Bible scholars take issue with Moore's defender - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Bible scholars take issue with Moore's defender

ADVERTISEMENT
Bookmark and Share
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File). FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, file photo, former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at a rally, in Fairhope, Ala. According to a Washington Post story Nov. 9, an Alabama woman said... (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File). FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, file photo, former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at a rally, in Fairhope, Ala. According to a Washington Post story Nov. 9, an Alabama woman said...

By CALVIN WOODWARD
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - An Alabama state official is citing the Bible to defend the Republican U.S. Senate candidate accused of sexual advances on girls. State auditor Jim Ziegler says "Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter," suggesting that Roy Moore acted in a divine tradition if he in fact made sexual advances toward a 14-year-old girl.

Theologians and pastors, among others, expressed revulsion that Mary and Joseph would be used to counter allegations of sexual misbehavior with a minor. They also said Ziegler got the facts wrong and ignored the cultural context of the time in which Jesus lived.

"If this is evangelicalism, I'm on the wrong team," the evangelical commentator Ed Stetzer wrote in Christianity Today. "But it is not. Christians don't use Joseph and Mary to explain child molesting accusations."

Moore, a 70-year-old former state Supreme Court justice, flatly denied allegations of decades-old sexual advances on girls, published Thursday in a Washington Post story. The accounts by multiple women prompted Republican lawmakers to say he should end his candidacy for the Dec. 12 special election if the allegations are true. "I have never engaged in sexual misconduct," Moore said Friday.

But Ziegler was dismissive about the fuss. "There's just nothing immoral or illegal here," he told the Washington Examiner. "Maybe just a little bit unusual."

Rev. Jim Martin, editor at large of the Jesuit magazine America, tweeted Friday that "comparing the allegations against Roy Moore in any way to Joseph and Mary is disgusting." Martin said: "We have no idea about the exact ages of either the Virgin Mary or St. Joseph at the time of their betrothal or marriage."

The Bible does not state the ages of Joseph and Mary, agrees Margaret M. Mitchell, a professor of early Christian literature and the New Testament at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Under ancient norms and apparently under first century Roman and Jewish law, she said, it was apparently common for girls 12 and older to be betrothed, though practice varied by region, social class and more.

She said the earliest text to mention Mary's age is "The Infancy Gospel of James," which she describes as "a clearly legendary text that is trying to expand on the gospel accounts." That non-authoritative text placed Mary's age at 12 when she conceived and it cited supposed evidence of her enduring virginity to demonstrate she conceived Jesus without sexual intercourse.

Similarly, Mitchell said by email, "We have no idea how old the historical Joseph was, though a tradition that he was very old developed in the second century and beyond." The point of that, too, was to support the idea of the virgin birth - Joseph perhaps being too old to impregnate Mary.

Such theories were "fanciful expansions on the Gospel narratives," Mitchell said. But they add a "veneer of solemnity ... that may allow a modern Christian like Mr Z (Ziegler) to gloss over what it means for a 12 or 14 year old girl to be viewed as and used as a sexual vessel."

Martin, in tweets, said: "Joseph is often depicted in art as older than Mary, in fact, considerably older, so as to make him seem less 'sexualized,' and to emphasize Mary's virginity. But, in fact, both Mary and Joseph could have been the same age."

Leigh Corfman told the Post she was 14 when Moore first approached her and took her to his home twice, the second time touching her over her bra and panties and having her touch him over his underwear. The Post quoted three other women who said he pursued them when they were 16 to 18 and he was in his early 30s. He denies the women's reports and says he won't quit the race.

If the Bible is not clear on the subject, the law is: Alabama's legal age of consent then and now is 16 and adults cannot touch children sexually or entice them into a home for that purpose.

___

AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • National politicsMore>>

  • US general says illegal nuclear launch order can be refused

    US general says illegal nuclear launch order can be refused

    Saturday, November 18 2017 6:09 PM EST2017-11-18 23:09:48 GMT
    Saturday, November 18 2017 11:30 PM EST2017-11-19 04:30:07 GMT

    The top officer at U.S. Strategic Command says an order from President Donald Trump or any of his successors to launch nuclear weapons can be refused if that order is determined to be illegal.

    The top officer at U.S. Strategic Command says an order from President Donald Trump or any of his successors to launch nuclear weapons can be refused if that order is determined to be illegal.

  • Deduction targeted by GOP used by tax filers in most states

    Deduction targeted by GOP used by tax filers in most states

    Saturday, November 18 2017 9:53 AM EST2017-11-18 14:53:09 GMT
    Saturday, November 18 2017 11:30 PM EST2017-11-19 04:30:24 GMT
    Residents of high-tax states would be affected most by the GOP's plan to eliminate or reduce the deduction for state and local taxes, but the change also could affect millions of other filers, including some in...
    Residents of high-tax states would be affected most by the GOP's plan to eliminate or reduce the deduction for state and local taxes, but the change also could affect millions of other filers, including some in Republican-led states.
  • Moore critic: Alabama Senate race a battle for nation's soul

    Moore critic: Alabama Senate race a battle for nation's soul

    Friday, November 17 2017 11:39 PM EST2017-11-18 04:39:35 GMT
    Saturday, November 18 2017 11:30 PM EST2017-11-19 04:30:17 GMT

    GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore's wife is standing by her embattled man, and she has gathered other Alabama women to his cause _ but not everyone is sticking with him.

    GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore's wife is standing by her embattled man, and she has gathered other Alabama women to his cause _ but not everyone is sticking with him.

Powered by Frankly