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The Virgin Mary - part 4   (an Orthodox perspective)
By Chris Banescu - December 8, 1999

The Bible also tells us that Mary above all women is blessed and cherished throughout all ages: "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" (Luke 1:28). Yet many in the Western world today refuse to believe her faith and devotion are enough to match that of an ordinary woman. How can anyone logically reconcile these two points of view?

By placing Mary on a lower standard than a normal woman, and subsequently diminishing her importance and her holiness, many westerners today do a great disservice to womanhood. Mary's devotion and sacrifice went beyond the nine months of carrying Christ in her womb; it continued until her last days on earth. She maintained her purity of soul and body with great determination and faith. I know that's hard to believe for many modern day believers, but I think the really outrageous point of view is theirs.

As the first person to accept Christ, our Lady Theotokos, is the very first Christian. She represents the quintessential symbol of Christianity. Mary is the woman role model (paralleling Christ) that should be followed, revered and remembered always. Cheapening Mary's importance results in lowering the standards for all of us. It is so much easier for many Christians of all denominations to excuse their unholy conduct and justify their sinful behavior as simply "human nature" when even the mother of Jesus was engaging in physical relations (according to their claims only, of course) despite her importance and revered role in Christianity as a whole.

It is extremely distressing to see the same Protestants who claim the Bible as the ultimate authority in Christian living, disregard some of the most important passages in the Bible (as exemplified by the passages above) which proclaim the sanctity and holiness of our Lady Theotokos. How can they reconcile the ultimate truth inherent in the Bible - which they themselves admit - yet ignore or explain away entire passages from the holy word of God?

There is one possible explanation. I believe that the liberalization of thought in the United States and the Western world has permeated even the most fervent followers of Christianity. The humanistic perspectives constantly being perpetrated by many institutions and most news and media organizations have infused, almost unconsciously, a distorted view of human behavior into the mainstream. The sharp definitions of right and wrong that Christianity (especially Orthodox Christianity) has always maintained have become fuzzy around the edges.

An ever increasing number of "Christian" denominations have started down the slippery slope of "defining deviancy down." These denominations constantly redefine how the Bible should be interpreted and understood by applying an individualistic approach that places man's fallible vision above the Church's and God's infallible vision.

As a result of this varied re-interpretation and modernization many so called "Christian" churches have forsaken traditional Christian values and redefined Christianity to fit their own modern view of it. Some of these denominations even allow same sex marriages, female priestesses, and homosexual clergy. Some excuse away marital infidelity and even condone and excuse homosexuality as a normal and healthy alternative lifestyle. While such churches are still in the minority the sad fact remains that their numbers are ever-increasing. I wonder how much of that liberalization and modernization originated with tossing out important ancient Christian traditions and values that teach us absolute standards by which to conduct our lives.

The Ever-Virgin Mary, Lady Theotokos, is not only the most blessed and pure of all women, she also represents the ultimate role model for all Christian communities. Orthodox Christianity has always recognized how important Mary's example of unshakable faith and complete devotion to God is to the rest of us.

By following the Virgin Mary's example all of us have the opportunity to follow Christ with as much dedication and love as she did; knowing full well that it can be done, that a young virgin did accomplish it and that, although it may be hard, there is a high standard of faith and morality that we all can aspire to and even match; see the lives of the saints. Without such magnificent examples of Christian living and spirituality how can one blame the people in our times who seem to have lost the clear delineation of right and wrong in our society; clear definitions defined by God and fulfilled through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.