I've often wondered about the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. Now, while the innate rationalist in me screams “she's obviously not a virgin, you douche fag!”, I can't help wondering, maybe she truly believed she was. I mean, we can't disregard the possibility that she devoutly believed she had been impregnated by the seed of God, sitting up in the clouds, picking broads at random as to which ones he'd most feel like spreading his god sauce around with. Though, I believe any reasonably intelligent and rational human being can conclude that God contemplating having a son by way of angelic mediation is full of itself, and we can disregard it out of hand. However, assuming we do believe the Virgin Mary's accounts of her beguiling pregnancy by a celestial trouser snake, then I'd like to espouse a few possible (and dare I say, likely) alternate theories in regards to the self proclaiming virgin mother of Nazareth. And look at it this way, I'm still going to try (strong emphasis on 'try') and paint Mary in a positive light where even the feminists can jump on board this time!
Dissociative Idenity Nymphomania: While I'm unable to find a concrete definition for this disorder, I should think the name I have given it says it all. It suggests that a person is inflicted with split personalities of which one of those personalities is a nymphomaniac. Why shouldn't this be a reasonable possible explanation of Mary? Granted, she recalls the conversation with the Angels telling her that she was chosen as the lucky recipient of a brand new and improved, tried, tested and true divine intervention. However, if we can suspend our disbelief far enough to allow something like a conversation with orbs of light masquerading as angelic entities, then it shouldn't be too difficult for us to also take into consideration the fact that Mary was certifiably fucking insane as she was suffering from multiple personalities.
The aforementioned facet of her life was pursuing in extra curricular activities that her husband obviously didn't know about; so what? We ought not to feel bad for her, it's not her fault her husband couldn't get it up in bed. Perhaps he was a bass player in his earlier youth (a joke nobody will understand, unless they know flip-flop wearing bass players). She had to find some action elsewhere and being the loving and devoted wife that she was, her subconscious fabricated an alternate life in which she was jumping the bones of anything that moved, and then promptly informed her that she would be the bearer of a fatherless child.
Somnambulistic Nymphomania: Staying in the same vein as the above theory, this one suggests something a bit more narcoleptic. Somnambulism is defined as a sleep disorder where one goes through a set of actions normally reserved for those in a waking state while in the comforts of an unconscious mindset. In other words, sleep walking. Unbeknownst to her, Mary would wake every night and ride poor Joseph the Carpenter until he was blue in the face. Aware of her devout vows of chastity, he didn't have the heart to tell her what she was doing every night went against her life-long appreciation of her coveted virginity. This theory would seem to kill two birds with one stone.
I've always been concerned by how tongue and cheek Joseph was by Mary's unusual pregnancy and always wondered whether he had some information that the rest of the world didn't.
“Joseph”, began Mary one quiet night at home by a fire, “I think I'm pregnant.” Joseph's face flushed over, not knowing how to break the uncomfortable news to her. “But an angel came down from the heavens this afternoon while I was taking my walk and told me that it's God's will that I have his child, who will be the redemption of mankind.” Unwilling to have his wife considered, what we modern, civilized people would call, mad, he jumped at that idea quicker than a man can accept sex from a woman in a back alley. “Thank you, oh thank you God!”, he bellowed, as he pounded his fists into the air.
To escape the above pseudo scientific alternate theories to the virgin birth, let's see if we can explain this dubious phenomenon through, more or less, realistic and social possibilities.
Bronze age Palestine was not necessarily the most civilized society to have ever emerged out of the primordial soup of organic life, with particular interest in regards to its abundant excess in messianic religions, which are also the ultimate testament to the narcissistic tendencies of the human condition. I think Christopher Hitchens said it best; They suggest that, of all the previously and, at the time, currently more advanced societies in the world (China, India, Ancient Greece, Babylon, etc.), God decided the best place for him to spread the word of human redemption, by way of essentially delivering his son for human sacrifice, would be in a manger in primitive middle-east. However, it's not hard to imagine a few who would have been able to see through this and exploit the sado masochistic pre-occupations of people. Enter Mary, Joseph and the newly propagated currency generator. Who would give up a sure opportunity for receiving riches at the expense of the gullibility of the people in your village? Imagine how much you can get away with simply by telling people that you're knocked up with the son of God without ever having done the deed.
Well, I suppose that's a facetious point, and I apologise for it. But the argument remains; when dealing with primitive people, far-fetched notions chalked up to the will of God make them divine intervention and 'morally' acceptable. Mary knew this and, as such, took complete advantage of it.
To consider the vast amount of un-ethical (atheist talking about ethics: ponder the irony on your own time), inhumane, bloody and grotesque atrocities attributed to and because of religion is staggeringly mind blowing. Theists constantly like to reference Dostoevsky’s Brother's Karamazov when Smerdyakov says, along the lines of, without religion everything is permitted. I guess hypocrisy is another theistic trait. I can't help feeling that Dostoevsky was being necessarily sarcastic. Because of religion, everything is permitted; from child abuse, to genocide, to sexual prohibitions, religion puts its omniscient hand in all of our proverbial, and literal, pockets.
Can you imagine the implications related to an immaculate conception birth? Well, I suppose we need not imagine, because they are evident to see; the Church becomes the paramount authority in abstinence. God is now in control of your virginity, or lack thereof. Realising that its teaching, before the birth of Jesus Christ, about abstinence wasn't working particularly well, the church invents this story about the virgin mother who, despite all attempts at remaining a virgin, gets impregnated by God in the middle of a field, i.e.; rape.
Setting aside the obvious misogynistic overtones of this kind of mythology, one can't help but be brain-numbingly concerned by how this story has been twisted and converted into a stigma of traditional Catholic ideologies on abortion.
What if women at the time of Mary were allowed to have abortions, or even knew what an abortion was? Jesus may very well have not been born and over two thousand years of religious tyranny over our deepest thoughts and feelings about life and the universe would never have happened, or at least not in the way that it has this time around. So the authorities, seeing that they're attempts at advocating abstinence weren't getting through to people, create this myth about a virgin who gets chosen by god to birth his son in order to save mankind from damnation. What a brilliant way to promote chastity among ten year olds, while scaring others into believing that every time you whack a load out of your skin monster you might be killing the second coming of Christ.
While we're on the discussion of rape, my personal favourite theory is that Mary was the first documented case for the successful implementation of the roofie.
Sitting in her local mead bar, a distraught wife caused by the ineptitudes of her limp wristed husband, Mary gets approached by a rough looking man with a chip on his shoulder. Already in a bad mood by her bass playing husband (again, a joke reserved for those privileged enough to get it), Mary was well inclined towards an uninspiring discussion about the intricate techniques of beating, skinning, gutting, filling and mounting of long dead carcasses of various animals on people's walls. As Mary excuses herself to go take a tinkle down by the bushes, the scraggly old man slips a vial of liquid into Mary's drink. When she returns, she notices the man at the bar and the bartender pointing and laughing at something Mary believes is located just underneath her glass. Painting a fake smile across her face, and adopting a mock attempt at amusement, she begins to chuckle with the two men as if she knows perfectly well what the punch line is. Little does she know that the punch line will only be quite evident nine months later, if only to be warped into divine intervention.
So we can see, from the above attempts at explaining this historically capricious story of celestial adultery, that we don't need religious zealots shoving vague stories of divine mediation down our throats to understand everyday social issues. Virgin birth? Fuck that. We don't need to believe in this kind of garbage anymore. Ancient religious mythological inadequacies can be explained through moderately rational interpretations, which are, paramount to this argument, based in reality.
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