No, God Did Not Rape the Virgin Mary

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An associate professor is demeaning women’s consent in today’s #MeToo era – while pretending to be an expert on it.

Just days before the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a psychology professor and sex therapist from Minnesota made waves for implying that Jesus’s birth was the result of God raping Mary. And while many news outlets have covered his comments, few have challenged them with scripture – which proves him wrong.

“The virgin birth story is about an all-knowing, all-powerful deity impregnating a human teen,” tweeted Eric Sprankle of Minnesota State University on Dec. 3. “There is no definition of consent that would include that scenario. Happy Holidays.”

But, as many Twitter commentators pointed out, Mary did just that: consent. Luke 1:38 reads, “Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’” Then – and only then – does the angel Gabriel depart.

That still wasn’t good enough for Sprankle who, a day later, added, “The biblical god regularly punished disobedience. The power difference (deity vs mortal) and the potential for violence for saying ‘no’ negates her ‘yes.’ To put someone in this position is an unethical abuse of power at best and grossly predatory at worst.”

In another tweet, he mocked God as saying, “I’d never force you to be in a relationship with me, but I will destroy you and everyone you love if you aren’t.”

That’s an opinion. But here are the facts: Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, would disagree. Seven verses later, at Luke 1:45, Elizabeth greets Mary with the words, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

What follows is Mary’s Magnificat prayer, which sounds like “enthusiastic consent” rather than “a woman who believes she’s been violated,” wrote Sarahbeth Caplin for the Friendly Atheist. It reads [emphasis added]:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

Those are not the words of a woman who has been raped. Rather, Sprankle both distorts Christianity and demeans women’s consent – while pretending to do the exact opposite.

Furthermore, to Sprankle’s point, the one other woman who started out without original sin didn’t hesitate to disobey God – even though God told her it meant death. Mary is often called the “new Eve.” Her “yes” to God shattered Eve’s “no.”

Then again, perhaps Sprankle wasn’t serious to begin with. “It’s fun to poke and provoke,” he tweeted Dec. 5. And for his efforts, he captured the attention of Fox News host Tucker Carlson and commentator Mark Steyn, who called out Sprankle’s “shallow banality” as something from a “drunk undergraduate at three in the morning.” They called him an atheist, although, other reports identified him as a Satanist.

That’s likely because, a day before his Mary comments, Sprankle tweeted out a picture of his “holiday decor” – a Satanic tree topper. He also regularly retweets the Satanic Temple and its members. In his Twitter bio, he hails Satan in Latin.

Satanists have long targeted Mary as their enemy. In 2015, one CNN segment that explored the Satanic Temple caught on camera a member spraying a statue of Mary with blood – something he appeared to do on a regular basis.

But Sprankle sadly isn’t alone in his particular argument. Media oftentimes buy the rape myth too – from comedy show SMILF in 2017 to media outlets Salon and Alternet in 2014. It usually happens this time of year, around the Immaculate Conception, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Christmas.

The point is: before accusing anyone of rape, much less God, it’s good to look at the evidence. Here, the evidence says otherwise.

And while Sprankle focused his energy on condemning God and Mother Mary, he missed the greater opportunity of praising them as revolutionary in a time long before consent was popular or #MeToo was a movement.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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About Author

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Katie Yoder serves as the associate culture editor at NewsBusters and is a columnist for CatholicVote.org. She is also the Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow for the Media Research Center’s culture division. Follow her on Twitter @k_yoder.

11 Comments

  1. “In another tweet, he mocked God as saying, “I’d never force you to be in a relationship with me, but I will destroy you and everyone you love if you aren’t.”

    Wonder if he criticizes Islam religion for their mantra of “convert or die” or “apostatize and die” as forcing a relationship.

  2. THANK YOU for writing this and for giving us more background. I saw something about this on Facebook – another reason I very RARELY go on Facebook unless I’m tagged by my adult children to see a picture. Why is it always Catholics who are ridiculed and nothing is done about it. If it were Muslims, Protestants, or Buddists, the media would be screaming discrimination. These FACTS are in the Bible (which the Catholic Church brought to the world) and our Lady gave her fiat to our Lord. What bigger honor can any woman have than to be chosen as the mother of GOD? None! Thank you, thank you for this article! I hadn’t considered this horrible person was a Satanist. I just thought he was an atheist. This clears it up for me. Satan is working overtime and we must beware. Merry “Mary” Christmas!!!!!!

  3. Matthew Johnson on

    John 15:19 King James Version (KJV)
    19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you
    They leave alone the false religions of the world, they confirm the truth by attacking the Blessed Virgin, and the Church of Jesus Christ!
    As for “Professor” Sprankle, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

  4. Something is very wrong with “Catholic education”, when a “Catholic” university grants a doctorate to a Satanist. Xavier should be ashamed.

    We have a lot of work to do to clean up our church. It’s one thing to produce agnostics, but producing satanists is pure evil. And as the evil professor would say there is no definition of evil that does not include the evil professor’s satanism.

  5. …and let’s not forget that sin darkens the intellect. Mary, who was and is without sin, knew exactly what she was saying yes to. Her yes was a perfect yes, not coerced, freely given.

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