The Myth of Mary’s Shame

It slightly drives me nuts when, in Christmas programs, they do a segment on “Mary’s Shame.” How she was an outcast, everyone looked down on her because she was pregnant, etc. Did you knowย it doesn’t say that anywhere in the Bible?

God seemed to have provided for her. If he wanted to let her get shamed, he could have picked somebody who wasn’t engaged. But she was. And Joseph accepted her, after getting straightened out by the angel. And it’s totally possible, from an outside perspective, that they were a married couple who simply got pregnant their wedding night (even though Joseph didn’t touch her until after Jesus was born).

God provides. He even provided a husband for Mary when she needed one. I’m not going to build my theology on whether or not people shamed Mary, but I’m just sayin’…

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4 thoughts on “The Myth of Mary’s Shame

  1. 18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.- Matthew 1
    Mary’s shame was real – it has to do with knowing about her culture. At this point in their relationship, they were betrothed: legally married. Mary still lived in her father’s house because the second part of the marriage – the wedding itself, had not yet taken place. Only at the marriage would their relationship have been made official in every way. It was not uncommon for an entire year to pass between the betrothal and the wedding. In that time, the husband and his wife live separately. Somehow, Mary became pregnant when she should not have been. Somehow, Joseph heard about it. He wanted to divorce her – it took the words of an angel to convince him to let the marriage proceed. Had he divorced her, she would have been a single mother in a world where prostitution was the only viable means of support for women on their own. She would have been an outcast in her community – who were mostly her family members. They would have called her any number of names and insulted her child. Like the woman at the well, she would not be welcome in the presence of the other ladies, for fear her sin would contaminate their lives and children. (Bad company corrupts good character, we’d say.)

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    1. True, I’ve read this before. This is one of the things that helped me think about it, though. Joseph DIDN’T expose her to public shame. He accepted her. Matters like this are super hushed up in shame cultures, it would not have been something the women around the market all knew. ๐Ÿ™‚ If Joseph was the first person she told, it could have stopped there. One of my cousins got pregnant (unmarried) and nobody except her parents and siblings knew until the baby was born and adopted away. And the USA isnt even a shame culture! Now i live in a shame culture, and i hear stories of drastic pregnancy cover-ups. They arent hardly ever common knowledge! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. People never let Mary or Jesus forget that He was “illegitimate.” The Bible tells us that Jesus was called “Mary’s son.”
    “Isn’t that Mary’s son?” someone asked in Luke. this was done to let them know that Jesus had no known Father. In those days, children were called by their Father’s name.That is where we get names like “Johnson” and “Thomson” To be called by your mother’s name was an insult and proof of illegitimacy. How ironic that Jesus said “I came to show you the Father.” People didn’t know who His earthly father was, but Jesus showed them the Heavenly Father. Also, on the trip to Bethlehem for the census registration, we find Mary and Joseph walking alone. Why? Why weren’t they walking with their families. These kinds of trips wouldn’t be made alone. We can assume they were walking alone because of the bad reputation they had acquired. when Joseph threw in his lot with Mary, he was an outcast too. In addition, the bible tells us that Mary “hurried off to the hill country in Judea” to see her cousin Elizabeth when news of her pregnancy was out. She must have run away or hurried off because of the public response to her story. No one believed her! She could have been stoned for being pregnant before the official wedding night. God sometimes allows very difficult things into our lives and Mary and Joseph were no exception. Neither was Jesus. God allowed Him to suffer rejection, persecution, and the death of the innocent. But, His suffering produced great good for mankind. When we are called to do something for God, we should never expect it to be easy but we can expect that God will use it powerfully because…He Has a Plan.

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    1. Interesting, I’ve never heard that before. Where did you read/hear that people were called their “mother’s son” when there was no known father? That would be an interesting study. I’m not saying I know exactly what happened, it’s just a theory I have, and I don’t think the Bible says clearly that Jesus was a mark of shame, so I don’t like it when churches say stuff that is’t really said. One reason was that Joseph was thinking of “putting her away quietly” to save her from embarrassment when she told him she was pregnant. This means she wasn’t already publicly humiliated.

      It’s not a huge deal to me, I’m not going to build a new church around it, ha ha. I just wanted to point out that it’s not necessarily Biblically sound to say that she was publicly humiliated, when she actually rejoiced that she was chosen. ๐Ÿ™‚

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