How a Little White Lie
Turned the World Gray
Joshua was really not sure how his brother, Joe, would ever forgive him for deflowering his precious Mary. It had only been a week and Mary said she would be able to keep the secret, but Joshua was still quite uneasy about the whole thing. How would he hide the facts? Joseph was bound to figure out the obvious; Mary was no longer a virgin. “Why did I sleep with my brother’s bride on her wedding night,” pondered Joshua. Luckily, Joseph was a virgin also and was still quite shy about intimacy.
A few weeks had past and Joshua thought he actually got away with it. Surely, Joseph had consummated his marriage by now, and maybe he was just ignorant to the facts. It was a Sunday, and Joshua went to dinner at Joe and Mary’s house as he normally did after congregation. At the dinner table, the family would discuss the lesson(s) taught during that day’s sermon. The men at church spoke of how God was going to send a messenger to spread the ‘good word.’ Joshua figured the men would handpick one of themselves as ‘God’s representative,’ for that was the way business was conducted in the church. Joseph, on the other hand, was convinced. He fumed, “Don’t blaspheme in my house, brother! If God spoke to you the way he speaks to other men in the congregation, you would have no doubts to God’s master plan. Try having a little faith!” Joshua excused himself from the table, and he stepped outside for a quick smoke.
Joshua was startled to find he wasn’t alone as he stood there muttering insensitive insults about his brother; Mary had been standing in the doorway. “Oh great, now I have to hear it from the wife, too,” complained Joshua. Mary piped in, “I’m pregnant Josh, and the baby is yours.” Joshua slowly turned to face Mary. All sound had stopped, everything got blindingly bright, and every muscle in Joshua’s body failed at the same time. Only a few minutes had passed before Mary was able to awaken the still shivering Joshua. “Bu….sshh….fuh…..how……no….” Joshua’s lips were moving, but he couldn’t speak properly at all. He pressed the flats of his hands against his face. Because it had been so long since that night, Joshua just figured he pulled a fast one on his brother and all was forgotten. “Now, how am I going to explain this one to Joe,” thought Joshua. “Well, haven’t the two of you…you know, had sex yet?” he asked. Mary shook her head. This was BIG, something he knew would be impossible to hide. He convinced Mary he would come up with a solution. “Just give me a few days. You can trust me,” he explained, “Now, go inside and act normal.” Joshua wanted to be sure he and Mary didn’t return to the dinner table at the same time, so he remained on the veranda for another smoke while pondering the situation.
Joshua returned to the table only to excuse himself for the rest of the evening. He apologized to Joseph and the family for being rude, and he revealed that he would be praying for forgiveness from God and from all of them. He asked them to do the same; pray for him. Joshua was not exactly accepting of his family’s choice in religion. He was too intelligent for organized religion. It’s not to say he was immoral and living in sin; he just preferred to be a thinker. Granted he did have a one-night stand with his brother’s wife, but nobody is perfect. Joshua also was not fond of an ‘absolute truth,’ such as ‘God’s word.’ He believed everything had an explanation, and some things had more than one explanation. As he walked home that night from Joseph’s, the moon and stars lit his path ever so effulgently. He dismissed the cloudless night as a ‘fortunate coincidence,’ but he knew Joe would have explained such a night as ‘grace from God above.’ “Everything is always God-this, God-that,” Joshua thought aloud. “Joe uses God to explain everything.” He stopped dead in his tracks. Just like that, he knew exactly how he was going to explain to Joseph that Mary was pregnant and how she came to be pregnant. It was clearer to him than the cool, desert night he walked through.
It was Wednesday, and Mary had not heard from Joshua yet. Morning sickness was a regular thing now, and Joseph began to be concerned. “Is everything o.k.?” he would ask Mary. She had offered the excuse, “Maybe it was the fish we ate on Sunday.” Joseph knew his wife to be an ‘honest’ woman, so he dismissed any other possibilities. He would just ask, “Should I send for a doctor?” Mary knew that if a doctor came, she would be found out. “No dear,” she would say. Mary was beginning to get furious at Josh and her emotional rollercoaster would throw tears into the mix, as to really make things difficult on her. She was starting to think she should just tell Joseph the truth. “He is a man of God, and he will forgive me,” Mary rationalized. Mary’s family believed in arranged marriages, so Mary ran away from home when she was only sixteen. She met Joseph shortly after, and his family took her in and helped her with food and shelter. Mary took a liking to Joseph, because he was always working hard and he stuck to his convictions. However, Joseph had a brother, whose nose was always stuck in books. She would try to get his attention, but he never seemed to notice her. Mary desired both brothers, and got what she wanted in the end. She had a loving, caring husband, and she got to sleep with the ‘dark and mysterious’ brother. Only now, she has to live in shame and regret. “Oh, where the hell is Joshua?” she thought.
The weekend was nearing and Joseph was really concerned about Mary’s health. She had no color left in her face, and she hadn’t been able to keep down any food lately. “She had only started complaining about not being well earlier in the week, maybe Sunday,” Joseph said to himself. “Maybe it was the way I asked her if we could finally consummate; maybe it is still too early for that.” Joseph couldn’t figure out why Mary was acting the way she had been, or why it only seemed to really escalate whenever sex was mentioned. Joseph always knew his first time would be with the woman he married, it was God’s wishes. He loved Mary dearly; so much so, that he believed Mary was only being just as shy about sex as he was. After all, it was Joseph who slept in a different room than his wife on their wedding night. He thought it was justifiable. He convinced himself that the alcohol he consumed after the wedding might tempt him to lust his wife, instead of love her. He didn’t want his first time to be driven by such a sin. He understood maybe she wanted the same, and that’s why it hasn’t happened yet. Joseph knew in his heart that if he brought up ‘sex,’ Mary might think him to be gluttonous. So, they never really talked about it, they never acted upon their animal instincts, and Joseph believed it best to let things happen as God plans them to.
Exactly one week had gone by since Mary told Joshua the news. Joshua showed up for congregation as he always had. Mary pulled Joshua aside and said angrily, “You are such a bastard! How could you make me wait so long to find out what horseshit story you are going to feed Joseph?” Joshua told her not to fret, that he just needed time to refine his story. Mary thought this calm behavior to be completely unacceptable, so she slapped him. “Do you have any idea what I’ve been through this past week?” she demanded, “Who do you think you are?” Joshua, completely complacent, began explaining to Mary all the details she would need to know to make this story work. Mary listened intently, nodded, nodded again, laughed, nodded again, and gave Josh a big hug. “I think this is actually going to work,” said a very relieved Mary. Joshua went into the church to sit with the other men, and Mary found her seat near the back with the rest of the women. The message given during the sermon dealt with God’s mysterious ways of talking to us. A man spoke of the Garden of Eden, of how God told Adam that a woman was to be made from his rib. The man went on further to say, “The man is to work the earth, and the woman is to do what her husband wishes and be subject to the pain of childbirth.” The men of the congregation found this to be funny. They chuckled and nodded in agreement. Joshua, however, found this “mysterious messages” mumbo-jumbo to be insightful. He realized he had found the missing piece to his story.
Dinnertime at Joe and Mary’s had its normal crowded table. Everyone trying to talk over everyone else; it sounded like a chicken coop, inside a duck farm, surrounded by geese. The table was overflowing with friends and family this week, for some reason. Joshua knew his moment was coming closer. Mary kept glaring at Josh and mouthing the word, “Now!” Joshua knew that timing could make or break his entire story. Then, like a flash of lightning, the time came. There was the quickest break in every conversation simultaneously. It was as if God slammed his fist on the dinner table to quash everyone. Joshua stood, and everyone’s head turned to face him. So, Josh began: “Could I please have a moment? I have something I would like to say.” The room silenced. “Everyone here knows that I have had many troubles with faith and many disagreements with God.” Joseph stared with intrigue, his eyes glossed over as he humbly watched his brother’s charisma. Joshua continued, “I prayed all the way home last week, and God forgave me.” Mary acted interested. “You see, God spoke to me that night. God told me that he had a gift for me, a gift for man.” Some friends from church were fascinated and listened attentively. “I did not just ask God to forgive my blasphemy, but to forgive the sins that all men revel in.” Joshua looked directly at Joseph and explained, “It was my brother who always prayed for me, who always believed in me when no one else would. It is my brother who God shall reward highly.” Joseph anticipated nervously what his brother’s next words would be. Joshua raised his glass and proclaimed, “God, through Joseph and Mary, has offered his one and only son. His name will be Jesus, and one day he will die for the sins of mankind.” Joseph stood up, looked at Mary, then back at Josh and with great perplexity pondered aloud, “How could this be? Mary is a virgin.” Mary’s faux surprised eyes went from Joseph to Joshua, back to Joseph, and then to Joshua again. Joshua agreed, “Yes brother, Mary is a virgin. She is pregnant though, through miraculous conception.” Although faithful, Joseph was still confused. Joshua went on further to sound more convincing, “I have waited to tell you this until I have seen with my own eyes that Mary is indeed pregnant.” Joseph knew in his heart that this story must be true. Joe exclaimed, “Spread the word; my Mary is to give birth to the son of God!” Everyone was overjoyed, but none as much as Joshua and Mary. They could not believe that everyone at the table, let alone Joseph, bought into Joshua’s most bizarre story. They got away with it.
Mary was near the end of her pregnancy, and word of her ‘miraculous conception’ had spread throughout the land. Joshua’s story had been widely accepted as truth for all followers of God. These followers went on to write their own version of the events leading up to the birth of Jesus, but only Mary and Joshua knew the facts. New stories were created about the life of Jesus, but were left out of God’s book because they were not as interesting. Jesus was no longer a boy when a man named Judas, who had also read the tales of Joshua, came into his life. The rest, as they say, is History…..or Theology?