Mary and Eve

While doing research for my upcoming sermon on Mary I came across an interesting passage from the writing of St. Irenaeus.

In this section he draws a parallel between Mary and Eve. In part he says:

. . . Mary the Virgin is found obedient, saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” But Eve was disobedient; for she did not obey when as yet she was a virgin. And even as she, having indeed a husband, Adam, but being nevertheless as yet a virgin (for in Paradise “they were both naked, and were not ashamed,” inasmuch as they, having been created a short time previously, had no understanding of the procreation of children: for it was necessary that they should first come to adult age, and then multiply from that time onward), having become disobedient, was made the cause of death, both to herself and to the entire human race; so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race. . . . And thus also it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith. ~ Against Heresies, 3.22.4 (Emphasis Mine)

One of the basic tenents of Protestantism is to “demote” the Blessed Virgin (Luke quotes her as saying that all generations would her “blessed” and so they have – Luke 1:48.) In reaction to what we perceive as the over-exaltation of Mary by our Roman Catholic brethren we Protestants have a long history of ignoring Mary.

Here’s what I’ve been wondering about as I put this sermon together:

If Mariology hadn’t become such an issue in Christianity in the last 500 years wouldn’t we all be encouraging our kids to look up to Mary as a hero of the faith? We Protestants love to talk about Ruth, Esther, and the Proverbs 31 woman but when it comes to the “Second Eve” who was the one through whom the salvation of humanity entered humanity we fall strangely silent.

I think it should be obvious that I don’t advocate bizarre titles like “Co-Redepmtrix” for Mary but I do think it’s high time we Protestants gave the girl her props. The faith that the Holy Spirit gave her to trust the Father and receive the Son (as no one ever had or ever will again receive him) is a faith worth celebrating this Advent Season.

~ Jonathan Stepp

P.S. If you want to hear more about Mary check out the sermon I’ll be preaching this Sunday. I’ll have the audio of it posted at The Adopted Life on Monday.

2 comments so far

  1. Boyd Merriman on

    That is something we need to appreciate. Often, people get strange ideas about Mary, and forget her beginnings.

    She was around 14 or so years of age, which in todays culture, we would never understand.

    She has been called a “perpetual virgin” and never had any more children. Wrong. It is true she was a virgin at this time, and of course she was at that age and never had a husband. But that does not mean she never had any more children.

    She went through a lot at her age and understanding. It really gives huge credit to her understanding family, which we do not have much of a history of. She had to have a lot of faith because she was well taught who her God was. So her parents need to be respected as well.

    This goes to show that God was preparing for this for a very, very long time.


  2. Benjamin on

    Thanks for giving honor to whom honor is due!

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