This is the billboard erected this holiday season by St. Matthew’s, a progressive New Zealand church.
The St. Matthew’s blog explains:
To make the news at Christmas it seems a priest just needs to question the literalness of a virgin giving birth. Many in society mistakenly think that to challenge literalism is to challenge the norms of Christianity. What progressive interpretations try to do however is remove the supernatural obfuscation and delve into the deeper spiritual truth of this festival.
Christian fundamentalism believes a supernatural male God who lived above sent his sperm into the womb of the virgin Mary. Although there were a series of miraculous events surrounding JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ birth Ã¢â‚¬â€œ like wandering stars and angelic choirs Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the real miracle was his death and literal resurrection 33 years later. The importance of this literal resurrection is the belief that it was a cosmic transaction whereby the male God embraced humanity only after being satiated by JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ innocent blood.
Progressive Christianity believes the Christmas stories are fictitious accounts designed to introduce the radical nature of the adult Jesus. They contrast the Lord and Saviour Caesar with the anomaly of a new Ã¢â‚¬ËœlordÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and Ã¢â‚¬ËœsaviourÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ born illegitimate in a squalid barn. At Bethlehem low-life shepherds and heathen travelers are welcome while the powerful and the priests arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. The stories introduce the topsy-turvy way of God, where the outsiders are invited in and the insiders ushered out.
Progressive Christianity doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t overlook JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ life and rush to his death. Rather it sees the radical hospitality he offered to the poor, the despised, women, children, and the sick, and says: Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthis is the essence of GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. His death was a consequence of the offensive nature of that hospitality and his resurrection a symbolic vindication.
The Christmas billboard outside St Matthew-in-the-City lampoons literalism and invites people to think again about what a miracle is. Is the miracle a male God sending forth his divine sperm, or is the miracle that God is and always has been among the poor?
The Virgin Mary in bed. We thought we’d seen it all here at Sex and the 405. Now that the shock has worn off, we’re thinking this may make a clever holiday greeting.