« Last post by Fr. George on Today at 11:45:52 AM »
Okay. Where I'm coming from is the fact that hymns and fathers talk about the "seal" remaining intact or unbroken. Maybe you're right, it's a little weird and besides-the-point for us to get caught up in these details of anatomy. But in that case, what exactly is the "seal" referring to, in relation to the womb? What else could it be? Or are our hymnographers themselves engaging in needless speculation?
I don't think they're engaging in needless speculation. I guess I see as a parallel the following: How was Jesus conceived? We believe rightly that the Holy Spirit came upon the Virgin Mary - but how was her egg (which always have X chromosomes) transformed into a male child? How did the Spirit do that? I think we can affirm that He was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary without getting too caught up in the details. In the same way, I think we can affirm Mary's ever-virginity (as we do, and frequently) without working out the details. It's not a question of squeamishness at the discussion of parts of a woman's anatomy, but a question of theological necessity - we get into trouble when we try to hammer out details beyond what we really need to affirm our faith.
Didn't the letter to the Hebrews answer at least some of these questions? And it was obviously impotant to be formulated in the Nicene Creed.
Not merely in the Nicene Creed... Nearly every litany, Great or Small, in the Eastern Orthodox Church includes the petition "Commemorating our most holy, pure, most blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary..." It's enshrined in the Daily Office and the Sacraments. If lex orandi, lex credendi applies to things said rarely, how much more does it apply to things said frequently - multiple times per service (almost), per day?
I think just the knowledge of being born of a Virgin, let alone the state of the hymen or the "aiparthenos" part of the Theotokos' life, is an extraordinary event that seems almost unbelievable for many people. In fact, the last year witnessed an interesting debate among Protestants over the issue of the Virginity of St. Mary before the conception of Christ. And this is all in the end to them thinking that this shouldn't change anything, that God still became man.
Yikes. Transforming the story of the Incarnation into a Jewish Zeus fable wouldn't bode well for their long-term stability.
I understand your fear, but I don't think this should translate to fears of a partial docetic Christology. There is poetic patristic literature on this issue many times over. The virginity of the Theotokos is an often meditated theme in history.
The question then becomes why is it important FOR US. If we can't assign it's salvific importance, I'm with you on this issue. But if you can, then it is something that should at least be worth considering. Why is it important that Christ was born of a Virgin? Why couldn't Christ be born with the help of a human father?
And why is it important FOR US that she remained a Virgin as well?
I think her ever-virginity is important for us - a display of what humanity can be, empowered by God. It's clear from her life that she wanted to remain pure and dedicated to God (just as her parents intended), and that was able to take place even with her giving birth, in a sense validating Christ's promise to the believers that they could move mountains with just a small measure of faith. I can only imagine how great her faith was in order to contain the uncontainable.