“Jesus Had Two Dads and He Turned Out Just Fine”

on September 24, 2013

A United Methodist church outside Nashville sparked controversy and gained publicity by posting on its outdoor sign: “Jesus Had Two Dads and He Turned Out Just Fine.” In media interviews, the pastor insisted no political statement was intended and the aspiration was only to affirm children in non traditional families. But in our current cultural and political climate, the sign’s message was interpreted in obvious ways.

Several United Methodist general conferences ago, delegates approved brief language for the church’s Social Principles affirming the importance of both mothers and fathers. I had written the petition. The language was quietly deleted at a subsequent General Conference. Mothers and fathers have become controversial! That a female parent uniquely complements a male parent and vice versa is a concept threatening to the new Gnostic gender-bending zeitgeist, in which each self-actualized individual as a matter of right may reinvent his/her gender reality.

The Methodist sign affirming Jesus’ two dads omitted one key participant in Jesus’ parentage: His mother. Was Mary inconsequential? She bore, gave birth, reared, protected and revered her Son. There was no physical incarnation of the Savior without Mary. Jesus had His Heavenly Father, His earthly step father Joseph, and His faithful mother, who lived to see Him complete His mission and grieved His suffering but atoning death on the Cross. Can anyone understand Jesus without His mother?

Obviously the circumstances of Jesus’ virgin birth were unique to Him as Savior. But the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, living under the protection of the Heavenly Father, faithfully serving and complementing each other, is the lofty example for every family. There are many tragic examples in our fallen world where the traditional model is absent. But celebrating that absence to the extent of declaring mothers and fathers unnecessary to each other and to children rejects God’s order of creation and hurts countless people.

Mary is everlastingly Jesus’ mother, for which she will always be honored on earth and in heaven. Jesus is eternally the only begotten Son of the Father. Each of us, if the Gospels are true, will forever have, like Jesus, a resurrected body. There is no sexuality in heaven. But there is decidedly male and female. There is no gender bending in heaven. Instead there is Christ the eternal bride groom, and His Church, the eternal bride. Heaven we are told is a wedding feast that lasts forever. And everyone is invited. But attendance is not compelled. By God’s grace, it is chosen.

Likely the church will need to re-explain the basic Christian cosmology if it is to persuade a confused audience of what was once manifest about the complementarity of male and female, physically and spiritually. And maybe central to that explanation will be a focus on Mary as mother of our Lord.

A new professor at evangelical Wheaton College explains here his popular course on Mary, which includes the very high regard for her by Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Wesley. He writes:

And so she remains a leader and teacher to us Protestants as well. Mary, once known as “Destroyer of Heresies,” can similarly protect Evangelicalism from its own set of foes: from Protestant liberalism’s dated conceits; from tired neo-Gnostic assaults; from stubborn divisions that weaken the mission of the Church; from a lingering, unholy patriarchy within the Christian tradition; and from the siren song of secular feminism, which has bargained with the devil on the wrong side of the sanctity of life.

Maybe future provocative Methodist church signs, instead of tongue-in-cheek citing Jesus’ two dads, will instead spotlight His mother as central to God’s redemption of the world.

  1. Comment by Donnie on September 24, 2013 at 7:50 am

    The bad theology and politics, not to mention tackiness, of the “Christian” left knows no bounds.

  2. Comment by Rev J Robert Berghuis on October 3, 2013 at 10:03 am

    As Wesley wrote, in all things charity and to name call those who disagree with you I find offensive and misguided. I am personally a moral conservative and a social liberal. Not on the Left hold to the same view on all issues nor are we all tackles and hold to bad theology.

  3. Comment by John Edwards on October 4, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    “Moral conservative and social liberal” is an oxymoron, because many liberal social policies are immoral. I find such a point of view highly offensive because it is high and mighty in attitude, i.e., “tacky”. If you read carefully, preacher, Donnie did not name call any particular person. He merely described some self-evident properties of a group labeled “the Left.” Get off your self-righteous high horse.

  4. Comment by John Edwards on October 4, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    A short list of liberal social policies that are immoral:
    (1) incurring more debt than a nation can possibly sustain
    (2) incurring unfunded debts that future generations will have to pay
    (3) giving handouts to people without personal accountability for their use
    (4) giving handouts to people who are capable of meeting their own needs by getting them jobs
    (5) passing legislation that has the net effect of getting voters to keep selected legislators in office
    (6) passing laws that are against the will of the majority of all constituents
    (7) allowing people to vote who are not citizens
    (8) opposing efforts to purge voting rosters of dead voters, prison inmates, and inelligible persons
    (9) favoring laws that show more concern for animals than people
    (10) favoring laws that allow unborn humans to be murdered.

  5. Comment by Eric Lytle on September 24, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Call me old-fashioned, but I think reverence toward God and Christ ought to be one of the marks of a Christian. I’m sure this pastor thought he was being very noble in trying to “affirm children non-traditional marriages,” but the sign simply gives the impression that he takes Political Correctness far more seriously than he takes God and Christ, which is pretty much the definition of the religious left.

    Not so keen on Mariolatry myself, nor happy that it is being taught at Wheaton. We evangelicals can affirm the traditional family without elevating Mary to a status she does not hold in the Bible.

  6. Comment by Julie Heiland on September 25, 2013 at 4:12 am

    FYI, no one worships Mary. No one puts her on a parallel with Jesus Christ. That’s a straw man. In order to bear Jesus Christ, she had to have been an exceptional human being, and her obedience to God’s will is something we must all emulate. That is all the Catholic and Orthodox have EVER taught. Learn the facts.

  7. Comment by Doug Jenkins on September 28, 2013 at 12:13 am

    The Immaculate Conception, in my humble estimation, is as close as one can come to deifying a mere human being, while attempting to maintain their finiteness. There is no canonical evidence of her “sinlessness”, it is merely a logical argument to establish Jesus’ sinless state of being. While not technically putting her on par with the Godhead, pragmatically it appears to do so.

  8. Comment by The Sheepcat on September 25, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Eric Lytle, having spent a couple of years as a Baptist I can appreciate your concern to avoid unscriptural practices; however, let me ask you something. According to the Bible itself, Mary declares, “from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48). How often do you call her blessed? Personally, I hardly gave her a thought except around Christmas.
    As your brother in Christ I challenge you to watch this 11-minute video and then see whether Catholics are elevating Mary (whom we do not worship!) to a status she does not hold in the Bible.

  9. Comment by Falcon 78 on September 25, 2013 at 10:32 am

    So, you think, “a status she does not hold in the Bible.” Please reconsider. “Blessed are you among women.” Also, at the foot of the Cross, Jesus himself gives Mary to us as the mother of us all when he says to John, “Behold your mother.” As a Catholic, I’m always amazed when Protestants will ask me–lowly me–to pray for them for whatever their petition, yet not ask our Blessed Mother to pray for them and to intercess for them with her Son. Believe me, you can talk to her just like you’d talk to me–and she’ll be there. The Rosary was the greatest prayer tool ever given to mankind.

  10. Comment by John Edwards on October 4, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    The petitions to Mary practiced by Catholics take the form of prayers. You, sir, would feel uncomfortable if instead of merely asking you to pray for me, I got on my knees and prayed to you to pray to God for me. As much honor and respect as we Protestants have for Mary, we think of the practice of petitioning Mary, or the pantheon of Saints, to intercede for us un-necessary. We believe the personal relation acheivable between ourselves and the Trinity is sufficient for directing prayers. And whether Catholics like it or not, the petitioning of Mary was invented by the Roman Catholic priesthood to take over the many strains of female deity worship that lingered in Europe after Christianity finally gained a stronghold there. That is why Protestants do not pray to her, though we revere her holiness. That is also why some feminist liberals worship Sophia instead of Jesus.

  11. Comment by Chris on September 26, 2013 at 12:19 am

    All heresies start by someone, acting in the name of piety and sincerity, who thinks it is his need to protect the majesty of the Godhead and so invents new doctrines which the Church never knew prior so that God would not be blasphemed. We’ve seen this with Arius, Nestorius, Eutyches, Apollinarius, Pelagius, etc. This pastor knew what he was doing. I’m sure he’s sincere in his belief and maybe even pious, but it is still heresy and should be condemned as such.

  12. Comment by John Edwards on October 4, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Right on!

  13. Comment by Frankie Perdue on September 24, 2013 at 11:33 am

    I don’t know why elevating Mary is such a problem. She was selected to bring forth Jesus here on earth so she must have really been special. I’m not talking about Mari-ology which seeks to make her equal with God in reverence, but just realizing what a profoundly awesome and special lady she was and is.

    As to the point of 2 Dads .. I like the fact that Jesus also had a mother and her influence had to be great. What I don’t care for is the assumption that two males (and the intimation is 2 gay, queer, homos) can raise a child and are of the same status as Joseph and God the Father. Please … if this isn’t bordering on the unholy, I don’t know what is. This is part of what is wrong with main line denominations who don’t know when their liberal politics becomes offensive blasphemy.

  14. Comment by Mark on September 24, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Jesus — like many children in same-sex parented families — was raised by only one biological parent. He turned out fine. Ditto for Moses. Now Adam and Eve, on the other hand….

  15. Comment by John Edwards on October 4, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Boy howdy, are you naive!

  16. Comment by Greg Paley on September 24, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    I would like to ask the pastor how many baptisms he performed in the past year, how many new members transferred in, how many people left. Flaunting one’s leftism in public is usually the sign of a dying church, not a healthy one. The pastor got what he wanted: coverage in the local paper. For the secular-minded, that is worth much more than God saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

  17. Comment by Dave Gingrich on October 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    An astutue observation. Thank you.

  18. Comment by John on September 25, 2013 at 12:40 am

    So they’re acting like Mary didn’t even exist. Who knew “progressive” liberals could be so sexist?

  19. Comment by Tim Sullivan on September 25, 2013 at 7:34 am

    When people question the importance of Mary, I like to tell them that, according to the Bible, they will have more appreciation for Mary when they are filled with the Holy Spirit. “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?'” Luke 1:41-43

  20. Comment by Manny on September 25, 2013 at 8:02 am

    I never understood the Protestant dimunition of Mary, our blessed mother. They have lost out so much.

  21. Comment by John Edwards on October 4, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Protestants don’t diminish Mary. We simply refuse to elevate her to some super-human status. She was holy, virtuous, blessed, and worthy of being revered. However, we don’t consider these necessary conditions for having her petition God on our behalf, since we can petition God directly in the name of Christ, as proclaimed in the Bible.

  22. Comment by Alan Carson on September 25, 2013 at 8:58 am

    My family had been Methodist since John Wesley, but I left it and joined John Wesley’s church. Despite the liberalism of the Episcopal Church, there is at least some sense of reason in what we do and believe. Not so the Methodists. I predict a general exodus from that organization.

  23. Comment by Martin Fox on September 25, 2013 at 9:28 am

    The billboard slogan betrays a real lack of critical thinking. Cute? Check. Feel-good? Check. Thoughtful? Anything but.

    Nothing against St. Joseph, who deserves everyone’s admiration, insofar as his epitaph–from the Gospel of Matthew–is, he did what God commanded (through the angel). In the Bible, that’s perfect praise. And his role was pretty important, it seems, given the Archangel being sent to him.

    And yet: it was Mary from whom God chose to be incarnate. God shares DNA with Mary. And the significance of Mary being present from beginning to end, especially at the Cross and Pentecost, must not be overestimated. Notably, our Savior calls her “Woman” at the wedding of Cana, and again, at the Cross: she is the New Eve, whose “yes” undoes the knot tied by the first Eve’s “no.”

    But that stupid pastor…and, no I’m not saying that to be gratuitously insulting. His comment, on the sign, simply is stupid. And his response indicates he doesn’t get it. So it’s his stupidity.

  24. Comment by Thomas Williams on September 25, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Mariolotry is a crass misinterpretation of many Christians’ deepest held beliefs. The Mother of God’s “yes” to the Angel was the beginning of man’s redemption. God became incarnate as Man in a human body. Her human body. Please show some humility and some respect.

  25. Comment by John Edwards on October 4, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    If that respect includes the non-Biblical theory that Mary was concieved immaculately in order to be a sufficient vessel for God, then count me out. My respect goes so far as to revere her for her holiness, blessedness, courage, and virtue, but no farther.

  26. Comment by Wade H on October 2, 2013 at 12:07 am

    Bad theology, bordering on heresy. Two dads? The closest you can get is that Joseph was his step-father. The pastor needs to go back to the Nicene Creed. Jesus was begotten not made…true God from true God. And then read the first chapter of John

  27. Comment by L. Allen on October 2, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Sin is sin! You can call it what you want, but it is sin. To condone this lifestyle is to condone any sin.

  28. Comment by art mann on October 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    There are none so blind as those who will not see, The Bible does not tell Christians to worship Mary as Catholics do, and yes they do, which of the Disciples ever spoke of Mary as the Catholics do,? No, we must preach the truth, by God’s Grace some will hear.

  29. Comment by Dave Gingrich on October 2, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    This Methodist is embarrassed at the ignorance of the Nashville paster, and hoping the church members take appropriate action.

  30. Comment by Ben Welliver on October 7, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I hope you’re right about that congregation, but don’t hold your breath, the average UM layperson is not a rock-the-boat type (I’m speaking as an ex-UM). Growing up in the Deep South, there was a saying “When the Baptists split, they spread; when the Methodists split, they’re dead.” Baptists had a reputation for being contentious if they thought their pastor who had gone off the rails, and many Baptist churches had their beginnings in a group that split off from a pastor they didn’t trust. The Methodists, more laidback (or lukewarm), were more inclined to just stick with the pastor, or just drop out of church completely – or, like many today, become Baptists or other evangelicals. My apologies (in advance) to any faithful UM laity or clergy who read this. There are plenty of you, thank God, but it’s the goofball left in the UM that gets the attention – which is their main goal. I’m not telling IRD to stop running stories like this (heaven forbid), but rest assured the goofballs LOVE this kind of attention from the right.

  31. Comment by Ron Keener on October 3, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Mark, I appreciate your forthright commentary and your defense of the truth in this fallen world. Thanks for what you are doing. It must at times feel like a very lonely position. You are among the few I would enjoy sitting next to during a long plane ride. Blessings.

  32. Comment by Tom Layton on October 4, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    All who become “children of God” (John 1:12) have two fathers, one heavenly and one earthly. I’m proud to have two fathers.

  33. Comment by Dan Murrow on August 20, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    Mary is everlastingly Jesus’ mother, for which she will always be honored on earth and in heaven.”
    Just not in the bible, for example Matthew 1, where we see the lineage from King David to Jesus via Joseph.

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