Monday, December 04, 2017

Innocent dishonor

Joseph, when he learned that Mary was pregnant, decided to put her away privately, without fanfare (Matthew 1:19).  I have wondered, though, how that would have helped Mary to avoid execution.  Would not people have still seen her pregnancy and concluded that she was pregnant as a result of adultery?

Interesting question. Presumably, Joseph's motive for divorcing Mary was in part to shield his own reputation. Divorcing her would disassociate himself from the pregnancy. A way of signaling that another man fathered the child. 

When, however, God quashes his plan, the inference others will draw is not that Mary committed adultery, but that Joseph and Mary had premarital sex. Not only is Mary stigmatized, but Joseph is stigmatized. He must now share in her dishonor. By going through with the marriage, the community will assume that he was the father, in which case, he like Mary, must bear the stigma. There's shame when caught in wrongdoing. But even more irksome is to labor under the dishonor of a false, defamatory allegation. 

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