Came across a story this morning about a recent Tweet from a college professor at the University of Minnesota Mankato.
Eric Sprankle talked about the virgin birth of Jesus and said: “The virgin birth story is about an all-knowing, all-powrful deity impregnating a human teen. There is no definition of consent that would include that scenario. Happy Holidays.”
“There is no definition of consent that would include that scenario?”
First of all, he’s entirely missing the point. Second of all, he’s wrong. In the Gospel of Luke, Mary actually does say “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
People have brought that up. But that doesn’t count, according to Dr. Sprankle who says, “The Biblical god regularly punished disobedience. The power difference (deith vs mortal) and the potential for violence for saying “no” negates her “yes.”
Christians believe that before the conception of Jesus, an angel of God appeared to Mary and told her that she had been chosen for this once in human history task of being able to carry the Lord.
And this professor is essentially arguing that because of a power imbalance, she didn’t really have a choice?
His Tweets are incoherent. In the first one, he says that God is all-powerful and all-knowing (both of which are true). But then he argues against the divine plan of an all-knowing God in choosing Mary to give birth to Jesus. She wasn’t chosen at random.
And God is all-powerful. Men are not all-knowing nor are we all-powerful. We are unworthy of God. We are created for God. There is a power imbalance. We are not equal to God. And when I say the Tweets are incoherent, I mean that it’s incoherent to say that God is all-knowing and then to question his wisdom of morality and his plans.
Sprankle’s definition of consent is so radical and limited that even giving consent doesn’t count. It’s intellectually dishonest. It’s referring to a once-in-human-history event. Also, this has nothing to do with sexual consent anyway!
But if you continue to read in the gospel account, Mary continues to be perfectly happy with this situation.
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
She didn’t give consent? Mary seems pretty ok with the arrangement. And it was through this act that the savior of the world came into the world to save the world from sin.
One day we will all be held to account for our lives and actions. And there won’t be equality with God then either. God is awesomely powerful, righteous, and holy. We are not. We are sinful. We are so sinful that the only way we could be redeemed was for God to come into the world. The birth of Christ shows us that from beginning to end, Jesus had a divine ministry. Jesus came into a world that was so sinful that the world killed him. He did that so we could be forgiven. We are sinful and cannot make ourselves right with God. But Jesus came so that we could be with God. Not because we deserved it. Not because we are God’s peers. But out of his goodness and grace.
Jesus did that to save sinners. Even sinners who mock the gospel and the righteousness of God. But we must repent of our sins and turn to Christ and trust in the life that he promises.
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Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.