Do you believe that Mother Mary was the product of an Immaculate Conception, and how does her sinlessness relate to Adam and Eve's sinfulness?

Email Received:

Christians believe that Jesus was perfect, human and divine; I believe this. If Mary had been sinful, then Jesus would not have been perfect, as Mary would have affected Jesus directly. Mary would not only have been sinless while she was carrying Jesus in the womb either but afterwards also.

I believe in the Immaculate Conception. If you do, how does one understand God's creation of Mother Mary with Adam and Eve (could these two not also have been created "immaculately")? Before Adam and Eve failed, were they not already a sinful creation in that they had the ability to fail and to be sinful? Yet Mother Mary never had the desire and could not sin; with her holiness, she did not have the ability.

Tedís Response:

Before responding to your comments and questions, I just want to note that when most Protestants and even many Catholics hear the term "immaculate conception," they believe it refers to the immaculate and sinless conception of Jesus. But as you know, this Catholic doctrine (which was a dogma proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in 1854) refers to the "immaculate" and "sinless" conception of Mary, which I believe was not possible.

I know that many Catholics believe Mary "had" to have been sinless, even throughout all of her life. The assumption is that this is the only way Jesus could have been perfect and sinless Himself. I realize that many find this to be a logical concept, and they can believe whatever they choose to believe. That is not what I believe, though.

Offhand, I cannot think of another woman whom I revere more and hold in higher esteem than Mary, the mother of Jesus. This is true even though I am not a Catholic. However, I find no indication in Scripture that God acted upon Mary in the first moment of her conception, making and keeping her "immaculate." Moreover, I do not endorse the notion that Mary was the product of an "immaculate conception" by her parents, nor do I subscribe to the notion that she was sinless during all of her life.

Furthermore, unlike what many Catholics believe, Mary was not a "co-Savior" for our sins, along with Jesus.  Atonement and remission of sins comes by the shedding of blood (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22).  Only Jesus shed His blood to take away our sins; Mary did not.  Also, there is only one mediator between God and men: Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).

I believe that the only way for Mary to have been genetically sinless would have been if her parents were sinless, and their parents were sinless, and so on all the way back to Adam/Eve, which we know was not the case. There is nothing in Scripture stating that Mary was sinless; insisting that she was merely is a doctrinal precept of the Catholic Church.

Even Mary herself affirmed that her spirit rejoiced in God, her Savior (Luke 1:47). Had Mary been sinless, she would not have needed a Savior. After the birth of Jesus, Mary was ceremonially unclean, as were all women after childbirth (Leviticus 12:2). After the time of her purification, the priest offered a sacrifice of two young pigeons or doves as atonement for her, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering, at which time the priest would have pronounced her clean again (Leviticus 12:7,8; Luke 2:24), but not sinless.

I feel that the reason why Jesus was able to withstand temptation, such as that from Satan (Matthew 4:1-11), was because, unlike any other person, He was genetically God as well as man (see Was Jesus God?). Simply speaking, His God component was able to overcome His flesh, and as such He was able to resist the temptation of sin all of His life. In essence, He was God in flesh (John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16). He also was the living, breathing Torah or Law (see Torah and Prophets).

Jesus was tempted in all the same ways that we are, yet remained sinless (Hebrews 4:15). I believe this means that He felt all the same fleshly and worldly attractions and desires that we do. He also was tempted not to endure the excruciating pain of the cross for the sins of humanity, for which He sought strength from the Father to be able to do (Luke 22:42-44). But He was able to withstand and overcome all temptations by making a conscious decision to resist each one. Continuous communication with the Father, through the Holy Spirit, was a key factor in His being able to do so.

Also, had Satan known that it would have been impossible to stir up desires within Jesus, it seems likely that he would not have bothered trying to tempt Him. Jesus was a supreme role model for us. He demonstrated that in any given situation, and by seeking the strength provided by the Father, via the Holy Spirit, it is possible to resist temptation because He did it.

Another factor in Jesus' sinlessness may have involved His genetic makeup. I do not have the time to explain it here, but the following is an email response I wrote to someone about it: If Jesus was God, why did He say the Father was greater than He and knew things He didn't?

As for Adam and Eve, I believe that they were imperfect, from the moment of their creation. Had they been perfect, they would not have chosen to sin; rather, they sinned because they were imperfect. More about this can be found in the first and last Adam subsection of my Creation commentary.

I also believe that this present creation was imperfect from its inception. Many believe that this world originally was perfect but became imperfect after Eve and Adam's original sin. I disagree, but I do believe that a perfect Creation is coming after this one has been discarded, has perished, and has passed away (Psalm 102:25,26; Hebrews 1:10-12; Revelation 21:1). More about this can be found in my old and new Creations and "very good" vs. "perfect" sections.

Return to Email Questions and Tedís Responses

Go to Tedís Bible Commentaries and Other Links

View the New International Version of the Bible

Go to Tedís Homepage