This is a very serious question, and not meant to be an attack in any way. Catholics can engage in this forum if they wish, but they won’t be able to help me with my question, because I want to hear from Protestants.
First of all, the asking of this question comes from my constant fellowship with my Protestant brothers and sisters. I am a Catholic, but I consider both Catholics and Protestants to be Christian. My question, though, stems from the somewhat hostile feelings Protestants have regarding the Virgin Mary. Many of my Protestant brothers and sisters will come to me for spiritual advice and bible reflection, and often I will post bible verses or pictures of Jesus on facebook. I have many pictures of Jesus in my arsenal of inspirational pictures, but I also have a few pictures of Mary that I enjoy looking at and will sometimes post. In response to posts/pictures of Jesus, they respond with things like “Hallelujah!” and “Amen!” but when a picture of Mary is shown, it is met with only scorns and cries of idolatry.
I’ll be honest, this greatly saddens and confuses me. When I see a picture of Mary, I say to myself “Behold, the beloved Mother of Christ Himself. How happy am I to see a picture of my dear Savior’s mother.” When seeing these pictures of Mary, my Protestant friends seemed to be filled with feelings that are almost exactly opposite. They often respond with words such as “Idolatry!” and “You worship Mary!” and other hostile remarks about Catholics or the Virgin herself. I’m sorry, but I don’t see the reasoning behind this. Keep in mind, my Protestant brethren who are kindly taking the time to read this, that I know not all Protestants are like this. But when my friends and followers who are Protestant see pictures of Mary, instead of filling them with love for Our Lord, it seemingly fills them with hatred of Catholics and resentment.
It saddens me; I don’t understand why this hatred comes out like this. I know what idolatry is, and I try to explain to them that I’m not in any way in my own mind raising Mary above God by looking joyfully at a few pictures of her. I explain to them that when I see a picture of Mary, I say to myself what I already stated as above. I do not say to myself “Behold, the Virgin Mary who is Divine and Greater than Our Lord Jesus Christ and ought to be worshipped as God!”
Yet still, even after I explain this, some of my Protestant brethren (not all of them, however) will claim that loving Mary is not loving Jesus, and that honoring her is against scripture. How saddening and confusing this is! Jesus Himself said that we are to “Love one another”, but somehow, according to them, this excludes the Virgin Mary, who was God’s most faithful and blessed servant. If someone loves Mary, do they not also love Jesus? If someone loves Jesus, should they not also love Mary? Anyone who loves Jesus obeys His commandments (John 14:21). Let’s apply this to Blessed Mary. If somebody loves Mary, they will obey her commandments also, correct? What are Mary’s commandments? “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). So whoever loves Mary must also love Jesus.
So my question is, if there are Protestants here who feel this way that Mary ought to not be shown any love or honor whatsoever, and that seeing pictures of her only ignites resentment of Catholics, why do you feel this way? Keep in mind, my Protestant brethren, that I know full well that this does not apply to all of you. My best friend, and perhaps the most righteous and holy person I have ever known, was my grandfather, who was Lutheran. Unfortunately we never got to talk about Mary before his death, but I’m sure that the mention of Mary the beloved servant did not induce any hatred or resentment in him. This is not in any way an attack on all Protestants, only a question out of confusion for the ones who are seemingly, at least in my experiences, hostile towards the Virgin Mary. Oh, and by the way, I fully understand the desire by Protestants, or even instead of desire, the fear, to not raise Mary to a level above God, what I don’t understand is the apparent hatred that she instills in some, and the almost defiant refusal to show her any love or honor whatsoever, which in my opinion is very offensive to God.
Thank you, and God Bless