Saturday, August 20, 2022

The Dangers of Meme Theology

In the weeks and months after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Dobbs case, with the result being the reversal of Roe v. Wade, many of my fellow pro-life advocates have shared the following meme on social media:

The meme is somewhat clever, and it makes the point that an unplanned pregnancy is not necessarily a tragic thing.

The problem is, the meme is also false.

The Virgin Mary's pregnancy, where she carried the Son of God, was in no way unplanned.

First, an "unplanned pregnancy," for the most part, refers to a pregnancy that results from two people willingly engaging in sexual intercourse, and either not using contraception, or the contraceptive measures failing. (A pregnancy resulting from rape or incest -- which is actually also a form of rape when one of the people is underage -- would be an unintended, unplanned consequence of the activity, but in this case the activity itself is criminal, so this is a different category of "unplanned" results, as the activity itself was not planned by one of the people involved.)

There was no sexual activity involved in the virginal conception. Jesus' birth was not the result of a divine being taking human form and having his way with a mortal woman, as in the mythology surrounding so may heroes of Greek and Roman lore. Though the Bible doesn't give us the details of the mechanics of it all, the Holy Spirit supernaturally formed in Mary's womb the zygote that would proceed through nine months of development and be born in Bethlehem. 

Second, the angel Gabriel visited Mary and explained to her what was going to happen, and Mary willingly agreed to be used by God as the vessel for the birth of the Messiah. She didn't just one month realize she was late on her period, and discover she was pregnant. She had been told that this was God's plan to bring salvation to the world, and she consented to be part of that plan.

So, when we actually stop and think about things, we realize that there was absolutely nothing unplanned about Mary's pregnancy and Jesus' birth. It was all part of God's master plan to bring salvation and redemption to the world, and Mary was a willing participant in the plan going in.

All this is to make the point that we should stop, reflect, and analyze before we pass along memes or pithy sayings. The thought and heart behind them may be noble, but if they are not truthful and accurate when it comes to handling God's word, we should refrain from passing them on. As the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

(My initial title for this article was going to include the term "bumper sticker theology," and while people do still put bumper stickers on their vehicles to make statements, memes are much more prevalent in our modern world. I guess I'm just a child of the eighties trying to keep up with the lingo.) 

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