The Bible Unmasked
by Joseph Lewis
The Bible Unmasked
Table of Contents
The New Testament.
The Old Testament is so-called because it is supposed to contain the first "Will" of God. And by the word "Will" is meant the same instrument that a person executes to dispose of his possessions after his death.
The believers in the Bible do not think God is dead, although a great many people feel sure that "he" does not exist. The Bible believers insist that God gave that book to the human race to be their guide in all earthly matters; and that it contains the sum-total of all there is to know; the infallible code of morals by which all should live their lives, and the secret for the preservation of their souls after death. For hundreds of years the "blood of the innocents" has been spilled to maintain this belief.
The New Testament is supposed to be the "last will and testament" of God. Just as a person may make a will and after a number of years decide to change some of his bequests, and executes another, so God, according to the Christian believer, elaborated upon his original covenant.
The Jews do not accept this "last will and testament" of God, and therefore reject it as being unworthy of consideration. The Jews believe the Messiah is yet to come, and that his appearance will be signalized by his riding upon the back of an ass. Their attitude is very similar to the actions of people who refuse to accept the "last will and testament" of some of their relatives when it deprives them of bequests which were stipulated in a previous covenant.
It does seem a bit irregular that the Jews, being God's "Chosen People," should not welcome the issuance of a "second will"; and yet if God found another upon whom to place his affection, it is quite natural that his chosen people would reject this "New Testament" and maintain that it is not a true will; that it is fraudulent; that it was written under duress, and question the maker's mental capabilities at the time of its writing.
As the situation stands to-day, the difference of opinion regarding these two testaments of God has caused more sorrow, bloodshed, harm, devilment, misery and devastation than any other single item in the life and history of the human race. It would have been a thousand, thousand times better had God not made, as the legal phraseology terms it, this codicil. Like a dissatisfied heir, the human race might well say to God: "If the Bible is the best you can give us, we don't want it. We would be better off without it."
Can you imagine the puerility of showing to a distinguished visitor from another planet, called here by some marvelous instrumentality like the radio, the Bible as our greatest legacy in life?
As we did not have to go very far into the pages of the Old Testament to encounter stories which shocked our moral sense, so early in the pages of the New Testament we find stories of an equally objectionable nature.
Before proceeding with a review of the birth of Christ as recorded in the New Testament, it might be said in justice to those who are so deluded as to actually believe that Christ was begotten in a miraculous way and is the "Son of God," the truth of the matter cannot be overlooked because of their convictions and feelings. A great many people believe a great many impossible things that must nevertheless be analyzed and publicly ridiculed in order to bring these people to their senses.
How true are the words of Mark Twain, when he says: "Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution -- these can lift at a colossal humbug -- push it a little -- weaken it a little, century after century; but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand."
I have often remarked, that if the Bible said that Moses stood on his eye-lid while God wrote the Ten Commandments with an in-growing toenail, the credulous would find no difficulty in believing it. And why should they? If it is a question of belief and faith what difference does its improbability make? I have read Mark Twain's "War Prayer" with all the solemnity of a preacher reading the Ten Commandments, to a number of devout Christians, and each and every one expressed the deepest feeling and admiration for it, and yet Mark Twain's "War Prayer" is as fine a bit of satire as there is in the English language, and well worthy of the pen of the great Voltaire. Mighty are the possibilities of faith!
It is truly a terrible thing, as Ingersoll says, to take away the consolation that naturally arises from a belief in eternal fire, but it is a holy joy to apply a little of this eternal fire to the body of a Bruno for his devilment in trying to rob the people of this great consolation.
When Columbus maintained that the earth was round, he was denounced and characterized as crazy, and when he set out on his memorable voyage to find a new way to India, and incidentally discovered the New World, the superstitious fell upon their knees and prayed their God to save him from the horrible destruction of falling into an eternal abyss. Was Columbus crazy or were the religious believers sufferers of insanity?
Galileo put a crude telescope to the sky and discovered our true relation to the universe, and proved the earth's rotation 'round the Sun. For his discovery of this great truth and his achievements in the scientific realm, what did these preservers of the faith and believers in the great consolation of eternal fire do to this great and grand benefactor of man? Let me quote the words of Professor John W. Draper:
|"He was declared to have brought upon himself the penalties of heresy. On his knees, with his hand on the Bible, he was compelled to adjure and curse the doctrine of the movement of the earth. What a spectacle. This venerable man, the most illustrious of his age, forced by the threat of death to deny facts which his judges as well as himself knew to be true! He was then committed to prison, treated with remorseless severity during the remaining ten years of his life, and was denied burial in consecrated ground. Must not that be false which requires for its support so much imposture, so much barbarity? The opinions thus defended by the Inquisition are now objects of derision of the whole civilized world."|
Instances and examples could be given to fill an entire volume, where the progress of the world has been maintained only in the face of the most stubborn opposition from the religious believers who set up the cry that their faith is being destroyed. Even upon the invention of the airplane, some ministers denounced its success as being impious, as man had no right to enter into "God's domain"!
The Bible has been flaunted into the face of every forward and progressive step of the human race and had it continued successfully we would still be following the leadership of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and living in constant fear of the damnation and hell fire of Jesus Christ. Slavery, polygamy, drudgery and ignorance would still be our lot, and the Dark Ages would be something that only the future could refer to.
A believer in Spiritualism finds its doctrines and fraudulent manifestations just as sacred as does a believer in the Divinity of Christ. The "consolation" arising from a belief in Spiritualism is not a deterrent to its exposure. Preying upon the tender feelings and ignorance of a person is a crime even if the delusion of the victim is complete. And as Spiritualism is unmercifully attacked and exposed because of its deception and falseness, so must the Divinity of Christ suffer the same fate because of its monumental humbuggery and fraud. The ignorant and the superstitious must give way to the intelligent. Fraud and falsehood, no matter how "sacred," must be replaced by fact and truth. As fraud in spiritualist manifestations is punishable by law, so should the deception of Christianity and its fraudulent promises be subject to the same rule and penalty.
It has been said of Thomas Paine that "he had no love for old mistakes nor admiration for ancient lies," and to that great man's leadership, I whole-heartedly subscribe.
The Virgin Birth, or Mary,
The Holy Ghost, Joseph and Jesus.
In a public debate with the Reverend Charles Francis Potter on the question of the "Virgin Birth of Christ," the Reverend John Roach Straton, before a crowded audience in Carnegie Hall read the details of the birth of Christ as recorded in the book of St. Matthew of the New Testament.
In reading the description of the birth of Christ before this public gathering I maintain that the Reverend Mr. Straton insulted not only the moral sensibilities of the people who heard him, but also their mental sensibilities, when he exposed his monumental ignorance in accepting this narrative as the truth. I venture to say, if the Reverend John Roach Straton were to detail the birth of any other person in the same language which was used relative to Christ, his audience would have rebuked this insult in the unmistakable terms of hoots and hisses. No less a person than the Reverend John Haynes Holmes, in a public statement, has characterized this narrative as obscene.
From the pulpit of Calvary Baptist Church, of which Reverend John Roach Straton is pastor, the Reverend W. L. Pettingill, as reported in the New York Sun of December 4, 1923, said this:
|"Only those who believe in Christ as God, in His Virgin Birth and in His Resurrection in the body -- the irreducible minimum of the Christian faith -- will go to heaven. Those who deny any or all of these tenets will be lost -- they will go to hell."|
"We have got to smoke them out," cried the reverend, and when he made this last statement I suppose he forgot for the moment that he was not living in the days when thousands suffered death by fire and fagot for denying the very things that he now demands that we all accept. If the ecclesiastical arm were as strong now as it was then, how sweet would the "smoke" of my flesh be to the nostrils of the Reverend Mr. Pettingill. What this reverend gentleman said further particularly interests us at this moment.
|"These things do not permit of interpretation. There is no altering the words written. Either the Virgin Birth is truth, or two things must be -- the Bible must be false in regard to this or Jesus of Nazareth was a bastard. Either Jesus was God or a hideous impostor." [Italics Mine.]|
I reject the Virgin Birth as Biblically related, Reverend Mr. Pettingill, and accept the alternative.
That Jesus was a hideous impostor has been conclusively proven by others. As we are not concerned with his imposture in this book, we cannot go into details of that element of his deception. We are concerned with his illegitimacy, and to that end we will continue; although in doing so I will be acting contrary to the attitude of a celebrated author, who, when asked during an address before the students of a prominent college what he thought of Christianity, replied: "I am not interested in Jewish family scandals."
I quote the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Chapter 1, Verse 18.
|18. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.|
The inference here is too plain for even a dullard not to understand. A young girl is betrothed to a young man. Mind you, not to a "holy ghost"; not to something intangible and unseen, but to a young man, virile and in possession of all his faculties. "Before they came together," which needs no elucidation, the girl was found to be "with child." Now the writer of this narrative was fully aware of the fact that before a child is born it is necessary for a man and a woman to "come together."
Laying aside the pertinency of a child asking an explanation of what is meant by "coming together," we see the necessary male adjunct of this union by the introduction of the Holy Ghost. In claiming that it was the Holy Ghost who cohabited with Mary and was the father of Jesus, Elbert Hubbard thought it was the greatest compliment ever paid to man.
I say this solemnly and with deep conviction: If all the acts of adultery and unfaithfulness could be blamed upon the Holy Ghost and accepted as such by the injured party, a great deal of misery and sorrow of the world would be avoided. Men are so jealous of their loved ones, that if they find them liberal even with their glances and smiles to other men, a situation hard to overcome presents itself. What, I pray you, would be the result of the situation in which we find Mary, the espoused of Joseph and mother of Jesus? I am sure the Holy Ghost story would not hold water. I am sure the young man would say: "If you are unfaithful to me before we are married, what can I expect after we are wedded?" I am inclined to think the young man would say that he was "finished with her" and would demand the return of his diamond ring. More than one proposed marriage has been broken for a far less cause than that of finding the espoused "with child."
Men are very adverse to supporting other men's children. As each man, in a situation of this kind, is a law unto himself, we will proceed with the story as it concerns Joseph.
St. Matthew, Chapter 1, Verse 19.
|19. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.|
Bully for Joseph! His act is commendable. Surely worthy of our praise. But why "put her away privily"? And why was he not willing "to make her a public example"? Why was he not jubilant that God complimented him to such an extent that he chose his sweetheart to bear his son and Savior of the world?
It is quite evident from the narrative that Joseph bore a great love for Mary and was willing to marry her despite the fact that she had slipped from the path of virtue even after her betrothal to him.
That some sly and smooth-tongued seducer was responsible for Mary's plight cannot be denied. A super Don Juan he must have been to be able to entice a girl already pledged to another to suffer his embrace.
And although it is claimed by some that Pandora, a "good for nothing" neighbor, was responsible for Mary's condition, the time is far too distant for the production of any credible evidence regarding the notorious affair, as evidence in such cases is considered the most difficult to secure. "Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily," is sufficient evidence alone to brand Mary's condition with the stamp of unfaithfulness.
No doubt the parents of Mary, to avoid having a public scandal and to check the vile tongue of Mrs. Grundy, pleaded with Joseph to take Mary to a place where they were unknown until after the delivery of the child. Such a thing is done now, and there is no reason to suppose that it wasn't done then. No doubt Mary herself was anxious to repent, and in her pleadings with Joseph must have promised him -- faithfully -- that she would never again stray from the path of virtue and rectitude. Joseph evidently believed with Shakespeare, "that love is not love that alters when it alteration finds," and so he overlooked the slight "alteration" he found in Mary. If the angel of the Lord could tell Joseph about the Holy Ghost, he could surely inform him what Shakespeare was to write more than 1,500 years hence!
But despite his great love for Mary and despite her "slight alteration" Joseph began to have his doubts about the Holy Ghost version of her condition as the narrative continues.
St. Matthew, Chapter 1, Verse 20.
|20. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.|
One thing the above quotation proves. It proves that Joseph did not believe that the child conceived by Mary was of the Holy Ghost. Joseph gave the matter serious consideration.
And if Joseph, who was on the scene and acquainted with all the facts of the deed, did not believe the "ghost story" how can you expect us, after nearly two thousand years have elapsed, to accept it as a verity? As for having the truth revealed to him in a dream by an angel, that is too laughable for mention. Truly that is "such stuff as dreams are made of."
That the story of Christ and his so-called virgin birth is a pure fabrication and myth, and was invented by the deluded and superstitious believers of that time, is attested to by the following verses of the narrative. It was an attempt on the part of some to "contest or reinterpret" the "first will" or Old Testament, in an endeavor that they might become the favored ones of God. The text proves unequivocally that it was not the miraculous birth of Christ that was of so much concern; the supreme importance was the fulfillment of the so-called prophecy that "a virgin shall conceive and bear a son"; as the following text proves.
St. Matthew, Chapter 1, Verses 21-25.
|21. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS:
for he shall save his people from their sins.
22. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23. Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25. And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
It is unnecessary for me to show the falsity of the prophecy, "now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying:
"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel; which being interpreted is, God with us," because Thomas Paine has so admirably unmasked this monstrous lie, I am going to quote his version of it from his celebrated "Age of Reason."
|"Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,"
Isaiah, chap. vii. ver. 14, has been interpreted to mean the person called
Jesus Christ, and his mother Mary, and has been echoed through Christendom
for more than a thousand years; and such has been the rage of this opinion
that scarcely a spot in it but has been stained with blood, and marked
with desolation in consequence of it. Though it is not my intention to
enter into controversy on subjects of this kind, but to confine myself
to show that the Bible is spurious, and thus, by taking away the foundation,
to overthrow at once the whole structure of superstition raised thereon,
I will, however, stop a moment to expose the fallacious application of
Whether Isaiah was playing a trick with Ahaz, king of Judah, to whom this passage is spoken, is no business of mine; I mean only to show the misapplication of the passage, and that it has no more reference to Christ and his mother than it has to me and my mother. The story is simply this: The king of Syria and the king of Israel, (I have already mentioned that the Jews were split into two nations, one of which was called Judah, the capital of which was Jerusalem, and the other Israel), made war jointly against Ahaz, king of Judah, and marched their armies toward Jerusalem. Ahaz and his people became alarmed, and the account says, verse 2, "And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind."
In this situation of things, Isaiah addresses himself to Ahaz, and assures him in the name of the Lord (the cant phrase of all the prophets) that these two kings should not succeed against him; and to satisfy Ahaz that this should be the case, tells him to ask a sign. This, the account says, Ahaz declined doing, giving as a reason that he would not tempt the Lord; upon which Isaiah, who is the speaker, says, ver. 14, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign, Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son"; and the 16th verse says, "For before this child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest, (or dreadest, meaning Syria and the kingdom of Israel) shall be forsaken of both her kings." Here then was the sign, and the time limited for the completion of the assurance or promise, namely, before this child should know to refuse the evil and choose the good.
Isaiah having committed himself thus far, it became necessary to him, in order to avoid the imputation of being a false prophet and the consequence thereof, to take measures to make this sign appear. It certainly was not a difficult thing, in any time of the world, to find a girl with child, or to make her so, and perhaps Isaiah knew of one beforehand; for I do not suppose that the prophets of that day were any more to be trusted than the priests of this. Be that, however, as it may, he says in the next chapter, ver. 2, "And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah, and I went unto the prophetess, and she conceived and bare a son."
Here, then, is the whole story, foolish as it is, of this child and this virgin; and it is upon the barefaced perversion of this story, that the book of Matthew, and the impudence and sordid interests of priests in later times, have founded a theory which they call the Gospel; and have applied this story to signify the person they call Jesus Christ, begotten, they say, by a ghost, whom they call holy, on the body of a woman, engaged in marriage, and afterward married, whom they call a virgin, 700 years after this foolish story was told; a theory which, speaking for myself, I hesitate not to disbelieve, and to say, is as fabulous and as false as God is true.[*]
But to show the imposition and falsehood of Isaiah, we have only to attend to the sequel of this story, which, though it is passed over in silence in the book of Isaiah, is related in the 28th chapter of the second Chronicles, and which is, that instead of these two kings failing in their attempt against Ahaz, king of Judah, as Isaiah had pretended to foretell in the name of the Lord, they succeeded; Ahaz was defeated and destroyed, a hundred and twenty thousand of his people were slaughtered, Jerusalem was plundered, and two hundred thousand women, and sons and daughters, carried into captivity. Thus much for this lying prophet and imposter, Isaiah, and the book of falsehoods that bears his name.
* In the 14th verse of the 7th chapter, it is said that the child should be called Immanuel; but this name was not given to either of the children otherwise than as a character which the word signifies. That of the prophetess was called Maher-shalal-hash-baz, and that of Mary was called Jesus.
I challenge every minister of Christianity to refute Thomas Paine's exposure of this all too monstrous lie and the most dastardly piece of imposition ever perpetrated upon the human race! I make no restrictions to this challenge. It includes every gentleman of the cloth of every church professing the Christian doctrine.
Prove Thomas Paine false or cease your hypocrisy with its unholy gain!
The Birth of Jesus Christ
The Gospel of St. Luke
Perhaps the birth of Christ as related by St. Matthew was not minute and conclusive enough as to the details of the sexual act and so we turn to the Gospel of St. Luke to supply this most interesting account.
As we have already reviewed cases of unfaithfulness, incest, polygamy, prostitution, rape, adultery, child by whoredom, and almost every phase of immorality known to man, it will not, I am sure, be inappropriate to continue with this version of the birth of Christ.
I quote The Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 1, Verses 26-28.
|26. And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto
a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27. To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
One difference already noted between the narrative of St. Matthew and St. Luke regarding Mary and the conception of her child, is that in St. Matthew it is the Holy Ghost who is responsible for her pregnant condition and in St. Luke the angel Gabriel is mentioned. And although here is a distinct contradiction between the two accounts, the designation of the character by different names responsible for the condition makes very little real difference. What we are concerned with is the fact that it was someone else than the man she had promised to wed.
We have read of angels "whispering" to a person, but we have never heard of an instance where "the angel came in unto her." And the word Angel is equally appropriate as that of the Holy Ghost.
The Gospel according to St. Luke, Chapter 1, Verse 29.
|29. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.|
Ah! We have the secret direct from the Bible. Let me repeat the above quotation to bring its full significance to you. "And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be." I wonder what this he angel proposed to Mary that made her "cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be"? Is it possible that she was innocent of the relationship he proposed, or was she simply amazed at his daring and boldness? especially so, since she was already engaged to some one else and was mindful of her virginity. And what an altogether different story it would have been if God had sent a she angel to visit Mary! To my mind a woman is a nearer approach to an angel than a man could ever be.
No wonder the poor girl was troubled. She had a difficult problem on her hands. Although the Bible is not explicit in what this he angel said to Mary, we are not devoid of imagination; and so continue.
The Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 1, Verse 30.
|30. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.|
From this verse we glean the manner of pursuit and what the angel was after. "Fear not" is the pet phrase of the seducer. The angel's courting has not been in vain. Victory has been achieved. Similar action to that of Mary is taking place, at this very moment, throughout the world. Seduction, unfortunately, is still too commonly prevalent. Is it possible that the angel "doped" Mary as sometimes happens in cases of this kind and when she "awoke" she was unaware of what had transpired? For she says,
The Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 1, Verse 34.
|34. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?|
You see Mary was aware of the fact that without a man's help she could not have a child. Where Mary received her sex education I do not know; perhaps from the story of Tamar and Judah? And so we continue with the unusual story of the intercourse of an angel with a maid.
The Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 1, Verse 31.
|31. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.|
Yes, the deed is done. The angel has satisfied his desire. The prophecy is well founded. As truly "prophetic" as Isaiah and his subsequent action. Although any potent man could accomplish the same result. For more of this kind of "literature" continue the narrative as it consecutively appears in the Bible.
But it occurs to me that if Jesus was to be immaculately conceived, and God was to be his father, he should have chosen a different place of incubation than that of a woman's womb. It is in the womb that all of us mortals are conceived and the Bible's own testimony regarding this birth is rather disconcerting to those devout believers in the miraculous birth of Christ. If there were to be a really and truly miraculous birth, conception should have taken place in the ear, or arm, or leg, but in the womb -- never!
It is quite probable that a story like the one just related, detailed in any other book than the Bible, would be construed as being of a highly spicy tone and condemned as being vicious in its moral conclusion. Surely, Mary would be looked upon as a girl whose character was not worthy of emulation. Her actions indicate that a knowledge of sex would have been very helpful, because her ignorance was certainly not bliss. I wish for the moment to speak to the fathers and mothers of young girls; particularly those of the Christian faith. What would you say if your daughter came and told you that she was "with child by an angel"? What would the young man to whom she was engaged in marriage say about her condition? I am sure you would immediately make a thorough search for this angel and bring him to account. In certain parts of this country, this angel, if caught, would not be given much of an opportunity to explain himself. And if he said that he was "an angel of the Lord" you know how much weight that would have.
And now you parents, you who are so anxious about the welfare of your daughter, and so mindful of her amusements and companions; if your daughter were reading a book, whose plot corresponded to the story of Mary, would you not admonish her that such a book was unfit to be read, that its example was vicious and detrimental, and that "nothing good" can come from such stories? Wouldn't you make an effort to discourage her interest in such literature? By what rule, then, does a story which is suggestive in any other book, become of high moral value when it is found in the Bible?
Now let me say a word about the moral import of this narrative. It is of the grossest obscenity. It poisons the minds of children not only to the vital facts of biological science, but even prejudices the minds of adults to these vital facts. Would you think of reading this story to your children for the purpose of drawing a moral lesson? What moral principle can be inculcated from this narrative? Is it the seduction of Mary and the illegitimacy of Christ?
Elisabeth, the Cousin of Mary,
Zacharias and the Angel Gabriel
It is generally true, that when a thief visits a community, more than one person suffers a loss before the thief is caught. The same can be said of impostors who prey upon others for existence; seldom do they stop with one victim. And it is equally true that the seducer rarely dishonors one woman only. Since the Bible would not be conclusive and complete without a story of seduction, we will proceed with the next narrative.
What impresses us in that which is to follow, is not so much the seduction of a woman -- this we recorded in the previous chapter -- as the fact that one woman was not sufficient to satisfy the desires of God! His "holy ghost" and "angel" sought and consummated intimate relations with two women; and curiously, these women were closely related, being by blood first cousins -- peculiarly a family affair. Why these two women were especially selected is not revealed. For very strangely one was a virgin and the other a married woman "well stricken in years," who presumably had passed her menopause, but whom, like Cleopatra, evidently "age cannot wither, nor time stale her infinite variety."
One thing is certain, Elisabeth's age did not dampen the ardor of this potent male -- this profligate and seducing angel.
I cannot say for certain that it was the same angel of the Lord who was responsible for the impregnation of both Mary and Elisabeth, but as I have no conclusive evidence to the contrary, I think the circumstances are such as to lead one to believe that it was the one and the same angel. I have presumed to accept it as such.
If through the instrumentality of one angel God was unable to satisfy his desires, and chose to use two angels, then I stand subject to correction. One particular and pertinent difference, however, between the seduction of Mary and that of Elisabeth, is, that Mary was only betrothed in marriage, while Elisabeth was already bound by law and ceremony.
In the case of Mary, she still had time to change her mind as to who was to be her husband and the father of her child. This we all agree is the right and prerogative of every girl. If a young lady, while engaged to a young man, should meet another young man, whom she likes better and whom she thinks will make her a better husband and is better suited to be the father of her children, decides to change her mind, she should certainly be privileged to "break her engagement" and accept the man she prefers.
But in the case of Elisabeth, we are dealing with a lady already married. She had already pledged faithfulness, to the end of her days, to the man to whom she was married, and only by a divorce could she become free of her sacred pledge and marriage bond in order that she might, morally, have marital relations with another man.
We all admire constancy and loyalty. These two virtues are cherished by all. If a woman no longer finds favor in her husband; no longer finds the love she craves, the proper thing to do is to separate. The same rule applies to the husband. But to violate the pledge of loyalty while still married is abhorred the world over, and has ever been -- in every age and in every clime -- God, Angels and Holy Ghosts to the contrary, notwithstanding.
"Free love" may be a spiritual code, but as yet the human race has not voiced its approval of it.
As most marriages, after the legal formalities are complied with, are consummated by a religious ceremony, and the final oaths administered when the bride and groom, hand in hand, place them upon the Bible as a seal of divine approval to their union, let us look into the Bible for its code and instructions and examples of this sacred institution, truly this holy union -- Marriage.
The Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 1, Verses 5-7.
|5. There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest
named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the
daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
6. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
7. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren; and they both were now well stricken in years.
The significant thing in the above quotation is that both Zacharias and Elisabeth had kept inviolate their marriage vows. Never had either of them broken faith with the other. Their love and companionableness for each other prevailed throughout their lives and as "they both were now well stricken in years," would it not have been a glorious thing had the Bible revealed to us the secret or code by which they lived their lives, so that we poor mortals could fashion ours upon it? If Zacharias and Elisabeth knew the secret of a perfect union, why didn't the Bible reveal it to us? Oh! how precious that knowledge would be to the human race!
The Bible reveals a "secret" to us, but is it the secret we want revealed?
The Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 1, Verses 8-12.
|8. And it came to pass, that, while he executed the priest's office
before God in the order of his course,
9. According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
10. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
11. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
Certainly the Angel could not have selected a better time or place to speak to Zacharias than at the temple where he was "laboring in behalf of the Lord."
"And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled and fear fell upon him."
It is quite apparent from the narrative that old Zacharias must have been familiar with this he angel's intentions. For why should a "servant of the Lord" fear a visit from "an angel of the Lord"? I should think he would be quite jubilant over the occasion.
The Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 1, Verses 13-17.
|13. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias; for thy prayer
is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt
call his name John.
14. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
15. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
16. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
Here again is the pet phrase of the seducer. "Fear not, Zacharias -- thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son." But so far as I am able I can find no expressed desire on the part of either Zacharias or Elisabeth to have a son. And if we remember well the narrative, Zacharias was "well stricken in years" from which we are to infer that he was no longer able physically to perform the act necessary to make him a father.
Is there any wonder that old Zacharias was troubled by the visit of this he angel, especially when he was told to "fear not, thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son"?
The Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 1, Verse 18.
|18. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.|
Surely this was a proper question. Zacharias knew full well that he was unable to bring about the condition this he angel predicted, and naturally inquired how the accomplishment would be effected.
"What a fool this old man is," this he angel must have cynically muttered to himself. But to old Zacharias, the Bible tells us, he said something quite different.
The Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 1, Verse 19.
|19. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.|
Could a schoolboy miss the point? Why, I, Gabriel, am to perform this noble deed. Churchmen always surround themselves with the hypocrisy of being "messengers of the Lord," and in doing so they come pretty close to getting everything they want.
If this condition was to come about by the desire of God, why didn't he tell Zacharias about it himself without the necessity of an intermediary he angel? God spoke to Abraham and Moses and other Biblical characters, and I see no good reason why he shouldn't have spoken directly to Zacharias.
The Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 1, Verse 20.
|20. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.|
Poor old Zacharias! What chance did he have with this passionate and robust he angel? No doubt he thought "discretion is the better part of valor" and kept his mouth shut while the seduction went merrily on.
What else could he do but remain dumb? Wouldn't such an encounter and such a threat make any old man speechless? And by the way, if Zacharias did not believe that this he angel was sent by God do you know of any reason why we should? Zacharias was acquainted with the gentleman and certainly he should have known who he was.
The Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 1, Verses 21-23.
|21. And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried
so long in the temple.
22. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
23. And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
So much for Zacharias, and now a word about his wife, Elisabeth. What was her attitude in the matter? In a way she was more concerned about the affair than her husband. She had to bear the child. Did she encourage the angel? Or did the angel see her first and did she tell him to tell Zacharias to keep his mouth shut, "until the day that these things shall be performed ... which shall be fulfilled in their season"?
And was old Zacharias speechless because he was warned by Elisabeth, as wives sometimes do, who carry on clandestine relations with other men? It is the consummation of "these things shall be performed" that interests us and so we continue.
The Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 1, Verses 24-25.
|24. And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself
five months, saying,
25. Thus had the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
Yes, the deed is done, for we read, "after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months." Nothing startling about that, except the hiding. It was to be expected that she would conceive. The result is in proper sequence to the act. The marvel or miracle, if you wish, would have been had she not conceived after the sexual relation with a potent man. Everything normal and in order as far as I can determine, except perhaps, for the act of adultery on the part of Elisabeth, for we have Zacharias's own word that he could not do what "was fulfilled in their season."
Zacharias's own words, "for I am an old man" brands Elisabeth an adulteress. If Elisabeth was not guilty of faithlessness, why did she "hide herself five months"? It has been asked, and asked rightly: Whom was she hiding from? Certainly not from Zacharias, because he knew all about it. Did she hide herself, because the neighbors, knowing Zacharias's physical condition, would gossip? What do you think was the cause of Elisabeth's hiding?
"Thus has the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me to take away my reproach among men." Lucky woman, is all that I can say, because from time immemorial the woman who in wedlock has borne a child from the seed of man other than her lawful husband, has felt the reproach of men until the end of her days.
Is this the part of the Bible women are strongly advised to follow? I strongly advise women against following the example of Elisabeth. If women do not heed my advice, and choose rather the authority of the Bible, they will soon find that men are not so credulous and people not so gullible as this narrative would have you believe. Only in the Bible are these things accepted and believed; they would not be tolerated in real life.
Before passing on to the next episode let me say a word to those who have their marriage solemnized by the Bible in a religious ceremony: and this to the blushing bride.
Is the action of Elisabeth in her relation with the angel and her attitude to poor old Zacharias the model that you are to fashion your wedded life upon?
Will you desert your husband, when "he is well stricken in years," for a younger and more virile man?
Will you willingly consent to an act of adultery with "an angel of the Lord"? Will you claim that the child in your womb is of the "Holy Ghost"? And hide yourself until it is all over?
Or will you be too loyal to your vows to even listen to the wooing words of a sly seducer?
And now just a word to the bridegroom: If you look forward to a happy married life, be sure before you make the young lady your wife, that she does not believe the Bible contains the proper moral code, and particularly that the story of Elisabeth will not be her guide in her life-companionship with you.
Notes for File 1; File 2; File 4; File 5; File 6; File 7