It turns out that virgin births are a dime a dozen. Happens all the time.
Nearly 1 percent of young women in a U.S. study who have become pregnant claim to have done so as virgins, according to a report in the Christmas edition of Britain's BMJ medical journal.
The authors of "Like a virgin (mother)" - whose prose is devoid of irony - say such scientifically impossible claims show researchers must use care in interpreting self-reported behavior. Fallible memory, beliefs and wishes can cause people to err in what they tell scientists.
Based on interviews with 7,870 women and girls ages 15 to 28, 45 of the 5,340 pregnancies in this group through the years - 0.8 percent - occurred in women who reported that they conceived independent of men. The figure does not include pregnancies that result from in vitro fertilization or other assisted reproductive technology. (here, but if you want the BMJ press release go here)
It made the pond wonder what Michael Jensen was on about, or what he was on, in scribbling Sex and Christmas:
Why was Jesus ‘born of a virgin’? Isn’t this the unnecessary miracle, simply coming from an embarrassment at - ahem, let’s face it - sex? Couldn’t theologians simply discount at least this one as a pious invention of the gospel authors who were simply too shocked by the thought that ordinary human bedroom activity could have been involved?
What on earth is he on about? Turns out that for one in a hundred or so no ordinary human bedroom activity is required.
Some critics of Christianity, Anglicanism’s very own Bishop Spong among them, have said that, blinded by his blushes, Matthew simply mis-translated or over-translated the Hebrew word from the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 which can mean either ‘virgin’ or ‘young woman’. This fails to see how the NT’s reading of Old Testament prophecy works. It doesn’t treat the Old Testament as a dot-to-dot picture which it is simply colouring in. In addition, it is likely that ‘virgin’ and ‘young woman’ were so closely associated in the ancient mind as to be tantamount to the same thing.
Yes, because young woman and virgin are like peas in a pod - haven't you heard, women don't like a good fuck ... and for gays it's even naughtier.
Anyway, it seems odd that Jensen should get himself into such a lather about virgin births, when clearly, in the United States, it's going on all the time. Who would have guessed that god is a serial fornicator, spreading his seed all over the place, like a cosmic wanker doing his bit for artificial insemination ...
Jensen contributes his own form of onanism, by mentioning, with an airy wave of his hand, DNA, as if that somehow makes the discussion scientific. Here's how you play that trick:
...Jesus is not a development from anything or anyone who has gone before. He is an intrusion of God into our affairs. He is an eruption of God into the plight of humankind. Sure, humankind is involved, in that Jesus inherits the substance of flesh - the DNA etc - from Mary, but only in the most passive and receptive way “not by a husband’s will” as John says in his gospel, ‘but by the will of God’.
I know, I know, a Freudian could have a field day with all that's packed into those few sentences. The cuckolding, the Vesuvian eruption, the passive and the receptive, the filling, oh the filling ...
... third, the virgin birth is a sign of God’s judgement on human nature. As the Swiss theologian Karl Barth said: ‘human nature possesses no capacity for becoming the human nature of Jesus Christ’. Not education, not decision or desire, not civilisation, not evolution - nothing could procure from among our own ranks a worthy saviour. Our plight was desperate. In our very bones we carried about our own doom.
Oh dear long absent lord, the gloomy Calvinists, joyless and unhappy, and at it yet again.
The virgin birth also tells us, fourth, that Jesus is the true Son of God. The angel says to Mary: ‘he will be called Son of God’. We must be careful, how we think of this. This is not the pagan model of divine parenting, with Zeus turning into a swan to have his way with Leda and so give birth to the beautiful Helen (of Troy). What is not being suggested by the Bible is some kind of paternity of the Holy Spirit, or that Jesus was conceived through some sexual union between Mary and the deity. The human nature of Jesus was created by the Holy Spirit – in parallel with the creation of the world. It is an of creation, not of reproduction.
I know, I know, a Freudian could have a field day unpacking all that.
I mean, it's not pagan in any way shape or form, even though, as any average historian would know, the mythology of virgin births turns up in Assyrian and Babylonian mythologies, and can also be found in Egyptian mythology, not to mention the Buddhists, Hindus and a whole lot more (even though it has multiple issues, no doubt Greg Hunt will be happy to wiki Miraculous births).
And heaven forfend that anyone would suggest that the Holy Spirit gave Mary a good going over. Why that would be simply unseemly and shocking, there's absolutely no evidence god's into a good rogering.
Never mind, there are many more shoals to navigate in this little thought bubble:
And so, fifth: Jesus comes in the likeness of sinful flesh, but does not share in our sinfulness. “Therefore the child to be born will be holy” says Gabriel. Jesus had no part in the terrible inheritance of sinfulness passed down from generation to generation since Adam.
Indeed. Sure he might get angry and toss the moneylenders out of the temple, but when has anger and violence been a sin?
...I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, ' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Oh go away Matthew. And take with you all those people rabbiting on about Jesus being a passive aggressive Emo suicidal Goth type (did he like black lipstick?) who knew he was going to be killed, but did nothing about it, invited it, and so became yet another victim of a murderous vengeful pathological genocidal god ... a suicidal chappie who taunted god the way some unhinged people taunt the coppers to blow them away. Is this really a role model?
He avoids human sin not because Mary was sinless; in fact, Mary was as sinful as any human being. Any glory given to her only detracts from that given to the only truly worthy object of our worship - the one to whom she gave birth! Thank her indeed, but to adore her is problematic to put it mildly, whatever the good intentions of those that do so.
Oh yes you bloody tykes with your bloody Mary idolatry you get the pond and the Jensenists really bloody angry, yes you do ...
Oh dear, how did he get into an Anglican treatise? Enough with this mother fixation, and Jesus as a white child, or will sool the Freudians on to you.
As for sex? Well of course there's no such thing as a good free and willing fun fuck. It's tainted by sin and guilt and sticky semen on the sheets:
Nor does he escape sin because sex was avoided, as if sex was somehow a contaminating factor itself. It is because Jesus’ humanity is a creation of God by the Holy Spirit, and not a product of human sexual intercourse. It wasn’t the sex that was the problem in itself - it was that it was human and thus, like all human activity, tainted by sin.
Yes, everything in every way everywhere on every day is tainted by sin, that's how much sin there is doing the rounds.
In Jesus God performed a true miracle: he made possible the impossible rescue of sinful humanity. Jesus’ very birth - a virgin birth - shows us the power of the Most High God at work to make holy unholy humanity. Only from outside fallen human life could our redemption come; only from outside our sphere could the guilt of sin be made good; only from outside human existence could victory over death be won; only with God could these impossible things be gloriously done. The circumstances of his birth are indeed no skeleton in the family closet - but an indication of the glory of what occurred in Him.
Uh huh. Of course when it came to those miracle virgin births discovered in the United States, the main take home point was that you simply can't trust anyone when it comes to them spouting nonsense and asserting gibberish:
Although the study used carefully designed questions and state of the art self interview technology, the authors point out that self reported measures of potentially sensitive topics are subject to some degree of respondent bias and misclassification.
Indeed. And that level of self reporting of self-delusions has implications. As per the official press release:
“Reporting dates of pregnancy and sexual initiation consistent with virgin pregnancy was associated with cultural mores highly valuing virginity, specifically signing chastity pledges, and with parental endorsement of items indicative of lower levels of communication about sex and birth control.”
Or to put it in lay speak, like the report on the report:
The 45 self-described virgins who reported having become pregnant and the 36 who gave birth were also more likely than nonvirgins to say their parents never or rarely talked to them about sex and birth control. About 28 percent of the "virgin" mothers' parents (who were also interviewed) indicated they didn't have enough knowledge to discuss sex and contraception with their daughters, compared to 5 percent of the parents of girls who became pregnant and said they had had intercourse.
The ostensibly chaste mothers were also less likely to know how to use condoms, according to the report. UNC biostatistician Amy Herring and public health expert Carolyn Halpern led the group.
The researchers found that although the mothers in question were more likely to have boys than girls, and to be pregnant during the weeks leading up to Christmas, neither similarity to the Virgin Mary was statistically significant.
Ostensibly chaste ... oh that's a goody.
But it does make you wonder: do Sydney Anglicans place too much value on chastity pledges and ignorance of sex, which just so happens to be inherently wicked and sinful ...
Finally, you might think that all this is a little unseasonal and snide.
But consider this.
Just yesterday news came of yet another step by the Ugandan parliament to persecute gays - Ugandan MPs pass life in jail anti-homosexual law.
The MP behind the bill, David Bahati, is an Anglican. Along with American evangelicals, the Sydney Anglicans have been extremely active, via GAFCON, and missionary work, in promoting the causes and activities of fundamentalist African Christians (Why Uganda made me cry, The future of evangelicalism, Anglican Aid, and so on and so forth).
Have they been vociferous in their opposition to Bahati and his bill? Outspoken, outraged? Shocked and disturbed? Given over their site to denouncing Bahati? In your dreams.
This complicity and fellow travelling goes a long way back - like this report on Ugandan archbishop Henry Luke Orombi turning up in Sydney in 2005 as a guest of the diocese, and celebrating his friendship with the Jensenists by indulging in a bit of fundamentalist gay bashing:
Homosexuality, the archbishop says, contravenes Biblical teachings that go back to the first God-sanctified man-and-woman union of Adam and Eve, and are reinforced in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and the words of the apostle Paul. It was a "misuse of sexual organs" as God designed them, and society's "stamp of approval doesn't make it normal". (here)
And so onwards and ever downwards to the latest bout of gay bashing, and the complicit Sydney Anglicans and their Ugandan mission should stand in the dock alongside the rest of their fundamentalist brethren. Yet what do we cop, here?
The first thing to point out is that, and I dearly wish the British media would read the bill before they speak about it (as I have done) there is no mention at all of a death sentence. So automatically, when you find articles that talk about killing gays, you should discount them as uninformed and hyperbolic.
Because, you know, a life sentence to a Ugandan jail simply for being gay is a mere doddle, and absolutely no reason for hyperbole.
Come on now, don't exaggerate, where's the harm in a life sentence?
Um, second thoughts that might be a bit of a worry:
...for the sake of Ugandan homosexuals, Ugandan Christians, and missionaries in Uganda, please don’t let this nasty, secularist, hate-filled narrative of Christianity in Uganda go unchallenged. Your future heavenly Ugandan co-worshippers around the throne will be grateful that you didn’t.
Yep, somehow the hate-filled narrative is all the fault of secularists or the cultural traditions of the Ugandans, and all that hate-filled angry Anglican blather about the evils of homosexuality and the Garden of Eden has absolutely nothing to do with it, and certainly nothing to do with idle chatter about idle sowers reaping what they've helped sow ...
That's why the pond needs the odd amiable distraction, like idle chatter about virgin births and silly Jensenist superstitions. To take away the sense of anger and rage.
William Blake put it in a nutshell:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
A Robin Redbreast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dove house fill’d with doves and pigeons
Shudders Hell thro’ all its regions.
A Dog starv’d at his Master’s Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus’d upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fiber from the Brain does tear.
He who shall train the Horse to War
Shall never pass the Polar Bar.
The Beggar’s Dog and Widow’s Cat,
Feed them and thou wilt grow fat.
The Gnat that sings his Summer song
Poison gets from Slander’s tongue.
The poison of the Snake and Newt
Is the sweat of Envy’s Foot.
A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so;
Man was made for Joy and Woe;
And when this we rightly know
Thro’ the World we safely go.
Every Night and every Morn
Some to Misery are Born.
Every Morn and every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight.
Some are Born to sweet delight,
Some are Born to Endless Night.
The Sydney Anglicans are born to endless night, and they have helped the gays of Uganda to experience that endless night.The sight of homosexuality in a parliamentary cage should put all heaven, or at least Anglicans, in a rage, yet there's barely a bo beep because these sheep long ago flung in their lot with fundamentalists in Africa.
Which is why, to end on a lighter note, we need to revert to the superstitions surrounding virgin births.
Take it away, Spong, smite the Jensenists mightily:
Say what? Try telling that to the angry Sydney Anglicans, laden with trauma, guilt and wickedness, damned sinners and persecutors of gays and women that they are ...