Some churches speak of Mary as being the Mother of God, and the Queen of Heaven. Her perpetual virginity is a core doctrine associated with this. In the German state of Bavaria, they have a public holiday for Mary’s Ascension Day. Some pray to saints and Martyrs asking them to intercede on their behalf, particularly Mary, who is elevated above the apostles. At its extreme, Mary is worshipped in the same manner as God.
In discussing this, it is important to uphold other Christians as parts of Christ’s body, even if they might be quite different to us. All who agree with the Apostle’s Creeds are Christ’s body. This includes and requires the recognition of the universal church, made up of many parts. When Jesus wrote to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3, he found fault in most, but encouraged all.
Beware of religious ideas
Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees and Sadducees demonstrate a religious tendency to add or take away from scripture to accommodate human philosophies, which are elevated above the word of God.
At Mt Sanai, we see a tendency to prefer someone else to act as a proxy between us and God, because we’re too frightened to approach him directly.
Exodus 20:19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”
In Hezekiah’s time, we see how people had made a pagan cult out of a religious relic.
Numbers 21:8 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.”
2 Kings 18:42 He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan.
The Pharisees derived their many rules and traditions from scripture. But were totally wrong, despite extensive scriptural proof of their doctrines. Although they were the religious authority of the day, they worshipped the law rather than the law-giver. According to the Essenes who preserved the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Pharisees made up these traditions, which they called the Oral Torah. They claimed this was handed down from priest to priest since Moses spoke these commands to Aaron. Today, churches elevate ideas from ancient saints above scripture. Other churches elevate modern ideas such as evolution or sexual liberty over scripture, which is far worse, as these haven’t even endured the test of time. The extent of the Pharisees’ teachings led to Jesus’ crucifixion, and Saul of Tarsus’ hunt to exterminate Christians.
Given this religious tendency, we must be mindful of all teachings, bringing them under the authority of scripture.
Revelation 22:18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
This applies to the entire Bible, which is a book of books, concluding with this warning.
Luke praised those who investigated religious claims against scripture.
Acts 17:10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.
The Mother of God
Scriptures record that Mary gave birth to Jesus as a virgin, so one can infer her being the Mother of God, but only in a sense. Jesus is fully human. For this, he has a human mother, but he is also fully God. He was the Word who created everything and came to dwell among us in John 1. He appeared to people throughout the old testament such as Abraham.
John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
So, Mary, a mortal, born 4,000 years after creation cannot be called the Mother of God. She is the Mother of Jesus’ humanity, but not his Deity.
Luke 1:28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
Often this verse is used to praise Mary. She is certainly highly favoured, and bore a unique role through her own righteousness. However, this idea is held in balance when Jesus says that all those who hear the word of God and do it are equally his mother and brothers. His biological family did not take precedence.
Luke 8:19 Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. 20And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.” 21But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”
Even more explicitly, a woman who praised Mary was rebuked by Jesus in a similar manner.
Luke 11:27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” 28But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
The idea of the Mother of God is not taught in scripture. But is a concept very familiar to pagan mythologies.
The Queen of Heaven
If Mary were the Mother of God, then one could rightly infer that she is the Queen of Heaven.
Again, in a way, this is true. The church is the Bride of Christ. One could infer that the Church will become the Queen of Heaven at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19:7. Since Mary is part of the church, then she will become the Queen of Heaven, but no more than any other saint, including you and me.
“The Queen of Heaven” is biblical, but for the wrong reasons:
Jeremiah 7:18 The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger. 19Do they provoke Me to anger?” says the Lord. “Do they not provoke themselves, to the shame of their own faces?”
According to Wikipedia
Queen of Heaven was a title given to a number of ancient sky goddesses worshipped throughout the ancient Mediterranean and Near East during ancient times. Goddesses known to have been referred to by the title include Inanna, Anat, Isis, Ishtar, Astarte, Astghik and possibly Asherah (by the prophet Jeremiah). In Greco-Roman times Hera, and her Roman aspect Juno bore this title. Forms and content of worship varied. In modern times, the title “Queen of Heaven” is still used by contemporary pagans to refer to the Great Goddess, while Catholics, Orthodox, and some Anglican Christians now apply the ancient title to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
I find it very disturbing to elevate Mary to the name of this ancient pagan deity. I expect she’d be horrified at this.
Given Mary’s deity, her ascension is logical. Sources for her ascension are extra-biblical, and inconsistent. Wikipedia’s Tomb of the Virgin Mary discusses various ideas. “Eastern Christianity teaches that the Virgin Mary died a natural death… and that her body was resurrected on the third day” and ascended. No witnesses are mentioned, only the allegation that “her tomb … was found empty on the third day”. Catholics debate whether Mary first died or not. I’ve heard some ancient church fathers taught she was buried in Ephesus, although Wikipedia prefers Jerusalem.
To me, this seems like an extension to extra-biblical legends of Mary’s deity, totally lacking in the historic corroboration present in the gospels.
Interceding on our behalf
Given that Mary, the Mother of God has ascended to Heaven, some pray to her that she’d intercede on our behalf, along with other saints and Martyrs. This contradicts Jesus’ work in restoring direct access to God, through his death, which cancelled our banishment from God’s presence when we sinned in Eden.
1 Timothy 2:51 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
These verses teach us to boldly approach God’s throne to receive his mercy and grace. Rather than meekly depending on dead people to intercede on our behalf, we who are alive are called to intercede on the behalf of others.
James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
Even in ancient times, the living interceded for the people of their time, such as Abraham interceding for Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18. I’m aware of no scripture where people pray to the departed, or where those departed from this world intercede on our behalf – not even Enoch and Elijah, who were raptured before death. Although Saul did summon Samuel, to the witch’s horror in 1 Samuel 28, but this led to his suicide the next day. Throughout scripture we follow the theme of the departed entering into rest, no longer being concerned for this world. Although the patriarchs are numbered among a “cloud of witnesses” cheering us on in Hebrews 12:1.
Talking with the dead or consulting those who talk with the dead is explicitly prohibited:
Leviticus 19:31 ‘Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.
Isaiah 8:19 And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Mary’s perpetual virginity
Some teach Mary remained a virgin forever. This contradicts
Matthew 1:24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
Putting it plainly, “Joseph did not have sex with Mary until Jesus was born.”
This is rebutted with the inference that this does not say they then had sex. However, one assumes that married people have sex. This is even biblically commanded. This verse already notes the unusual, but does not say they never had sex. It is unreasonable to assume this a translation difficulty, and all 10 translations I checked (English, German and Portuguese) confirm this.
Jesus had brothers and sisters:
Matthew 13:55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?
One early gnostic claimed these were Joseph’s sons by another woman. Later, it is claimed that Jerome (~400AD) taught these were Jesus’ bros – cousins, sons of Mary and Clopas, the mother of James and Joseph. It seems contrived that we’d refer to Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ cousins, but not his aunts and uncles. i.e. they’re quite selective in cursing Jesus’ family. To argue that such were not present ignores the fact that Jesus’ dad was already dead and had passed his business on to his son, Jesus.
Mark 15:40 There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome,
The coincidence in names is used to infer Jesus’ brothers. But only two are mentioned. I consider this coincidence quite reasonable, considering these names are all very common back then – much more than today.
James the Less is a figure of early Christianity, one of the Twelve chosen by Jesus. He is also called “the Minor”, “the Little”, “the Lesser”, or “the Younger”, according to translation. He is not to be confused with James, son of Zebedee (“James the Great or Elder”). In the West he was for long (and still is) identified with James, the Lord’s brother, thought of by St Jerome and those who followed him as really the cousin of Jesus. The sources offer no certainty. Most New Testament scholars now would reject that identification of St James the Less (one of the Twelve, though a fairly insignificant member) with St James, an actual brother of Jesus, and leader of the early Christian Jewish community. As a result, while St James the Less continues to be commemorated with St Philip on May 1st in the Western calendars, increasingly St James the Brother of the Lord has been included in those Calendars, on October 23rd, for example, in most recent Anglican calendars. Other views are noted below.
John 19:25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
This verse is unclear whether his mother’s sister is Clopas’ wife or these are two people i.e. Mary’s sister and Clopas’ wife. It is possible that sister-in-law is abbreviated, with Clopas being Jesus’ uncle. All we can take from this is it’s too uncertain to use as a proof text. It requires other sources to understand. We don’t know if this Mary is the same Mary as the mother of James and Joses from Mark 15:40.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clopas makes no clear connection between Clopas’ wife and the mother of James and Joses. Clopas being Jesus’ uncle is vaguely mentioned, but with no great certainty.
The reasoning that these are not Jesus brothers is that throughout scripture, people are called brothers, who are elsewhere shown to be of different parentage. This is a useful key, but there is no similar clarification that these “brothers” are in fact Jesus cousins – only some coincidental inferences.
This is all a side-issue. The understanding that Jesus had brothers supports the fact that Mary had sex with Joseph as stated in Matthew 1:25. Having no brothers would not invalidate this.
None of this is important apart from attempting to prove Mary’s deity as the Mother of God and the Queen of Heaven – ideas foreign to scripture and core to paganism.
I recommend also reading Is the Perpetual Virginity of Mary a Biblical view from Answers in Genesis. This points to the Protoevangelium of James as the earliest known claim to Mary remaining a virgin after Jesus’ birth. According to Wikipedia, this “was probably written around the year AD 145”. “The first mention of it is in the early third century by Origen of Alexandria, who says the text, like that of a Gospel of Peter, was of dubious, recent appearance and shared with that book the claim that the “brethren of the Lord” were sons of Joseph by a former wife.”
It’s great and fitting to honour Mary, the saints, martyrs, prophets and our grandparents for the godliness they have brought to our lives. However, ancient paganism extends this to deify heroic patriarchs, and worship ancestors. We see Hindus today making shrines to their dearly departed and burning incense to them along with food offerings. Ancient pagans believed in the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven. This idea seems to have crept into some church doctrine, elevating Jesus’ mother to this deity. They pray to Mary and the departed saints. Quite contrary to Biblical teaching and precedent.
However, we must be careful to be sensitive to our Christian brother’s doctrinal weaknesses, as it’s easy to notice the spec in their eye as we’re whacking them with the beam protruding from our own. I’m very uncomfortable with those who despise and cut off other parts of Christ’s body because they worship differently and have a few weird ideas. In 1 Corinthians 13, we read how love does not dwell on such things and even covers other’s weaknesses, rather than exposing them. We are to gently and humbly correct our brothers in the faith, hoping to restore them to the purity of God’s word, in fear of God’s judgement of our own faults.
Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
And we must remember most are unaware that they’ve received incorrect doctrine, but have been influenced by others, particularly their theological colleges – such was the case of the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ time.
Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
I pray that discussing such matters will help us understand each other better, and grow in love for each other, and personally seeking the truth of God’s word.