Joseph Was A Pedophile?

Dream of St. Joseph by Francisco Rizi

Dream of St. Joseph by Francisco Rizi

Apparently Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler believes that a) Jesus' adoptive father, Joseph, was a pedophile, b) Jesus's birth was the result of human sexual intercourse, and, one presumes, c) standards of decency do not change.  The governing men of the state of Alabama have had a rough year, what with their apparent inability to keep their pants zipped. No wonder Ziegler felt a need to defend Senate candidate Roy Moore's honor by citing the Bible.  Surely if an adult Joseph could marry a teenage Mary, and an aging Zechariah could spawn a son John by his younger wife Elizabeth, it is "nothing immoral or illegal... Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

Do I really need to point out the superabundance of problems with this whole line of thinking? Just in case:

  • Sexual harassment, pedophilia, molestation, and rape have very little to do with sexual desire or even a lack of personal discipline, and everything to do with demonstrating one's power over another.   The problem is not that these men were randy. The problem is that they are predators.
  • According to the Bible, Joseph married his already-pregnant fiancee Mary, and had no sexual relations with her before Jesus was born.
  • In Ziegler's Alabama, the minimum age for marriage is 16, suggesting that Alabamans did decide, at some point, that marrying off their pubescent daughters was a custom best left to history.

All of these psychological, biblical, and sociological objections to Ziegler's statement are far less interesting than Ziegler's apparent validation of the accusations against Moore.  Notice he didn't deny that Moore might have solicited sex from a ninth-grader, just that there was anything "immoral or illegal" about doing so. Which, of course, there is.

For anyone who doesn't yet understand the uproar over the widespread practice of oppression via sexual crime, let me be very clear:

  • When a government official off-handedly defends pedophilia and molestation as slight deviations from the norm, we have a problem.
  • When a political intimate of the President suggests that the allegations are comparable with the sexual abuse about which the President bragged, and are therefore negligible, we have a problem.

To be fair, high profile evangelical and non-evangelical Christian leaders are condemning both Ziegler's attitude and his interpretation of the Bible, in high contrast to the general defense of sexual predation in the evangelical American church.

If you are a "person of faith" in the Christian tradition, use of the Bible to defend any morally repugnant action should horrify you and galvanize you to action. The unholy alliance between Christianity and the American empire must come to an end. 

The acceptance of evil done in the name of our Christ must come to an end. It's time to defend Joseph's good name.