Dr. Sergey Zagraevsky
NEW CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY
original was published in Russian: ALEV-V Publishing House,
THE “IMMACULATE CONCEPTION”
We have understood what is sin. We have understood what is righteousness. But there is one more argument of the officials of the major Churches that Christ had some “special” righteousness – that is the dogma of his “immaculate conception”.
This dogma, which declares any physiological conception as sinful even by its formulating, leads to the situation that so called sin of adultery (the 7th Commandment of Decalogue) holds a record by the number of interpretations and conjectures.
For the beginning, let us think: what is “to commit adultery”? To make any sex? Or without the aim of the continuation of a kin? Or beyond a marriage? Or homosexually? Or...
However, it is enough to open any Church’s instruction on the “sacrament of penance” – everything is written there in details.
For example, according to “Thoughts of a repentant sinner” (by the Orthodox Archimandrite Vladimir) there are following violations of the 7th Commandment: “Lecher, adultery, effeminacy, voluptuousness in all its kinds – passionate kisses with the other sex, the maculate touch, the feasting of eyes on beautiful faces with craving, ribaldry, love songs, shameless movements of the body, coquetry, pandering, sweetening by maculate dreams, arbitrary lustful kindling, excessory attachment... The satiety in eating and drinking, the reading of novels, looking at tempting pictures, the unrestricted treatment and games with the other sex, the excessive foppishness...”
Unfortunately, I can not remember, where it is written in the Bible about the sin of the reading of novels, and I even do not know what is “arbitrary lustful kindling”. And, to be frank, I do not want to know that: popular manuals (and the quoted book is also popular) must be written understandably to all, and the usage of such terms is tied with the aspiration of the major Churches to govern believers with the help of the degraded and ambiguous concept of sin.
So let us examine the “sin of adultery” from the point of view of Jesus Christ.
Firstly, let us look what is written about that in the Old Testament. The 7th Commandment says about adultery for the first time, and all the Commandments are concretized in the Torah quite minutely – Moses preferred clear formulas and left a small place for false rumors.
The death penalty was usually due for the violation of any Commandment, and the following people were to be executed:
“That committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife”; “that lieth with his father’s wife”; “with his daughter in law”; “with mankind, as he lieth with a woman”; “take a wife and her mother”; “lie with a beast”; “take his sister”; “lie with a woman having her sickness” (Lev. 20:10-18).
Moses said more mildly about that one, who “uncovers the nakedness of his mother’s sister” and who will “lie with his brother’s wife” (Lev. 20:19-20) – no death penalty was due for that, but that was considered as sins (violations of the law).
Let us not go into details of the life of Ancient
Jews, who were led out of
For example, was it necessary to forbid adultery in marriage to preserve piece and order in a small tribe? Of course, yes. Was it necessary to forbid kindred marriages to avoid the degeneration of the tribe? Of course, yes. Was it necessary to forbid homosexuality to strengthen families? Of course, yes. Was it necessary to forbid sexual relations during a menstruation in anti-sanitary life in a desert? Of course, yes. And so on.
Thus, Moses formulated the concept of adultery exactly, clearly and soundly.
Naturally, a woman had a subordinate role in the tribal order of Ancient Israel, but we see in Mosaic Law neither purposeful humiliation of women no prohibitions of sexual relations and no exaggerating attention to “intimate” questions.
Let us note that Moses insisted on the virginity of brides (Deut. 22:6), but permitted divorces under the following conditions: “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and if it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house” (Deut. 24:1).
But the situation changed radically in early Christian times. As it is known, it is more simply to rule humbled people, and the medieval Church, creating the complex of a “sinful creature” in people, could not miss so splendid cause as adultery.
Of course, for a “good Christian” of the beginning of
our era it was unpleasant to look at morals and manners of Ancient Rome – “
The “first fiddle” here belongs to Aurelius Augustine. For justice let us note that he took much from his teacher, Ambrosius of Milan, and that one, in his turn, from Origen and Philo of Alexandria, but this does not change the essence.
Let us look what Augustine wrote in his “Theological treatises”: “Being driven out of Eden after a sin, a human tied his kin, which was infected by a sin in the root, by the punishment of death and condemnation, so all the posterity of him and his wife, who was condemned together with him, was born of the lust of flesh”.
And then, as it is well known, the “original sin”
infected the whole mankind. So, according to Augustine, we have no divine
nature and are “loathsome vessels of sin”. Moreover, since that
times any sex is a sin, because it is disagreeable to God. Adam was
driven out of
But all this is a pure fiction! In reality, it is enough to open the first pages of the Bible and to read them attentively. It will be useful for us also henceforth.
In the first chapter of the Bible, it is written about the creation of the world, and together with the world – of a human. Let us note – not of Adam, but of a human in general.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over... all the earth... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it...” (Gen. 1:26-29).
And further, already in the second chapter:
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the
ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a
living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in
“And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:15-17).
“And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man,
made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And
Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of
my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of
“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (Gen. 3:4-7).
So the first sin (as we have already spoken, it may be called a sin only conditionally) took place – people disobeyed of God.
I accentuate – the first sin, not the “original”. The word “original” means that we have the origin in this sin, i.e. that we are born in it. An indirect allusion to sex turns out again. And actually there is no such allusion.
The fact that Adam and Eve began to feel shy by their nakedness, is also by some reason associated with their sexual relations, though these relations usually lead to the opposite – people cease to be shy with each other...
Further God, having known about the violation of his prohibition, damned the serpent (it is usually considered that the devil was in the form of the serpent, but it is also a fiction). God told Eve that he will “greatly multiply her sorrow and her conception” (Gen. 3:16), and Adam was to “eat bread in the sweat of his face”, because “for dust he was, and for dust would return” (Gen. 3:19).
If somebody is still waiting for a description of the sexual relations of Adam and Eve, I have to disappoint: “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived, and bare Cain” (Gen. 4:1) much later, and that was normal and natural – God did not say “Be fruitful and multiply” in vain.
So, we have read the beginning of the book of Genesis attentively and have understood that only God knows, how passages like the following appeared in the imagination of Augustine:
“And the eyes of both of them opened. To what? To nothing else as to the mutual lust – to this, born by death, punishment of the flesh for a sin... That is why they, having internally lost the grace, which was offended by them by the haughty and proud love to their own power and left them immediately after the breaking of the commandment, stopped their looks at their members and felt the lust which they had never felt before”.
And then Augustine’s well-known logic follows: if the “original sin” was the “lust” between Adam and Eve, then we obtain it by the “passionate sexuality” of our parents. We were conceived in sin, we were born in sin and we live in sin. And now we can hope only for the incognizable grace of God.
The bends of the Western “dogmatic development” moved Catholicism a little bit away from Augustine’s concept of the “original sin” as of “lust”, and now the point of view of Anselm of Canterbury prevails, which says that a human lost the “grace of primeval righteousness” after the “original sin”.
However, “righteousness” in the interpretation of the major Churches, as we have already seen, includes so many contradictory concepts, that it is possible to remember about Augustine with nostalgie – he at least formulated his thoughts clearly.
The same problem is with the Orthodox concept of the “original sin” – it is as degraded as the concept of sin on the whole.
But the Reformation left the concept of the “original sin” inviolable. There are some sects (for example, Socinians) who deny the dogma of the “original sin” at all, but that are only sects.
In each case, dogmas are one matter, and stereotypes are another matter. And there was no theologian, who may be compared with Augustine in the creation of stereotypes. So, it turned out that the “original sin” in the mass consciousness is still understood as the sexual relations of Adam and Eve, and each of us is a “sinful creature” by the right of the birth.
Let us value the consistency of the theological base of the “official” hatred of the major Churches to sexuality. The words of Christ are usually quoted:
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of your members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matt. 5:27-29).
And then Christ added:
It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving her for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matt. 5:31-32).
And there is an even more “radical” (and not less well-known) phrase of Jesus: “And there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake” (Matt. 19:12).
We shall start our examination of the quoted Jesus’ phrases from this one, because we see immediately the taking of “necessary” quotes out of context. And the context is following:
“The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife... What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
They said unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication (Italic is mine – S.Z.), and shall marry another, committeth adultery.
His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
But he said unto them, All men cannot cannot receive that saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it” (Matt. 19:3-12).
All said in this episode of the Gospel means that the conversation was only about the norms of Mosaic Law, and we already know what Moses understood as adultery. Jesus gave no new interpretation of this term.
It may seem that Christ toughened Mosaic Law in respect of this – prohibited unjustified divorces and left the only ground – fornication, i.e. adultery in the understanding of Moses: conjugal infidelity, homosexuality etc.
But in actual fact, we see here no toughening of the Law, because Moses declared the death penalty for adultery, and the problem of divorce was no longer relevant after that.
But there is a more important aspect in this episode.
It seems natural that if Christ said to his disciples: “All men cannot cannot receive that saying, save they to whom it is given”, it meant that the disciples were to “receive that saying” first of all. So, it seems that he told his disciples not to marry, or even to be eunuchs. Thus, it is also desirable for all the followers of Christ, and the major Churches do not demand our obligatory celibacy or emasculation only since they indulge our sinful nature.
At any rate, the interpretation of the medieval Church was exactly that, and hence the humiliation of women, cloisters, prohibitions of sexual relations, a number of eunuch sects are... The Church only forgot to put a veil on women – possibly forgot only by chance.
But actually everything is quite the contrary – “that saying”, which it was desirable to “receive”, related not to the words about eunuchs, but to the teaching about the prohibition of divorces!
Thus, the phrase of his disciples – “It is not good to marry”, – Jesus considered as impossibility (or as unwillingness) to accept his teaching about the imperishability of family. And he did not like the position of his disciples, because he answered them: “All men cannot receive that saying, save they to whom it is given”.
But he permitted his disciples not to accept his teaching at that, having told the parable about eunuchs. There are such eunuchs, there are other eunuchs... Eunuchs just happened to come up, and Jesus cited them as an example. When he told parables about winegrowers (Matt. 21:28-46; Mark 12:1-9), it did not mean that he sent the listeners to gather the grape.
So, Jesus of Nazareth did not insist on the obligatory and indissoluble marriage, and furthermore on the sexual continence or the emasculation. He said nothing also about specific theses of Mosaic Law on adultery (except the divorce), and it is not our deal to guess about that.
The similar position on the creation of family was taken by Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 7:1-17). And it would have been not bad for the officials of the major Churches to pay attention to his words about that: “But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches” (1 Cor. 7:17).
And now let us return to the phrase of Christ: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee...” (Matt. 5:27-29).
It turns out that everything is normal and logical – if you are married (i.e. if you come under the action of Mosaic concept of adultery), do not look at other women “to lust” and pain your wife, because it would contradict to the main Christian commandment – to love each other.
Thus, there is neither humiliation of women nor undesirability of sexual relations in the teaching of Christ. The Christian concept of adultery differs from the Old Testament’s one only in the prohibition of divorces, and even this prohibition is also conditional – if a husband or a wife have committed adultery (at least “in the heart”), then it is possible to divorce.
And who is, according to the teaching of Augustine and the major Churches, righteous by the right of the birth, i.e. who is free of “original sin”?
Only Jesus Christ, since he is “God the Son”. And if that is so, he could not be conceived and born in sin, hence the dogma of his “immaculate conception” was originated.
And “sinless Virgin” Mary, accordingly, also could not make sex – not only before the marriage with Joseph, but also after it, so she remained virgin for the whole life. However, it is not clear, how she managed to preserve the virginity at the childbirth. Well, a childbirth is not sex, it seems to be “admissible”, but the Cathars in the 13th century still considered that Jesus entered the world through an ear of her mother.
Catholicism went even further. In 1854 (and by theologian criterions it is quite recently), Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of “immaculate conception of Virgin Mary” to make Jesus “immaculate” in the second generation so that “original sin” could not reach Christ unambiguously.
The theologians of the major Churches tried to bind everything foresaid with common sense, having thought out a legend, which is still the official position of both Catholic and Orthodox Churches. For example, Archimandrite Raphael (Karelin) wrote the following:
“Mary gave God the promise of chastity in the
It is no wonder that any woman, who worked honestly for the whole life, who brought up many children, who loves her husband and never committed adultery, looks nearly a whore against the background of that image of Virgin Mary.
The theologians of the major Churches in chase of “immaculacy” even declare that Mary was of a kin of King David, because Jesus is called in the Gospels as “the Son of David”, and, God forbid, believers will think that Joseph of the kin of David (Matt. 1:6-16), nevertheless, had a connection to the birth of Christ...
We have already seen that the sin of Adam and Eve had no relation to sex, so let us look what is said in the Gospel according to Matthew about the matrimonial life of Joseph and Mary and the “immaculate conception” of Christ.
Why the Gospel according to Matthew exactly – because nothing is said in any other Gospel about the “immaculate conception”. Only Matthew and Luke among Evangelists told about the birth of Jesus. Luke tactfully ignored the “physiology” of the conception (Luke 1:31-34), moreover, told about Joseph and Mary as about the parents of Jesus (Luke 2:27; 2:48).
And according to Matthew:
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise; when as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost...
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emman’u-el, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus” (Matt. 1:18-25).
And that is all said in the New Testament about the “immaculate conception”.
I consider that we have no right to think out, how the conception took place, how old Joseph and Mary were and what intimate relations they had. And if Augustine or Archimandrite Raphael or Alexandr Pushkin (in his poem “Gavriiliada”) made bold to think out, that are their own fantasies.
For me the following proofs, that Mary was a normal woman, lived with her husband Joseph in common family relations and had many children, seem convincing:
“While he (Jesus – S.Z.) yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethern stood without, desiring to speak with him” (Matt. 12:47).
“And when we was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethern, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?” (Matt. 13:54-56).
“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us?” (Mark 6:3).
We see that Joseph was a carpenter (Matt. 13:55), in the Greek original it sounds like a “tecton” – “builder”. But Archimandrite Raphael told about him as about an old joiner.
Seemingly, here is no serious difference. But in actual fact, we see an “ordinary” example of falsification of the invaluable information of the Gospels for the needs of the theology of the major Churches.
As it is well known, a builder (furthermore a carpenter) has to climb on walls and roofs, put frames and do other hard physical work. It was scarcely possible for Joseph if he was about 80 (according to the version of the major Churches). And a joiner can sit in his workshop and make wooden goods (by the quoted legend about Joseph – yokes for bulls and scales) even until he is 100 years old.
So in defiance of the texts of the Gospels, the medieval Church made the carpenter Joseph an aged joiner.
Of course, the official theologians of the major Churches may think out something else. For example, that Joseph was a carpenter in his youth and people remembered him exactly so, and in his old age he retrained to a joiner. That is why Jesus was, “through habit”, called “the son of the carpenter”, though Joseph worked as a joiner for some last decades of his life. So to speak, people did not forget the carpenter’s art of Joseph for forty years.
But this fantasy looks so improbable that the major Churches simply prefer to substitute the profession of carpenter by the profession of joiner.
But this “jugglery” by professions is clear enough. The interpretation of places in the Bible, where it is said about brothers and sisters of Jesus, is more complicated.
The major Churches propose two variants to us.
Let us begin from the most ancient interpretation, which was proposed even by Ambrosius of Milan and now is an official position of Russian Orthodox Church.
Its essence is that it is said in Matt. 13:54-56 and Mark 6:3 about stepbrothers and stepsisters of Jesus – sons and daughters of aged Joseph and his first wife. Even the name of that first Joseph’s wife is “found” – Mary, the wife of Cleophas (John 19:25), the woman who stood near the cross together with Jesus’ mother and others (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40; Luke 24:10; John 19:25).
All this seems to be logical. Moreover, since in Mark 15:47 it is said about Mary, the mother of Joses, official theologians consider that it is also said about Mary, the wife of some Cleophas.
Let us assume that it is so. But then Joseph before his marriage with Mary, who became the mother of Jesus later, was to divorce with Mary, the mother of his four sons and some daughters. It turns out that Joseph’s “righteousness” is quite doubtful – to turn out the mother of many his children for the sake of a young girl?
And if we suppose that Joseph’s first wife passed from him to Cleophas herself, having left many children, then it is worthy not of the Holy Scripture, but of an adventure story. What then the peripetias of that woman’s life were to be, if she, as a result, followed Jesus, the son of her first husband and his second wife, when he was preaching in Galilee (Mark 15:41), it is possible only to guess.
In Mark 16:1 it is said about some Mary, the mother of James, and the major Churches consider that it is the same Mary, the wife of Cleophas, the mother of all Jesus’ stepbrothers, first of whom James and Joses were named (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3). And in Mark 15:40, Mary, the mother of James “the less” and of Joses, is mentioned, and she if identified with the same wife of Cleophas.
But then toward whom is James “the less”?
If we speak not about stepbrothers, but about brothers of Jesus, let us look of what age James, the eldest, was.
Joseph and his first wife, after the birth of James, were to give birth to some more children, then there was to be a “break” for the divorce with the first wife, then his betrothal with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and only then Christ was born. Thus, James “the less” was to be about 15–20 years elder than Jesus. And if we take into consideration the “official” age of Joseph (more than 80 when he married the mother of Jesus), then the difference between the ages of his eldest son and Jesus was to be about 40–50 years.
Who then “the elder” James could be, we can only guess. One of Zebedee’s sons? But since James, the son of Zebedee, was elder than 60 (or even 80) at the moment of Jesus’ crucifixion, then his younger brother John (the Evangelist) turns out 40–60 years younger. It is more than doubtful. And how old was their father Zebedee (Matt. 4:21) and their mother (Matt. 20:20)?
It is also doubtful that the elder brothers of Jesus asked decently and did not demand that their younger brother spoke with them (Matt. 12:46). And the fact, that Jesus’ brother James called himself “the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ” in his Epistle (James 1:1), is very strange for an elder brother in that historical epoch.
It follows from all foresaid that the brothers of Jesus were younger, i.e. that they could not be the sons of a first wife of Joseph.
And the second variant (non-canonical, but “permitted” by the major Churches) consists in the following: the matter concerns cousins of Jesus, children of the same Mary, the wife of Cleophas, the sister of Joseph or Mary.
But since it follows from the Gospels that brothers and sisters lived together with Joseph, Mary and Jesus as one family (Matt. 12:46; Mark 6:2-3; John 2:12), then it turns out that the carpenter Joseph (by the version of the major Churches – aged, poor and living in a cave) opened almost a children’s home. And why did Cleophas and his wife Mary have to give their children to Joseph?
One more argument is sometimes cited against that Jesus had younger brothers and sisters: Jesus told John from the cross: “Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home” (John 19:27), – couldn’t the own children take care of Mary?
But we can say: since Jesus’ brothers were younger, and Joseph had evidently died by that time, it is no wonder that Mary was sheltered by the family of well-provided Zebedee. The circle of Jesus already lived by laws of Christian community.
And Mary, the wife of Cleophas, could be anybody – many faithful women followed Christ (Luke 8:2-3). James “the less” could be, for example, James, the son of Alpaeus, and the matter concerns his mother. And, generally speaking, why are we so sure that the wife of Cleophas, the mother of James and the mother of Joses are the same woman? A number of women followed Jesus and were standing near the cross (Luke 23:27).
I have to state with regret: having done the detailed analysis of the position of the major Churches, which concerns the younger children of Mary, the mother of Jesus, we have spent time almost in vain.
It was enough to quote the following to show the inanity of all fantasies about details of intimate relations between Joseph and Mary: “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus” (Matt. 1:24-25).
And the point is even not that Matthew called Jesus as the “firstborn” son of Mary, i.e. the first, but not the only child. And the point is in the word “till”. Joseph did not know Mary till she gave birth to Jesus.
Thus, Mary, the wife of Joseph, was a common woman, had normal intimate relations with her husband and gave birth to many children.
But since the theologians of the medieval Church wished to convince people that Joseph was incapable of any sexual relations with his legal wife Mary, they were ready to do all possible substitutions to consider sex as sin.
And it becomes understandable why it was necessary for the medieval Church to convince people of that, if we draw a parallel with quite recent times – of Stalin and Hitler.
Do you remember how in the
Let us not go deep into Freud’s “ousting” and “sublimation of libido”. Let us say more simply: if a man has normal family life (and normal sex in also included into this concept), it is very difficult to get that man out of his family and to send him to conquer the world.
And if a man is capable only of a defective resemblance of sex and feels the “complex of a sinful creature” constantly, he will be scarcely happy (or at least satisfied) of his family life. And it is “good” – it is simpler to send that man to a front to die for the dictator’s ambitions.
And in the Middle Ages, it was necessary to raise people to crusades, to the struggle against heresies, to endless wars with neighbor states – what sex could be there?
It was impossible to prohibit sex completely – children, i.e. future soldiers and soldiers’ mothers, were not born without it. But the major Churches and states quite succeeded in the replacement of sex by its defective resemblance. It is possible to laugh as much as one wants at sanctimony and secret debauch of the medieval clergy, but the constant reminding to people about the “sin of passionate sexuality” yielded its fruits.
But, may be, that is enough? Life cancelled unfounded prohibitions on sex a long time ago, and isn’t it time for the major Churches to cancel these prohibitions, too, and to cease the considering normal intimate life as sin?
As we have seen, there were prohibitions of sex neither in the Old nor in the New Testament. Moses and Christ and Apostle Paul wished people well and did not want to make callous robots of them.
We can not cease our conversation about righteousness without touching on the main Christian ceremony – Baptism, i.e. the “ablution” or “immersion”.
The ceremony of the ablution was practiced by a number of Judaic sects even before Christ, and John the Baptist made the ablution a preparation to the Messiah’s coming. We can only guess if John and Jesus were connected “organizationally”, but the fact that they were relatives (Luke 1:36) is a case for that.
After the crucifixion of Jesus, his disciples made the ablution-Baptism a solemn procedure of the admission of a human into the Christian Church. Soon after Christianity became the state religion, everyone, including new-born children, was to be baptized. We see the same situation today.
In the Niceno-Constantinople Creed, it is said: “We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins”.
In actual fact, these words are somewhat doubtful from the point of view of the major Churches. They baptize the majority of people in early childhood and purify only of “original sin”, and that sin, in principle, was forgiven to each of us by the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
But we can understand where in the Niceno-Constantinople Creed this formula is from – in early Christian times, people were usually baptized in a “conscious” age, and no serious meaning was given to “original sin”.
As usually, for two thousand years in all Churches and sects there was a number of discussions whether to baptize in the name of God or of “God the Son” or of the Holy Spirit or all the “hypostases of the Trinity”, whether to pour with water or to immerse into water, to do it once or thrice, in “white clothes” or without clothes...
In our time, we can consider Baptism as the symbolic ablution of sins or as the solemn procedure of the admission into the Christian Church. Of course, this procedure in “thoughtless” age is more than doubtful, but let us not raise the colossal layer of theological disputes.
In each case, the ceremony of Baptism is firstly symbolical, so as all “sacraments”. I personally have nothing against symbols and estimate them – it is a part of the spiritual system of the humanity. Of course, there is the Christian cross and there is the Fascist swastika, but it is not worth to break a lance over symbolical ceremonies in this book.
There is one more important question, which concerns the baptizing of Jesus of Nazareth.
“Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him” (Matt. 3:13-15).
So the question is the following: why did Jesus insist on his baptizing, moreover, accentuated the necessity to “fulfill all righteousness”?
The dogmatists of the major Churches, who are usually inclined to look for symbolic sense in every trifle, in this case betray to their principle and answer that for Jesus – for “God the Son” – it was doubtless unnecessary to be baptized, but he wanted to set an example for people.
In principle, I am not against such pragmatic simplifications, but in this case it is absolutely unjustified, because there was no sense in that example – John had already baptized masses of people (Matt. 3:5). On the contrary, the “equalizing” of Christ-Messiah and other people could cause undesirable rumors at that time.
That is why there may be the only answer to that question. Since the Christian Church had not yet existed and Baptism had exclusively the form of ablution of sins, Christ, beginning his preaching at the age of 30 (Luke 3:23), considered the ablution of his sins to be necessary.
Thus, Jesus of Nazareth was not without sins, so as all people. And since that is so, the dogma of his “immaculate conception” turns out to be unnecessary and becomes a symbolical fulfillment of the Old Testament’s prophecy: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emman’u-el, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matt. 1:22).
After that, we can only repeat the said in previous chapters: Jesus Christ is the same human as we are.
Sergey Zagraevsky © 2004