Mary had a baby
Bedtime incarnational theology with the 6 yo...
(While reading the story of the Annunciation- the angel's visit to Mary)
6 yo: Why did the angel tell Mary to name the baby Jesus?
Me: Oh, well, that's what God wanted Him to be named. The name means something like savior.
6 yo: Okay but God's not supposed to name the baby. Mary was supposed to.
Me: Well, I think that was the name God wanted.
6 yo: Yeah but Mary was having the baby, not God!
Me: That is a good point! But Jesus was God's son, so He was partly God's baby.
6 yo: He was her baby, too.
My son the feminist. He's sticking up for Mary's rights here, and it makes all the sense in the world. God's Spirit may have planted the seed in Mary's womb, but she did all the hard work. Ask anyone you know who's experienced pregnancy. Physical challenges aside, the emotional and mental labor can nearly break you.
Others have questioned Mary's agency in the whole divine birth thing. The angel shows up in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke, not to ask Mary's permission or gauge her interest level in being the Theotokos (God-bearer) but rather to tell her the plan. Was Mary mansplained? Angel-splained? Did she have a choice? Did she give consent? She was, after all, under age.
In my first semester in seminary, I accidentally signed up for a feminist theology class that read women authors from developing nations. By accidental, I mean that I thought it sounded interesting but it was actually a 300-level course and I wasn't even sure what a feminist was or if I was one.
The level of discourse blew my mind, but I took away one simple thing: everyone can do theology. Many of the women writers we read were living in poverty in India, or farming on small plots in Central America. But they knew how to talk about God. They had stories, they were doing theology. Someone accompanied them by listening to their voices and collaborating to make their insights known.
The best theology is when everyone gets a voice. Everyone's perspective is heard. No one is dismissed for being too young, a different color, a "wrong" immigration status or an alternative gender identity.
If you keep reading Luke's gospel beyond the angel's proclamation, you get to Mary's response: "Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." She gets her voice at the end, in a display of obedience or acquiescence or enthusiastic consent. You decide.
Meanwhile, I'm listening to the little theologian in my house, who would have Mary's voice heard, her agency respected. I pray this is his posture with everyone he meets.
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