Jesus Was a Rape Baby
The Christian war on women, sexual and gender minorities, democracy, and the planet makes perfect sense when we understand the true meaning of Christmas in the Trump era.
According to The Gospel of Mary and other early church documents, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was most likely betrothed to Jesus’ earthly father Joseph at the age of 12, though she possibly was as old as 14. The Catholic Church and Evangelical churches typically teach she was no older than 15 when she became the Mother of God.
As a betrothed virgin girl, the responsibility for Mary’s care had transferred from her father to adult widower Joseph, who had legal rights over her. A Jewish girl in Mary’s time would typically marry as a young adolescent and have been betrothed for a year before wedding and formally commencing cohabitation and sexual relations. At some point during that year, when Mary was still a virgin and legally Joseph’s responsibility, she became pregnant with Jesus.
It is highly unlikely Jesus was conceived as the result of a youthful romance. Had Mary been prosecuted for an extramarital sexual relationship and convicted of adultery, she, at age 12, would have received a barbaric sentence of execution by stoning. When Joseph learned she was pregnant, he followed the guidance of the Angel Gabriel and mercifully assumed paternal responsibility for Jesus. Mary was not a “wild child” but a girl living in a rigid patriarchal world who was raped by her husband, a soldier, or some other predator. In the Biblical narrative, that predator was God. God the Father “overshadowed” the child bride Mary, impregnating her with his one and only son, the reported savior of the world.
The men who wrote the Bible claimed Mary submitted obediently when she became the Mother of God. That does not mean she was not raped. She was raped because she could not possibly have consented. The Biblical narrative makes it clear Mary was afraid. She had no idea what the consequences would be for refusing her assigned role as Mother of God. Consent to impregnation presumes a relationship of equals which cannot possibly be presumed between a young teen girl and an omnipotent Father God. There was an enormous difference in power. The youngest age of consent in the United States is 16, and an eternal Father God would not pass for an age-gap exception to United States statutory rape laws.
In the Biblical narrative, Mary was coerced into submission and obedience by the Angel Gabriel. Christians generally, and conservative Catholics and Evangelicals in particular, have strong traditions of heaping shovelfuls of spirituality, romance, idealism, and cultural relativism onto young Mary in order to insist that she “consented” when she said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” They argue vigorously that she was special and uniquely capable of consent. It simply isn’t true. A child cannot consent to pregnancy by an authority figure. Fearfully submitting to exploitation as a servant is not consent. It’s not “free will.” Christians have a long tradition of lauding Mary’s submission, failing to recognize her reproductive exploitation as abuse.
Donald Trump Christians argue Mary was not raped because God did not physically sexual assault Mary. God’s penis did not penetrate Mary’s vagina. She didn’t feel anything. The “overshadowing” brought neither of them sexual pleasure or release, which, according to Trump Christian beliefs about sexuality, rendered the impregnation “pure” and “holy.” Trump Catholics take it a step further by rendering Mary a perpetual virgin, perpetually an un-erotic and in-orgasmic servile mother.
The “virgin birth” is the ultimate argument in favor of sexual exploitation and abuse — it’s okay to impregnate a girl without her consent so long as she doesn’t feel it happening. To the Trump Christian, God’s “overshadowing” of Mary was not wrong because it was not violent. It wasn’t a “legitimate” rape. Trump’s God is the patron saint of those who exploit unconscious girls and women.
Girls as young as 12 or 14 have never been, nor will they ever be able to consent to motherhood or marriage. They can only submit to it out of obedience and fear of abuse, torture, or death if they refuse. Mary was not an exception. In fairness, Biblical leaders and authors did not have access to our modern research into adolescent psychology and affirmative consent. The same cannot be said of Trump Christians, who consciously and willfully perpetuate misogynist Biblical rape culture despite mountains of evidence proving child marriage and childbirth harm girls.
In 2017 and the year Jesus was born, all girls ages 12–14 benefit from delaying marriage and childbearing at least until their early 20’s. There has never been a time when it was safer and healthier for teen girls to endure marriage, pregnancy, and childbirth than young women.
Merciless cruelty, infanticide, genocide, rape, and sexual abuse, exploitation, and assault are sanctioned in numerous Biblical stories glossed over by liberal Christians, swept under the rug as irrelevant vestiges of ancient Biblical culture. Not so with Trump Christians who want nothing more than to establish rigid Biblical law and culture as the norm in the United States, all the while creating a smoke screen of fighting Sharia Law. Unlike liberal Christians who draw inspiration from the relatively kind, yet still sexist, Jesus; Trump Christians exalt Biblical rape and war culture.
Trump Christian “pro-life” activists consistently support cutting funding for services for women and children. They vote for politicians who promise to slash public funding for pre-natal care, child care, pediatric visits, maternal and child nutrition, early childhood education, public schools, reproductive health care, breast and cervical cancer screenings, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, job training, clean air and water, public transportation, student loans, the minimum wage……. nearly all federal and state programs that promote health, critical thinking, economic security, and personal safety.
Liberal Christians argue the merciful ministry of Jesus is incompatible with policies that fail to alleviate unnecessary suffering. Historically in the United States, “social gospel” Christians established schools, universities, hospitals, libraries, parks, civil rights organizations, and much more for the betterment of their communities. Secular Americans familiar with this laudable record of robust Christian humanitarianism routinely ask, “How can they (anti-government evangelicals & conservative Catholics) call themselves Christians?!?!?!!!!!” The answer can be found in the true meaning of Christmas.
The Original Sin of Christianity
The first verse of the New Testament reads, “An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah,[b] the son of David, the son of Abraham.” The first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew then traces Jesus’ patrilineal descent from Abraham through David to Joseph, the Father of Jesus.
The genealogy lists 40 fathers and 5 females who bore children including Mary, “of whom Jesus was born.” The word “mother” does not occur once in the genealogy. From the outset, the Christian Bible makes clear that the girls and women who conceived, bore, and delivered the fathers in Jesus’ patrilineage and Jesus’ own mother Mary had zero relevance in establishing Jesus as Messiah. Beyond that, she had zero relevance to those who celebrated Jesus’ birth. When the wise men visited, they gave gifts and praise to the infant Jesus, not his mother.
According to the Bible, God chose to impregnate a child solely by virtue of her marriage to a descendent of Abraham and David and her virginity. Trump’s Christian God did not care whether or not Mary’s 12-year-old body was mature enough to bear a pregnancy or deliver an infant. Trump’s God did nothing to spare Mary a harsh journey during her final weeks of pregnancy; childbirth in a stable; or the need to flee to Egypt soon after His son’s birth. This goes a long way towards explaining why Trump Christians support politicians who oppose funding for agencies that promote the health and safety of girls and women. Trump Christians want us to be long-suffering, patient, and silent; trusting that God knows better than we do what we need.
Annually, globally and in the United States, child marriage, pregnancy, and childbirth endanger approximately 15 million girls lives; harming them emotionally, physically, spiritually, sexually, financially, and educationally. We cannot expect Trump Christians to empower girls living in today’s patriarchal cultures to postpone marriage and childbirth because, according to conservative Christian theologies, the statutory rape of Mary by her “overshadowing” Father God was the best thing that ever happened in the history of the universe.
Donald Trump’s Christians cannot and will not ever question the righteousness of God in his decision to impregnate a child bride too young for sexual relations or abandon their misogynist God who sanctioned treating virgins as plunder and executing girls who “committed adultery.” The “blessed” birth of precious baby Jesus to a pure virgin and his subsequent gruesome death on a cross saved them from sin and death, securing their hope of heaven for all of eternity.
Trump’s Christians believe Jesus’ ministry has special significance because he alone is the Son of God. They think this because the church teaches it and the Bible says Jesus proclaimed himself to be, “I am the way, the truth and the life, No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Trump’s Christians do not consider the exploitative “overshadowing” of Mary a “legitimate rape” but a “method of conception” and a “gift from God.” Rooted in their belief in the “virgin birth,” anti-choice Christians believe all life begins at conception, God is always present at conception, and all pregnancies are consensual because God consents to all pregnancies. They believe girls and women should submit to all pregnancies, regardless of the circumstances of conception. When Trump’s Christians say they are defending the “sanctity of life” what they really mean is they are defending the sovereignty of God alone in every uterus.
Trump Christian voters firmly believe their God, not girls and women in consultation with medical professionals, should always have the ultimate choice as to whether or not a pregnancy is brought to term. They will reliably vote for a man accused of sexual harassment, assault, and exploitation by multiple women over a politician who supports empowering girls and women to decide the circumstances within which we conceive, bear, and deliver children. Trump Christians believe there is nothing more important girls and women can do in life than become vessels for bearing children. We should always be willing to put our personal dreams, goals, and ambitions on hold should God decide He wants us to bless us with a pregnancy; no matter how debilitating, high risk, or unwanted. The moment of conception is infused with such great potency, it blinds Trump Christians to the inhumane ethos associated with forced pregnancy and childbirth common in Catholic countries, where women who choose abortion are sent to prison.
The teenage mother of Jesus is the ultimate Trump Christian model for submission to and obedience of an anti-democratic, exploitative, abusive, authoritarian God whom his base wants to reign over the entire world, beginning with our wombs, expanding to our sexual and gender expression, and culminating in total control of our personal autonomy. Secular thought leaders need to stop being so squeamish about challenging the misogynist theology of Mary. It is at the heart of the menace of Christian Dominionism, the governing theory of today’s Republican Party.
Christians sanction the non-consensual rape of Mary every year at Christmas by celebrating the birth of Jesus, their Savior, and their God’s only son. Why does Donald Trump want everyone wishing each other “Merry Christmas?” It is the ultimate salutation for a power hungry, exploitative pedophile and serial sexual abuser. Jesus Was a Rape Baby. It’s time we all stop ignoring that glaring truth about Christianity, the religion that most influences American politics.
Sarah Woods is a feminist scholar, theologian, chaplain, and previously ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She holds a BA in Religious Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Masters of Divinity from Howard University.