Mary the Autonomous?

With the exception of Jesus, there is no figure in all of Scripture abused by the Left more than Mary, the mother of our Lord.  The more radical feminists despise her because of her association with virginity and motherhood.  They prefer Jezebel as a more worthy exemplar for women.  That’s fine with me; they can have Jezebel.  But we must now endure something far worse: “Mary the Autonomous.”   (“Autonomy” comes from Greek meaning, “self-law” or “self-governing” or perhaps even “a law unto oneself.”) 

I recently read a post wherein a woman argued that Christian opposition to abortion was about controlling women.  Nothing new here, just the same old lie.  Christian opposition to abortion is about saving the most vulnerable lives among us.  But this woman goes even further.  Her argument goes like this: Women merit autonomy just the same as men.  Access to abortion is an essential part of that autonomy lest women be reduced to motherhood, “not [having] the right to be free, independent beings.”  She then employs several examples of women from Scripture who do good things which, in her mind, speaks to their autonomy.  And she praises none more than Mary, whose autonomy led her to interrogate an angel, lean on Jesus to turn water into wine, and press him about his mental state during his ministry.  Yes Ma’am!  Don’t mess with Mary; she’s a liberated, autonomous, free-thinking woman who stares down angels and gods.

But what is even more stomach-churning for the believer is the conclusion to which our champion’s abortion argument leads if she would only follow her own logic: If abortion is about women’s autonomy, and Mary is the biblical model of such autonomy,…I mean, being an unwed teenager…and poor…and with Joseph wanting a divorce…and the unfairness of it all…well, shouldn’t Mary have exercised her…autonomy?

And there’s the rub.  You see, Mary didn’t see herself as an autonomous woman.  This should be obvious to anyone reading Mary’s response to the angel which was full of submission to the will of God, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).  To get to the point: Mary saw herself as “theonomous,” that is, one under the law of God, which is now made known to Christians through the inspired word of God.  And this is the law under which every Christian woman and man must live. 

Allow me to set forth a few examples:

A Christian businessman wants to cheat on some business dealings.  His is a small business and he is running into real financial trouble.  Stress is mounting at home.  No one would ever know what he is doing.  But he says to himself, “This is not right.  I am taking advantage of the good will of others to benefit myself.  I shall not do this to my neighbor.”  Such a man is living a theonomous life.

A man desires a woman and both are retired.  If they marry, one or both will lose the retirement a company has provided for the widowed spouse.  By living together, they can “double-dip.”  But the man says to himself, “If I will have this woman in my living room, dining room, and especially my bedroom, I will have her as my wife or not at all.”  Such a man is living a theonomous life.

A woman lives with an unfeeling husband.  He has not committed adultery, but neither does he show interest in her or share his life with her.  She is so lonely.  She could easily divorce him, and in our culture no one would blame her.  She can take the children and tell them that such is for their own good and that one day they will understand.  But she will not do this.  She prays to the Lord through tears, “I married for better for worse…till death do us part.  I am in a one-flesh union with an unloving and unlovable man.  But Christ is in such a union with me, and how many times have I been so unlovable to him?  I will stay with this man and love him and hope that he will someday love me again.  And if not, at least I will be able to say on my deathbed that I learned to love like Christ and will have taught my children to do the same.”  Such a woman is living a theonomous life.

A man struggles with same-sex attraction.  He can give himself to his passions and experience the temporary euphoria of sin and degradation.  He can even enter a mock marriage.  But instead he says to himself, “In sin did my mother conceive me, as we are all conceived.  We each have our cross to bear, and this one is mine.  I will not wallow in the mire but stand as a man and trust that God will give me the grace to stand.  My Lord carried his cross to Golgotha for me and I shall carry this cross for him even to my death.  And on that day, I shall rejoice and say, ‘I endured to the end,’ and I shall wear the victor’s crown.”  Such a man lives a theonomous life.

And finally, a young woman is pregnant.  It was a reckless night.  One thing led to another.  Now he’s gone.  What a pig!  She has dreams of law school and rising out of poverty.  A baby will change everything.  Abortion would solve everything!  But deep down, she knows that’s a lie.  So she says to herself, “I did not plan this.  I do not know how I will get through this.  But within my body is my baby who looks to me for life and love though he does not even know it.  Indeed, he does not know me, but I know him, and he is mine.  I cannot, I will not, take his or her life for the sake of mine.  Perhaps some dreams will have to die, but others more glorious will take their place.  I will seek God’s help and together we shall make a life.”  Such a woman is living a theonomous life.

Godly men and women seek not autonomy but theonomy.  And we can only be fully autonomous when we are fully theonomous, which won’t happen until our humanity is fully restored to us in heaven.  But that’s another essay.  In the meantime, seek theonomy.  Mary did.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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