We learn from The Bible that after Mary’s involuntary impregnation by God, Joseph considers his options. We ask, Did God let Joseph unnecessarily doubt his wife’s integrity?
The Immaculate Conception
Luke 1:26–38 tells the story of ‘The Annunciation’, where the angel Gabriel visits Mary to inform her that she will conceive a child by The Holy Ghost and the child will be the Son of God. At the time of the conception, Mary was visiting her relative Elizabeth in the Judean hills to the south of her home in Nazareth where her husband Joseph was staying.
Now, when did Joseph find out?
Mary returned to Nazareth when she was three months pregnant. The account from Matthew 1:18-22 tells us that when Joseph learns of the pregnancy, his first thought of course is that Mary’s explanation is untrue, and that she has been with another man. By law, (Deuteronomy 22:23, 24) if the congress was willing on her behalf, she would be stoned to death for the sin of extra-marital sex. It appears that Joseph is not a vengeful man, and decides to quietly seek a divorce. However, after the shock announcement and his decision to leave her, an angel appears to him in a dream and explains the situation to him. He is then reassured that her account is truthful, and he does not divorce her, and nor do they have marital relations until after the birth.
So, the obvious question – why did God fail Joseph?
Why did God quite unnecessarily put Joseph through hell believing his wife had been unfaithful? What if Joseph had reported her to the authorities and she was stoned the same day? Why didn’t God have the angel tell Joseph about the pregnancy before Mary returned home pregnant, and telling a story that would appear to be a preposterous lie.
Why was God so oblivious to Joseph’s emotions, to allow him to think the worst of his wife? Why did God fail Joseph so callously?
What can we surmise from this account?
Let’s assume that the story as told in the Bible is all true. The timing is correct about Mary’s travels, that she returned home on the verge of being visibly pregnant, and that she told Joseph before God told Joseph. Then it means that God is not loving, but demonstrably heartless.
If however we believe that the New Testament God of Love would not have stitched up Joseph like this, then one can only conclude that The Biblical account is untrue, inaccurate, and made up. But worse, made up by people who don’t see how they’d thrown God under a bus for his dreadful behaviour towards Joseph in terms of when God arranged for him to be assured of his wife’s integrity.
And again, if this account has no historical veracity, it is safe to assume it is not the only one, other stories too must be questionable. And so commences the crumbling of the integrity of the foundation of the Christian story. Further, if the editors of the Bible are so clueless to how bad they made God look, then maybe the Bible was not put together by the smartest dudes.
Either way, it is a story that gives Christianity a major credibility problem.
If there is another explanation – please leave your comments below!