Sunday following it.
In case you don’t get Tarico’s point, she blames the “rapey” (her word) aspect of religion for everything from ISIS to the hook-up culture on college campuses:
Our struggle is made immeasurably harder by the presence of ancient texts that have become modern idols—texts that put God’s name on men’s desires.
The most extreme example may be a document published by the Islamic State, outlining rules for the treatment of sexual slaves, rules drawn from the Koran. Closer to home for most Americans is the awkward but widespread existence of Christian leaders who teach that a woman’s glory is in childbearing, and that a woman who fails to service her husband whenever he desires is failing to serve God.
But even closer to home for many is the shocking prevalence on college campuses and in society at large of sexual manipulation and coercion perpetrated by males who otherwise seem morally intact. One can’t help but notice that a large number of high profile cases involve high status males: fraternity members, a famous actor, a radio host, small town football stars and big league professional athletes—men, in other words, who think they are gods.
Yes, I’ve often noticed how men (and women, for that matter) on college campuses are so heavily influenced by religion. And I’m sure ISIS is also heavily influenced by the Christmas story in the Gospels, too, as well as Zoroastrianism and the Vestal Virgins of Mars. Oh, wait
At least, in Valerie Tarico’s case, anyway, here’s an attempt to avoid the inevitable headache that results from Liberal cognitive dissonance.
All Men are Rapists, But NOT All Muslims are Responsible for Terrorism.
She even included Muslim men who institutionalized rape in their slave handbook.
Good for her.
Next, maybe she’ll notice how often the men on campus accused of rape were innocent of it.