Virgin Shield

Roy Moore, Republican candidate for the Senate seat vacated in Alabama by Jeff Sessions, is under attack for his conduct towards underage girls while working in the district attorney’s office during his 20’s and 30’s. In responding to the accusations, Moore appears to be taking the advice of Steve Bannon, who led Trump around the Access Hollywood (“Grab ’em by the pussy”) debacle. Bannon advised to deny everything and double down.

Moore’s supporters have done their best. On the political level, they charge that the revelation of these claims only four weeks before the election reeks of political manipulation by the Democrats and liberal media (the charges were given national airing by the Washington Post). Others note that the acts, even if committed, have expired under the statute of limitations, and so have no bearing on the election.

Before the scandal, Moore achieved notoriety for his defense of Biblical principles. He was removed as a sitting judge for refusing to honor a court order requiring the removal of a Ten Commandments display he had installed. Appointed later to the Alabama Supreme Court, he was removed again for refusing to enforce the US Supreme Court decision upholding same-sex marriage.

So the political arguments have been supplemented by theological arguments. Co-religionists have implored voters to show Moore Christian forgiveness. Others have compared his suffering to that of Christ on the cross.

But the ugliest justification is that the Virgin Mary was only fourteen when she was married to Joseph, and so there is Biblical foundation for older men to pursue young girls.

There is so much wrong with these arguments. Forgiveness is wonderful, but that does not extend to empowering those that do wrong. Women also suffer persecution, and to suggest that Moore is being persecuted is like unto a suggestion that Herod is persecuted.

But the one that hurts the most is the parallel drawn to the relationship between Mary and Joseph. That relationship was not considered unusual in the era – in fact, the principle concern of the parents of an adolescent girl was to ensure that she was established safely in marriage to a decent man. Moore was not married to his victims.

But neither was the Holy Spirit. I’ve heard this issue raised before at a non-denominational Christmas service. The preacher attacked the whole idea of the immaculate conception, stating that “God doesn’t molest little girls.” Trevor Noah took this to its ultimate conclusion on Monday night, observing that the parallel offered by Moore’s supporters seemed to suggest that Moore was seeking to conceive a Messiah, giving new meaning to the idea of a “Second Coming.”

This upsets me because I don’t see Mary as a passive vessel. When women are allowed to choose, beautiful consequences result. The angel Gabri-el proposed a solution to the problems that beset Mary’s tribe, and by extension the whole of humanity. Mary’s humble response was “Here am I.”

Events during Jesus’s ministry emphasize this message. Presented with the paradox of the life in paradise of a woman widowed successively to seven brothers, Jesus observed that in that age everyone will make their own decisions about marriage. When Margaret complained that Mary was not helping with housework, Jesus encouraged Margaret to take also “the better part.” Finally, when a woman appears to anoint him with oil before the crucifixion – as were the kings by the high priest – Jesus rebukes the charge of hypocrisy (“the oil could have been used for the poor”) with the simple statement “She has done a beautiful thing for me.”

That Mary made the decision to bear Jesus when she was only fourteen may seem strange by our standards, but it was her choice. Moore didn’t share that choice with his victims. Mary’s choice carried with it the possibility of prosecution under the law of her day. Safe from criminal prosecution, Moore would do well to learn from her courage and humility, ask personally for forgiveness, and bear the consequences in the court of public opinion.


Ray Charles, reflecting on his wife’s experience of a career in which so much psychological and physical excess was channeled into his music, summarized her virtue with these lines:

You taught me precious secrets
Of the truth, withholding nothing.
You came out in front
And I was hiding.

And then offers this gift of insight to those that have not been so blessed:

I love you in a place
Where there’s no space or time.
I love you for my life
because you’re a friend of mine.

Genesis declares that a man and woman become “one flesh”, but the truth is far deeper than that.

For most of us, the lure of sex is the slippery entrance to these mysteries. Particularly in our early adulthood, when embroiled with our peers in the undifferentiated spray of lusts that makes it almost impossible to sleep, we often surrender to temptation. While those early experiences are exhilarating, they end results are often not pretty. The young wife of the angry peer in graduate school came down with uterine cancer; the female lawyer paid for the extortion made possible by the easy access of college couplings with hands crabbed by the hatred of wives; the pedophile who offered his services in breaking the link between mother and son – all are reflections of the failure to graduate from the power and thrill of disorganized coupling into management of the garden of the soul.

It is the latter that Charles celebrates in the second stanza above. Women feel things, men change them. The partnership that flowers when we recognize that duality is incredibly powerful. Love takes up camp in a place outside of space and time, but from which every moment can be touched.

Once it is established, that kind of binding is almost impossible to break – not even death sunders it.

People with past life experiences relate that they recognize their lovers and family. As Paul Simon put it in “Senorita with a Necklace of Tears”:

I was born before my father
And my children before me
And we are born and born again
Like the waves of the sea

So what happens when a couple, from that place outside of time, looks into the future and sees a planet with too many people? Are they to surrender the work they each do on the other’s souls? Work that can only be done when incorporated?

I went to school in Berkeley, and spent a fair amount of time with gay and lesbian couples. I almost always saw a pairing of masculine and feminine spirits. The physical inconvenience was a sacrifice that they had made.

They love each other. Get over it, people.