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Thursday, December 18, 2014

It wasn't like that for Mary. Maybe it's never like that.

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"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
Luke 1:34

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She felt it every time she went out in public. In a small town, people knew who she was, and they knew she wasn't married yet. Sometimes they stared. Sometimes they avoided talking to her.

"No one else can understand," Mary thought, and she knew it was true. Who would believe her? The baby is God's. Yeah. Sure.

She'd tried to find a way to tell Joseph, but literally couldn't think of anything even slightly believable. He came around though- apparently an angel explained it to him in a dream. So, that was good.

But her parents? Nope. Geez, Mom had given her a whole lecture. She wouldn't listen. Although, maybe "she wouldn't listen" isn't really a fair accusation, because how could anyone listen to and accept what Mary claimed?

Everyone knows that virgins don't get pregnant.

But no, Mary thought, it's not like that.

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At Thanksgiving dinner, Clara's aunt made a comment about how women who get abortions are "selfish" and are just doing it for "convenience."

Convenience? Really?

It wasn't like that, thought Clara.

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Chelsea sat in church, uneasy and unsure if she'd fit in. The pastor was talking about Jesus and salvation, and Chelsea felt some hope, like maybe God could accept her. But then the pastor went off into the story of how his sister was saved "and she the first thing she did was call me and say, 'I need you to come marry me and my boyfriend, because we're living in sin' and I said 'yes you are' and I married them just a few weeks later."

"Living in sin"? Really? (Why Christians use this as a euphemism for "living with one's boyfriend/girlfriend" rather than, say, "getting rich off of corruption and stealing your employees' retirement plans" I'll never know.) Chelsea sank back in disappointment. "Well... I guess I can't be honest here in this church," she thought.

They think it's so obvious that living together is sin.

But it's not like that, she thought.

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There were death threats. There were nasty letters. As one of the few doctors in the state willing to perform late-term abortions, Kathy was familiar with all of it.

Apparently, a huge number of people were certain that she was the worst kind of murderer.

But they don't understand, Kathy thought. It's not like that.

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Helen's parents were discussing the news that gay marriage was now legal in their state. "We shouldn't encourage that kind of lifestyle," they said. "You know, a lot of people just think they're gay because of sexual abuse in their childhood."

I can never tell them, thought Helen, feeling like she was trapped in a closet. It's not like that.

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Sarah showed up at Walgreens early in the morning to buy Plan B. The pharmacist handed it to her, but not without an eyeroll and a comment about "being responsible."

Because everyone knows that people who buy Plan B are irresponsible sluts, right?

But it's not like that, thought Sarah. It's not like that at all.

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[content note: sexual abuse]

Alyssa was crying again, and her husband Dan was trying to comfort her again. The guilt and shame were too much for her. All she could think about was how she was damaged goods, she was worthless. She had heard it over and over in youth group meetings as a teenager, how virginity is the most important gift you can give your husband, and therefore she was unable to love, because of the man who had taken advantage of her when she was just 7 years old.

Dan held her, so angry at what those people had said to her. She's an amazing person in so many ways, he thought. How could anyone have told her she was ruined?

It's not like that, he thought.

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For some reason, a bunch of male politicians were discussing women's birth control. One of them said that women who want their health insurance to cover it are sluts who can't control themselves.

Oh, it is SO not like that, thought Deborah.

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Mindy had to walk past a line of protesters holding signs and screaming that she was a murderer, when she went to the abortion clinic.

But they don't understand. They can't understand, she thought. It's not like that.

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[content note: rape]

"Well, what were you wearing? Why did you go there?" As if it was her own fault.

Theresa stared at the floor. They don't understand. It's not like that.

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Renee loves God, and she sometimes has sex with her boyfriend. She wrote about it on her blog, and a bunch of commenters came along to tell her she's a terrible person who has no morals, etc etc.

Did they even read what I wrote? she thought. It's not like that.

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Mary had agreed to all this, telling the angel, "I am the Lord's servant." But how on earth could God do this to her? God was making her into the kind of woman she had always judged.

"Doesn't God know," she wondered, "that people would judge me, and they'd be right! It's right to judge a girl who gets pregnant. We put people into categories, pure or impure, and we do it because God commanded it.

"How can this be?" she had asked the angel. How could God make her into a symbol of something dirty? She had done nothing wrong. She was just trying her best to follow God.

People would never listen. They already know that it's automatically sinful to be unmarried and pregnant. But it wasn't like that.

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And if you think a virgin birth is totally believable but would never in a million years even consider the idea that unmarried sex might not be sinful, you might want to rethink your beliefs.

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