Are we contrary about the Virgin Mary?

So you’ve heard the rhyme, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary” haven’t you? Well that rhyme got me thinking just now, and personally, I’ve been thinking about the Virgin Mary and how I’ve never really heard a preach on her in church.

Therefore, I’ve named my blog post for today ‘Are we contrary about the Virgin Mary?’.

If you’re a Catholic, then this might not apply to you – because you’re more comfortable with Mary.

To the rest of you Christians, generally known as Protestants, we’re not so keen to talk about Mary. But I don’t understand why. She’s amazing! And God had so much to do through her.

I’ve told you before, I’m from a Welsh Calvinistic Methodist background and am now a Charismatic Evangelical Anglican (If you want to play the labels game). Of course, first and foremost, I’m a Christian. But in my church background, I seldom heard Mary’s name, let alone a sermon based on her.

Tomorrow morning, I’m preaching on ‘The Call’ of God, but more specifically, seen as it’s Advent, the call of God on Mary.

Have a read of Luke 1:26-45 for yourself. That’s what I’m preaching on tomorrow.

It’s amazing just how pro women God is, and it’s amazing that such ancient writings contain such an amazing account of an ordinary girl who was sold out to following God, only to become the most blessed among women.

Mary – definitely a top woman of God. We need to be talking about her more – she’s an example to both us men and women…

Why don’t you think we really talk about Mary? How can we learn from Mary’s example?

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Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about

  • Lucy

    ‘It’s amazing just how pro women God is’.

    Dean, is this a joke? Either you are in denial or incredibly ignorant. I’m sure we’ve been through Gods treatment of women in a previous post (which you didn’t reply to); it’s quite easy to quote the NT, but anybody with half a brain cell that has read the OT knows that God is most certainly NOT pro women. It’s almost laughable. He advocates rape, slaughter of married women who cannot prove their virginity, a woman being her husbands property, selling daughters as slaves. I could go on all day.

    He gets one woman pregnant with his son and to you that signifies he is ‘pro women’?

    One last thing, it’s impossible for a virgin to become pregnant anyway. It defies belief that people still believe this ‘God did it by magic’ nonsense in the 21st Century.

    • Lucy – sorry I didn’t reply to your last post, I must have missed it! Did you read the Is God a Moral Monster book? It answers all those objections in great length. And actually, God raised up many women in the OT like Ruth, Naomi, Esther, Deborah… I could list more. Even Rahab – who, might I had was a prostitute yet god decided that Christ would descend from even her… So clearly there’s a misunderstanding about God’s character here and/or either of us has got it completely wrong.

      On the pregnancy, Christians don’t believe in a God that does magic tricks. And it’s also not about the pregnancy that God is pro women… it’s about the fact that she becomes the biological mother of God himself.

    • Eva

      Lucy I used to think and write the same as you, so trust me, I know exactly where you are coming from. I believe that these objections are only a problem if the bible is taken literally and with no understanding of the fact that it sublates itself all the time. I can’t speak for Dean or any other Christian, but I think that a literal, fundamentalist approach to the bible is not only unbiblical, but un-Christ like as well, for Jesus broke the rules plenty of times and acted in the most compassionate, wise, and holy way for whatever situation he was in. That is who I follow and believe in. Jesus does not advocate slaughter and rape, and is very pro-women.

      The OT is important, but I don’t understand why you want Christians to hold it literally and fundamentally. Why should you dictate how we should believe? Of course I understand that it is frustrating when Christians DO claim that every word of the bible is to be binding and taken absolutely literally. I know, I have argued with people like that. In that case your argument is perfectly valid. But not all of us believe this. I simply believe different. I think the OT is important obviously because Jesus was a Jew, but more importantly than that, because I believe it shows how a group of people got to know the goodness of God. Yes, the OT God seems like a petty, woman-hating tyrant. But at the time, he was seen as a high form of goodness, as a just judge, a protector, and a father. This doesn’t ever have to mean that this is the limit of God’s goodness. The OT itself shows a development of a more mature view in regard to God’s goodness, especially in the books of the prophets, who exhort people to take care of the poor and the sick, and one group that they frequently mention are widows, because society would not take care of them, but God wanted them too.

      I believe that Jesus is the highest manifestation of God’s revealed goodness to us. Gentle, loving, compassionate. An ideal of goodness that we seem to have been incapable of realizing for ourselves, considering how much his teachings shocked people.

      God has always been viewed as “Good”, it is our perceptions of this goodness that were flawed. Jesus came and revealed to us what the true goodness of God really was.

      • Lucy

        Well actually, I don’t think you used to think and write the same as me as you seem to have missed the point I was making.

        It is far too convenient to say that the OT is ‘important’, but that you ‘don’t have to take it literally’. If the Bible is inspired by the words of a divine being, then even with translational errors, it should be inerrant. Given that I don’t believe in God I obviously don’t believe that it is inerrant, however I think that Christians allow themselves leeway to a ridiculous point when you want some of the Bible to be metaphorical and the nicer parts to be literal.

        I know you’ll have an answer, because Christians always do as you ultimately believe you can put anything down to God. Which unfortunately means you may as well not reply at all in terms of responding in a way that makes sense to an atheist. I have written responses here many times and the responses I get from Christians are always very similar, and do not think I have yet had a response that directly answers my points in a way that is tailored for an atheist.

  • Pam Walker

    Hi Dean, I thought that in the general scheme of themes one of the weeks in Advent was actually attributed to Mary as I have heard her preached about  before during Advent.  In the Methodist Service book Advent  1 = Advent Hope, Advent 2 = the word of God in the Old Testament, Advent 3 = the forerunner ie John the Baptist and Advent 4 = the Annunciation which is the Virgin Mary.  I have personally found this kind of preparation leading up to the glorious day very helpful and rewarding, helping me to really get into the Christmas spirit.

    However it is good to keep on learning, so it will be good to hear what you have to say in the morning.

    • Thanks for the comment Pam. Yes, you have to remember though that the Methodist church has its roots in the Anglican Church, so some of the liturgy will still be embedded into Methodist worship. And I have to say there that the Anglican church has some of ITS roots in the Catholic Church!

      It’s just VERY non conformist people (though not all) who never dare to mention Mary, for fear that people will start bowing down to her and other things 😉

  • Maybe it’s because she sometimes seems too good? I think it’s something about the nature of being fallen creatures – even though we profess to salvation through faith in Christ’s death and resurrection, and we always say that our goodness comes from living in him rather than through our own abilities, it’s easy to look at people like Mary and other saints and feel inadequate, forgetting (a) that we are anyway and (b) that their goodness didn’t come from them but through Christ (though in Mary’s case, retrospectively, one might say). So we ignore them, or downplay their significance. Maybe it’s an example of not really understanding the implications of what we say we believe lest we get too uncomfortable. Or at least, I know that’s what happens to me!

    • Biscuitnapper – that’s really interesting! I didn’t think of it like that, but maybe you’re right, hence the reluctancy to talk about Mary especially seen as she seems to go from being the most blessed among women to being the most blessed above women… 😛

      • Yes exactly!  But isn’t it interesting how the Gospels – aside from the annunciation – always portray her as being incredibly human. Not outrageously holy, just a thoughtful woman who now and then said something that was important enough to note but mostly was a witness to her son and clearly loved him and supported him. I find in John’s Gospel (19:27), when Jesus tells his disciple to look after her – “here is your mother” – it helps if I think he’s saying it to us too. We don’t have to be afraid of her or overly exalt her. We just remember and honour her as a faithful believer and mother because in doing so, we’re thanking God for His amazing work and in a way obeying the words of Christ.

        • You should do a guest post on here Biscuitnapper!