Saturday, February 26, 2011

Divorce and Remarriage

Divorce and Remarriage - Does the Bible Allow It?
George Barna, who does the polls on religious statistics has published some significant data on the state of Christian marriages. The findings are that among Christians who have said marriage vows, one out of every three has been divorced at least once. This is the same as the average among all adults. However the statistics cannot be compared strictly across the board, as there is a difference from group to group. Four out of every five adults (actually 78%) of all adults have been married at least once. This rate varies from group to group. Born-again Christians top the percentages of marriage at 84%. Non-Christian faiths are at 74%, and atheists and agnostics are only at 65%. This is due to the fact that more non-Christians choose to simply live together. Born-again Christians that are non-evangelical have the same divorce rate as the national average, 33%. Evangelical born-again Christians are slightly lower with 26%, but when combined into an aggregate class the rate is only slightly lower than the the average at 32%. However, born-again Christians are 3% higher than people who call themselves Christians, but do not identify as born-again. Atheists and agnostics have a 30% divorce rate, however as they only have a 65% marriage rate versus the 84% rate of the born-again Christians, the odds of a dissolved relationship is probably the same as the average divorce rate. Protestants have a 34% divorce rate versus Catholics with a 28% divorce rate. Going from the highest to lowest divorce rate by denomination we have non-denominational fundamentalist churches at the top (Bible churches), followed by Baptists, mainline Protestants (Methodist, Presbyterians, etc.), and Catholics/Lutherans (tied). Jews have a 30% divorce rate and Mormons a 24%. The lowest is the Unification church at 17%. The divorce rate is the highest in the Bible belt, and lowest in the Northeastern states. There is something seriously wrong here.

All of these statistics show that faith in God has not altered the behavior and commitment of people. In fact, those that are supposedly the most fundamental and hold the Bible as inerrant and infallible have the highest divorce rate. On a par with the world, fully one third of the born-again evangelicals, who supposedly believe the Bible is the true Word of God and seek to obey its precepts, are getting divorced. What the statistics do not show is how many of them believe remarriage is acceptable and/or do remarry, nor does it show how many who are not divorced believe that divorce and remarriage is an acceptable practice. I am inclined to think that that statistic is much higher than a third. I deduce that from the fact that, although the Scriptures are clear about divorced men in positions of church leadership, even the most fundamental evangelical churches (and some are nationally well-known) are allowing even their pastors to be divorced and remarried men, much less their elders and deacons. Having divorced leaders in churches is a common practice, which means that the congregation is giving their approval, whether openly or tacitly, to this practice. This would raise the statistic as to belief in this as an approved practice to a much higher level.

While it has become a common and acceptable practice to divorce and remarry, the question is, does the Bible give its approval to it? To determine that we must take a look first at the Old Testament laws, then what Jesus and the epistles have to say about it.

Genesis 2:18, 24 "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him... Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. "

God is the creator of the institution of marriage. After He created Adam, he saw that Adam needed a companion like himself that would be a fit helper through life. So God created Eve. God created man with the intention of there being one man with one woman. Matthew 19:4-5 “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: and they twain shall be one flesh?” In Genesis, the Hebrew word for cleave is “dabaq” which means” to fasten together” in a permanent way. A derivative of this word means “to solder,” which as anyone who has ever soldered anything knows, is pretty permanent. In Greek the word cleave is “proskollao” which means “to glue”. This is also a permanent idea. This would indicate that God did not have divorce in mind when he created the institution of marriage. Nor did he have polygamy in mind, as two were to become one. It was not long, however, before polygamy was practiced. While there is no way to know when it began, it was practiced, as the Scriptures tell us that Adam's great, great, great, great, grandson Lamech had two wives. Genesis 4:19 “And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.” From Yeshua's words, we know that God created male and female to become one flesh. He did not say that man would cleave to several wives and they would become on group together. So in spite of the fact that polygamy was practiced, and even blessed by God in some cases (Jacob with Rachel and Leah plus their two handmaidens), it was not God's intention that polygamy be the practiced form of marriage. While this is important to know, it does not address the question of divorce and remarriage.

Next we will look at the laws given to Moses regarding marriage, divorce, and remarriage. First of all it must be understood that the Mosaic Law assigned a very low status to women. They were virtually chattel and could be treated as such. A woman belonged to her father until she married, then ownership was transferred to her husband. The laws that applied to a woman did not always equally apply to a man. A man could divorce his wife for a variety of reasons, but a woman did not have the same recourse. She could annoy her husband until he divorced her, but that was the extent of her options. He also was not guilty of adultery if he took more than one wife, while she could not be with another man.

The first law about marriage has to do with a daughter who is sold into a bondservant type of marriage (on the idea of a concubine) for the sake of money.

Exodus 21: 7-11 "And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her. And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters. If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.”

If a man sold his daughter as a maidservant, she was not allowed her freedom at the end of the time period, as other bondservants were allowed to go. The next sentence may explain why. While she was sold, it appears she was sold not only as a servant, but as a betrothal. As such she was now the permanent property of her master, his servant-wife. If she did not please him, he could allow her to be redeemed back by her family. He was not to sell her into slavery, nor deal deceitfully with her in any way. If he, instead of betrothing her to himself, betrothed her to his son, he was to treat her as a daughter. If she were his wife, and he took another wife, he could not diminish her rations of food, clothing, nor deny her sex. If he did not keep this bargain, she was free to leave without having to have to be redeemed for money. Of course without a bill of divorcement, she was not free to remarry, and women did not work for a living, so she would be destitute unless family took her in.

The next type of law regarding marriage was that of the prisoners of war.

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 “When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.”

If a soldier went to battle and among the captives a beautiful woman captured his fancy, and he wanted her as his wife, there were certain ceremonial obligations that had to be observed. First, he had to take her to his house. She was then required to shave her head, cut her nails and remove her beautiful clothes. Just as women today do, pagan women then wore beautiful clothes, did up their hair, painted their faces and grew their nails. By shaving her head, cutting her nails, removing her pretty clothes, and one assumes she no longer had make-up, she made herself as unattractive as she could possibly get. Added to that, she was to mourn her family for a full month. Through that month, the man could not touch her. This gave him a good amount of time to see her in at her most unattractive. At the end of the month, if the man still wanted her, he could take her as his wife. If however, he decided he did not want her after all that, he was not allowed to sell her, because he had “humbled” her. This word “humble” can mean defiled or ravished. It is assumed by most that he would have no delight in her only after he forced intimacy on her, but it is also possible that after a month of looking at her with no hair, she had lost her appeal, and he had merely humbled her in the respect of making her look very unattractive. Either way, she was free to go. However, that would leave her destitute, so it was not much of an improvement over being forced into a marriage.

There was some protection for the virtuous woman whose husband would accuse her falsely.

Deuteronomy 22:14- 21 “If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.”

If a man took a wife, then decided he did not like her, and sought to ruin her reputation out of spite by saying that she was not a virgin when they married, her parents could step in and legally do something about it. This is why they had the customs they did about the marriage ceremonies. While the guests feasted, the couple were sent into a room where they would consummate the marriage. As back then women who were chaste still usually had a hymen, the penetration would cause bleeding. This bloodied sheet would be shown to the parents or even guests as evidence of her virginity. The parents, if they were smart, kept this as evidence of her virginity, should the husband do what this husband was seeking to do - accuse her so that he could have reason to be rid of her. The parents would take the sheet to the elders as proof and accuse the man of lying. The elders would then chastise him and make him pay her father 100 shekels of silver for trying to ruin the family's reputation. Not only that, he was forbidden to put her away or divorce her the rest of his life. That ensured that she would not find herself thrown out of the house and destitute from his obvious hatred of her. If her parents could not produce evidence, she was brought to the door of her father's house and stoned to death as a whore, which made it a really good idea for parents to save the evidence of her virginity from the wedding.

Adultery was a capital punishment affair.

Deuteronomy 22:22 “If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.”

If a man slept with a married woman, both of them were stoned. So men did have some rules.
If a betrothed virgin were assaulted, she needed to be sure she cried for help.

Deuteronomy 22:23- If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you. But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.”

If a betrothed virgin were alone in the city (which was not the best idea anyhow), and a man lay with her, both of the people were taken to the gate of the city and stoned, because it was assumed that it was with her consent, as she did not cry out for help. In the city, someone would have heard her and come to her aid. Therefore it was considered that she was guilty of adultery or fornication. He was also guilty, as she was, in essence, a married woman, being betrothed. If however she was out in a field and was assaulted, it was considered that she was innocent, as even if she were to yell for help, there might not be anyone there to hear her cries of distress and save her. It was considered rape, an act of violence the same as murder, and she was not guilty, so she went free. The moral was, if you were in the city and being attacked, you should yell at the top of your lungs. Otherwise it was a death penalty.

How they dealt with rape or consensual sex of a virgin that was not betrothed.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 “If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.”

This passage implies that it was not consensual, but a girl could always claim that even if it were not. If they were found, (and she had better hope they were or she would be discovered to not be a virgin at some point and that could be bad), the man had to give her father money (fifty shekels of silver) and it was a shotgun wedding, as they say. He also was not allowed to ever put her away (separate from her) or divorce her all his life. Somehow I can see a lot of this type of setup going on. It ensured a daughter's marriage, plus the fact that the husband could never put her away or divorce her. There were ways for women to get around some of these laws that were not in their best interest, if they were smart. Now maybe it is more apparent to men why women trap them into marriage. It is a long-ingrained protective instinct.

A man was not to sleep with his father's wife. (It is assumed this is his stepmother, not his mother).

Deuteronomy 22:30 “A man shall not take his father's wife, nor discover his father's skirt.”

The next passage has to do with divorce and remarriage.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and 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. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

When a man got married and the wife did something "unclean", which caused her to lose his favor, he could write her a bill of divorcement. First, the uncleanness could not be adultery, for that was a stoning offense. Nobody really knows what this uncleanness was, but it fell short of adultery. What was important was that he must write her a bill of divorcement. Men could simply “put away” their wives, or throw them out. Should they do so, and not give the woman a bill of divorcement, she could not remarry, as that would be adultery. Thus a separation or abandonment left a woman destitute with no means of support. She needed a bill of divorcement to remarry. Should she remarry, and the second husband also wanted to get rid of her, and he also gave her a bill of divorcement, or should he die, she could not go back to her first husband. She was defiled for him, from having been with another man.
This next verse really does not have any relevancy to the topic, I just find it a great verse. This is some honeymoon. Would it not be nice if it were the law today? Of course the question has to be asked, how did he support them over the course of the year? I guess that is why a man built a room on his parents' house for himself and his bride when he got married. The parents must have supported them.

Deuteronomy 24:5 “When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.”

When a man died childless, there were obligations on the part of his brother.

Deuteronomy 25:5-6 “If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her. And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel."

A man was forced to take his brother's wife as his own, if his brother died childless, so that his brother's name would not die out. If he refused, he ended up with public notoriety the rest of his life.
There was a distinction made between married women who were free and those who were in servitude.

Leviticus 19:20 "And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.”

This case deals with a woman who has been sold into servitude as a wife or concubine. As such, not being a free woman, the sin committed is not considered the same as if a free woman were involved, as this woman really is property. The man is guilty of a sin that requires a trespass sacrifice, and she is scourged, but they are not put to death. Only when a man dishonors a free wife, is it the sin of adultery. Leviticus 20:10 “And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”

We know that the laws of divorce were given not because they were acceptable to God, but because the people's hearts were hard. Matthew 19:8 “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.” The reason for bills of divorcement was the hardness of the husbands hearts in that they were “putting away” their wives, throwing them out, or abandoning them when they no longer wanted them. As a man could be polygamous, there was no problem with him marrying again. However, without the bill of divorcement, a woman was still considered married to her husband and could not be with another man without suffering the penalty of death. That left her without any source of protection, food, roof over her head, or anything. And if she had children, they were probably thrown out with her. This took a really hard heart, but it was done. For the protection of the women, God allowed divorce so that the woman could marry again without being convicted of adultery. Marriage was her only source of livelihood. It was God's mercy on the woman for the hardness of man's heart. But He did not like it as we see in Malachi.

Malachi 2:14-16 “.... the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.”
The whole objective of marriage is to raise up a godly seed (children) unto the Lord. Marriage is a covenant, and God has covenanted with us. He does not break His covenants and He does not approve of us breaking ours. He hates it when a man deals treacherously with his original wife. He hates it when men put away their wives. Technically this may not include a bill of divorcement and may only be speaking of throwing the woman out without allowing her the means to remarry, but then again, it may be speaking of divorce too. God considers it a violence against the woman to do this to her.
Now that we have looked at the Old Testament laws regarding marriage, divorce, and remarriage, we must look at the New Testament to see what new revelation Yeshua brought.

Just as a background note, during Yeshua's time there were two schools of thought on this subject. One was the School of Shammai which said that nothing short of adultery or unchastity was grounds for divorce. The School of Hillel said that any reason was good enough. Pity the poor woman whose husband was a follower of Hillel. She dare not burn his supper.

The first mention of the subject of divorce comes in the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5: 31-32 "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 for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

For the first time, the people are hearing new ways of living. These new ways are ways of mercy, forgiveness, and sacrifice. They do not demand retribution or recompense, as the law did. They demand more. They demand a loving, forgiving heart. A heart of peace, meekness, and humility. Yeshua is teaching these new ways, because He knows He will be sending the Holy Spirit to indwell people, and with that indwelling comes the ability to have these characteristics. So now, instead of allowing men to put away their wives when they are displeased, they are told that whoever puts away his wife, or divorces her, except for the cause of adultery (fornication), causes her to commit adultery. First, if she is put away without a writ of divorce, she remains married, so to look to another man for protection guarantees that she is committing adultery, as is the man who is with her. But Yeshua goes further. He says that if she is divorced, and a man marries her, they commit adultery. God sees the marriage as a permanent commitment, so even if man has laws of divorce, God does not acknowledge them. He sees it as adultery. Yeshua does allow though for divorce in one circumstance. That is the case of adultery. If a woman is sleeping with another man, she is first dishonoring him, second any children might not be his, and third, we know that disease can be passed around that way in this day and age, and it most certainly was back then. So for adultery, a man could divorce his wife. Therefore according to this Scripture, there is one reason, and one reason alone for divorce.

The next mention of divorce comes when the Pharisees were trying to trip up Yeshua by making Him say something for which they could condemn Him.

Matthew 19:3-12 “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: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say 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, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit 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 receive this 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.”

As already mentioned, there were two schools of thought on this, one that adultery was the only reason, and the other than any reason was good. Yeshua points out that God never intended for man to get divorced at all, that marriage was supposed to be a lifetime commitment. They then challenge Him saying that Moses merely demanded that they give the woman a writ of divorce rather than just put her away (as explained earlier this made a huge difference). He replied that Moses allowed it because of the hardness of their hearts, not because God was endorsing it. He again makes the exception of adultery, and says that anyone who divorces and remarries commits adultery. He is including both men and women, unlike the law which excused men from adultery when they married more than one woman, as polygamy was practiced. He is teaching one woman to one man, which is also a new demand upon them. Men were so accustomed to being able to dump a wife that did not please them (reminiscent of many men today who leave their wives of twenty-five years for that young twenty or thirty-something) that the disciples had a strong reaction. They actually said that if a man has to stay married to one woman his entire life, it would be better not to marry at all than get stuck in that situation. It seems not much has changed in two thousand years in that attitude. Yeshua admits that not many men are capable of accepting this kind of commitment, or a life of not being married (which would mean celibacy), except those to whom it is given. Then he tells who can receive it, those who are eunuchs.
In the case of the word “eunuch”, two different Greek words are employed. The first indicates inability to have sex. The second carries that meaning, but it also carries the figurative meaning of living as an unmarried (and celibate) man. He says that there are those who are eunuchs who are that way from their mother's wombs. In this case, he is speaking of one who literally cannot physically have sex. Then there are the eunuchs who have been made that way by man. Again, this is talking of castration. It was a common thing done in that day for harem guards, and also to captives of war. The third kind is the one who has made himself a eunuch for the kingdom of God. Paul was one of those kind. They deny themselves the relationship of a woman and live a celibate life so that they do not have any responsibility other than what they owe God. It leaves them free to devote themselves entirely to God and His work. In this case, I do not believe it is meant in a literal sense of castration, but simply in the sense of celibacy.

Then Yeshua adds that he who is able to receive it, let him receive it. I believe He meant more than eunuchs should receive this. He had been preaching the Sermon on the Mount, where people were given a whole new set of behaviors. Those were no easier to accept than this, and yet, Yeshua expected His followers to follow these new behaviors and attitudes. I believe He expected that this new behavior in marriage would be adopted by His followers also. He wanted them to have an attitude of reception, just as He expected an attitude of reception for the Beatitudes. Since He declared that divorce was not acceptable except in the one case, and since remarriage was not acceptable at all, it is obvious He expected that those who were “able to receive it,” would be His followers.

In Mark and Luke we find the same teaching. Mark leaves out the one exception that allows for divorce and Luke gives us even less of Yeshua's words on the subject.

Mark 10:2-12 “And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery."

Luke 16:18 "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery."

The gist of these accounts, simply stated, is that a marriage should not be dissolved, and if it is dissolved and either party remarries, it is adultery.

Now we look to the epistles to see what they say.

Rom. 7:2-3, "For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.”

This verse tells us that when a marriage is dissolved by the death of one of the spouses, it is perfectly acceptable to remarry. If, however, he "husband liveth" while she is married to another man, she is considered an adulterer. Now, knowing that to marry while she is still legally married to another man is bigamy and a crime, as well as a sin that is punishable by death according to the Law of Moses, it is obvious that the reference to her "living husband" is not a reference to a legal husband, but to a divorced husband. Therefore what is being said here is that regardless of man's law, God considers the first husband the husband, and as he is still living, she is still married to him in the eyes of God, even if she is divorced by man's law. Therefore to marry another makes her an adulteress. Needless to say, Yeshua made it clear that this goes both ways, so the man would be an adulterer also.

1 Corinthians 7:1-17 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? 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.

In this passage, Paul has a number of things to say. First, he is of the opinion that celibacy is better than marriage. Paul was biased this way, as this was his way of life, but it is not a commandment of the Lord. Obviously if this were, Christians would stop having children, and the world would soon be populated by nothing but people who reject God. I do not think Paul properly thought this through when he wrote it. He does say though that to avoid fornication, people should marry. Apparently Paul did not have an active libido. He then tells the married couple that they need to give each other what each one needs and to remember that their spouse is the one who "owns" their body. They are not to withhold sex, unless it is by mutual agreement for fasting and prayer, but then only for a short time, so that they are not tempted to go astray due to lustful desires that are not being met. Again, Paul is conceding this, as he would like everyone to be celibate as he is. Again, he seems to be very biased in this point, and has not thought through the ultimate consequences of his bias. He does say that the unmarried and widows should marry, because it is better to marry than burn with sexual desires that are overtaking their lives. Next he addresses married couples. He tells women that they should not leave their husbands, but if they do separate (and there are cases where this is necessary, such as physical abuse), they must remain unmarried (if they go so far as to divorce) or be reconciled to their husband. Husbands are told not to separate from or divorce their wives. Paul then gives instructions that he says are not from the Lord (Yeshua did not say anything about this, it is coming from Paul, but we know that all Scripture is inspired by God), but from himself. He says that if a believer is married to a non-believer, they should not leave them. That by staying, the spouse is sanctified and may become saved, and the children are made holy when they could have been made unclean by the divorce. However, if the unbelieving spouse wants to leave, they are not under bondage to the marriage anymore. Now, that leaves a question open as to whether that means that the believer can remarry. It would seem from the other verses not, as Yeshua never qualifies whether the people in the marriage are believers or not, but then the Law was not given to the world, but only to Israel. So these are rules for God's people, which would seem to indicate that what Yeshua said applied to people who were believers. Thus if one of the spouses were not a believer, the believing spouse is not under the yoke of permanent marriage, if they are not in bondage to it. Whether that leaves the door open to remarriage to a believer in this case or not I am not sure. I would not want to judge someone on this issue.

1 Corinthians 7:21-28
“Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.”

Paul says that God has given no commandment concerning virgins, but he has a few suggestions himself. He suggests that given the conditions of the world and the persecution Christians are suffering, that it is better for a person to not be married. This makes sense, in that it only makes it harder on a person when they have loved ones about whom they are worrying. But, if they are married, they should not seek to divorce. And if they are divorced already, they should not get remarried. But, if a virgin does marry, it is not a sin. Nevertheless, there would be hardships brought about by the marriage. Again, the persecution of the day predicted that. One would have to look at one's own time and the level of persecution in one's own environment to see if Paul's suggestion of celibacy was appropo for themselves.

1 Corinthians 7:36-38 “But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.”

This is a passage that has puzzled me, as I am unsure if Paul is speaking euphemistically in some respects or exactly what is meant. I went looking to see what others thought on this and saw that there are several interpretations. One is that the virgin being spoken of is a man's virgin daughter. Some say it is that he makes her take a vow of celibacy, but that if she is passing the flower of her age and seems to have yearnings herself, that he should let her out of her vow and let her marry, as it is good for her to marry. However, if he can remain steadfast in his decision to dedicate his daughter as a perpetual virgin for the Lord, he does well. The problem I have with that is, and maybe it is just that I am reading it wrong, it seems to indicate that he is not acting appropriately toward her, and the implication is sexually. The solution is said for them to marry. A father cannot marry his daughter. Then it says that if he can remain steadfast, keep his self-control and can keep his virgin, he does well. Well again, it seems that he is struggling with some desire of his own toward his daughter and is struggling to maintain her as a virgin. That interpretation just does not seem to work for me. The second interpretation is a little better. This one says that the virgin is a man's betrothed. Remember that betrothed is not quite the same as married. Betrothal is the legality of marriage, but not the intimacy of it. It is more than an engagement, as it can only be annulled by divorce, but it is not a full marriage in the sense of two people living together as man and wife. In this case it would be understood that if he is getting sexually aroused by his fiancee, and she is of an age to marry, then they should get married. But if he can exercise self-control and maintain their virginity towards each other, it is even better. This makes a great deal more sense, but if they are betrothed, I can see no reason why they should not go ahead and get married, and why maintaining a celibate marriage is better than consummating it. My own, possibly erroneous idea has always been that Paul was trying to talk about sex in a euphemistic way, as it probably made him uncomfortable to talk about this in a letter to a church group, especially as he was a single celibate man himself. I read it this way, and I may be very wrong. If a man is behaving himself unseemly toward his own virginity, in other words he is possibly masturbating to relieve his sexual urges, because he is past puberty and has needs, then he and his "virginity" should find a girl and get married. But if he can remain steadfast toward his celibacy and has no need to satisfy sexual urges, and can maintain his self-control in this area, having decided to maintain his virginity, that is really good. So, if he cannot control his sexual urges and marries to alleviate the situation, that is a perfectly acceptable thing, but if he can maintain celibacy without having to give in to his sexual urges, Paul sees that as better. Given that Paul is really a big proponent of celibacy, I see this as a distinct possibility that it is this to which Paul was referring.

1 Corinthians 7:39 “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.”

This is a repeat of what was said in Romans. As long as a spouse lives, a person cannot remarry, but if the spouse dies, they are free to marry whom they will, but only another believer. Since a person who is married and not divorced cannot get married again, this is saying that even if divorced, the person is still considered the spouse.

2 Cor. 6:14 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”
This is one rule that many Christians tend to ignore. We are not to marry (nor should we be legally bound to in business or any other way) non-believers. It generally only leads to heartache and problems. A non-believer will never understand your relationship with the Lord and much harm can come from it. If, however, a person becomes a believer after marriage, then one needs to remain in the marriage as advocated above, as the spouse might become a Christian too.

Ephesians 5:20-33 "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself; For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
This passage is one that was dealt with in my article about women submitting to the husband. For more on that, read my other article in the archives. The main gist that is relevant to this articles is that men are to love their wives, women are to reverence their husband, and they are to be one flesh and be permanently joined to each other.
1 Tim. 5:14 "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”

It is advisable for young women to marry, have children, and keep busy at home so that they do not give occasion for gossip. This was especially important in Bible days, as women did not have occupations and careers. Today with women being able to support themselves, they have plenty to keep them busy from getting into trouble and causing gossip. Thus they can wait a little longer to marry, which often proves to be a good thing, as sometimes they make a better choice when they are a little more mature.

Having covered basically everything that could be found on marriage, divorce, and remarriage, I think it is clear what the Bible teaches on it. While divorce and remarriage was allowed by God during the Old Testament times, it is not what He likes, and Yeshua made it clear that Christians are not to be doing it. The only excuses for divorce are adultery and if an unbelieving spouse leaves. If there is a need for separation (and I think abuse would qualify as a need for that) one should not necessarily seek a divorce. Remarriage is not allowed for any reason, except for the questionable case where a believing spouse is not under bondage, if an unbelieving spouse leaves. What being out from under bondage exactly means and whether that allows for remarriage is not clear, so I would not judge anyone on that issue myself.

As to what should one do when one was not aware of these precepts and finds oneself divorced and remarried, one should remain in the condition in which they find themselves.  Divorcing again would only add more sin to the situation. One can only repent and make sure it does not happen again.

One case that has come up in discussion with others is, what does one do when a person has been divorced before they became born-again. Does that restrict them from then marrying a Christian? It was decided by those in the discussion, and whether right or wrong, I tend to agree, that the sins one commits before being saved are forgiven at that time, and come under the former life. Therefore if one is a new creature, all things are new, and they should be able to marry again, as the commands we see given in the Scriptures are to believers, not unbelievers, and the unbeliever was not responsible to be obedient at the time of the divorce.  Maybe I am in error, but I believe God allows remarriage in this case.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mary Worship and Virgin Mary Appearances

Mary Worship and

Appearances by the “Virgin Mary”

Before beginning this study I feel it is important that I state that this study is not meant to be a slap in the face of Catholics. I am married to a former Catholic and have more Catholic relatives than I can count. I love them dearly, but truth is truth, and anything but the truth will lead us away from God.

It is with that attitude that I conduct this very controversial subject that is bound to offend many. I am sorry if your feelings are hurt by what you may read, but I do not apologize for the truth of what God's Word says. The only thing that should matter, if we love God, is truth. I pray that the truth will set you free and lead you away from error and back to Yeshua alone, if you believe in the worship of Mary as a means of salvation. What I am putting forth in this study is not personal opinion, nor a bias from an anti-Catholic stand. I am neither Catholic, Protestant, nor any other denomination. I believe in the Bible, and the Bible alone and teach its truths with no respect to any denominational theologies. I do not belong to a church. I fellowship when possible with like-minded believers, who have abandoned the churches and denominations in favor of God's infallible truth.

What is presented here is what God says about Mary and devotion to her, not this author's personal opinion. What mankind or an institution of mankind says about her is irrelevant in terms of our eternal salvation. Mark 7:7 “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” We are not to supplant God's commandments with the doctrines and rules of man. Otherwise our worship is in vain. Man and his theories are fallible (even if that man presents himself as the voice of God), God's Word is not, and it is God's Word which shows us the way of salvation. We must put our trust in it and Him. Anything that contradicts God's clear Word is not truth. It is a lie and a deception. We must look for, and worship God within, the truth of His Word. John 4:24 “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” First, we are to worship God, not anybody else, and second, we must worship Him in truth, not with vain traditions of men, or erroneous theologies, or worthless sacrifices. What God wants is obedience to His laws, Word, and instructions more than acts of sacrifice, devotion, veneration, or worship. To do any of these latter things to anyone else is an abomination to Him. It is our faith in God and our obedience to Him that leads to salvation, not all the works, or acts of devotion or contrition, especially to someone other than Him. The following verses explain this from the Old Testament through to the New Testament.

Isaiah 1:11-20 “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” God is saying In this passage that without obedience to His laws or Word, that all the sacrifices, prayers, incense burning, etc., is an abomination to Him. If we want God to hear our prayers and accept our sacrifices, first we must be obedient, which means following the path of salvation that God says we must follow, then we must do things that are good, not evil, but with the right motive, not thinking it will earn us a way into heaven.

Justification from our sins comes from faith not works. (justification is not the same as salvation – see my posts at the following sites for more in depth study of justification, salvation, works, and eternal security.),, and

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast.” Luke 5:20, “And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.” Luke 7:50 “And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” Luke 18:42 “And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. Acts 26:18 “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Romans 3:25 “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” Romans 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:30 “Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.” Romans 4:5 “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 5:1 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” Galatians 2:16 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” These verses, and many more, tell us that it is faith in the blood of Jesus Christ, Yeshua, that gives us justification. If the reader has referenced my other blog articles above, he will see that justification is not the same as salvation. With no apologies to Protestants who believe in “faith alone” I present the following Scriptures and reference them to the above blog articles also that show that faith alone only gives justification, but does not ensure salvation.

The following verses (which are only a few of the many) show us that salvation requires more than justification. James 2:17, 20,24,26 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Again, there are many more verses, too many in fact, to go into here, so I recommend reading the articles listed above.

Getting back to the subject, obedience and faith comes first, and doing good comes as a result. Hosea 6:6 “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Again the message is that studying God's Word to understand and know His ways are more important than any devotions or acts of contrition or anything else that we can do. We need to know not only what is right, but what is wrong and avoid that. However, if you prefer to trust in man and his traditions and theologies, or to someone other than God, that is your choice, but eternity is a long time to pay for believing in man or another spirit over God.

Now to the study. Several centuries after Yeshua was resurrected, Mary started to become an important person in the church. Over the centuries she went from being a person of honor to a person who has essentially supplanted Yeshua as the Savior of the world. Now she is viewed as co-Savior (actually even more savior than co-savior), as a co-mediator between God and man (again she has been elevated to mediator rather than co-mediator), the person to whom prayers can be (and some think preferably) directed, the person who can get you into heaven behind the back of her Son and the Father, and the one who basically tells the Son what to do. We need to examine this doctrine of Mariolotry and see if it is Biblical or totally unscriptural.

The second issue to be addressed is these sightings of Mary. The past few centuries have been ones of multiple appearances of an apparition that has called herself the Virgin Mary. Is it truly Mary, or is it some other spirit impersonating Mary for the purpose of leading people astray? We will look at a number of these appearances and analyze them by the Word of Scripture to see how they stand up under scrutinization.

We first need to take a look at what the Scriptures say both about Mary, to learn something about her and her importance in the scheme of salvation and the overall plan of God, and how the practice of Mariolotry is carried out to see if it is acceptable according to the Word of God. We will then examine Scripturally what we are told to do when we are confronted with a spirit. Finally we will look at a number of sightings and see how they stand up against Scripture.

Our first introduction to Mary is found in Luke (and Matthew) when she is chosen to be the mother of Yeshua. She was espoused to Joseph at the time. The angel Gabriel is sent to announce to Mary the fact that she will be with child by the Holy Spirit. When Mary goes to visit her cousin Elisabeth, who is six months pregnant with John the Baptist, she praises God. It is important that we examine this passage, as it tells us Mary's attitude toward God and how she felt about herself in the scheme of things.

Luke 1:46-55 “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath hewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the might from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent away empty. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.”

Mary is praising God and calling Him her Savior. She does not see herself as a savior, but the Lord God as the Savior of Israel, and further, mankind and more specifically herself. She sees herself as being of low estate. She does not exalt herself up to an equal level with God. What human being, who truly believes in God, would dare to be so prideful. The first person to do that was Satan. Look where he ended up. Would Mary dare be so prideful as to magnify herself to the position of Savior or even co-Savior? This does not seem to be her attitude at all. She sees herself as a lowly handmaiden who is as needful of salvation as anybody else. She is aware that all generations will call her blessed, but not because she is important in and of herself. Nobody should think that of themselves. We are only instruments in God's hands and when He blesses someone with great importance in His plans, others look at that person and say how blessed they are to have been chosen by God to have a part in some work for God. In and of ourselves, we are nothing. To bring the Savior into the world was the greatest blessing any woman could have hoped for, and Mary is aware that all would look at her and say how blessed she was to have been chosen for this job. She does not consider that any of this is because she is better than anyone else, or that she plays any part other than simply bringing the Savior into the world. She states that God's mercy is on those who fear him and she fears Him. She also states that those who are full of pride are going to be put down. She would never exalt herself in pride or think that she is worthy of being worshiped. That would go against everything that she was (and incidentally still is) and has been taught, or God would not have chosen her at all to be the mother of His Son. In fact, she knows that God does not tolerate worship of any other than Himself. She knows the law or Torah, and especially the Ten Commandments. We will come back and visit this truth after we finish covering what the Bible says about Mary's life.

Next we see Mary having Yeshua and pondering all the things that are going on and being said about her baby. They have Yeshua circumcised and take him to the temple where Mary is given the prophecy that her heart will be pierced. The wise men come to worship Yeshua (not Mary) and Joseph is warned to take the family and flee to Egypt which they do. After Herod dies, they return to Nazareth to live. Then nothing is mentioned of their lives until Yeshua is of bar mitzvah age, twelve by their reckoning, thirteen by ours. They go to the feast in Jerusalem and go to the temple. The family went as a large family and friend group, and as Yeshua would now be considered a man, they were expecting Him to know what was going on and be with the group when they go home. He remained behind at the temple, and they had to go back to get him. Mary was upset with Him and chastised Him telling Him that His father and she were worried. He gives his mother her first rebuke (and Joseph also). First He asks them why they were looking for him. Did they not realize that he had to begin the task of being about his real Father's work? Part of the rebuke toward Mary was for calling Joseph His father. She knew he was not His real father. He lets them know He has to be about the work He was sent by His real Father to do. They had no clue as to what he was referring. Still, He followed them home, but Mary again pondered all these things in her heart. In spite of the fact that she knew she had carried a baby that was of the Holy Spirit, she still did not seem to fully understand the implications, as she wonders about all these things.

Now we jump ahead to Yeshua's ministry. At the first miracle we see that Yeshua and His mother are at a wedding (John 2). The host runs out of wine and Mary comes to Yeshua to have Him do something about it. Some speculate that it was a family wedding, and as it would be a disgrace to the family name to run out of wine at a party like this, she was desperate to find a way to prevent that from happening. Whether that was true or not, she was obviously looking to help the host. Apparently understanding by this time that Yeshua was the Son of God, she was hoping that He would be able to rectify the problem. His response is something that has shocked some, and been highly debated by others. For it seems that He is again rebuking His mother. First He calls her “woman.” In our day and age, that would be a “put you in your place” kind of reference. Whether or not it was in that day, it still seems disrespectful in that He is calling her something other than the respectful title she deserves of “mother.” It is followed by the phrase “what have I to do with thee.” Or if preferred, a direct translation is “what (is that) to me and you.” I do not know Greek idiomatic expressions, so do not know if that is why the translators slightly changed it in the translation. Either way, Yeshua is telling His mother, “No.” He tells her that His time has not yet come. In other words, it is not up to her to decide when He will begin doing that sort of thing, and how dare she try to tell Him what to do. Now that He has given her the rebuke to let her know that if He does do something, it has nothing to do with her asking, He decides, or is told by the Father, that it is indeed time to start His miracles. Knowing that all Scriptures is given by inspiration of God, the very reason for showing this rebuke and His refusal may be to show us that Mary is not in a position to tell the Son of God to do anything. It is not her place, nor her right. This is made quite clear through the two rebukes she has now received at Yeshua's hands. Once when he was twelve, and now again. The fact that He decides to do the miracle is not dependent upon her having asked it of Him. When she tells the servants to do whatever He says, she is showing faith and hoping that He will choose of His own accord to do something. He still could have refused. It is probably her display of faith in giving the servants instructions (and apparently His being told by the Father that His time had indeed come), that causes Him to do it rather than her asking it of Him. The important point here is that it is shown that Mary does not tell Yeshua what to do. It is not her place or right. She is supposed to be in submission. (See my article on a woman's submission to a man). She has stepped way, way over the line of God's rules of authority. Telling a man what to do would be bad enough. Telling God (incarnate) to do something? No. This was more than asking a son to go out and buy some wine. This was a spiritual thing, and women do not have spiritual authority over men.

In Matthew 13:53-38 (also repeated in Mark 6:1-4) there is a very important passage that is ignored by the Catholic church who believe Mary remained a virgin. The passage deals with Yeshua going back to his home town where he teaches in the synagogue. The context of this is extremely important so that it is not misunderstood. When Yeshua teaches in the synagogue, the reaction of the community is astonishment. They wonder how he could have so much wisdom and knowledge of the Scriptures. It must be remembered that these people (indeed nobody at that point) knew that He was the awaited Messiah. To the townspeople, this was merely “the carpenter's son.” As far as they were concerned, he was Joseph's and Mary's son. Then they mention the rest of the family. To the community he was identified as the brother of James, Joses, Simon, and Judas and a couple of sisters who are left unnamed. To repeat, by the people of the town, Yeshua is identified as being the son of Joseph and Mary and the sibling of their other children. Mary's children. Mary had other children. At least six others minimum, in fact. Possibly more. He had four brothers and at least two sisters. Yeshua then responds to the community's unbelief by saying that a prophet does not get honor from his own town and kin. This verifies that Yeshua has kin, at the very least six siblings.

Another verification of having siblings comes when Yeshua was speaking to some people (Matthew 12:46-50), and His mother and brothers wanted to talk to him, so they were waiting outside the place and sent in word that they wanted to see Him. Someone says to Yeshua that His mothers and brothers are outside and want to talk to Him. His response is to ask who are his mother and brothers. He waves his hand toward the disciples and says that they are His mother and brothers. This passage is often twisted to fit people's chosen beliefs. Instead we are going to look at it straightforward as intended. Again, nobody really understood who Yeshua was. When it says that Mary and His brothers were at the door, and someone told Him that His mother and brothers were at the door, that is exactly what is meant. They all knew Mary and her sons were Yeshua's family. They had no other understanding. Yeshua's answer cannot be retrofitted to the announcement that His family is there to mean that they are not his family, which is what some like to try to do. They try to make it mean that the people at the door were not his siblings, as He indicates that all believers are His family. That is a ridiculous exegesis. The other person was telling Yeshua his family was there. He meant Mary and her other sons. Yeshua on the other hand was indicating that those who believe in Him were His family and that His literal family no longer held the same level of importance in His life, now that He had embarked upon His ministry. He obviously did not mean that His disciples were His literal mother. He was indicating the change in His life away from His family. So again we see that Mary is said to have children, or that Yeshua has brothers.

In Matthew when Yeshua died, it mentions that Mary Magdalene, and Mary mother of Joses and James, and Zebedees children's mother were there to see the crucifixion. Matthew 28:1 tells us that Mary Magdalene and another Mary went to the tomb the morning of the resurrection. Mark 15:49 tells us that Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less, Joses and Salome were at the crucifixion. Mark 15:47, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of Joses watched to see where Yeshua was laid. In Luke 24:10 we are told that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James went to the tomb the morning of the resurrection to properly embalm Yeshua's body. In John 19:25-27 we are told that there were three Mary's at the cross. Mary, Yehsua mother, Mary's sister (whose name was also Mary) who was the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. The only Mary mentioned at the sepulchre in John is Mary Magdalene. The importance of these Scriptures are twofold. First, we must assume that the Mary, Yeshua's mother is going to be both at the crucifixion and at the tomb for the embalming. He is her son, and her responsibility. So, the Mary who is the mother of James, Joses, and Salome is Mary the mother of Yeshua. We already were told that He has two brothers name James and Joses, and we know He had several sisters. Now we also know the name of one of them. To verify that the Lord had a brother named James, we need only look at Galatians 1:19 “But other of the apostles say I none, save James the Lord's brother.” So we are again told that Mary the mother of Yeshua has other sons. James eventually becomes an apostle. The second thing of importance is Mary's lack of importance. In fact, Mary Magdalene gets more mention that Mary the mother of Yeshua does. Again, her importance is played down. She was the instrument through which the Messiah came, but other than that, she is not of importance. Not that that was not an important thing, but it did not qualify her to some place of importance that is simply not justified in any way by Scripture.

The last time we see Mary is when they were all awaiting the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:14 “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” One more time it is mentioned that Yeshua has brothers.

This then is what we are told about Mary in the Bible. To add to that is a sin against God. To make her be more than she is, is a sin against God. Nowhere in Scripture does it ever say she was conceived without sin. This is a doctrine of man's making. Nowhere does it say she remained a virgin. In fact the Bible, God's inerrant Word, tells us exactly the opposite. She had quite a large family. To make her remain a virgin is again a doctrine of man's making.

Now we must go back to what was mentioned when we discussed The Magnificat or Song of Mary when she magnifies the Lord. As mentioned at that time, Mary would never deliberately transgress God's laws. She was a righteous woman, which we know because she was chosen to be the mother of the Savior of the world. She would not only not transgress God's laws, but she would never, ever, under any circumstances ask us to transgress God's laws in an act of veneration, devotion, or worship of her. She simply would not do it. To understand what it is that she would never, ever, ask us to do, we need to see what God's laws say.

Exodus 20:3-5 “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, (statues of Mary are a no, no) or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” God equates making an image or likeness of someone or something else (such as a statue of Mary) and then bowing down or kneeling to it (as all good Catholics do to statues of Mary who reverence her) as hating Him. Did you understand that? Kneeling or bowing before a statue of Mary (or any other saint for that matter) to adore, pray, or light candles is exactly what is being described in this passage. God sees this as hatred of Him. Worse, it says that he will visit the punishment of this iniquity upon the third and fourth generation of those that do it. Mary would never, never break this commandment. Nor would she ask any of us to damn ourselves in this way. Let us look at more Scriptures about this.

Exodus 34:14 “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”

Leviticus 26:1 “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.”

To reiterate, Mary knew these verses, and the ones that will follow. The ones above tell us 1) God will not have anyone or anything other than Himself worshiped. He is a jealous God and will not tolerate us worshiping anything or one other than Him. 2) He does not want us making any images, of any person or thing to which we will kneel to or bow down or pray to. That makes them idols. Once more, to have a statue that you kneel to, pray to, or venerate in any way makes it an idol according to Scripture. Mary would never, ever ask anyone to break God's law in this way. She was a righteous woman.

A few more verses about idols from the New Testament are relevant.

Acts 15:20 “But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.”

Acts 21:25 “As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.”

1 Corinthians 10:14 “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.”

1 John 5:21 “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

To review, the Bible tells us that images or likeness of anything that is on earth or in heaven that is carved (or painted) and bowed down, kneeled down, or prayed to is an idol. Now back to verses about worshiping anything other than God.

Deuteronomy 8:19 “And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.”

Deuteronomy 11:16 “Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them.”

Deuteronomy 17:2-3,5 “If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded ….Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die. ”

Deuteronomy 30:17-18 “But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land ”

1 Kings 11:33 “Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father.” It should be noted here that Ashtoreth was the “Queen of Heaven.” That name has a long history which I covered in the articles about Mystery Babylon at the following sites. It has a direct connection to Mary having that name.

2 Chronicles 7:19-20 “But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them. Then will I pluck them up by the roots ...”

Psalms 81:9 “There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god.”

Psalms 97:7 “Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.” The reference to gods here is the false gods that are actually demonic spirits or fallen angels posing as gods. They are told that they should worship God too, which they once did if they were fallen angels.

Isaiah 2:8 “Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers

Isaiah 48:11 “For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.”

Jeremiah 1:16 “And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.”

Jeremiah 13:10 “This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.”

Jeremiah 25:6 “And go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt.”

Jeremiah 44:19 “And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?” Again the reference to the queen of heaven. If the reader has not read the posts on Babylon, it is really important to go back and do so.

Micah 5:13 “Thy graven images also will I cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee; and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands.”

These are some of the verses with which Mary would have been familiar and obeyed, as she was a very, very righteous woman, or she would not have been chosen to be the mother of our Lord. The following are verses that we have been given by God in the New Testament that continue this law.

Matthew 4:10 “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.”

Acts 19:27 “So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.” The temples of the ancient world that were built for Diana, Astarte, Ashtaroth, you name the goddess, were all renamed to be temples for the veneration of Mary or other female “saints.” Same temples, same pagan carvings on the walls, same candlesticks, etc. Just a different name applied to the entrance. Should Christians be doing this in light of all the Scriptures that have just been quoted?

Romans 1:25 “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature (created being) more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Colossians 2:18 “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,” The voluntary worshiping and humbling of oneself to a heavenly person makes you lose your reward of salvation.

Clearly God has a problem with us worshiping anything or anyone other than Him.

So now, if you are still with me at this point, I can hear the constant muttering, “but we don't WORSHIP her, we only venerate her, give her devotions, and pray to her so it is all right.” I know this because, as I said at the beginning, I do have a lot of Catholic family, and I do talk to them. This is not the first time I have heard this response. My reply is - really? You do not think you worship her? Shall we look at some definitions to see if that is true or not?

Let us start with the definition of veneration as that seems to be the least close in proximity to worship. The following definitions come from multiple sources and may be repetitious at times.

  1. to hold in deep respect; revere

  2. to honor in recognition of qualities of holiness, excellence, wisdom, etc.

  3. profound reverence, respect or awe

  4. to regard with reverential respect or with admiring deference

So far we seem to be okay. It is perfectly all right to hold Mary in respect as a woman of excellence and holiness. She deserves that. Now what are some of the other definitions.

  1. regard with feelings of respect and reverence, consider hallowed or exalted or be in awe of.

  2. Fear: a feeling of profound respect for someone or something.

  3. Idolatry: religious zeal

  4. religious zeal, idolatry, or devotion.

  5. To honor (as an icon or a relic) with a ritual act of devotion.

Now we are not so quite so good. Hallowed means sacred. Mary was a righteous woman, but sacred? Exalt? Should she be exalted above other people? Are we not told to treat people all alike and not regard some as more important than others? James 2:9 “But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.” Fear? Why should we fear Mary? She has no power over us. Oh dear, idolatry? To venerate can mean to make someone an idol, in fact idolatry is coupled in both definitions with religious zeal and devotion. Both which seem to accompany the veneration of Mary. And the last one? Not good at all. To honor with a ritual act of devotion? Now we have truly defined how people treat Mary. They do perform ritual acts of devotion to her. So venerating Mary can qualify as an act of devotion. Now to say that someone only venerates Mary does not sound quite Biblically approved. But you say, “Devotion is not the same as worship, so it is all right.” Okay, let's look at the definition of devotion.

The following are the multiple definitions of devotion that can be found.

  1. Ardent, often selfless affection and dedication, as to a person or principle.

  2. An act of religious observance or prayer

  3. Strong attachment to or affection for a cause, person, etc. marked by dedicated loyalty

  4. profound dedication. Consecration

  5. earnest attachment to a cause, person

  6. the act of devoting; consecration.

  7. The state of being devoted; addiction; eager inclination; strong attachment, love, or affection, zeal; especially feelings expressed by acts of worship

  8. devoutness

  9. acts of devotedness or devoutness, manifestation of strong attachment

  10. acts of worship, prayer

  11. an act of prayer or private worship

There is no problem with strong affection for a person marked by loyalty, however usually it is for people who are still alive and can benefit from this devotion. Mary cannot. She is in heaven. We do run into problems though with words like “consecrate” which means “give entirely over to a specific person, activity, or cause; vow: dedicate to a deity by a vow or render holy by means of religious rites.” We should not be giving ourselves entirely over to anyone other than God when speaking of our spiritual life. We should not be making vows to anyone but God in our spiritual life. We cannot render Mary holy by any religious rite that we do, anymore than we can make each other holy by a religious rite. The only thing that makes us holy is 1) being cleansed by the blood of Christ, and 2) living a life that is obedient and consecrated to the Lord (not Mary). Finally we see that devotion is marked by acts of worship which include prayer. So devotion manifests itself through acts of worship, one which is prayer (and others which are rites).

But you argue, “prayer is not an act of worship.” So let us look at the definition of prayer.

Prayer is defined as the following:

  1. the act of communicating with a deity.

  2. Reverent petition to a deity

  3. a fixed text used in praying

  4. a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional connection to some greater power in the universe through deliberate intentional practice. (Wow that was a mouthful)

  5. prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private.

  6. A practice of communicating with one's God

  7. a reverent petition made to God, a god, or another object of worship

  8. the act of communion with God, a god, or another object of worship, such as in devotion, confession, praise, or thankgiving.

  9. A specially worded form used to address God, a god, or another object of worship

  10. a personal communication or petition addressed to a deity, especially in the form of supplication, adoration, praise, contrition, or thanksgiving

  11. any other form of spiritual communion with a deity

  12. the act of addressing supplication to a divinity, especially to the true God,

  13. the offering of adoration, confession, supplication, and thanksgiving to a Supreme Being

According to the definitions of prayer, it is a form of communication to God , a god or deity, or another object of worship, in an act of worship that allows the practitioner to offer praise, thanksgiving, petitions, adoration, confession, and contrition. It is clear that prayer is a form of worship. To pray to someone is to offer them worship in the form of praise, adoration, thanksgiving, contrition, etc.

Let us get back to idolatry for a moment. The definition of idolatry is the following:

  1. The worship of images that are not God.

  2. The worship of any cult image, idea, or object, as opposed to the worship of a monotheistic God. It is considered a major sin in the Abrahamic religions.

  3. Blindly or excessively devoted or adoring.

  4. The worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.

  5. The worship of images supposed to represent spirits, gods, or etc.

  6. an idol is anything that replaces the one, true God. The most prevalent form of idolatry in Bible times was the worship of images that were thought to embody the various pagan deities.

  7. Blind or excessive devotion to something.

  8. Great devotion or reverence to something other than God.

  9. Love unquestioningly and uncritically or to excessively

  10. venerate as an idol

So we see that idolatry, which is strictly forbidden by God is veneration or worship of images that are not God, excessive devotion to something other than God, love unquestioningly and uncritically (this is important later on), or anything that replaces God.

Let us finish this up with a look at the definition of the word “worship.”

  1. an act of religious devotion

  2. a feeling of profound love and admiration

  3. the devotion accorded to a deity or to a sacred object; the religious ceremonies that express this devotion;

  4. the ardent love of a person

  5. to honor and adore, especially as a deity

  6. to participate in religious ceremonies

  7. adore, regard with deep or rapturous love

  8. the paying of religious reverence, as in prayer, praise

  9. the reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object

  10. the ceremonies, prayers, or other religious forms by which this love is expressed

  11. ardent devotion, adoration

  12. to honor and love as a deity

  13. to regard with ardent or adoring esteem or devotion

  14. to participate in religious rites of worship

  15. to perform an act of worship (such as prayer, rites, etc.)

  16. to show profound religious devotion and respect to

  17. adore or venerate (here is that word that seemed so innocuous at first)

  18. to be devoted to and full of admiration for

  19. to have or express feelings of profound adoration

  20. religious adoration or devotion

  21. the formal expression of religious adoration, rites, prayers, etc.

  22. admiring love or devotional

  23. extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem

  24. venerate – regard with feelings of respect and reverence; consider hallowed or exalted

  25. veneration – idolatry, religious zeal

  26. to honor with a ritual act of devotion

  27. show devotion as to a deity

  28. attending religious services

I think if someone does venerate Mary and they are honest with themselves after all these definitions and explanations, they have to admit that they do worship Mary. And God has clearly said that He will not tolerate anyone worshiping anyone or anything other than Himself (and His Son who is part of the Trinity and therefore God also). Mary would never ask people to worship her. She knows that is a sin that is punishable to the third and fourth generation. We have seen that prayer, veneration, acts of devotion, contrition, etc. are all forms of worship. As much as you might want to deny it, the Scriptures are clear, and the definitions confirm it. Mariolotry is a sin. How much do you love God? How much do you want to live in truth? How much do you want to get to heaven? How much is Mary worth to you?

Now we come to other doctrines. 1) That she is a mediatrix or co-mediator. By what right? We are told in 1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Mary did not die for our sins. Mary cannot grant us forgiveness of sins. Mary cannot even intervene on our behalf. Remember Yeshua's rebukes? She does not tell Yeshua what to do. She is not the mother of God the Father. She was the very human mother of the incarnate Son of God and was a sinner just as the rest of us are. She needed salvation just as we all do. Romans 3:10 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” There is none righteous. That means Mary too. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” None of these verses say, “except Mary.” 2) that she is a redeemer. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” If all the verses about salvation were to be quoted, not in a single one would anyone other than the Lord Jesus Christ be mentioned as being the redeemer. Mary is not a redeemer. She is not even a co-redeemer. She cannot get you into heaven through a back door when Christ would say you cannot come. She is not our escort to heaven. These are man-made traditions and beliefs, not things that were taught by God through the apostles. Paul addresses this fact 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” Galatians 1:6 “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” To make Mary a co-redeemer or co-mediator or anything else other that simply the human mother of Christ is to accept another gospel. 3) Mary has some authority over Yeshua. We need only look at the three rebukes that she receives in Scripture to see that every time she tried to exercise spiritual authority over Him, He put her in her place and let her know that she was being presumptuous and prideful instead of humbling herself to His spiritual authority. (See my article on women's submissiveness on this blog). She was a righteous woman, but everybody has their moments. And being His mother, she thought that entitled her to certain privileges. He taught her that it did not, and He taught us that it did not entitle her to those privileges. He knew the future and knew what people were going to do regarding her. He had to have the example set forth in Scripture that she did not have this authority so that we could refer to it and not be deceived. To review, the three times she received a rebuke was 1) at the temple when He was twelve and He basically told her that Joseph was not His father, but that God was and He needed to be about His true Father's business. 2) when Mary asked Him to take care of the wine problem and He told her that He was not going to do her bidding, as she was not the boss of Him, as they colloquially say around here. Even though He did do it after, it was not because she asked Him to, but that the Father must have made it clear that it was, as Yeshua had said that His time was not yet come. So the Father had to have told Him that it had. Possibly the timing and the request was such that again, an example of rebuking Mary was put in the Bible for our benefit. 3) the time when she and Yeshua's brothers came and interrupted His work, wanting to talk to Him for some reason. His answer was a rebuke that they really should not be bothering Him when He was about His father's business. They should catch Him at a better time. In none of these instances does she argue back to the rebuke that He is being disrespectful. She takes it. Three rebukes. Is there a special meaning in the fact that she receives three rebukes in Scripture? I don't honestly know. It is enough though to prove that she is not the boss of Christ. 4) Can we pray to Mary for intervention? Yeshua taught us how to pray, and it did not begin with “Our Mother which art in heaven.” I believe we need not go any further with that argument.

Now to the history. When and why exactly did Mary come to be important, for she was not thought to be important for some time after Yeshua was resurrected. From what I have been able to ascertain, devotion to Mary goes back to the 2nd century and predates the emergence of a specific Marian liturgical system in the 5th century, following the First Council of Ephesus in 431. The Council itself was held at a church in Ephesus which had been dedicated to Mary about a hundred years before. In Egypt the veneration of Mary had started in the 3rd century and the term Theotokos was used by Origen, the Alexandrian Father of the Church. ( ed. note, Origen was a heretic see note * below). The earliest known prayer is from the 3rd century. By the 5th century churches were being dedicated to Mary. As already covered, many Catholics honestly believe that they do not worship Mary, so their devotion to her is acceptable. It is merely veneration and devotion, not worship, not idolatry. They merely pray to her and adore her, and that they do not exalt her to equality with God. It has already been shown that Mariolotry is worship and is a sin, so we do not need to revisit that. To show that there is approved worship by the Church, we can look to the Seven Sorrows of Mary as an example. The Seven Sorrows of Mary seems to be a popular devotion of the Roman Catholic Church. There is a prayer which consists of meditations on her Seven Sorrows. There is a corresponding devotion to her Seven Joys.

* Origen taught the following doctrines, which classifies him as a heretic. He was making the Son inferior to the Father. This teaching was a precursor of Arianism, a 4th-century heresy that denied that the Father and the Son were of the same substance. He spiritualized away the resurrection of the body. He denied hell, speculated about pre-existent souls and world cycles, and turned the history of the Bible into myth by using allegorical interpretation, creating a type of Gnostic Christianity. Gnosticism was a heretical movement that held that matter was evil and the spirit good.

Now we come to the appearances of the spirit who calls itself Mary. Before we actually look at these appearances, we need to see what Scripture tells us to do when confronted with an spiritual apparition, no matter who it says it is.

1 John 4:1-3 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”

The first question that must be asked of all of the appearances of the so-called Virgin Mary is this. Has anyone ever put her to the test and asked these questions? The emphatic answer is “NO!” There is never any question that she is anyone other than whom she says she is. That is the first huge mistake. Had the questions ever been put to her, people might be quite surprised at the answer. It does not matter that she says she is the mother of Christ, or that He is her Son. Satan can quote Scripture better than anyone, and can say anything he wants in the way of twisting the truth, and you have to be really smart and well-versed in your Scriptures to catch him. The people being appeared to are usually children, who have no discernment about all this. Of course Satan is going to go where deception is easy. Had the priests and adults known their Scriptures, they could have prepared the children to respond to her in the appropriate manner at second and consequent sightings, but they did not. Everyone just assumed it was Mary and that the appearance was real. By now, we should suspect that these appearances are not, for we are told that Satan appears as an angel of light, with all lying signs and wonders. 2 Corinthians 11:14 “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10 “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” We are told that there will be deception by Satan who transforms himself into an angel of light and he works with lying signs and wonders. Is this not exactly what these appearances have been doing? What about the sun dancing in the sky, which supposedly has happened at Fatima and Knock, Ireland, just to name two places. I do not know if it has happened elsewhere. That “miracle” seems a little similar to the miracle of the false prophet in Revelation 13:13 “And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.” Satan is capable of great wonders, and so are his demons. We should not immediately assume that a spirit is good simply because it does a miracle. Even if that miracle seems to be a good one. Satan will, for the purposes of deception, do “good” miracles if it leads people away from Christ. He does not care if someone is healed if, in the end, he gets their soul. He will use any method that works. So having said all that, let us now look to some of these appearances.

Our Lady of Guadolupe

The account published in the 1640s tells how on December 9, 1531, a peasant named Juan Diego saw a vision of a young girl of fifteen or sixteen surrounded by light on the slopes of the Hill of Tepeyac. The young woman asked for a church to be built at that site in her honor, and from what she was saying, Diego assumed she was the Virgin Mary. After telling his tale, the archbishop sent him back with the instructions to ask the young woman for a miracle to prove her claim. She told Diego to gather some flowers, which would have been under normal circumstances impossible, due to the fact that it was winter. He found lots of flowers and took them back to the archbishop in a cloak. When the cloak was opened an imprint of the young woman was on the fabric. Following this, a temple to the mother-goddess was destroyed and a temple built for this new virgin, assumed to be Mary the mother of Christ. The archbishop preached a sermon promoting devotion to the young woman. His stand was answered back by Francisco de Bustamante, head of the colony's Franciscans who gave a sermon expressing his concern that the archbishop was promoting superstition. He said, “The devotion that has been growing in a chapel dedicated to Our Lady, called of Guadalupe, in this city is greatly harmful for the natives, because it makes them believe that the image ….is in any way miraculous.” There are now eight buildings throughout Mexico, America, and the Philippines that have been built purely for the devotion of this Lady of Guadolupe.

Let us examine this account. First, a young woman of fifteen or sixteen appeared. While I am not necessarily of the opinion that if we die in old age, we are forced to look like that throughout eternity, I do not believe that Mary has been reduced back to a fifteen or sixteen year old. In fact, in her other appearances, I believe she appears to be twice that age. Why would she keep changing ages? While that is merely observation on my part, I think it begs to be questioned. The next problem is Diego's reaction. It says he “assumes” that she is Mary from things that she says. Apparently she did not identify herself as such, but let him make the assumption. In other words, led him along to make an erroneous assumption that she wanted him to come to. His reaction should have been to ask the questions that we are told to ask of spirits. Instead he comes to the erroneous conclusion that she is Mary. Then she asks something that clearly is unscriptural. She asks that a church be built to honor her. While Diego might not have been grounded enough in the Word of God to know how terribly wrong and sinful this was, the archbishop has no such excuse. He should have sent Diego back to test her, and refused the request, which is so obviously a sin. Instead the archbishop asks for a miracle, the absolutely wrong thing to do, and the wrong way to test a spirit. They are perfectly capable of performing miracles and are more than happy to oblige to lead people astray. She happily complies, as she knows she has them under her charms and can get them to do what she wants. The only one with sense is de Bustamante who recognizes that this is superstition, which comes from the devil and is harmful. Testing this appearance against Scripture and common sense, I think that it can be seen that this was most certainly not Mary.

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

In this account Catherine Laboure says that on the night of July 18, 1830 she was awoken when a child's voice called her to the chapel in Paris where she heard the voice of what she assumes to be Mary say to her, “God wishes to charge you with a mission. You will be contradicted, but do not fear; you will have the grace to do what is necessary.” On November 27 of that year the apparition returned. Her appearance was described as follows: “she displayed herself inside an oval frame, standing upon a glove, wearing many reings of different colors, most of which shone rays of light over the globe. Around the margin of the frame appeared the words (I will simply put the English translation) O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” The frame rotated showing a circle of twelve stars, the letter M surmounted by a cross, and the “Sacred Heart of Jesus” crowned with thorns with the “Immaculate Heart of Mary” pierced with a sword. This apparition tells Catherine that this image should be put on medallions for people to wear and that they will gain graces as a result.

Again, there was no testing of this spirit, and again from the accounts it seems that the person simply assumes that it is Mary. This Mary charges Catherine with the task of having the image she sees, imprinted on medallions which people are now supposed to wear for the purpose of gaining graces from her. She is also told that she will be contradicted in this request. At no time is this spirit tested. Again, the request is in violation of God's clear laws, and Catherine is even told to expect to be opposed on this. Of course Satan knows that anyone who knows the Word of God would oppose this clear violation of God's commands. Again, he preys on the ignorance of the person, and counts on their being overwhelmed by being chosen to receive this vision. The sin really lies more with the clergy who permit this and do not point out Scripturally why it is wrong, and go and test the spirit.

Lady of Lourdes

On February 11, 1858 a small girl appears to Bernadette Soubirous and her sisters, Toinette, and Jeanne Abadie in the Grotto of Massabielle. At first the girls are not believed. They return to the Grotto with holy water as a test that the spirit is not evil. When thrown at the spirit, it does nothing. Bernadette goes into a state of ecstasy or trance. She is told by the apparition to return to the Grotto over the next two weeks. The spirit promises her happiness not in this world, but in the next. The authorities take an interest and forbid Bernadette to ever go to the Grotto again. She goes anyhow and the spirit asks for prayer and penitence for the conversion of sinners. Bernadette is asked to dig in the ground and drink the water from the spring that she finds. The spring becomes a stream and goes from muddy to clean. The water is given to medical patients and miracles begin to be reported. Some miracles are proven to be hoaxes. The authorities and Church become concerned and the Grotto is fenced off with penalties for trespassing. Lourdes becomes a national issue resulting in the involvement of Emperor Napoleon III, who orders the grotto reopened. The Church stays out of the controversy. Bernadette visits the Grotto under the cover of dark and is told that the apparition is the “Immaculate Conception.” Bernadette is again in a trance and is not hurt when her hands are held over a burning candle. On November 17, 1858 the Church launches an investigation. On January 18, 1860 the local bishop declares that the Virgin Mary did appear. All recent Popes have visited this shrine.

This time a small girl appears to a young teenager. Whether this apparition continues to appear as a small girl or not, I do not know, but the paintings show the spirit as a lady, not a small girl. So again, why the appearances as a young girl? Next, the spirit does not identify itself for quite a while and when it does, it calls itself the immaculate conception. As we know from Scripture that all are born in sin except our Lord, this is a blatant lie. Mary was not immaculately conceived without sin. This is not Scriptural and this is not Mary. Next, the test is not the questions that God has told us to ask, but the throwing of “holy water.” Nowhere in the Bible is holy water ever mentioned as such, much less conceived of as a test for evil spirits. The only “holy” water that existed at all was the water of purification in the Old Testament, but that was purified by the red heifer's ashes, which no longer exist. Therefore there can be no “holy water” until a red heifer again is sacrificed and burned to get the ashes. The next thing that is of concern is Bernadette's trances. Trances are an occultic practice, not a Christian one. It is during trances that evil or demonic spirits can enter into an individual. The spirit asks for prayers and penitence, something to which nobody is entitled except our Lord. It is an act of worship and nobody but God is entitled to worship. Not only that, she promises conversion of sinners for this worship. God is the only one who can convert a sinner. Again, there is the report of miracles, but some are hoaxes. Neither Christ nor His apostles were ever guilty of hoax miracles. This is not a sign of God. This is not Mary, this is an evil spirit impersonating Mary, just as all the others have been so far. Everything that they ask is in direct violation of God's commands. Mary would never do such a thing. Satan however does.

Lady of Pont-main

During a war that was being waged near Pont-main on January 17, 1871 the Barbadette family's son Eugene looked into the evening sky and saw a lady appear above the roof of a neighbor. As the townspeople gathered amidst the commotion, the children could see the apparition, but the adults could not. The children see a banner that has a message that seems to not make sense in its entirety. Then a cross appears in her hands and the figure of the crucified Christ appears. Late that night the invasion is stopped and the armistice is signed. On the same evening of the lady's appearance, the Prussian troops stop their advance and the general is reported to have said “We cannot go farther. Yonder, in the direction of Brittany, there is an invisible Madonna barring the way.”

As always, there is no test of the spirit, but an acceptance without question, and without identification by the apparition that she is Mary. The closest that these apparitions come is to talk about their Son or in this case to show a crucified Christ. Well, Christ is no longer on a cross, nor does He appear that way. One only need read the Bible (the gospels for His resurrected appearance, and Revelation for His present heavenly and present appearance) to know that Christ does not appear like that. Again, it is to children that this spirit appears. The innocents who do not know what to do or think, but only to believe. The adults, who should know what to do to test this spirit do not, including the sisters (nuns) on the scene. The fact that the general identified this apparition as the “Madonna” (again one should see the articles on Babylon that posted above to see where this term “Madonna” originated), is not any kind of verification. By this time, with the various appearances, people have started to associate a certain look with Mary. Usually blue and white robes, roses, etc. It is always an assumption. The spirit so far has been very careful not to come out and say that she is the mother of Jesus Christ, the incarnated Son of the Living God. She always makes obscure references that imply who she is, but she never really states it. Why is that do you think? Maybe because she is not allowed by God to go that far in her deception.

Lady of Pellevoisin

In 1876 Estelle Faguette, from Pellevoisin lay dying at the age of 33. After having been told by the doctor she only had a short time to live, she had a visitation by an apparition. This spirit appeared fifteen times to her over the course of time. The first few times her appearance was accompanied by a demon. The spirit tells Estelle that she is the mistress of her son and that he loves her so very much that he will touch even the most hardened hearts to turn to her. She says that she has come to save sinners and that her son will let Estelle live to make her glory known. She shows Estelle her sins and “tells her off severely” (Estelle's words). At a subsequent appearance she tells Estelle that she (Estelle) has set her sins right by self-denial. She tells Estelle that she “holds sway” with her son. She showed Estelle a white scapular with a picture of the sacred heart on it and told her that it should be used in reparation to her son. She also tells Estelle that wherever she goes she should proclaim Mary's glory and not pay any attention to what people say about Estelle doing this. At another vision she tells Estelle that her son can refuse her (Mary) nothing, because he loves her so much. At one visit she tells Estelle that she did not appear because Estelle needed to perform an act of submission and obedience. At one point the spirit tells her that she loves the devotion that the scapular is bringing her. She says that she will pour grace out on those who wear it in devotion to her. These appearances have never been spoken by the Church either for or against it.

The first few visits are accompanied by a demon. Wow, what a give away! And nobody questioned this? There are no questions asked of this spirit to test it. Again, if the accounts that are published are accurate, this spirit never really claims to be Mary, but implies it through talking about “her son.” She lets people assume it and then goes from there. This spirit is asking for worship (major sin) by telling Estelle to make her glory known, to make scapulars for people to wear in devotion for her, and tells Estelle she is withholding visits because Estelle needs to perform more acts of obedience and submission to her. Really? Where are we ever told in the Bible to be submissive and obedient to Mary? We are to be obedient to God. Then the spirit claims that her son (whom she implies is Jesus Christ) does whatever she tells him and wants, because he can refuse her nothing, because he loves her so. Really? He had no problem with that when He was here on earth. He rebuked her three times that we know of, and that is only the rebukes that were recorded for our benefit. Why would he have any trouble rebuking her now, especially when she is totally usurping His authority and claiming worship for herself, in clear violation of God's commands. Obviously this is all lies.

Holy Mother of Geitrzwald, Poland

In Gietrzwald, Poland on June 27, 1877, coming home from church with her mother, a girl, Justyna, sees a woman in the boughs of a tree. A child (baby Jesus) comes down from heaven to the woman and they both ascend to heaven. The next day, Justyna and her friend Barbara see in the trees a woman on a throne with a baby on her lap, who is holding a ball with a cross on the top of it. They are surrounded by angels. The angels crown the woman. On the third appearance, Justyna asks what the “holy mother” wants and is told to pray the rosary every day. At the next visit the apparition says that she is the Most Holy Virgin Mary Immaculately Conceived. She is asked if the people who come will be healed, and she says that they will after, but they have to pray the rosary.

As usual, there are no tests applied to verify this spirit. The first problem we see here is apparition that is supposed to be baby Jesus. I hate to disappoint believers in this, but Jesus is no longer a baby. Read your Bible. Jesus is described quite differently both in the gospels after his resurrection, and in Revelation he is described even more differently, and more frighteningly for those who do not love Him. He is no child, and He does not, nor will He ever appear as one. This is a lie concocted by Satan to take worship away from Yeshua and give it to the spirit who calls herself Mary. The angels crown her? Exactly what is that supposed to indicate, that she is queen of heaven? That term is (if you have read the articles on Babylon) an occultic term for the pagan woman in the mother/son spirit combination who is worshiped in pagan religions. She always has a baby on her lap too. Her name is sometimes Astarte, sometimes Isis, etc. She goes by many names, and she always looks like the visions of Mary. Mary was not immaculately conceived. Scripture is very clear on this. She is lying.

Our Lady of Knock

On August 21, 1879, two women from Knock, Ireland were passing the church and saw against the back wall a woman, two men whom they believed to be St. Joseph, St. John, an altar with a lamb and cross, and several angels flying around. Everyone understood her to be the virgin Mary, (and in this account she is called the Queen of Angels). Other villagers saw them too. Some healings are associated with the location.

Again, people understood her to be Mary. She did not say she was, and apparently the others were also understood to be these people based on various artists versions of what people thought they should look like. There was no testing of these spirits as there never are. And Mary is not the queen of angels. Angels have no queen. Where this unscriptural belief comes from I have no idea. It certainly is not found in the Bible.

Our Lady of Fatima

On May 1, 1917, Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto were near their home in Fatima, Portugal. Lucia saw a woman who she described as being brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light (as pictured in paintings). She also appeared again. The woman told the children to do penance and acts of reparation and make sacrifices to save sinners. The children performed acts of mortification of the flesh. They were also asked to pray the rosary every day saying that it was the key to personal and world peace. The woman also gave the children three secrets. Thousands of people went to the area due to reports of miracles. The children were jailed for essentially disturbing the peace. They were interrogated, trying to get them to reveal the three secrets. The apparition promised a miracle for the last of her appearances. It became known as the “Miracle of the Sun.” A crowd of approximately 70.000 gathered to see. It had been raining, but ceased and the sun was clouded over. Lucia said people should look at the sun. Witnesses said the sun appeared to change colors and rotate like a wheel. The first secret was about a vision of Hell. The second secret was on how to save souls from Hell, convert the world to Roman Catholicism, and bring about world peace. God would do this by establishing world devotion to Mary. She also asks for Russia to be consecrated to her, and if done Russia would be converted and an era of peace would follow. Pope Pius XII did consecrate Russia to her as testified in a letter he wrote on July 7, 1952. “In 1952 the Pope reminded the Russian people and the Stalinist regime that the Virgin Mary was always victorious. 'The gates of hell will never prevail, where she offers her protection. She is the good mother, the mother of all, and it has never been heard, that those who seek her protection, will not receive it. With this certainty, the Pope dedicates all people of Russia to the immaculate heart of the Virgin. She will help! Error and atheism will be overcome with her assistance and divine grace.'” “Lucia said that the Lady emphasized Acts of Reparation and prayers to console Jesus for the sins of the world. Lucia said Mary's words were 'When you make some sacrifice, say 'O Jesus, it is for your love, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary'.'” [quotes from Wickipedia]

As usual, no testing of the spirit. Again the spirit does not have to identify itself as by now everybody thinks Mary looks like this, so assumes it is Mary. This vision once again appears as the pictures and drawings of Mary and all the pagan mother goddesses that have been drawn, carved, or painted over the millennia. The children are told to do things that are abominable, to convert sinners. That is not how people are saved. It is through faith in Jesus Christ, and our bringing the gospel to them, not self mortification of our bodies. Praying the rosary will not bring world peace. Peace will never come until Christ returns. This miracle of the sun (again) is something that does not prove anything except that the spirit has powers. She says that God will bring world peace if everyone devotes themselves to Mary? Has anybody been reading their Bible at all? Nowhere would you ever read in the Bible anything as sacrilegious as this statement. This is vile. This is saying that God wants the world, the entire world to worship Mary. God has clearly stated that He will tolerate nobody but Himself (and His Son who is part of the Trinity) being worshiped. This is a blatant satanic lie by this spirit. If people knew their Scripture, they would immediately know that something is terribly wrong with this spirit. It is most certainly not from God. Another proof is the promise of world peace and conversion of Russia if it is consecrated to Mary. Has that happened? No. Another lie. Why do people not consider that a lie like this is a test that shows it is not from God. God does not lie. And reparation is to be made for sins against Mary? Not against God, but against Mary? When we sin, it is against God, not against Mary. We do not make reparations for sins against her, first because our sins are against God, and second, it is worship of Mary to do so, which is a sin in itself.

Lady at Beauraing

On November 19, 1932 a spirit appeared to five children in Beauraing. When she appeared the children were thrown to their knees by the spirit. The spirit appeared more than 30 times over time. The children were not believed and doctors had tested the children who were in trances. The spirit tells them that she wants a church built for people to make pilgrimages. She calls herself the Queen of Heaven and Mother of God and tells them she will convert sinners and that they should offer themselves up to her.

Need I repeat that there is no testing of the spirit at this point, as these spirits are never tested as we are instructed to do by God. The children are put in a state of trance, which is an occult practice, and as such is considered an abomination by God. She wants a church built for her (no surprise) and elevates herself with the usual titles. She again promises to convert sinners, something of which she is completely incapable as only the Holy Spirit can do that. And people are supposed to offer themselves up to her, not God.

Lady of Banneax

In 1933 a spirit chose one of eleven children in the town of Banneax to be her mouthpiece. Mariet Beco was looking out in the garden and sees a young woman who is all light and very beautiful. Her immediate response (as usual) is to assume it is Mary. The spirit wants Mariet to come to her, but her mother suspects it is a witch and locks Mariet in. Mariet goes to the window and asks the spirit what it wants. The spirit tells her that she wants a chapel built. (Why am I not surprised)

Reader, are you beginning to get the pattern yet? No testing. No identification, but assumption as to the identity, which the spirit plays along with. What is wanted? This time a chapel. It is usually a church and devotion of some kind. In other words, worship. Taking worship away from God. This is her goal. Do you see the truth yet?

There have been many, many more visions of Mary in numerous venues. Some places that have seen this spirit are Medjugorje, Egypt, Chicago, Vietnam, Rwanda, and Lebanon.

If one is truly honest, and truly loves God and His Word, it is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that these apparitions are not Mary the human mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is an evil spirit impersonating Mary, defaming her name and honor as a righteous woman who would never, ever ask the blasphemous things that this spirit is asking. It is asking people to worship it above God. It has set itself up as being greater than God and one who tells God what to do. This is exactly what Satan tried to do. This is exactly who is behind these visitations. Satan has always wanted to be higher than God and have people worship him. Most people would never deliberately worship him as satanists do, but if he can trick them into worshiping him by some other way he will. He does not care who it is, as long as it is not God, and this spirit is taking worship away from God. She is telling the world that she will save sinners. She has no ability to do that. She is not God, she did not die for our sins, she is not Mary and she lies. How much proof is needed? I have no more to say, as there is nothing more to say if all of this has not convinced you. May God have mercy on your souls if you have read all this and still want to worship her.