Christmas makes me nostalgic. The music and decorations take my thoughts back to simpler times.
Remember the good old days, when the biggest issue was how much the holiday was being commercialized?
Back when some people were aghast at “holiday trees,” Gap commercials and legal squabbles in public school districts over St. Luke’s passage in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”?
Was it really so long ago that we wrangled over the merits of whether a black man could be a mall Santa?
How time has flown by since cable news channels devoted entire news segments to boycotts of non-Jesus-y Starbucks cups.
Remember when, no matter how many times the Obamas publicly celebrated Christmas, no matter how often Michelle Obama greeted the Official White House Christmas Tree in the driveway, they still were accused of being super-secret undercover Muslims?
We now know that none of it, none of it, tops the latest assault on Christmas: Joseph’s and Mary’s relationship being dragged into the political arena in defense of a senatorial candidate accused of past improprieties with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32.
One of Roy Moore’s defenders, Alabama Auditor Jim Zeigler, actually went there, telling the Washington Examiner: “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”
You don’t have to be a card-carrying member of the missionary society to be left speechless that someone would trot out the Nativity as a means to defend a candidate whose past proclivities for young women has become a very present-day problem.
People who believe everything they’re told about a war being waged against Christmas, who aren’t so certain a theocracy wouldn’t be the worst idea, either are triangulating themselves over Moore, or have been remarkably silent over what amounts to a horribly clumsy attempt to swaddle the baby Jesus with the American flag.
Remaking God in one’s own image requires running roughshod over the history and the cultural norms from which Christianity emerged. To infer that God loves America most because, just look at how rich and powerful we are, puts all that golden calf business to shame.
Based on historical accounts of first-century Middle Eastern life, people typically got married as teenagers, so Mary was very likely in her teens. In the Bible, Joseph is only marginally mentioned as a “just” man.
Depending on your brand of Christianity, it diverts from there. Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians ascribe to Mary’s perpetual virginity as the “Theotokos,” or “God-bearer.”
Protestants point to New Testament scripture that describes Jesus as Mary’s “firstborn” son, and which appear to suggest he might have had half-siblings, that after his birth, Mary and Joseph had a normal marriage.
That God would entrust two ordinary people makes the story all the more extraordinary.
Using the Nativity as a political shield undermines the entire purpose of Christmas, doesn’t it?
Wasn’t the Annunciation about the restoration of humankind’s brokenness?
Wasn’t the birth of Jesus a peace offering from God, though he was the offended one?
Wasn’t it all about reconciliation, redemption, and finally, justice for the powerless?
Weaponizing the Nativity takes a special kind of heresy. To believe in Christmas requires an acknowledgment that you need it, which requires humility. Instead, what we see is aggrandizement, victimhood and the labeling of those who refuse to surrender their decency as “godless.”
That anyone would misuse the story of Joseph and Mary as a means to explain away alleged abhorrent behavior is an attack on Christmas that runs circles around Black Friday.
— Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org