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Source: (consider it) Thread: Mary, consent, and other issues
Ricardus
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A tangent from the Men in Politics thread, sparked by a truly vile justification from an Alabama State Auditor:

“Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus,” Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler told The Washington Examiner. “There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

Ohher posted:
Apparently he overlooked the Bible passage where Mary, unlike the women complaining about Moore, consents.


Mudfrog:
Firstly, no consent in modern law can be given even if you wanted to. A minor can be as willing as anything, but legally it's non-consensual.

Secondly, there is nothing in the Bible about the ages of Mary or Joseph. There;s a lot of summising (Mary was 12, 'Joseph was an old man', as the song says).

I myself have said in carol services in years gone by that Mary, being unmarried, would have been 13 or 14.
I think it would be a brave minister who trotted that stuff out nowadays!

Best to stick to what the Bible actually says - just because she was a virgin doesn't mean she was a child. There's nothing to suggest Joseph was old, a widower, or anything like that.


LilBuddha:
Given the time period, a young Mary/adult Joseph is a reasonable assumption. 
But it isn’t a reasonable pairing now nor when Moore allegedly did so.


No prophet:
I thought the point of the Mary story was to have God plant his seed into unplowed soul. With the ancient belief that women provided only the growth medium for the man's planting. Because the seed is wholly God, Jesus is fully divine. The biblical is of course that God asked for her consent. 

The thing is anachronistic. Those who wrote the story didn't understand biology. The perpetual virginity of Mary is something else entirely. It seems the point is motherhood, not marriage. With Joseph a weak character, 2 dimensional in biblical accounts. He gets to raise another's child, and has an unconsumated marriage, notwithstanding mention of Jesus' brother, which means he and Mary had a normal sex life or we accept explaining away the other kids as from another mother or marriage. 

There's something pathological in all of this mythology. Where women have sexuality as a precious possession which men regulate. Taking either legtimately or illegally. And it's not really women's.


Baptist Trainfan:
And to me that is the difficulty, as there is such an imbalance of power here. Can one realistically say that Mary had any real choice in the matter? If not, then is God guilty of abuse? 

The radical Catholic feminist theologian Mary Daly wrote: "It should not be imagined that Mary had any real role in this conception and birth. ... the Virgin means only the vessel waiting in purity for the bearing of the Saviour. ... 

"In the charming story of “the Annunciation” the angel Gabriel appears to the terrified young girl, announcing that she has been chosen to become the mother of god. Her response to this sudden proposal from the godfather is totaled nonresistance: “Let it be done unto me according to thy word”. Physical rape is not necessary when the mind/will/spirit has already been invaded".

Strong words indeed - but does she have a point? (I preached on this a couple of years ago and got a wide variety of reactions!)

[ 10. November 2017, 14:09: Message edited by: Ricardus ]

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Brenda Clough
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It is always a temptation to apply modern standards to the past. At that period, women had no agency; they were handed from father to husband like livestock. There is no getting around it.
To expect an account of that period to meet our 21st century mores is unreasonable, like asking why the Roman Centurions didn't take a selfie at the Crucifixion.

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mousethief

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As a believer in the perpetual virginity of Mary, I have in the past felt obliged to defend the doctrine every time it's denied. Glory to Jesus, I have been set free from this compulsion. The Protestant Wank-Fest that uses such weasel words as "explaining away the other kids," for whatever reason. The whole "fertile ground for the man's seed" bullshit could only be believed by city-dwelling navel-gazers; professional shepherds such as the Israelites couldn't possibly be so blind to what is happening to their flocks as to believe that bullshit.

And so on.

Y'all have fun pulling the pud.

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Eutychus
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The Annunciation isn't the only place in the Bible where the ability and/or right to talk back to our creator comes up. At the very least, I'd say Scripture opens up that as a legitimate possibility, albeit with varying results (Zecharaiah vs. Job, for starters).

From that, my tentative observation is that the Annunciation gives Mary more of at least a semblance of choice than if she had simply found herself pregnant with no explanation.

ETA Mousethief: [Roll Eyes]

[ 10. November 2017, 14:22: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
professional shepherds such as the Israelites couldn't possibly be so blind to what is happening to their flocks as to believe that bullshit.


I wonder what you mean by this. How does being a shepherd change a view that thinks male seed grows within a female with no contribution from the female?

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
I thought the point of the Mary story was to have God plant his seed into unplowed soul. With the ancient belief that women provided only the growth medium for the man's planting. Because the seed is wholly God, Jesus is fully divine.

Orthodox Christian belief since pretty early on is that Jesus is fully human, with his humanity derived from his mother. So clearly the view that the woman is only the growth medium was not widely shared by the early Church fathers.

I believe the usual position among doctrinal historians is that an ultra-high Christology postdates the Gospels, including the doctrine of the virgin birth.

quote:
With Joseph a weak character, 2 dimensional in biblical accounts.
I think this is employing an anachronistic notion of literary character.

quote:
There's something pathological in all of this mythology. Where women have sexuality as a precious possession which men regulate. Taking either legtimately or illegally. And it's not really women's.
While this probably was a widespread attitude at the time I don't think it follows from even your description of the mythology. (Nor would I say it was pathological in that it was clearly in the interests of the male elites to maintain the society in that way.)

quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
And to me that is the difficulty, as there is such an imbalance of power here. Can one realistically say that Mary had any real choice in the matter?

Possibly, if the story imagines God as a giant sky-fairy like Zeus. I don't think the story does imagine God like that: the angel shows up, but God doesn't.
Really, the same applies to any interaction between God and humans. If you imagine God as a giant sky-fairy then no human being, Moses, Jonah, Mary, Teresa of Avila, has any possible autonomy. That's why Christian theism has referred to Platonism or other forms of metaphysical accounts of God that de-anthropomorphise God.

quote:
The radical Catholic feminist theologian Mary Daly wrote: "It should not be imagined that Mary had any real role in this conception and birth. ... the Virgin means only the vessel waiting in purity for the bearing of the Saviour. ... 
Daly is apparently arguing that given the choice one should opt for the least feminist interpretation. What exactly is the force of the 'it should not be imagined'? Why shouldn't it? The consensus of church iconography is that Mary's obedience, reversing the sin of Eve, did play a real role. The Church has not been feminist, but why should we not imagine even that crack by which feminism might get in?

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
The Annunciation isn't the only place in the Bible where the ability and/or right to talk back to our creator comes up. ... My tentative observation is that the Annunciation gives Mary more of at least a semblance of choice than if she had simply found herself pregnant with no explanation.

Agreed. But - and again I'm thinking to a degree in the context of current news - does the setting of an unexpected conversation with the Almighty Creator (or, at least, with his emissary) really give her a genuine choice?

(The discussion can become even more problematic if one automatically thinks of God as "male" and Mary as, of course, female).

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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Maybe someone can explain to me why this trash-talk about "women being merely the vessel for the seed" comes from? Yes, it probably was a view in distant antiquity. But not at the point that we are talking about here.

Dammit, there are articles - indeed at least one whole book - written on what people did believe about conception in the first century. Yet despite continuous reminders, it always gets ignored. Why is this?

It's obviously some sort of psychological projection. Either that or a wankfest, indeed.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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There's no clarity at all, and you can't argue with a true believer nor those who classify people who don't believe precisely as they do as masturbators.

The ancients thought a diversity of things, not one thing. Because one version of which morphs its way into debates about Mary and gets crystalized there hardly dismisses all the other possibilities, with all the other tangents including wanting a mother-god image. All which is pretty much irrelevant to the core of Christianity, which is all about Jesus.

I think the character of Joseph is the more interesting one mainly because we don't know too much about him.

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Gamaliel
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Interestingly, I read a sermon by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow earlier today which gives an interesting take on Joseph's role which makes him far less two-dimensional. It was a controversial sermon in some respects and given in the 1820s.

It does, of course, align with the traditional Orthodox view of the Virgin Birth and so on. I found it a very moving sermon and there are some great one-liners in it. I may quote some in due course.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
But - and again I'm thinking to a degree in the context of current news - does the setting of an unexpected conversation with the Almighty Creator (or, at least, with his emissary) really give her a genuine choice?

I'll answer that if you'll first answer me this: "who are you, oh man, to talk back to God?"

The more I think about it, the more I think that not only are we entitled to talk back (that's precisely what Paul is doing in Romans 9-11 as he wrestles with the dilemma his theological musings have set up for him), but that the divine potter actually expects that of his vases. I'd say this text supports that. It highlights Mary's consent.

I also think you're reading far too much back into the text.

(I once started a thread on whether Samson was the first suicide bomber. I did not get very far either! We'll get to Ananias and Sapphira later...)

[ 10. November 2017, 15:26: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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churchgeek

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
It is always a temptation to apply modern standards to the past. At that period, women had no agency; they were handed from father to husband like livestock. There is no getting around it.
To expect an account of that period to meet our 21st century mores is unreasonable, like asking why the Roman Centurions didn't take a selfie at the Crucifixion.

Yes, exactly. We have to take the story as it presents itself, and see what it says from within its cultural context. ISTM the main thing this story is saying is that Jesus is divine. Whatever theory about different parents' contributions to the makeup of a child the Gospel's author might have held, I'm pretty sure that's not what the story's about!


As to Joseph being thought an old man, even significantly older than Mary - I suspect that comes not only from tradition, but also from the fact that Jesus entrusts her to the Beloved Disciple during the Crucifixion. That would also imply that Jesus' brothers and sisters mentioned in the Gospels aren't Mary's children, either. Of course, that story is also about Christ reconfiguring our familial allegiances. But it might be part of where the traditional ideas about Mary's and Joseph's respective ages and whether they had children together comes from, as a biblical source.

As for Jim Zeigler's statement, he seems to be implying that Joseph is Jesus' father. That shouldn't sit well with his base!

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HCH
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I think some of what we do know about Joseph makes him seem quite significant. He receives several informative dreams sent by God and acts upon them. In most of the Bible, this alone would make him a big shot, and he would have a book named after him. More to the point, though, is that he is paid an enormous compliment by God: "I think so well of you that I want you to raise my child." Who are we to second-guess God's judgement?
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BroJames
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Is there any evidence for Mary's age in any of the early texts (i.e before 300 AD, say), or any contemporary evidence for what counted as marriageable age in first century Palestine?

I have often seen it stated that Mary 'would have been' quite young for marriage by modern standards, although I've never seen anything advanced about Joseph's age one way or another. Then again, I'm not quite sure what 'modern standards' might mean.

In the UK, the legal minimum age for marriage is currently 16 (with parental consent needed in England and Wales or Northern Ireland). Until 1929, the legal minimum age in Scotland was 14 for a boy and 12 for a girl, although an early 20th Century source states that marriages at such a young age were almost unknown.

A brief search online has not turned up any statistics for the number of marriages in the UK or its constituent nations where one of the parties is under 18.

If we were to look simply at the laws as an indication of age of marriage, then we might think people were married quite young, although statistical evidence shows that the average age to get married in the UK is currently around 29 or 30, and 45 years ago it was 26 for women and 29 for men.

So back to my opening question, what evidence is there for the ages of Mary and/or Joseph. And if the answer is "it was customary in that time/ culture" what is the evidence for the custom?

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
There's no clarity at all, and you can't argue with a true believer nor those who classify people who don't believe precisely as they do as masturbators.

But you can argue with those who classify people who don't believe precisely as they do as pathological?

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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churchgeek

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
[qb]
(I once started a thread on whether Samson was the first suicide bomber. I did not get very far either! We'll get to Ananias and Sapphira later...)

[Two face] Excellent.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by churchgeek:
ISTM the main thing this story is saying is that Jesus is divine.

It's saying that Jesus is more important than Samuel. I think that's the only uncontestable interpretation. I don't think the Virgin Birth on its own is sufficient to show that Jesus is divine. Islam affirms the Virgin Birth, which it wouldn't if it thought it had to mean Jesus is divine.

(Relying on the Virgin Birth for your doctrine of the Incarnation puts you in some theologically dubious territory: Jesus is supposed to be wholly human and wholly God, not half and half.)

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
The more I think about it, the more I think that not only are we entitled to talk back (that's precisely what Paul is doing in Romans 9-11 as he wrestles with the dilemma his theological musings have set up for him), but that the divine potter actually expects that of his vases.

Yes, and we see it (or something like it) in he Psalms too.
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Mudfrog
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quote:



As to Joseph being thought an old man, even significantly older than Mary - I suspect that comes not only from tradition, but also from the fact that Jesus entrusts her to the Beloved Disciple during the Crucifixion. That would also imply that Jesus' brothers and sisters mentioned in the Gospels aren't Mary's children, either. Of course, that story is also about Christ reconfiguring our familial allegiances. But it might be part of where the traditional ideas about Mary's and Joseph's respective ages and whether they had children together comes from, as a biblical source. [/QB]

Or it simply points to the idea that Joseph is dead and could have died 20 years ago at the age of 30 leaving Mary with loads of kids under the age of 13.

Why did Mary get landed with John as her 'son'?
Well, he was Mary's sister Salome's boy - Jesus' cousin.
He was the disciple Jesus loved - they were best mates as cousins often are.
His own brothers did not yet believe in him and probably had families and kids of their own.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I also think you're reading far too much back into the text.

Possibly true,though every piece of Scripture is written in a context and read in many.
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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:

(Relying on the Virgin Birth for your doctrine of the Incarnation puts you in some theologically dubious territory: Jesus is supposed to be wholly human and wholly God, not half and half.)

And that's precisely why we cannot say that Mary provided the human bit and God provided the divine bit - as if he were a divine person within a human body.

The incarnation, surely is that his body, soul and spirit were human AND his body, soul and spirit was divine.

It was perfect union, not two bits laminated onto each other or an inflated balloon.

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Brenda Clough
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In the Roman empire it was legal to marry a woman when she turned 14. Puberty, in other words. Everybody knew this was open to abuse. It has been a long legal effort over the centuries to force that age upwards; it was legal to marry a 14 year old when Victoria was queen.

You cannot take the Bible as a complete guide to modern jurisprudence. Even your common or garden political columnist in the Post can list verses that clearly cannot be put into play today. Every Christian, either consciously or unconsciously, accepts some bits of Scripture and dismisses others. All our debates revolve around which bits to ignore.

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churchgeek

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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by churchgeek:
ISTM the main thing this story is saying is that Jesus is divine.

It's saying that Jesus is more important than Samuel. I think that's the only uncontestable interpretation. I don't think the Virgin Birth on its own is sufficient to show that Jesus is divine. Islam affirms the Virgin Birth, which it wouldn't if it thought it had to mean Jesus is divine.

(Relying on the Virgin Birth for your doctrine of the Incarnation puts you in some theologically dubious territory: Jesus is supposed to be wholly human and wholly God, not half and half.)

I should've been more clear.

I don't base the doctrine of the Incarnation on this text; I base it on the theology the early Church worked out on the subject over the course of several centuries.

Also, when I say "that Jesus is divine," I don't even mean to say that he is God (in that context; I do believe he is, but I'm not trying to put that into this text). What I meant to say and should've said more clearly is that the story seems to be saying he comes from God in some way.

I'm actually fairly agnostic about the Virgin birth. If somehow we were to find out Jesus had a human father, it would not affect my faith a single bit. I use the language because the Bible and the creeds use it - just like I use "God the Father" without believing God is male.

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Anglican_Brat
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My understanding is the orthodox doctrine of Virgin Birth is that it is demonstratively NOT like the pagan tales of gods copulating with human figures, that the Virgin Birth story hearkens back to Genesis 1, when God brings life simply through word and Spirit, not through any sexual act.

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Stetson
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Brenda Clough wrote:

quote:
In the Roman empire it was legal to marry a woman when she turned 14. Puberty, in other words. Everybody knew this was open to abuse. It has been a long legal effort over the centuries to force that age upwards; it was legal to marry a 14 year old when Victoria was queen.

The age of consent in Canada was 14 until 2008, when the Conservatives raised it.

But there were caveats about how an adult partner couldn't be in a position of authority over the minor(eg. teacher/student), which probably took care of most of the situations where such relationships were likely to develop.

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:

(Relying on the Virgin Birth for your doctrine of the Incarnation puts you in some theologically dubious territory: Jesus is supposed to be wholly human and wholly God, not half and half.)

And that's precisely why we cannot say that Mary provided the human bit and God provided the divine bit - as if he were a divine person within a human body.

The incarnation, surely is that his body, soul and spirit were human AND his body, soul and spirit was divine.

It was perfect union, not two bits laminated onto each other or an inflated balloon.

What's a divine body? And what's a divine soul? And what's a human spirit?

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:

(Relying on the Virgin Birth for your doctrine of the Incarnation puts you in some theologically dubious territory: Jesus is supposed to be wholly human and wholly God, not half and half.)

And that's precisely why we cannot say that Mary provided the human bit and God provided the divine bit - as if he were a divine person within a human body.

The incarnation, surely is that his body, soul and spirit were human AND his body, soul and spirit was divine.

It was perfect union, not two bits laminated onto each other or an inflated balloon.

What's a divine body? And what's a divine soul? And what's a human spirit?
Well, as Jesus is the only one with them, I guess we need to look at him.

But if he is truly and properly God and truly and properly man, then there is no part of him that can be either God or man exclusively.
Every 'bit of him must be divine and human at the same time.

If you disagree, burn me.

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by BroJames:
Is there any evidence for Mary's age in any of the early texts (i.e before 300 AD, say), or any contemporary evidence for what counted as marriageable age in first century Palestine?


The Protevangelium of James (mid-second century) says she was 16. Granted, the Protevangelium of James tells us nothing reliable about Mary's life, but presumably its readers would have found 16 to be a plausible age.

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia:
quote:
It is thus considered the duty of every Israelite to marry as early in life as possible. Eighteen years is the age set by the Rabbis (Ab. v. 24); and any one remaining unmarried after his twentieth year is said to be cursed by God Himself (Ḳid. 29b). Some urge that children should marry as soon as they reach the age of puberty, i.e., the fourteenth year (Sanh. 76b); and R. Ḥisda attributed his mental superiority to the fact that he was married when he was but sixteen years old (Ḳid. l.c.). It was, however, strictly forbidden for parents to give their children in marriage before they had reached the age of puberty (Sanh. 76b).
A man who, without any reason, refused to marry after he had passed his twentieth year was frequently compelled to do so by the court. To be occupied with the study of the Torah was regarded as a plausible reason for delaying marriage; but only in very rare instances was a man permitted to remain in celibacy all his life (Yeb. 63b; Maimonides, "Yad," Ishut, xv. 2, 3; Shulḥan 'Aruk, Eben ha-'Ezer, 1, 1-4; see Celibacy).



[ 10. November 2017, 16:32: Message edited by: Ricardus ]

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
Brenda Clough wrote:

quote:
In the Roman empire it was legal to marry a woman when she turned 14. Puberty, in other words. Everybody knew this was open to abuse. It has been a long legal effort over the centuries to force that age upwards; it was legal to marry a 14 year old when Victoria was queen.

The age of consent in Canada was 14 until 2008, when the Conservatives raised it.

But there were caveats about how an adult partner couldn't be in a position of authority over the minor(eg. teacher/student), which probably took care of most of the situations where such relationships were likely to develop.

In England the age of consent was 13 until 1885


quote:
Background
Following sustained efforts by social purity campaigners such as Josephine Butler,a Criminal Law Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament in 1883. One of the key amendments it proposed was raising the age of female sexual consent from 13 to 16. By 1885 the Bill had still not been passed and looked set to be abandoned.source

[removed possible copyright infringement]

[ 10. November 2017, 18:22: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Bishops Finger
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A rather clunky extract, but concrete evidence of the positive way in which TSA acted in this matter.

[Overused]

IJ

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Leaf
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Since Mary's age is not given, and is a matter for speculation, it pleaseth our imaginations to make it what we want.

It pleaseth creepy pedophiles to imagine her being a twelve year old child.

It pleaseth me to imagine her a middle-aged cat lady, because if her virginity wasn't a problem, her age wouldn't be either (cf. Sarah).

Bonus points: imagining her as drawn by Gary Larsen of "The Far Side."

[ 10. November 2017, 16:49: Message edited by: Leaf ]

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Mudfrog
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Sorry Hosts, the first post was a prototype that I thought I'd deleted. It was also a reply to the wrong post. Could it be deleted please, leaving the second one intact?

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Ohher
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. . . and before we've even got to the end of page 1, the whole question of Mary's possible agency and/or consent is swallowed up . . .

The surviving texts which make up the gospels rarely include words spoken aloud by women. The passage in which Mary says "Let it be unto me according to Thy will. . ." etc. is one rare exception. Surely the rarity of quoting women's words makes this passage notable, and not trivial. Though we cannot be completely certain of the precise significance of its inclusion to those recording the narrative(s), can't we be reasonably confident that it has significance?

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Stetson
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Mudfrog:

Interesting history, thanks.

And not to shadow mod, but I think you might be skating on somewhat thin ice, as for as the board's rules about posting lengthy excerpts go. Maybe just a link to the original site would be the best idea?

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
Mudfrog:

Interesting history, thanks.

And not to shadow mod, but I think you might be skating on somewhat thin ice, as for as the board's rules about posting lengthy excerpts go. Maybe just a link to the original site would be the best idea?

I know, but the original is a 10 page pdf.

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Jengie jon

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MudFrog

You might be intrigued to know that the journalist involved was a Congregationalist.

Jengie

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Ohher:
. . . and before we've even got to the end of page 1, the whole question of Mary's possible agency and/or consent is swallowed up . . .

The surviving texts which make up the gospels rarely include words spoken aloud by women. The passage in which Mary says "Let it be unto me according to Thy will. . ." etc. is one rare exception. Surely the rarity of quoting women's words makes this passage notable, and not trivial. Though we cannot be completely certain of the precise significance of its inclusion to those recording the narrative(s), can't we be reasonably confident that it has significance?

Good point.

The more obvious point that Moore's morally and biblically illiterate defenders seem to be missing is that the birth narratives stress that this is a non-sexual conception. For supposed biblical literalists to bring Joseph into it as an excuse for pedophilia seems a bit of a stretch, given that he himself doesn't have sex with his own wife, at least (in Protestant interpretations) until after the birth of Jesus. If non-literalists were really the raging immoral libertines that conservatives fashion them to be, the argument from Joseph (assuming he's the true father) might make sense, but from a biblical literalist it's a bit of a head-scratcher.

[ 10. November 2017, 17:07: Message edited by: cliffdweller ]

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Most American churchpersons agree that Moore's supporter was not speaking from any great knowledge of the Bible or doctrine, and are in fact furious with him. So, not that it's any great comfort to Americans, the guy is just another Christian crazyhead. We have so many of them I wonder that anyone's a Christian at all.

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Bishops Finger
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As I've said elsewhere, I'm amazed that we get any congregation at all at Our Place, come Sunday morning.... [Paranoid]

IJ

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by Leaf:

It pleaseth me to imagine her a middle-aged cat lady

La Madonna del Gatto.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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stonespring
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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:

The more obvious point that Moore's morally and biblically illiterate defenders seem to be missing is that the birth narratives stress that this is a non-sexual conception.

Sexual or non-sexual conception, God was employing the BVM's body in a very intimate way by choosing her to bear His Son in her womb. Therefore, the questions of her age and her ability to consent - and how much choice God was giving her anyway - are all still very relevant to me.

Is it legal - and if it is legal, is it moral - for a girl below the age of consent (and/or the age of adulthood, in jurisdictions where those ages are different) to undergo artificial insemination or to carry a surrogate pregnancy (assuming those are legal for adult women in that jurisdiction)?

Imagine that your own teenage daughter became pregnant with no scientific explanation and that she claimed that she had received a vision telling her the child was from God. Even if you believed that the child indeed was from God, would not some part of you feel resentful that these very intimate changes to her body and her life were taking place before she was old enough to perhaps fully understand what she was agreeing to? Does the fact that in the BVM's day very young girls were treated very much like adults by their families, husbands, and society give God an excuse to act in this way and still be all-good?

I don't know Greek, but in my reading of the Annunciation Gospel Gabriel talks about what "will" happen to the BVM and does not give much indication that if she refuses that the pregnancy will not happen. The BVM does agree to it but what would have happened if she had not?

FYI, although I like to think of myself as pretty progressive in my beliefs, I do believe in the perpetual virginity of the BVM (not that I think she would be any less venerable if she had been sexually active). I also have a huge devotion to her - I find it much easier to relate to God through her than I do through Jesus or any other male, although I know that Jesus is God and she, like us, is in the image of God.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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How do we know if Gabriel went to someone else, say Joan, and she said "no". Any number of women (or girls, God help God) could have been asked and turned it down. Did Gabriel have to choose a virgin to talk to? Why?

Of the Marys, Magdeline is the more interesting one to discuss I think. Now, would it have been okay for Jesus to be born of her? Why not?

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Gamaliel
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Shockingly perhaps, to my evangelical friends (were they aware of it), I'm also developing something of a 'devotion' to the Blessed Virgin Mary ... although I'm not sure what term to use for it - 'devotion' sounds more Catholic than I actually am ... although I'm probably pre- or proto-Catholic in that sense.

So, I don't particularly have an issue with the Perpetual Virginity of the BVM although I would draw the line at some RC understandings of the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception etc etc ...

I wouldn't go as far as Stonespring either in suggesting that it's 'easier' somehow to relate to God through Mary rather than through Christ ...

[Confused]

If Christ is Very God of Very God then in relating to Christ we are indeed relating to God - the Second Person of the Holy and Undivided Trinity.

You don't have to be as High as a kite and way, way up the candle to 'get' that ... Mudfrog and other non-conformist Protestant evangelicals certainly 'get' that.

But the whole point, surely, of a High Mariology (not Mariolatory) is to support a High Christology.

I remember, years ago, seeing a comment from a Welsh Anglo-Catholic priest that if you weren't a 'good Marian' you were in danger of becoming a 'good Arian.'

Nice sound-bite, but I thought then, as now, that he was over-egging the pudding to some extent (to use a phrase I've been criticised for in the past).

But I could see his point.

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Gamaliel
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On the Mary Magdalene thing, well it would appear that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were contemporaries - at least I'm assuming so. I don't tend to envisage her as being that much older than Jesus.

But it's all speculation isn't it?

What we have in the Gospel accounts is Christ born of Mary - not born of Joan or Gertrude or Mary of Magdala.

We can speculate as much as we like - 'Oooh, wouldn't it be transgressive and exciting if Christ's mother had been a prostitute ...'

But what we have, we have.

Yes, we can speculate, we can suggest alternatives, we can bounce this, that or the other ideas around but we don't have many alternatives other than the texts and the traditions/Traditions that have been handed down.

It's not strictly analogous, of course, but it'd be rather like suggesting, 'What if Shakespeare had made Shylock a Christian and all the Venetians Jewish?'

Or 'What if Tolstoy had set 'War and Peace' during the Wars of the Roses rather than the Napoleonic invasion of Russia?'

Or 'What if Ian Fleming had made Bond a woman? Or gay? Or ...'

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Anglican_Brat
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I find discussions about Mary's bodily virginity whether it is Catholics who wax poetically about how pure her womb is to Protestants who insist that Mary and Joseph had a "healthy sex life" to be borderline creepy and misogynistic.

It is bizarre that some Christians feel free to speculate about the Virgin Mother of God's intimate life, when we would consider any discussion about any other woman or man's private life to be taboo.

Praise Mary for her witness, her as a disciple, her as a mother to Jesus, more than simply giving birth to him, but raising him and teaching him, but to talk about Mary's body risks depersonalizing and objectifying her.

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stonespring
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:


I wouldn't go as far as Stonespring either in suggesting that it's 'easier' somehow to relate to God through Mary rather than through Christ ...

[Confused]

If Christ is Very God of Very God then in relating to Christ we are indeed relating to God - the Second Person of the Holy and Undivided Trinity.

The problem is probably particular to me and isn't a theological one - I just have a very hard time relating to the divine in a man. Any man. And I am a man! I'm not denying the reality of the incarnation in the person of a man, Jesus Christ, or that men are just as much in God's image as women. I just have an issue with men - it has more to do with me than it has to do with men. And all this stuff in the news isn't helping to be honest. But this is besides the point of this thread.
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stonespring
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The question is was asking earlier is whether it is or not invasive or even violating of God to send an angel to the BVM saying that she "will" bear His Son, before she even has a chance to reply. (Does anyone know exactly what the Greek says?) And even if it was God's intent to let Mary decide to become pregnant or not (is there any indication of this?), whether or not, if Mary was as young as I often hear preached that she was, was really able to give informed consent to becoming pregnant (no human being can fully understand the Incarnation, but adulthood does help one understand the ramifications of pregnancy).

And with the sexual harassment scandals much is said about the asymmetry of power in the situations being revealed. This is the ultimate asymmetry of power. Think of the repercussions of saying no to God!

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Baptist Trainfan
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Which were my original questions.
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Gamaliel
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Well yes, but as has been said upthread, we're talking about a very different sensibility back in antiquity.

However we cut it, though, the Incarnation is a pretty scandalous and mysterious thing ...

On one level, speculating whether it was an 'abuse of power' on God's part strikes me as odd in a similar way to the misgivings about RC poetic outpourings about the purity of Mary's womb or Protestant waxings lyrical about Mary and Joseph's sex life.

Of course, nothing should be beyond the pale in terms of discussion and debate but we don't have a lot go on other than the Gospel accounts and tradition/Tradition.

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stonespring
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Which were my original questions.

A lot of the discussion by posters after your OP has been about how Mary's conception of Jesus was different from the sexual harassment and abuse cases being discussed, issues of consent aside, because it was not sexual. But any pregnancy involves a woman's body in a very intimate and, even if joyous, frightening way, so I don't think the lack of sex takes away that many of the serious questions you brought up.

God called David when he was young, but it not involve placing a human life inside his body.

The Adam and Eve story may be more allegorical than factual, but the fashioning of Eve from one of Adam's ribs while he was unconscious (in one of the versions of the Creation), even though Adam had asked for a companion, was also done in a way that involved a potentially violating intrusion upon a human body - and I am not sure if he had consented to his partner being made in such a way. As for Mary, a pregnancy affects a woman's body for much longer than a rib extraction.

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