Morality and Ethics in Esotericism – Dirty Words in an Unclean World
by esotericist Mark Stavish
While it is generally agreed that our outer health, and even material circumstances, are a direct reflection of our inner wholeness, the connection of this idea in reality is a lot less simple for many in practice. Much, if not all of this difficulty comes from the notion that esotericism is a sort of ‘do it yourself’ process, in which practitioners can ‘pick what they like and leave the rest behind’. In reality, while that is fine to tell drug addicts and alcoholics in an NA or AA meeting and who are on the edge of total self-destruction (so anything is better than nothing) it is a lie when it comes teaching students who “of their own free will and accord” have placed themselves on a path of illumination.
In Kabbalah for Health and Wellness there is a discussion of the role of the Ten Commandments (as well as the two given by Jesus) in psychological and physical health so that inner realizations could take place. Somehow the knee-jerk rejection of anything rooted in Western culture took sway, and some neo-pagans reviewing the book seemed bent on criticizing this point rather than taking a step back and remembering that kabbalah is essentially Jewish, even when it is dressed up in late 19th and early 20th century polytheistic and reconstructionist metaphors. You can throw the baby out with the bathwater, but then in the end, you are left holding an empty bucket.
This desire to strip traditional teachings of any connection to their past is in no means limited to studies of kabbalah. American Buddhists are notorious for it as well. Like their Leftist, counter-culture, Sixties holdovers in the neo-pagan community, American Buddhists find it nearly impossible to sit down, shut up, listen, and change their point of view – even if for a moment – but instead insist on picking and choosing what moral and ethical precepts they like and which ones they don’t like. This is especially true when it comes to teachings against sexual license in general. This is further extended into the need to turn everything into a political and social movement rather than do the hard work of deconstructing and reconstructing themselves as individuals. It is as if the idea of actually being an individual – even for a moment – is too frightening to their entrenched collectivist ideology. “If it is good enough for me, then it is good enough for everyone” seems to be the motto of too many pathological reforms across many of the current spiritual groups in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.
Within Buddhism and its Tibetan predecessor, Bon, there are Ten Virtuous Deeds. Like the Ten Commandments for those who practice kabbalah, in any of its forms – Christian or Hermetic – the Ten Virtuous Deeds are not an option, but must be strictly followed.
These Ten Virtuous Deeds are:
Avoiding taking another’s life, including animal and plants beings whenever possible.
Being mindful, paying attention to what you are doing and what you are thinking of at any moment.
Following moral discipline to overcome sexual misconduct.
Telling truth and avoiding falsehood.
Working to bring together friends who have separated, and not spreading rumors.
Speaking peacefully and calmly and avoiding harsh language.
Practicing – prayer, meditation, pilgrimages, and other works, rather than wasting time, particularly on gossip.
Being free of evil thoughts towards others, generating love and kindness towards them rather than harmful thoughts.
Being free from wrong views of the teachings one is receiving, particularly firmly realizing the truth of the law of karma (cause and result or effect), and firmly entering the spiritual pathway.
If we take a careful look at these non-optional moral and ethical requirements, we can see that they are in fact even more stringent than the so-called Ten Commandments found in Jewish scripture and adopted by the Christians. The Ten Commandments can be summarized into: put God first, don’t blaspheme, keep one day set aside for spiritual practice, don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t lie, don’t commit adultery, and don’t desire for what another person owns. The Egyptian Negative Confession to Truth or Maat is even more detailed, yet repeats the same themes. All of these guidelines are direct and to the point – if you want to know God, or experience enlightenment, then these are the rules you need to follow. And if these are too burdensome, then your journey will become a longer and more difficult one. The choice is up to you.
The simple truth is that only by following such guidelines, particularly when it is difficult, causes us material or social loss, and goes against our predisposed ego (self-pitying and self-limiting) image we cherish of our self, can we really say we are on the Path. Only with a firm commitment to organize our inner life and master the inner energies that run rampant within our psyche, can we hope to be open to deeper realizations and experiences we call spiritual, as well as to project that new found harmony as power and form in the material world.
We can either treat genuine and authentic spiritual teachings as a rich multi-course meal that has been laid out for us by a master chef and staff, or we can treat it like a buffet where we indulge our preferences and walk away having paid too much money for second or third rate food only to get indigestion.
For Western esotericism to survive and thrive in its own soil it must provide solid evidence that it is more than just a collection of occult and psychic thrill seekers, but has real and tangible means of living a healthy and happy life. Morality and ethics is the beginning and end of who we are and the litmus test of our spiritual path, for this shows how we treat others and ourselves.
The above article was first posted in VOXHERMES in February 2008.
Margaret Starbird writes: On my website under the Magdalene Rosary tab in the menu you will find prayers and “Magdalene Mysteries” for a rosary I developed in her honor—based on seven “heptads” of seven prayers each.
Here is the “Magdalene Prayer” for anyone interested in honoring her in this way:
July 22nd in centuries-old church tradition is considered Magdalene’s birthday and Feast Day. She is the only woman in history about whom Jesus said, “people will tell this story in memory of her”. The story Jesus meant is the story of Magdalene anointing his head and feet as if for burial, but symbolizing the anointing him as messiah. Messiah is a word meaning “anointed one” and she is the only person in the Bible who anoints him. You recall the rest of the story when she weeps and dries his feet with her hair.
In June 2016 the Pope finally declared July 22nd to be Magdalene’s special Feastday again (in the 1960s they had demoted her holiday but people still celebrated it)
Margaret Starbird writes:
The Pope’s recent pronouncement declares Mary Magdalene about equivalent with the Apostles, but we should not be satisfied until she is acknowledged as the Sacred Partner—Bride and Beloved—of Christ. If you have read my “Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile,” the epilogue expresses my position: “Who do we say she is?” Until Mary Magdalene is proclaimed as the true partner and co-Redemptrix with Christ, my work is not done. It thrills me to know that other, younger women understand this need to balance the masculine energy, stripped of its feminine partner—and are willing to carry on the effort to enlighten others.
The Book of Revelation ends with the Nuptials of the Lamb and his Bride—a union of the Masculine and Feminine—Lord and Lady of our hearts, as in the “marriage window” from the Dervaig Kilmore chapel [pictured right] —a union of archetypes that causes streams of living water to flow from the throne of God– “for the healing of the nations.”
So, in light of the honor that should have been hers for two millennia, proclaiming her feast day “official” is not nearly enough for me! But I love the Pope for taking this small step in the right direction.
I hope you are aware of my two best arguments for Mary as “Bride”: Micah 4:8-11 -The Magdal-eder prophecy which sums up her post-Crucifixion fate in four lines, and the sacred number of the “153 fishes,” a metaphor for the Church as “Bride” in John 21. The gematria of “H Magdalhnh”–153—is also associated with the vesica piscis and goddesses of love and fertility. I consider these two discoveries that prove the the authors of the Gospels acknowledged Mary Magdalene as the consort of Christ as my most important contributions to the Magdalene “unveiling.”
Pope elevates memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to feast day
By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service
June 10, 2016
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Recognizing St. Mary Magdalene’s role as the first to witness Christ’s resurrection and as a “true and authentic evangelizer,” Pope Francis raised the July 22 memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a feast on the church’s liturgical calendar, the Vatican announced.
A decree formalizing the decision was published by the Congregation for Divine Worship June 10 along with an article explaining its significance.
Both the decree and the article we re titled “Apostolorum Apostola” (“Apostle of the Apostles”).
In the article for the Vatican newspaper, Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the congregation, wrote that in celebrating “an evangelist who proclaims the central joyous message of Easter,” St. Mary Magdalene’s feast day is a call for all Christians to “reflect more deeply on the dignity of women, the new evangelization and the greatness of the mystery of divine mercy.”
“Pope Francis has taken this decision precisely in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy to highlight the relevance of this woman who showed great love for Christ and was much loved by Christ,” Archbishop Roche wrote.
While most liturgical celebrations of individual saints during the year are known formally as memorials, those classified as feasts are reserved for important events in Christian history and for saints of particular significance, such as the Twelve Apostles.
In his apostolic letter “Dies Domini” (“The Lord’s Day”), St. John Paul II explained that the “commemoration of the saints does not obscure the centrality of Christ, but on the contrary extols it, demonstrating as it does the power of the redemption wrought by him.”
Preaching about St. Mary Magdalene, Pope Francis highlighted Christ’s mercy toward a woman who was “exploited and despised by th ose who believed they were righteous,” but she was loved and forgiven by him.
Her tears at Christ’s empty tomb are a reminder that “sometimes in our lives, tears are the lenses we need to see Jesus,” the pope said April 2, 2013, during Mass in his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
Pope Francis also mentions her specifically in the prayer he composed for the Year of Mercy: “Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured paradise to the repentant thief.”
Archbishop Roche explained that in giving St. Mary Magdalene the honor of being the first person to see the empty tomb and the first to listen to the truth of the resurrection, “Jesus has a special consideration and mercy for this woman, who manifests her love for him, looking for him in the garden with anguish and suffering.”
Drawing a comparison between Eve, who “spread death where there was life,” and St. Mary Magdalene, who “proclaimed life from the tomb, a place of death,” the archbishop said her feast day is a lesson for all Christians to trust in Christ who is “alive and risen.”
“It is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman has the same level of feast given to the celebration of the apostles in the general Roman calendar and highlights the special mission of this woman who is an example and model for every woman in the church.”
Time to allow women to be Ordained Priests?
One of our other members, Klaus M. in Germany posted after hearing the news:
After Franziskus’ “Magdalenian decision”:
The next step now should to be allow women becoming priestesses in the RCC!
For those who are interested to read the Magdalene elevation in German:
Just completed this online survey asking what topics I’m interested in regarding the origins of Christianity. T’was quick and easy. I urge others to go answer the questions. Hi Margaret — Good luck to your author friend, Barry. Asking future readers what they wanna read about is a good idea! I look forward to his book when it comes out!
I’m posting here a link to a questionnaire sent me by a friend who is exploring the idea of writing a Q and A book about the origins of Christianity. The questions are designed to inform the author about which topics would be of most interest to the reading public. The questionnaire only took me about 5 minutes to complete—please take a look and help if you can by filling it out yourselves. Barry would really appreciate as much feedback as he can get for this project.
[The following] blogger does not agree with many Goddess Christian beliefs or the teachings of Margaret Starbird.
While his article begins with the various holy grail mythologies and the Priory of Sion hoax, if we scroll way down to Holy Bloodline, we can see that he “exposes” the bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (sometimes abbreviated MM) as a myth.
In another article, he seems to reject the idea of MM being any type of Goddess:
In yet another article he states: The Holy Bloodline myth derives from the semi-fictional pseudo-history book Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, which used poor scholarship and unreliable sources to develop the idea that Mary Magdalene married Jesus and had children by him who eventually gave rise to the Merovingian royal house. The claim has little textual support beyond some ambiguous Gnostic references to the pair kissing.
This link is interesting, I had never heard of a tradition that MM was married to John the Evangelist:
If you do a search on Jason Colavito and Mary Magdalene, or Jason Colavito and Margaret Starbird (while he only mentions alternative writers, some of the follow-up comments do mention her, specifically), or the author and DaVinci, or the author and the bloodline of Jesus, or Jesus and Mary Magdalene being married, or Mary Magdalene as Goddess, etc., all kinds of articles from his archives will come up.
[And now a link to] his rather bizarre views on the Cathars, based upon the writing of their enemy, a Roman Catholic and further based upon his own translation of the Latin text. When challenged, in the comment section, about his authority to translate the difficult Latin, his response was that he had been ‘reading Latin since he was a teenager’. There is no mention of studying the language at a University level.
Anyway, unless I am completely misreading this blogger’s articles, which I may well be, he does not seem to feel that many Goddess Christian beliefs hold any validity. I think he would consider the beliefs of many Goddess Christians to be fringe conspiracies. –PAMELA
KATIA WRITES: We are the fringe of Christianity in our belief in a Divine Feminine / Heavenly Mother and her earthly incarnations as Magdalene. Some people don’t believe as we do that down thru the millennia Godhead might choose to manifest as a woman, not always a man, that a Heavenly Father REQUIRES a Heavenly Mother since no parent arrives at parenthood alone.
Genesis says, “Let US make man in OUR image…. Male AND female”. Both sexes made up the heavenly creator-couple’s “image”.
Heavenly Mother may have manifested / incarnated as Mother Mary, and Magdalene may be a Daughter of God like Jesus is a Son of God. To our Creator, women are not second best humans that must struggle extra hard to develop their spirituality by breaking social norms to spend time with a male teacher (Jesus). How cruel that would be. Jesus had a partner, a woman who could teach the women and sometimes talk to men, just as Jesus spoke mostly to male disciples but sometimes to women. When he preached he preached to both genders, but one on one teaching was lopsided male-to-male as we know, and the beautiful story of Martha wanting her sister Mary to come into the kitchen and leave Jesus’ bible-study lesson illustrates how difficult it was for women to study at all in those days.
The women of Luke 8, and Magdalene are probably all that remains in the canonized Church approved scriptures to hint at this women’s studies contingent of Jesus’ ministry. Of course if a deity manifesting as a female human makes you uncomfortable you don’t have to believe Magdalene or Mother Mary were divine aka “a god” like it was later claimed Jesus was. Jesus never claimed to be a god anyway. He barely even claimed to be the messiah! (Note: Jews do not and have not ever taught the Messiah is God or a god)
What IS a god, male or female or genderless? Can humans embody them at least temporarily? To me, the Creator, the Intelligent Designer, is God. If the Creator is a Godhead made up of more than one personage, and I think it is, then it makes sense it would be male and female. If God is One — no Godhead personages — then a transcendent genderless Being could be the Absolute Source Deity. We just don’t know which it is — or if both could be true. The Bible doesn’t say, it clearly makes God of the male gender and hints with words like Elohim, Queen of Heaven, and the Genesis quote, that a female gender is there, too in a Godhead.
Most of us in this forum also believe in the Sacred Marriage as a model found but suppressed in both ancient Judaism and earliest Christianity.
It’s okay, we are used to being fringe in this area. It doesn’t mean we believe in many of the less logical myths about Judeo-Christianity such as it originated in Atlantis, or that the Holy Family and half the tribes of Israel were really white non-semitic British people. Archaeology and DNA studies show without exception that the 12 tribes and Jesus’ family were all middle eastern.
Did Joseph of Arimethea travel to Britain? — quite possible considering what was going on in Britain during the reigns of Tiberius and later Claudius.
Just my opinions of course, but I see why scholars look askance at all fringe beliefs when they lump us believers in a male-and-female Godhead in with the extremely fringe stuff such as: UFO astronauts with oxygen tanks and all, came to earth and seeded it.
No Evidence for a Genderless God or Female God but both feel right / make sense
While discussing with my three young daughters our current God-gender topic, a thought occurred to me — I put it in the subject line of this email.
God is genderless and / or beyond gender
We have zero evidence, although perhaps some very veiled hints, in Judeo-Christian scripture that God is “beyond gender”, is gender-less, is above and beyond physical bodies, anatomy, reproductive organs. Yet, on some level it “feels” right, or “makes sense”, that God/Goddess/It would be transcendent and genderless.
God is a Godhead with both Male and Female beings
We have zero evidence, except for some loud hints, in Judeo-Christian scripture that God is a Godhead unit made up of at least one male and one female deity.
God is not genderless, God is Male
The only evidence we have in Judeo-Christian scriptures is that God does have gender, and he is male. Both the Father in Heaven and the Incarnate God on earth Jesus, are male. Male pronouns, male, male, everything male. God the Father, Son and even Holy Spirit are said to be male. There is some small evidence in Hebrew and Greek that the Holy Spirit might also have a Female counterpart (Ruach and Pneuma are feminine-gendered words in Hebrew and Greek for the Holy Spirit), but we all know the mainstream teaching states loud and clear that we have an all-male Godhead.
I homeschool my daughters, and we recently came across this Aristotle teaching:
The 3 Rhetorical Appeals aka Modes of Persuasion
Logos, ethos, and pathos are the three techniques used when trying to convince others. Aristotle taught them in his work Rhetoric.
Using the power of personality to convince, based on the speaker’s credentials, authority, such as a professor or a known expert in a certain field
Appealing to the emotions of the listeners. Here’s Wikipedia:
Pathos (plural: pathea) is an appeal to the audience’s emotions, and the terms sympathy, pathetic, and empathy are derived from it. It can be in the form of metaphor, simile, a passionate delivery, or even a simple claim that a matter is unjust. Pathos can be particularly powerful if used well, but most speeches do not solely rely on pathos. Pathos is most effective when the author or speaker demonstrates agreement with an underlying value of the reader or listener.
In addition, the speaker may use pathos to appeal to fear, in order to sway the audience. Pathos may also include appeals to audience imagination and hopes; done when the speaker paints a scenario of positive future results of following the course of action proposed.
* * * * * * * * *
So when examining the same Bible, the same evidence, we all can come to different conclusions about the gender or genderlessness of God.
God as Absolute Oneness, in “its” sense as Source and Beingness, not only appeals to our “gut” aka emotions (pathos) but also seems logical, thus logos. But the concept of a genderless god / Creator is not based on any evidence, so perhaps we can’t call it logical. This gets confusing to my feeble brain, so please comment if you can help me out, here.
A balanced male and female Godhead with a Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father appeals to our gut-level common sense on an emotional level and logical level, which is an argument from both pathos and logos, like the above.
A male-only Godhead (Christianity) or male-only solitary God (Judaism, Islam) is argued by the desert religions’ scriptures. All the evidence both written and traditional, says God is male. This seems to be Logos, and indeed Jesus’ gnostic code-name is Logos!, but I think it falls into ethos (again people, help me out here) because it is based on what the authorities have been telling us the past 3000 years.
As I continue to think about this, especially about my very different friends/colleagues Bishop James and Priest Pamela, it dawns on me that some of us lean toward believing pathos more than logos, or ethos more than pathos, etc. I think I have a tendency to go with commonsense “logical” arguments that nevertheless stir my emotions to get me there. Logos and Pathos. Because of all the shoddy scholarship out there and goofy theories as +James points out, I am distrustful of arguments by Ethos. They don’t appeal to me. Except when the ethos is that of my long-ago teacher Margaret Starbird whose ethos still has me a believer! (smile). Yes, yes, partly I WANT to believe (pathos) and it FEELS right and true, plus makes sense in a commonsense way. But you can’t say, “your beliefs are only based on emotions”.
From: Bishop James To: goddesschristians May 27, 2016
Re: No Evidence for a Genderless God or Female God but both feel right / make sense
Professor Michael Heiser is a solid OT scholar (Logos Software, Liberty University) and an advocate of a “Divine Council.” This is a link to his site: The Divine Council.com
God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment. Psalm 82:1
“The term divine council is used by Hebrew and Semitics scholars to refer to the heavenly host, the pantheon of divine beings who administer the affairs of the cosmos. All ancient Mediterranean cultures had some conception of a divine council. The divine council of Israelite religion, known primarily through the psalms, was distinct in important ways.”
Michael S. Heiser, “Divine Council,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings (ed. Tremper Longman III and Peter Enns; Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Inter-Varsity Press, 2008), 112.
Gender of God, Do Majority of Christians view God as Genderless
Bishop James post on May 27, 2016
Re: No Evidence for a Genderless God or Female God but both feel right / make sense
The vast majority of Christian denominations view God as genderless.
Great summary of Gender of God in Christianity. Thanks for posting it, Bishop James (link at the end if readers didn’t get to read the short article yet). I am glad to see Elohim and other Feminine Divine evidence in the Hebrew Bible was touched upon. This line in the Roman Catholic section got me a bit peeved, however…(!)
Though Church teaching, in line with its Doctors, holds that God has no literal sex because he has no body (a prerequisite of sex), classical and scriptural understanding states that God should be referred to (in most contexts) as masculine by analogy. It justifies this by pointing to God’s relationship with the world as begetter of the world and revelation (i.e. analogous to an active instead of feminine receptive role in sexual intercourse).
Soooo….. because male anatomy is active and female anatomy is passive during sexual intercourse the RCC reasons God “should be referred to as masculine.” Uh-huh. Yet God has no body, they claim. I wonder why God can’t have a body?
Seems like a rip-off that He who is Everything and ominipotent can’t have a body. He walked with Enoch, Adam and Eve — was that a ghost-like shape? Light-being holograph projection? Doesn’t make sense. I think he has a body, an awesome one like the resurrected body of Christ which could walk thru walls and ascend into heaven bodily. Like the resurrected bodies we are going to get some day. Or are they saying Jesus turned into a neuter after the resurrection losing his male anatomy but keeping the wound marks on his hands and feet? Still doesn’t make sense.
Another annoying thing in the excerpt above is the supposed Roman Catholic teaching as fact that God’s relationship to the world is as begetter and this “naturally” led to a “should-ness” of referring to him as a male by analogy. But doesn’t it seem more natural to view the world as being “born”, not inseminated? Ancient people could have viewed God as a Mother who gave birth to the world and all our souls. Mothers and birth was all around and obvious to ancient people, but not necessarily insemination which is less obvious. Begetting / insemination still requires a womb and a woman. We need both genders in the Godhead or none at all. This logic that we “should” always refer to God as male is lame.
I believe Source, Being, the Absolute Deity, “the Force” (like the ancient Monad teaching) existed before Creation and split into God-the-Father and Mother-God in order that Creation could come into existence, in order that conscious sentient beings could come about — us “creatures” — to carry around in our skulls the most differentiated item in the physical Universe, the human brain.
Happy to see these lines in the Wikipedia genderless God article, because it seems to support my personal belief in a male-female Godhead:
Elohim is used to refer to both genders and is plural; it has been used to refer to both Goddess (in 1Ki 11:33), and God (1 Kings 11:31).
Genesis 1:26-27 says that the elohim were male and female, and humans were made in their image.
Glad this info is out there, and that theologians are at least opining about it, writing about it.
I dunno, Bishop James about the vast majority of Christian denominations viewing God as genderless, however. Maybe some of the denominational authorities are saying that on paper in the past 75 years as they deal with the feminist movement in theology and society. But in my observation, mainstream Christians still view Him as a Him, like the scriptures seem to say he is. Jews certainly still believe and teach God is masculine.
I have visited a lot of different mainstream churches this year so far with my family and have not encountered anyone that believes God is beyond gender. Only in the Mormon Church do you find those who believe there is both Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father.
Some Christian thinkers and theologians may talk/write about the genderless God, but I’ve not heard of it being taught from the pulpit on any kind of scale. Have you, +James? Would be pretty cool if it is being taught.
When the (horribly depressing) book The Shack made waves in Christian Protestant circles several years ago, the ruckus was because the author placed a black matronly woman in the role of Father-God. The discussion of a genderless god came up thanks to the book, but so many mainstream Christians were not able to give up the masculine divine God-the-Father. The author was just “playing pretend” when he made God female in an attempt to make a point that God can morph into any gender we need him to when healing or belief is needed.
The author presented brilliant reasoning for making God a black woman, explaining that God goes beyond gender, takes the form we “need” him/her to, is not limited only to the male gender. But most of the faithful just chocked it up to poetic license, concluding the author doesn’t really believe God is or can be a woman, just did it to make a point.
Genderless God is an awesome teaching, and I hope it can someday work in a practical sense such as in Sunday School. But it doesn’t appeal to everyday people and Sunday School kids. We like our archetypes. Ah, the pull of beautiful archetypes like the Bridegroom, the Bride, the Saving Hero, the Champion and the Underdog. Genderless is so…. LESS. <smile> and doesn’t penetrate into the human “story” as nicely as these gender archetypes we’ve been using for millennia. How can you ask kids to pray to an It. Even Jesus when asked to teach us how to pray knew that we needed gender for our deity and said we should call God, “Our Father” or “Dear Dad,” as others have translated Jesus’s use of the word Abba.
Perhaps a God with no masculine or feminine aspects is one we humans can’t relate to. But Source is surely genderless and can be understood when one is older and “initiated”. I don’t think you could explain to dozens of children staring at you with open faces in Sunday School class that even though the Bible says God is a male and even though the Church teaches the Trinity is 3 men, and even though every song we sing here in Sunday School has God as a Father-figure male, you girls can view Him/It as a female or genderless being.
From: Bishop James To: goddesschristians May 28, 2016
Subject: [GoddessChristians] Re: Gender of God, Do Majority of Christians view God as Genderless
There are people that study those things in depth. One very popular book is Stages of Faith by James W. Fowler III.
A quick summary of the stages he discusses is provided in Wikipedia:
Stage 0 – “Primal or Undifferentiated” faith (birth to 2 years), is characterized by an early learning of the safety of their environment (i.e. warm, safe and secure vs. hurt, neglect and abuse). If consistent nurture is experienced, one will develop a sense of trust and safety about the universe and the divine. Conversely, negative experiences will cause one to develop distrust with the universe and the divine. Transition to the next stage begins with integration of thought and languages which facilitates the use of symbols in speech and play.
Stage 1 – “Intuitive-Projective” faith (ages of three to seven), is characterized by the psyche’s unprotected exposure to the Unconscious, and marked by a relative fluidity of thought patterns. Religion is learned mainly through experiences, stories, images, and the people that one comes in contact with.
Stage 2 – “Mythic-Literal” faith (mostly in school children), stage two persons have a strong belief in the justice and reciprocity of the universe, and their deities are almost always anthropomorphic. During this time metaphors and symbolic language are often misunderstood and are taken literally.
Stage 3 – “Synthetic-Conventional” faith (arising in adolescence; aged 12 to adulthood) characterized by conformity to authority and the religious development of a personal identity. Any conflicts with one’s beliefs are ignored at this stage due to the fear of threat from inconsistencies.
Stage 4 – “Individuative-Reflective” faith (usually mid-twenties to late thirties) a stage of angst and struggle. The individual takes personal responsibility for his or her beliefs and feelings. As one is able to reflect on one’s own beliefs, there is an openness to a new complexity of faith, but this also increases the awareness of conflicts in one’s belief.
Stage 5 – “Conjunctive” faith (mid-life crisis) acknowledges paradox and transcendence relating reality behind the symbols of inherited systems. The individual resolves conflicts from previous stages by a complex understanding of a multidimensional, interdependent “truth” that cannot be explained by any particular statement.
Stage 6 – “Universalizing” faith, or what some might call “enlightenment.” The individual would treat any person with compassion as he or she views people as from a universal community, and should be treated with universal principles of love and justice.
Thanks for posting Fowler’s Stages of Faith, Bishop James. I have always loved these, and can definitely perceive them in my own life, childhood, teen years, etc. I can recognize the stages in my six children and others whose spiritual life I know intimately, but my anecdotal observation is not always in alignment with the ages Fowler gives. Some people / children / saints(!) seem to merge or completely skip stages. Sometimes he generalizes overmuch in his descriptions as his critics complain, but overall his stages are a nice guide and much can be learned.
Another criticism leveled at Fowler is that his stages of faith can lead to pride and condescension such as, “he’s stuck in an immature/childish stage,” or “I am more spiritually evolved in my faith than so-and-so.” Of course the truly “evolved” in Fowler’s final stage would not be prideful since they are “compassionate to all humans.” Thankfully we can sort of test ourselves for ego by asking, do I view every person with compassion? Do I view every person as a part of my personal inner-circle community (all completely equal brothers and sisters)?, do I think every person regardless of nationality, religion, birthplace, deserves to be heard, deserves perfect justice and caring?
As I think of the political speech and protesting of political speech in the news yesterday, another faith and spirituality aka compassion question comes to mind. Let us ask, “Am I trying to shut this person up?” I also try to ask this question when dealing with children and husbands from time to time! When we can’t listen to a person we disagree with and cannot answer back with words stating personal arguments and beliefs, things go down hill fast. Shouting and talking over top of people (a form of stifling speech) ensues, but at least that is still using words, the human gift. You and I might dearly wish the person would shut up — especially if they are yelling at you and not letting YOU be heard. Unfortunately, the next human urge is to get physical, to use our hands and feet to express ourselves when we think words have failed (or we are too lazy to keep trying words). Pushing and shoving come after yelling and screaming. Violence is the result of not letting others speak. (I’m not talking about “violence” used to defend yourself if someone else throws the first punch). A person with evolved spirituality in the highest stage according to Fowler (and this I agree with him) still loves/has compassion for the protester screaming in their face, still believes that person has a right to be heard, and does not feel the urge to get physical or violent. We are not all saints, so don’t feel bad if when watching the news lately you at least mentally feel the urge to get physical! Hah.
ANTHROPOMORPHISM – MY THOUGHTS ON
Anthropomorphism or personification of deities is considered spiritually “immature”. I totally agree that we should not project onto members of the Godhead human traits and character flaws like adultery, sex-goddess, vengeful jealousy, rape (Zeus), murder, etc. But I do not believe thinking God or members of the Godhead have a physical form as well as a spiritual form is immature.
Unfortunately, atheists use anthropomorphism as “proof” there is no God and as proof that religions are founded entirely upon human mental delusions. Indeed, in the Wikipedia article on Anthropomorphism (link below), atheist Stewart Guthrie is quoted claiming “all religions are anthropomorphisms”.
In Faces in the Clouds, anthropologist Stewart Guthrie proposes that all religions are anthropomorphisms that originate in the brain’s tendency to detect the presence or vestiges of other humans in natural phenomena.
ALL religions are poppy-cock because it’s really our mind playing tricks on us, see. We’re deluded, immature and un-evolved for believing (shock!) that God creating us in his image is at least partly literal.
Look at this line in the same article:
Anthropomorphism has cropped up as a Christian heresy … This often was based on a literal interpretation of Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them”.
A Christian heresy? Call me a heretic, then. And I am not even a Biblical literalist. Either we have literal bodies or we do not. Because well, the physical Universe, Creation, is LITERAL. Sheesh. I suppose I am considered a heretic for believing we resemble our Creator in our spiritual, mental and physical forms. This aversion to God having a body and/or being physical reminds me of the Gnostic (with a capital G indicating historical Gnostics, not philosophical or spiritual gnostics) loathing of “fleshly” bodies as “corrupt”. The Christian church later adopted this doctrine of physical-is-dirty, hatred of all bodily functions. Bodies are yucky and dirty, God would not have a body. God would not get married, God would not touch an unclean female body in the act of procreation. But doesn’t this mean God can indeed create a rock too heavy for himself to lift? — he can create beings with bodies, yet he can not have one. Or don’t we believe God created us and have walked into the atheist’s use of anthropomorphism. Believing God cannot or does not have a body limits God, and theologians have always said God is limitless.
A heretic is someone who teaches heresy, not merely believes a heresy, and because of creating this GoddessChristians forum and our many Esoteric Mystery School lessons I have been accused of doing just that. Since I think God literally created human beings and the physical Universe, too, I am a heretic for yet another reason in the eyes of the mainstream church — or rather in the eyes of certain borderline-atheist church authorities and theologians. I believe most mainstream Christians are guilty of this “heresy” that Genesis 1:27 can be interpreted literally. Perhaps many theologians back themselves into a corner because they can’t get to Fowler’s 5th Stage of Faith… embracing the paradoxes and transcending them, embracing both…and instead of either…or. (paradoxes).
The Wikipedia says:
Anthropomorphic deities exhibited human qualities such as beauty, wisdom, and power, and sometimes human weaknesses such as greed, hatred, jealousy, and uncontrollable anger. Greek deities such as Zeus and Apollo often were depicted in human form exhibiting both commendable and despicable human traits.
From the perspective of adherents to religions in which humans were created in the form of the divine, the phenomenon may be considered theomorphism, or the giving of divine qualities to humans.
I am sure I am an anthropotheist, and possibly a theomorphist also since I believe in Theosis.
Anthropomorphism should not be confused with connecting to archetypes. Jung discovered the universal archetypes in human consciousness and subconsciousness. The archetypal realm is different from simply personifying supernatural beings. When one connects with an archetype, or a divine being, and sees them in human form, they are not necessarily deluded or “falling for” anthropomorphism. That is what critics say of mystical experiences and why Thomas Aquinas wanted so badly to have one himself, refusing during his long career to criticize such visions/experiences. St. Paul saw Jesus on the road to Damascus, Mary saw Gabriel in human-like form, and we are specifically and clearly told that humans look like the Creator-God(s), are made exactly “in his image.” Not “like” his image, or similar to his image, or “after a likeness of” his image, but IN his image, like a cast iron mold.
Supernatural means beyond and above natural, but it does not mean exempt from nor excluded from the natural physical realm. Roman Catholic doctrine teaches on one hand that Jesus was really God-the-Father who took on physical form, “made” himself a body. On the other-hand Roman Catholicism teaches the Trinity that God “sent” his son. The Jesuits love the Jesus-is-really-Father-God-in-the-flesh doctrine and I have often pondered it. There seems to be truth in both. “I and the Father are One,” said Jesus. It’s a paradox, but it’s okay. We can handle it.
I worry that anthropomorphism and personification are used incorrectly to judge someone’s level of spiritual development. Of course history and our contemporary world reveal countless cases of con artists claiming they’ve seen/heard God, Jesus, Mary, Mohammed etc and committing crimes from incest and rape all the way to genocide based on their false “visions”. That is the dark side of anthropomorphism, really anthropotheism. It is a form of blasphemy to project anthropomorphic things like uncontrolled sexual lust, or murderousness onto God. That negative kind of anthropomorphism is spiritually immature also, but it’s primarily blasphemy, whereas believing God created us in his image is not immature. Nor is such belief denying God also has a transcendent, beyond-gender state of Being.
Like so many things, I believe this argument is a “both…and,” not an “either…or”. We do not have to buy into these (borderline atheistic) statements:
Either God has a human-like form OR he has a completely inhuman abstract form.
Either God has a body OR he does not
Both are true, that is the paradox we encounter and embrace as described in Fowler’s later stages of faith.
God has BOTH a human-like form when he/she/it chooses to AND an abstract ultimate unmanifest Source “form”
God has a body AND does not have a body
Paradoxes are a pain in the neck, but they are so cool when “both ends of the stick” can be mentally grasped — by pushing the mental rational self in his chair and allowing the spiritual self to contribute equally to our “reasoning” process. Or you could just say by transcending the intellect and embracing the paradoxical. It’s gut-level and spirit level “gnowing”, spelled with the g of gnosis.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Margaret Starbird writes:
Father Matthew Fox, author of “Original Blessings” and “The Coming of the Cosmic Christ,” offers what I think is “ground zero” for the understanding of “God”— in suggesting that the Divine “indwells” creation and is not separate from it. He calls his theory “Panentheism” (not to be confused with “Pantheism.” I embrace this idea of the Divine Presence in everything: “Take off your shoes, for this is holy ground.” “Practicing the Presence of God” acknowledges that all ground is holy ground, all that is, is Sacred. An Old English spelling of God—“Godde”—seems to reconcile “god” and “goddess” making the question of gender irrelevant. Remember the Jewish “take” is that “God” is beyond all understanding, beyond all imaging.
In my “Goddess in the Gospels” I include discussion of a quote from Job: “Perish the night when it was proclaimed, the child is a boy.” Yet that is a fundamental message of the Christian era: the Child was male. This has led to the “High Christology” that places the human Jesus on a throne in heaven to be worshipped alongside his heavenly Father—to the exclusion of the “Sacred Feminine” that is the “other face of God. As I’ve discussed many times, this adulation of the masculine, stripped of its feminine partner, is playing out now all over the world: the “masculine principle” (solar/666) unleashed without its mitigating “feminine” (lunar/1080) culminates in materialism, hedonism and violence. “When the sun always shines, theres a desert below.” We’re watching the adulation of the masculine principle play out to its bitter end across our planet—
This, in a nutshell, is the whole meaning to the Book of Revelation. The wars and rumors of wars end with the “Marriage of the Lamb” (Rev. 21-22) which causes streams of water to flow from the throne of God….”for the healing of the nations.” As Carl Jung so poignantly insisted, one cannot envision Jesus embracing a church building full of people. He needs to embrace a woman who represents the Community as Bride. In the Christian Gospels, that woman is Mary Magdalene.
May 24th is the celebration of St. Sara (the Egyptian) at the little town of Saints Maries-de-la-Mer on the coast of France. Legends about this dark saint differ, but one insists that she was pre-adolescent girl on the boat that brought Mary Jacobi, Mary Salome and Mary Magdalene, political refugees from Jerusalem, to France in AD 44. The oral tradition goes way back into forgotten origins, but the story has some very poignant hints about this little girl on the boat. Her name Sara means “princess” in Hebrew and she is said to have been the servant of her relatives….. (just like Cinderella—another “sooty-faced” princess,”lost” or “locked away” in our Western fairytale). In the little novella published as the Foreword to my “Woman with the Alabaster Jar,” I suggested that Sara was born in Egypt after the Crucifixion of Jesus and was the daughter of Mary Magdalene—who is proclaimed to have brought the “Holy Grail” (sangraal)
to France. The Old French word “sangraal” is misleading when it is divided after the “n”: san graal or “holy Grail.” When you divide the word after the g—“sang real”—it means “blood royal.” One does not carry the “blood royal” around in a jar with a lid…. it flows in the veins of a child of royal lineage, in this case, the daughter if the Davidic line of Israel’s kings. An interesting prophecy occurs in the Hebrew Bible in the book of Lamentations: “Then princes of Judah, whose faces were once white as milk are now black as soot. They are not recognized in the streets” (Lam 4:7-8). The darkness of this little princess, born in Egypt, may be symbolic of her status as a dis-inherited exile of her native Israel—obscure and hidden in the annals of Western history books….
Today the Gypsy procession in Stes. Maries-de-la-Mer will accompany Sara’s statue from the Church of Our Lady of the Sea to the Mediterranean beach, shouting as they go: “Vive Sainte Sara!” commemorating the story that says she is one of the boatload of Christians who brought the Gospel to Western Europe. The festival begins tonight in Stes. Maries with street dancing and gypsy concerts and culminates with the procession of the effigies of the two Maries (Marie Jacobi and Marie Salome) in their blue boat to the sea on the 25th. Various websites have photos of the festival and processions…. very picturesque!
Peace and light,
“The Woman with the Alabaster Jar”
May 18th was the anniversary of the first 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, an event my friends and I considered hugely prophetic. I am a member of a small Roman Catholic prayer community “Emmanuel” that has received incredible “revelation” over a period of years—some of it outlined in my 1998 book, “The Goddess in the Gospels,” relevant to our on-going efforts to reclaim the Bride and the Partnership (Sacred Union) at the heart of the Gospels.
The mountain (named for a British explorer) bears the name of the Emperor Constantine’s mother Helena who prayed for decades for the conversion of her son to Christianity. It erupted on Pope John Paul II’s 60th birthday (May 18, 1980) and again, a much smaller eruption, on the following Sunday, May 25, the feast of Pentecost. The first eruption of the “fire mountain” caused incredible devastation. The lake that spilled its waters down into the coastland below was called “Spirit Lake.” I knew the place well—our family had spent a fishing vacation there in 1973. We had eaten our dinners in the lodge owned by Mr. Truman—dinners cooked by his wife.
For these reasons, on noticing these dates, I immediately associated the volcano with the Institutional Roman Catholic Church. The Scripture passage I received when I prayed over the volcano’s eruption was from the prophetic book of Jeremiah:
“Beware. I am against you, destroying mountain. I will stretch forth my hand against you, roll you down over the cliffs and make of you a burnt mountain.” (Jer. 51:25). Reading this passage, I was horrified! I was convinced that God was talking about the Church in its present condition. At the time I had never even heard of pedophilia, but I knew about the Vatican Bank scandal and other abuses of power.
Several months later another explosion of Mount St Helen’s occurred, this one on 22 July–the Feast of Mary Magdalene–which in that year fell on the “9th of Av,” the day when Jews in Israel go to the Western Wall to mourn the destruction of their Temple—not once, but twice! One of my prayer group “kinswomen,” who lived in Tel Aviv at the time, planned to go to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem on that day in 1980 and had asked our prayer group to be with her in prayer mourning for the Temple that has not been rebuilt. We had each performed a “novena” in preparation for this event in solidarity with those who mourn the Temple.
The “synchronicities” and connections of these dates on Mount St. Helens’ eruptions were, I believe, enormously prophetic. At the time, my prayer group friends and I had been shown to record dates of important current events and interpret them with a view to the Church calendar of feast days. We all thought that the implied implosion of the Church (Mt. St. Helens) had to do with the Vatican bank scandals and the cover up of the rumored murder of John Paul I (a ‘story rarely told’). We had as yet no idea of the other devastating internal problems brewing in the Church that included the massive cover-ups of pedophilia.
Here’s what the Mount St. Helens Volcano revealed when we prayed about it:
A damaging implosion would come from within the Church It would occur during the “watch” of John Paul II It would cause an the waters of the Holy Spirit to be poured out into the earth (Pentecost, Spirit Lake poured out). The Church was no longer to be the “custodian” of the “waters of Spirit and Truth.” The denial Jesus was “true man” would be an issue. (Mr. “Truman” had stayed on the mountain and was buried in the slide). He had refused to leave because his WIFE was buried at the site of his fishing camp). The “Temple” in Jerusalem could not be rebuilt because of the loss of the “Blueprint,” including the denial of “Mary Magdalene” and all she embodies: the “Sacred Feminine,” the “Bride,” the physical body, relatedness to the earth, kinship of all people, feminine wisdom, intuition. The model of “Sacred Union” was broken in the cradle of the Christianity–waiting to be restored!
The systematic denial of the Feminine as “Bride and Beloved” is a core problem underlying the sex and power abuses by priests—a devastating “design flaw” of the early Church perpetrated into the present with tragic consequences.
Last night at BibleTV I saw an interesting sermon of famous US-preacher Bayless Conley. At the beginning he spoke of the Holy Spirit (we call Mother Ruah / Ruach). One of Her most important symbols has been oil, especially oil of anointing and oil for lamps! This special assignment seems to be an indication for the connection between Mother Ruah and Mary Magdalene. For oil of anointing brings to mind Mary Magdalene appearing as Sulamith in Song of Solomon / Song of Songs. Oil for lamps of course has to do with light – and Mary Magdalene is the Pure of Light in the Pistis Sophia and the Illuminated in the Gnosis. William Henry in one of his books calls Her in his subtitle “Illuminator. The woman who enlighted Christ”. In the Revelation 12, Mary Magdalene appears as The Woman clothed with the Sun.
We now can understand better why Hippolyte of Rome (170-236) in his Commentary on the Song of Songs associates Mary Magdalene with Ruah, particularly here:
On Song of Songs 4:1f.: “Look, my friend, my lovely, your are beautiful, your eyes are like doves.” The bridegroom calls this out to Sulamith, in Hippolyte’s opinion, because he has seen the Holy Spirit (Mother Ruah). So Sulamith is associated with Ruah. Writing about the Song of Songs 3:1-4 Hippolyte identifies Sulamith with Mary Magdalene, calls Her “Apostle” and “New Eve”. Commenting on the women going to the tomb of Christ he writes: “Oh, the new instruction, Eve becomes Apostle!”
Mary Magdalene and the Force
On Song of Songs 2:5: “Anoint me with oil and gather apples”. Here Hippolyte defines the oil of anointing as “the force teaching us all, fortifying Christ to the inner human”. So this means Mary Magdalene’s oil of anointing strengthens our connection to Christ. And the apple of Eve is the old symbol of the goddess of love, Aphrodite, identified with Mary Magdalene. For more on Aphrodite and Mary Magdalene see Ariadne Green: “The mythology of Jesus and Mary Magdalene” http://www.newageinfo.com/myth-Jesus-Magdalene.htm
Margaret Starbird writes of Magdalene the Myrrhophore
Thank you for posting this, Klaus. The connection between Mary Magdalene as “ointment bearer” (Myrrhophore) and the Bride in the Songs of Songs [Solomon] is of immense importance! In the Song of Songs / Solomon, the fragrance of the bride wafts around the king at the banqueting table. In John 12, her fragrance “filled the house.” In both case the fragrance is “nard.” The only passages in all of the Judeo-Christian scriptures where “nard” is mentioned are the Song of Songs and the anointing of Jesus in all four Gospels by “the woman with the alabaster jar.”—
Here are several quotes referencing the “oils” or “fragrance” of the bride:
While the king was on his couch, my nard gave
forth its fragrance. (Song of Solomon 1:12)
Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of
pure nard and anointed Jesus’ feet and wiped
them with her hair. (John 12:3a)
How sweet is your love, my sister, my bride.
How much better…is the fragrance of your oils
than any spice! (Song of Solomon 4:10)
The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume…
and Jesus said, “Leave her alone so that she might
keep it for the day of my burial. (John 12 3b, 7)
The only anointing of Jesus during his ministry was by the woman whom Luke calls a sinner, but John names: She is Mary, the sister of Lazarus. As I pointed out recently on this list, the “Vesica Pisces” associated by gematria (153) with Mary Magdalene’s title is used as a symbol for the “anointing by the Holy Spirit” in Christian art—
Here’s what I posted a week or two ago: “Often when you see a medieval sculpture of Christ seated in glory, he is surrounded by the “vesica piscis” () symbol (the yoni) which is universally associated with the goddesses of love and fertility. In Christianity, the meaning of the () is “anointed by the Holy Spirit”—acknowledging that She is feminine….
In the Gospels themselves, Jesus is anointed by a woman named twice in John’s Gospel (11:2 and 12:3). She is Mary, the sister of Lazarus, associated in Christian art and tradition (until recently!) with the Mary whose title is “the Magdalene,” the one who cries at Jesus’ tomb and meets him resurrected in the Garden on Easter morning.”
This association of the “anointing” with the “Bride” derives from the rituals of fertility cults of the ancient Near East where the bridegroom was anointed by his “Bride” as a prefiguring symbolic of the anointing of the male by the female during coitus. The “vesica piscis” symbol is equated universally with the yoni. Greeks called the symbol the “Matrix,” the “womb,” the “doorway to life” and the “Holy of Holies” – literally the “bridal chamber.” So the use of the vesica piscis in Christian art is a “carry-over” from the ancient rites of heiros gamos—the marriage of the Sacred King and his Holy Bride, who is the representative of the Goddess of the land and people.
Mary Magdalene is clearly cast in the role of the Bride in the Gospels—clearly the instrument of the Holy Spirit anointing the King in advance for his death and burial.
In memory of her,
“The Woman with the Alabaster Jar”
For anyone who saw Morgan Freeman’s “The Story of God”, please do not believe that “666” — the number of the beast” — is to be identified with “Caesar Nero.” That theory is half-baked at best!
The number 666 is the ancient Greeks’ (Pythagorean) equivalent of “Yang” energy in the extreme: “power without mercy.” It is the power of the sword, the crocodile, the dictator, the predator in any form–including Nero, but also Caligula, the Roman Inquisition, Hitler, the holocaust, ISIL… and you get the picture. The Beast is “masculine-solar” energy stripped of its “feminine-lunar” counterpart — now rampant and uncontrolled.
The earliest Scriptural references of “666” are found in the Hebrew Bible: 1 Kings 10:14 and 2 Chronicles 9:13: “The weight of gold paid in yearly tribute to Solomon was 666 golden talents.” Apparently “666” golden talents was a fitting tribute for a powerful king — a pure reflection of his status.
Using John Michell as a major source, I explain this pretty thoroughly in my 1995 title, Magdalene’s Lost Legacy: Symbolic Numbers and Sacred Union in Christianity — especially in the two chapters about the Apocalypse (Book of Revelation) in that book: http://margaretstarbird.net/magdalenes_lost_legacy.html
Question for Margaret Starbird
Posted by: “Pamela Lanides”
Date: Sun Apr 17, 2016
Dear Mrs. Starbird,
I have a couple of Jewish friends who will say that during the time of
Jesus, no rabbi would be accepted if he had not been married and so it
would be perfectly plausible that Jesus and MM were married.
However, some Christian scholars will turn around and state that there
were many celibate men at the time of Jesus who were considered to be holy
Is the latter statement true, in your estimation?
Margaret Starbird writes:
Dear Rev. Pamela,
My major source for believing that marriage was a “cultural imperative” for Jewish males is Dr. William E. Phipps, head of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Davis and Elkins College (West Virginia). Dr. Phipps wrote two books on the subject, “The Sexuality of Jesus,” and “Was Jesus Married?” A Jewish father in the first century had 5 duties toward his son:
1) Have him circumcised on the 8th day after his birth; 2) offer an offering in the temple on his behalf; 3) teach him Torah; 4) teach him a trade (so he could support himself and his family); and
5) find him a wife before his 18th birthday (20th birthday if the son was studying to be a rabbi). If the father failed to find a wife for his son, the community elders helped him! Apparently girls were not required to marry, but boys were!
Occasionally Christians suggest the the Essenes were unmarried, but when females were found in tombs in the cemetery at Qumran, they had to revise that assertion. What appears to be true is that Essene males would leave their wives and families for a period of training and then return to them. Life-long celibacy was not condoned. It was a breach of the first commandment God gave to Adam in Genesis: “Be fruitful and multiply.”
Christian exegetes occasionally mention Rabbi Akiba (2nd century) who devoted his life to studying Scripture, but the Talmud says in several other places that he was married and then divorced his wife so that he would have more time for his studies, so even his (often cited case for celibacy) is unclear.
If your Christian friends can name a 1st c. Jewish man who was unmarried, that would surprise me. A “beardless youth” is not yet old enough to marry and St. Paul, who claims to be celibate during his ministry, also asserts that he is a Pharisee, so he must have been either widowed or divorced. Divorce was really easy back in those times, so many men may have enjoyed that single state…. but they were not “life-long celibates.”
The Hebrew language did not have a word for “bachelor.” The word they now use is “ravak”—which means “empty.”