On Explaining Immaculate Conception to an Eight-Year-Old

Since we just finished reading “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” (the best children’s-chapter-book-with-a-Christmas theme ever!) , we decided to pull out some of our dearly beloved picture books for bedtime reading tonight.

I chose my FA-A-A-A-vorite:

The Nativity– retold by Juliana Bragg & illustrated by Sheilah Beckett

Now, I realize that the illustrations are probably not very accurate portrayals of Mary. There’s a good chance she had red hair but I’m pretty sure those eyes weren’t blue (though, apparently, Jewish people can have blue eyes).

Anyway, I’ve loved this book for a long time–mostly because I adore the illustrations.

Yes, a long time. I claimed this book as my own in third grade when I a student in Mrs. Oliver’s class (shout out to one of my most favorite teachers eva’!).  🙂

But back to storytime…

At the end, The Youngest said to me, “I get all confused between the movies and books like this and the Bible…”

Uh-oh. I’m thinking, “Bible trivia knowledge, don’t fail me now!”

She continued, “If Mary was Jesus’ mother, and she was married to Joseph and he was Jesus’ father, does that mean that Joseph was God?”

Okay readers, which approach would you take?

A) share a short synopsis on reproduction

B) break out some deep theological truths

C) run away and make The Husband–also known as “The Preacher” in other social circles–put his seminary training to work

Well, I didn’t even think about “C” (dang it!). I did kind of combine “A” and “B.”

I told her that Joseph was more of a step-father that took care of Jesus on earth; he wasn’t the actual father. That’s where it got a little sticky because I had to decide how far to wade into the reproduction business. I talked about how all babies start from an egg (I think we’ve covered that before) and grow in their Mommy’s tummy. Then I said that somehow God just made that egg that grew to be baby Jesus in Mary’s tummy. I also mentioned that I absolutely had no idea how exactly it all worked or how it actually happened; I just know that Jesus is God’s son not Joseph’s son.

“Does that make sense?” I asked.

“Yes. Kinda.” she said.

“I know,” I replied. “It’s hard to understand.”

Then I started doing all that deep thinking that gives you migraines. How exactly did that happen? There’s that one verse…

“The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Luke 1:35)

…but that’s still kind of vague. I mean, never felt a need for knowing a detailed explanation of the process, but it would have been helpful tonight.

Also–random side question–I wonder if Jesus called Joseph “Father” or if he gave him a nickname like Papa Joe, saving the title of “Father” for the Big Guy Upstairs? Hmmm….

When I was trying to explain to The Youngest, I kept thinking, “This sounds completely dumb.” I mean, there’s lots of weird stuff in the Bible that sounds okay when you’re reading it, but suddenly when you start telling a story about a donkey talking or a giant hand writing messages on the wall , it sometimes makes you think, “How do people come to believe this, especially if they weren’t raised in the Word?” (Or maybe it’s just me.)

I don’t give the Holy Spirit enough props, but tonight I was reminded of what an important job that guy (girl? being?) has. Not only does he help our heads understand (or at least accept) the messages of the Bible, but he also played a pretty big part in the Christmas story. Poor guy (girl? being?)…he’s always getting left out.

You know, they really should hand out parenting manuals for all the unexpected Biblical questions that come out of the mouths of babes.

What do you think? Did I pass the Pop Quiz? How would you have explained it differently?

This entry was posted in Family, Holidays, Spiritual Growth and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to On Explaining Immaculate Conception to an Eight-Year-Old

  1. Jessica says:

    I feel certain there must be some obscure book out there in the world that explains virgin birth to eight year olds. That’s just too good of a market not to corner!

    But I think it’s just better to let that spirit guy (girl? being?) direct you in the way to share this stuff with your kids, instead of canned, bound, and printed explanations. 🙂

    I don’t know how reproductive my answer would have been! 😀

  2. Amy says:

    I would have looked at them with a dumbfounded look and said “Go read your bible”.

    Not really. LOL.

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