Was Mary A perpetual Virgin?


Stained glass depicting the Virgin Mary holding baby JesusWhen I typed in the title of my post into Google to see what answers would come up, I was surprised to find that reputable, academic affiliated, Catholic sites were still espousing the idea that Mary was a perpetual virgin. It should be no surprise that traditional Catholic sites still push this theology.

Below we will examine the evidence. I will be taking some of the argument points from a book written on the issue, by Dr. Robert Schihl, A Biblical Apologetic of the Catholic Faith.

 


Evidence from the church fathers

One of the things that is repeated about Mary’s virginity is that it is attested to by the early church fathers. These and a number of others have spoken on the subject.

  • Athanasius
    • “O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word?” (Homily of the Papyrus of Turin)
  • Epiphanius
    • “The holy virgin may have died and been buried—her falling asleep was with honor, her death in purity, her crown in virginity.” (The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis)
    • “Now how could Joseph dare to have relations with the Virgin Mary whose holiness was so great? But even if she had sexual relations—and perish that thought!” (The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis)
  • Jerome
  • Augustine
    • Augustine actually tries to use OT prophecies to point to the perpetual virginity of Mary. He was known for making all scripture take on multiple meanings rather than the plain meaning.
    • “This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall pass through it. Because the Lord the God of Israel hath entered in by it” (Ezek 44:2).What means this closed gate in the house of the Lord, except that Mary is to be ever inviolate? What does it mean that ‘no man shall pass through it,’ save that Joseph shall not know her? And what is this:“The Lord alone enters in and goeth out by it,” except that the Holy Ghost shall impregnate her, and that the Lord of Angels shall be born of her?And what means this – “It shall be shut for evermore,” but that Mary is a Virgin before His birth, a Virgin in His birth, and a Virgin after His birth.”

While these seem to be suggesting that their is something to this theory of perpetual virginity, let’s keep in mind that just as many church fathers disagreed or were neutral on the perpetual virginity issue. Below are some that disagree with the ones listed above.

  • Basil
    • Basil commented that the view that Mary had other children after Jesus “was widely held and, though not accepted by himself, was not incompatible with orthodoxy(le Museon)
  • Hegesippus
    • Hegesippus apparently didn’t believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary. Hegesippus refers to Jude as “the Lord’s brother according to the flesh” (church history of Eusebius, 3:20)
    • He refers elsewhere to Symeon, a “cousin of the Lord(church history of Eusebius, 4:22)
  • Irenaeus
    • “To this effect they testify, saying, that before Joseph had come together with Mary, while she therefore remained in virginity, ‘she was found with child of the Holy Ghost” (Against Heresies, 3:21:4)
  • Tertullian
    • When Told of His Mother and His Brethren. Explanation of Christ’s Apparent Rejection Them. (Against Marcion)

I only point these out because some people believe that the church fathers are infallible and they get quoted to prove something right or wrong. While I have great respect for the church fathers, there is no reason to believe that they all agreed on every subject, this one included.


Evidence from the Bible

This is where I think the meat of the discussion really starts. Naturally being a protestant I weight the biblical evidence a bit more than the church history evidence. Either way, here are some very interesting biblical passages related to Mary from the Bible.

Mark 3:31-34

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. [32]A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.

[33]“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

[34]Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!

I want to just point out a few things here that are telling.

  1. The gospel writer labels Mary and the others as Jesus’ brothers. Clearly the gospel writer did not have an issue with Mary not being a virgin. Neither did the other gospel writers either who paralleled this passage (Luke 8, Matthew 12)
  2. The crowd was the voice that stated “your mother and brothers(adelphos) are outside looking for you.” Even the crowds listening to Jesus were aware that Jesus had brothers.
  3. Jesus then uses this stated fact “your mother and brothers are looking for you” to make a sermon illustration. It was common for Jesus to do this sort of thing. (“Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone”). He took the physical reality to make a spiritual point.
    1. Some have pointed out that adelphos (adelpha) in Greek is a loose fitting word that can be used to describe also a cousin or near kinsmen. This is mostly thought to be true because the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT sometimes used adelphos to refer to someone who was a relative and not a cousin. (Gen 13:8; 14:14; 24:48; 29:12; Lev 10:4; 1 Ch 9:6). But once again this is subjective because “cousin” is an English rendering of the Hebrew word “אָח” which actually mean’s brother. But just like most languages it can be used as an idiom to mean close relative. So “cousin” is not being translated into adelphos (brother). אָח (brother) is being translated into brother. Adelphos only ever gets used to mean near kinsmen when used idiomatically by people groups who know the idiom. It is not a universal Greek translation.

Given the reasoning above, it is clear that people clearly believed Jesus had brothers and the gospel writers did too.

Matthew 1:25

but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus (ESV)

In this passage we can see that Matthew is telling the reader that Mary and Joseph refrained from sex until after Jesus was born. The argument that I have heard from many people is that the word “until” does not denote that anything happened after Jesus was born. It only means that they refrained from sex before Jesus was born.

Now, common sense would dictate that the word “until” indicates that something either happened or didn’t happen until a certain point, at which it inverted. If I said that I did not check my mail until after noon. That means that after noon time I checked my mail. Before noon I did not. I shouldn’t have to argue the meaning of the word “until”. I feel like people should be able this understand how to word works in a sentence.

If we used the idea that “until” only designates activity preceding an event and not after then we have a slew of Bible passages the need re-interpreted. (Matthew 5:26, Matthew 10:23, Matthew 16:28, Matthew 24:34). In fact, just looking at Matthew 24:34 “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place,” it is clear that “until” must imply that something is not happening until it is happening. If not then the verse could just read “this generation will not pass away.”

Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?” Matthew 13:55-56
“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” Acts 1:14


Conclusion

It seems that the biggest arguments for the perpetual virginity comes from the church fathers, but the points they make are not backed by scripture. They are making arguments based more on Gnostic principles than anything else; believing that somehow virginity makes Mary more holy. Which brings me to my final thought.

Why does it matter that she is a virgin? Seriously, think about it. Does it improve the gospel somehow? Is Jesus a better savior because of it? Is God honored more because of it? No, none of the above. The only thing it does is elevate Mary as someone to be praised, but that really isn’t necessary. She would be praised with or without perpetual virginity.


 

51 thoughts on “Was Mary A perpetual Virgin?”

  1. I am very religious but I disagree competely that Mary is a perpetual virgin. Poor Joseph (and Mary too). They had planned to get marry before God called them. Such a cruel doctrin and so unnecessary! What’s wrong of becoming a normal husband and wife and serve the Lord too!

    Reply
      • On your insistence that Joseph and Mary must have had sex because your understanding of the text that he did not until Jesus was born, relies on a great leap of faith. Not simply because for 1500 years Christians of all stripes, Catholics, Orthodox and Proto-Protestants like the Hussites and Waldensians held she was a perpetual virgin, but because the insistence that until means that something had to have changed later.

        Scripture’s statement that Joseph “knew [Mary] not until she brought forth her firstborn” would not necessarily mean they did “know” each other after she brought forth Jesus. Until is often used in Scripture as part of an idiomatic expression similar to our own usage in English. I may say to you, “Until we meet again, God bless you.” Does that necessarily mean after we meet again, God curse you? By no means. A phrase like this is used to emphasize what is being described before the until is fulfilled. It is not intended to say anything about the future beyond that point. Here are some biblical examples:

        2 Samuel 6:23: And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to (until) the day of her death. (Does this mean she had children after she died?)
        1 Timothy 4:13: Until I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching. (Does this mean Timothy should stop teaching after Paul comes?)
        1 Corinthians 15:25: For he (Christ) must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. (Does this mean Christ’s reign will end? By no means! Luke 1:33 says, “he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”)
        In recent years, some have argued that because Matthew 1:25 uses the Greek words heos hou for “until” whereas the texts I mentioned above from the New Testament use heos alone, there is a difference in meaning. The argument goes that Heos hou indicates the action of the first clause does not continue. Thus, Mary and Joseph “not having come together” would have ended after Jesus was born.

        The problems with this theory begin with the fact that no available scholarship concurs with it. In fact, the evidence proves the contrary. Heos hou and heos are used interchangeably and have the same meaning. Acts 25:21 should suffice to clear up the matter: “But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of the emperor, I commanded him to be held until (Gk. heos hou) I could send him to Caesar.”

        As to Firstborn, (I was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home, my grandfather a Rabbi) Jewish Law requires that a ransom be paid for the firstborn son who opens the womb of his mother. Recalling the ransom of Issaac on the Mountain it is a rite that accompanies the Brit Olam (circumcision of the first born son) Even if he had six sisters born before him, being the first male, the rite is performed. Even if he does not have any brothers or sisters after him, he is still considered by the Jewish Law as the First born son, and legally referred to as such according to Jewish Laws and customs pre-dating the time of Jesus. We read of the offering of the doves at the temple by Mary one of which was to thank God for her delivery, and the ending of her time of confinement, the other as the ransom of the first born son (Jesus in this case). While knowing the entire code of Hakala (Jewish Law) is not necessary, a simple understanding of it does help to know what the Gospel writers were writing about.

        Reply
    • St. Matthew’s account of the crucifixion and death of Jesus, he writes: “There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him; among who were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.” (Matt. 27:56; see also Mark 15:40). Relatives of Mary the Mother of Jesus, who were with Her as She watched at the foot of the cross. Also mother of James and Joseph (Joses) who may very well be cousins of Jesus mentioned by Matthew in the 27th Chapter. So I do not find the idea of new origin that Mary was not a perpetual virgin, something that Luther and Calvin both found to be true, and the idea that Mary was not a virgin, a new doctrine invented after 1500 which they condemned as being of the Devil to be of less reliable credibility, as it is more an attack on the Papacy having authority than an upholding of what Christians have always believed.

      Reply
  2. Well done Justin, the purpose of sex is to BIND the marriage and to create children, there is no way God would condone a sexless marriage and the Word of God clearly shows Mary and Joseph created a wonderful family!

    Reply
  3. Amen.
    Forgot to say that I enjoyed your article on this.

    I grew up under Catholicism. Religious..but no relationship with God. Eyes were closed then…but thank God now I see.
    I cringe anytime I hear someone is ‘praying’ to Mary Uggg!

    She was human. We pray to God the Father through Jesus the son and by the Holy Spirit.
    No one else .
    Our Praise and Worship goes to the Father and the Son…never to Mary, or any of the apostles.
    Funny i gew up thinking they were saints, and we could pray to them.
    Now , through the Word of God I know ” precious in the sight of the Lord, is the Death of His saints”

    A Saint, is a Believer..as follower…of Christ.
    and no Mary did not remain a virgin…no need to.

    After Jesus was born, she and Joseph lived a normal life, obeying the Jewish Customs at the time.
    As said, at age 12… Jesus asked “Who is my mother …” Whoever does the Will of the Father…”

    Yes his Family was looking for Him…His brothers, Mary, and Joseph.

    In fact , one of Jesus brothers did not believe in Him as the Christ, until after the resurrection.
    James was his name. Wrote a few chapters in the New testament.

    Keep spreading the TRUTH Justin…which, when we Know it, can set us FREE!
    God’s Blessings on you and yours.

    Reply
  4. So many FAIL to understand OUR human nature and our SINFUL Nature.

    Jesus , if born from a woman without sin, could NOT of REDEEMED mankind back to God.
    ONLY Jesus (God in the Flesh …Emmanuel…” God with Us” could live a Perfect life…and go to the Cross.

    Mary was born as a woman…flesh…born, died, like ALL humans, Yes , she also had original sin, passed from Adam and Eve.

    Jesus HAD to be born from a human, sinful nature, as us all.
    This way…He could ” Be tempted in all ways, yet without sin”

    If Mary was perfect, without sin, their would be no need for God to come down and live a perfect life, in this fallen nature (flesh) ‘Jesus Christ”

    Also, if Jesus did not have the nature of a body or flesh prone to sin…then He could not of been tempted. In the Gospels (forgot which one) Jesus was lead into the wilderness to be Tempted by the Devil. Yes The Holy Spirit Lead Him ….He had to be tempted…He WAS Tempted to sin…BUT, He didn’t. He was not Half man, Half God…He was 100% man…AND 1005 God. He even said” If you seen me, you have seen the Father”

    It’s all in the Bible, without we would not of known about Adam and Eve, fallen man, power of sin, Heave and Hell, etc.

    Reply
    • Yeah, obviously the protestants are in agreement with you. There are ZERO theological reasons why Mary’s virginity has anything to do with Jesus’ work of redemption. Jesus saves, not Mary.

      Reply
  5. Hi; stumbled across your website, not a regular reader. While I disagree with your beliefs, I find no fault with them or the way you present your ideas as pertains to this “Was Mary A Perpetual Virgin?” posting.

    What I do take issue with is the phrase you use in your opening paragraph: ” I was surprised to find that reputable Catholic sites were still espousing the idea that Mary was a perpetual virgin.”

    I take issue with your surprise. If you truly were versed in an understanding of Christian denominational differences, so as to be able to name heresies, identify error, or separate goats from sheep, you would know that one of the very few things that have ever been stated ‘ex Cathedra’ by Catholics is that Mary remained a virgin — “Ever Virgin” they call her.

    I take issue with your surprise that ‘reputable Catholic sites’ would espouse Catholic dogma.

    Reply
    • I completely understand why you would find my surprise a bit alarming. I think a better wording would have been reputable Catholic academic sites. I include the word academic because academic teaching often separates itself from strict adhesion to the denominational line and historical thinking. Most academic seminaries are about 50 years ahead of church teaching……. With the exception of conservative seminaries.

      I have a Bible degree and a Seminary degree both from academic style institutions, however, I grew up in Catholic schools, attended catechism, and was confirmed in the Catholic Church as a teenager. A few short years later I left the church, mostly because I was not able to reconcile a number of Catholic beliefs with the Bible. One of them being Mary’s perpetual virginity. In fact, almost none of my Catholic school mates believed it, nor could we understand why the teaching mattered in the first place.

      I’m not unfamiliar with the Catholic faith or teachings. I’m also not unfamiliar with how church teachings have changed over time. In the Catholic School that I went to, I was told by priests that evolution was a fact. That is a position that would have been greatly disputed 50 years ago. Many Catholic seminaries have become much more progressive and much more focused on exegetical studies rather than just learning Latin. Some now offer and emphasize Greek and Hebrew.

      Catholic teachings have changed drastically just in my mother’s lifetime (a life long Catholic). Vatican II was not that long ago. Up until then Protestants were still considered heretics by official Catholic teaching and masses were still encouraged to be done in Latin. I do understand that certain Catholic believes are more sacred than others and that this one is still deeply sacred to many. It is, perhaps, unrealistic to believe that such a deeply rooted belief will be challenged and adjusted but that could also be said about many previously held Catholic teachings. Changing dogma is easier than changing doctrine. This is true for all denominations.

      Reply
  6. Is it really fair to assume that Joseph, after the prophecy received in his dream of the child to be born had been completed, would not want to have sex with his wife after she completed the duration of her time of uncleanness? Sure, it is rightly believed he was older than Mary…she being maybe about fifteen. But Joseph was probably a man in his mid twenties or early thirties which likely would have been considered “old” to become married in his day.

    But Joseph was a man. He was not a perfect person and he was obedient to the angel’s commands given to him. And the angel never told him he couldn’t take his wife into his own tent, as it were, once the aforementioned events were over.

    Though Mary likely was barely more than a child when approached by Gabriel — and likely near the end of puberty if not already finished with it at that point in time, once she went through the biological changes of her own body during her pregnancy, she was, by all definitions, a woman. And Joseph, being a man, now no longer had any reason, whatsoever, to want to wait to have sex with his wife.

    And, because Mary, being a woman, and being married to Joseph, would not want to abstain from sex but be with her husband just as Eve did with Adam. It is natural and normal for the two of them to desire sex with each other and to consummate that. Whereas Paul did commend married couples for taking a temporary time to abstain from each other during fasting, he also said it was a duty of man to be for his wife and for a wife to be for her husband…and that a man owned her body and she owned his.

    For all of her blessedness as being one who was a true follower of God and chosen to carry the Son of God, Mary was a normal human woman and she had a duty to her husband and there is no reason to assume she didn’t fulfil that duty…especially given that she was so noble of heart. How could one who has such good character, given in marriage, even dare to choose to deny herself to her husband? That would be a wicked thing and an act of sin against her husband and against God who ordained marriage and whom brought Mary and Joseph together in the first place.

    Remember, it was the Lord that chose Mary and it was also the Lord that chose Joseph to be the father of His Son. This same God who chose them to be together asked only that Joseph be good to his wife and take her betrothal as a wife but wait until Jesus was born [and Mary complete her time of uncleanness] before consummating the marriage. God never commanded Joseph to abstain in perpetuity.

    Why would anyone expect this of a married man? God doesn’t. He chose the institution of marriage to be that in which the human race would perpetuate itself. Without marriage, sex is illegitimate and the children birthed from such are illegitimate…even though the Lord loves them, anyway. But Joseph was not brought into marriage with Mary by God just so Jesus wouldn’t be illegitimate, but He chose Joseph for Mary and He chose Mary for Joseph because God knew that these two good people, one with great character and the other with great grace, would be good for each other and they would be good for God’s Son.

    So, in addition to the scriptural evidence that Jesus had blood brothers through His mother’s relationship with her husband, there is logical evidence that Joseph, being chosen by God to be her husband, had sexual relations with his wife after fulfilling his duty to wait while she bore the Son of God.

    A side point that should be noted here, is that Mary may only have ever had just the one husband, Joseph. It is reasonable to assume that Joseph died sometime before Jesus’ crucifixion. So, at least until the time of Jesus’s crucifixion (and likely — though not necessarily — for the rest of her life), Mary was an unmarried widow who relied on Jesus and followed Him around while also compassionately attending to Him (maybe sometimes cooking meals for Him or making sure He washed behind His ears, etc.). She was His mom, after all, and those are some of the things moms do when they are with you. Clearly she was known to Jesus’ twelve apostles and most, if not all, of His many disciples.

    Whether traveling with Jesus more like a mother hen or more like a mascot (no disrespect intended), at least some of the time, Mary was a part of Jesus’ “entourage” when He traveled from community to community. Perhaps this only started after Jesus’ ministry began. Perhaps she was only visiting Him on the few occasions where she’s mentioned outside of the birth, temple visit, and crucifixion. Maybe she only started doing this after becoming a grieving widow and that might have happened during Jesus’ time of ministry.

    Regardless of how or when Mary was spending time with Jesus on the road, she was treated as one who was widowed and needed her son. So, therefore, we can assume that Jesus’ siblings not only were younger, but perhaps all were much younger and, as such, none were mature enough to be “the man” of the family when Jesus was crucified. So, Jesus gave Mary to His “beloved” disciple, John, the Apostle, who was the most like a brother to Jesus apart from His real brothers.

    It should be noted additionally that if Jesus had any sisters, they’d either be too young to take on a significant role in the family or else they’d be married off to their own new families with their own new husbands. And, besides, women weren’t always given the same status in that community as is considered normal, today. So it makes sense that, unless there were mature men available within the family, an outsider would often step in either as an official new husband to the wife, or just as one caring friend of the family who took responsibility for their well-being.

    To sum up, because Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived, any siblings of His would naturally be younger than He. And since Jesus was in His low thirties when He died on the cross, we can safely assume also that all of His siblings — brothers and sisters, alike — would be younger or married off on their own and, therefore, assumed to be not responsible enough for their mother and the rest of her family.

    It would seem to be supported that Mary likely remained a widow for the rest of her life or at least for a large part of it because Jesus felt it necessary to have her taken care of long-term and needed to be given to John, the beloved, as his mother to take care of, upon Jesus’ crucifixion. I may be wrong in this assumption, but John may have lost his own mother by this point and so, by uniting Mary to him as his mom, Jesus may have served an additional purpose in giving His best friend a mother that would be good also for him just as he would be good for her as a new and responsible son.

    Finally, though Jesus would only stay dead for barely three days, after His resurrection, He would no longer be as a son to Mary so much as the resurrected Lord whom even she worshipped as her own God. Though she has and will always have a special relationship with Jesus as her earthly son whom she bore and raised, Mary is still subject to Him and would gladly and gratefully bow at His feet just as the rest of us in the Church…and along with all of the rest of humanity, all of the angels, and even Satan and all of his fallen angels, when it is fulfilled that “every” knee shall bow and “every” tongue confess that Jesus is Lord over all of creation.

    But, in the meantime, even before He ascended to Heaven — and certainly afterwards — Mary needed a son (not “Son”) to be a caring and responsible part of her family and so Jesus planned ahead to take care of her with His beloved disciple.

    Mary is called blessed because she was chosen to bear the Son of God. She was not perfect…no one apart from Christ Himself is perfect. Mary was born a sinner and needed redemption just as all of mankind. It was just as much for her sins as it was for yours and mine that Jesus came into this world. Surely, Mary was already one who had a heart for God and chose to live a righteous life as much as one under the law could. But she was still born a sinner and still subject to that law and thus she needed the sanctifying blood of Jesus to be a perfect sacrifice for her as much as the rest of humanity.

    “9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. 10 As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one;’ …

    ” … 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;

    “23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:9-10, 21-26 (NKJV)

    One cannot be righteous unless they are without sin. But everyone is a sinner. So none is righteous apart from the covering of their sin by God’s self-sacrificial propitiation. So it is, therefore, that Mary was not perfect. And, even though she was the one who bore Jesus into our world, Mary was still a sinner in need of salvation and in need of becoming born-again into His Church after Pentecost.

    For all these reasons, it can be safely said that Mary was a normal human (though highly esteemed because of her noble heart) and therefore there is no reason to assume she would retain her virginhood beyond the birth of Jesus. His conception was miraculous, but Jesus’ term as an unborn child was normal, His birth was normal…if not rather humble in the stable…and His life (at least until His time of temptation in the wilderness) was normal. Mary was normal. She was special, but she was normal. And a normal woman as the mother of the Son of God, need not stay a virgin and, by the fact of Jesus’ birth, wouldn’t stay a virgin.

    The only factor where Mary’s virginity matters is in the supernatural conception in which the Spirit of the Lord would overshadow her to make her conceive the physical body with which the Lord would be born with. And since His biology would presumably be a male version of her (genetically-speaking), it was one of the highest and most significant cosmic choices by God to select Mary as the genetic source of Jesus’ earthly form. And it is the essence of that same form in which, upon His resurrection, Jesus would retain a familiar recognition in His perfected body. Thus it is not a stretch to assume that when we see Mary in Heaven and we see Jesus, we should be able to see a resemblance between them beyond that which is our being made in God’s image.

    Reply
  7. Your seminary degree must have been worth every penny, considering they taught you to disagree with not only the Church Fathers, but your protestant heroes as well! For all your Greek and Hebrew studies, you are simply repeating a very old heresy.
    Calvin thought that “Helvidius displayed excessive ignorance in concluding that Mary must have had many sons, because Christ’s brothers are sometimes mentioned.”

    And regarding the other common argument from Matthew 1.24-25, Calvin thought “that no just and well-grounded inference can be drawn from these words of the Evangelist, as to what took place after the birth of Christ” and that “[w]hat took place afterwards, the historian does not inform us. Such is well known to have been the practice of the inspired writers.”

    Calvin was not alone among the Protestant Reformers in defending the perpetual virginity of our Blessed Mother.

    Martin Luther wrote:

    “When Matthew says that Joseph did not know Mary carnally until she had brought forth her son, it does not follow that he knew her subsequently; on the contrary, it means that he never did know her . . . This babble . . . is without justification . . . he has neither noticed nor paid any attention to either Scripture or the common idiom.” (That Jesus was Born a Jew)

    “Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural fruit of Mary’s virginal womb . . . This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that. […] Christ . . . was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him . . . I am inclined to agree with those who declare that ‘brothers’ really mean ‘cousins’ here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers.” (Sermons on John)

    Huldrych Zwingli wrote:

    “I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the Son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin.” (Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Berlin, 1905, v. 1, p. 424)

    Even John Wesley, in 1749, wrote:

    “I believe that He [Jesus] was made man, joining the human nature with the divine in one person; being conceived by the singular operation of the Holy Ghost, and born of the blessed Virgin Mary, who, as well after as before she brought Him forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin.” (Letter to a Roman Catholic)

    Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, and Wesley were simply maintaining the long-standing traditional belief on the matter. Here are just a few witnesses:

    St Gregory of Nyssa, On the Holy Generation of Christ, 5 (4th century):

    “For if Joseph had taken her to be his wife, for the purpose of having children, why would she have wondered at the announcement of maternity, since she herself would have accepted becoming a mother according to the law of nature?”
    St Augustine, Sermons 186.1 (early 5th century):

    “It was not the visible sun, but its invisible Creator who consecrated this day for us, when the Virgin Mother, fertile of womb and integral in her virginity, brought him forth, made visible for us, by whom, when he was invisible, she too was created. A Virgin conceiving, a Virgin bearing, a Virgin pregnant, a Virgin bringing forth, a Virgin perpetual. Why do you wonder at this, O man?”

    But there’s no way you could be wrong, all these other great Christian thinkers must have been mistaken and they were simply were waiting for your God given eloquence to set the record straight. You must be right, and they wrong because you have a newfangled seminary degree! Excuse me for erring on the side of millennia of tradition.

    That last paragraph was sarcasm. Maybe they didn’t teach you that in seminary.

    Reply
    • I am not even going to address your sideways insult of me and the seminary I attended.

      For every theologian in history that thought Mary was a perpetual virgin, I can find you one that disagrees. Just because someone else believed it doesn’t make it true. You would not accept that argument from me I am sure and I won’t except it from you. Playing he-said, she-said isn’t a replacement for proof or evidence.

      There is a reason why the majority of all non-Catholics do not believe in this piece of theology.; because it has no biblical support. Not a single passage in the Bible mentions her perpetual virginity. Yet multiple passages point to her having sex with Joseph and also having other children.

      But really, the whole conversation is silly. Nothing is gained by making Mary a perpetual virgin. Is Jesus somehow more risen from the grave? Is Jesus somehow more sacrificed for our sins?

      Of course not.

      Reply
  8. Think about this…if Mary held God in her womb, that means her womb and her body were holy enough to merit that grace. God sanctified Mary, because no human body is holy enough to contain God. Now consider, if your body had been sanctified by God himself, would you sully it by letting any man touch it? Seriously, if you gave birth to God, what need is there to ever have another child? What child could compare to the Son of God? What spouse could compare to the Holy Spirit? Who in their right mind would give up sanctification for debasement? The idea that Mary was not a perpetual virgin is blasphemous. Why would God choose any normal woman for His mother? Shouldn’t the mother of God be the most perfect, unblemished woman in history?

    Reply
    • Just because many people are afraid or incapable of achieving holiness, that does not mean you have to debase the mother of God to a pathetic human level. Clearly, God gave her every grace, even the grace to live her whole life without ever touching a man. But, oh no, a life without sex!? Too harsh for many so-called Christians. But nothing is impossible for God.

      Reply
      • By the way, don’t you know the Bible was not codexed until the 5th century? What did early Christians refer to for 400 years without a Bible? If the Bible is the source for all your answers, why didn’t Jesus write it himself, or command His apostles to write and compile it? Didn’t you know there were about 20 gospels before they codexed the Bible? Why did only 4 make the cut? And who decided that those books were inspired? Answer some legitimate questions for yourself instead of attacking the Mother of God. But wait, I guess you don’t actually want to know the Truth, if you did, you wouldn’t be wasting your time trying to disprove something you know nothing about. Go back to 80 AD and tell me how important the Bible was. Oh wait, it didn’t exist! So what did all those Christians die for? Answer that question and maybe you will learn something about the religion Christ, the Son of God, established.

        Reply
        • The individual accounts of the gospels were around long before the Bible was codexed or before the various councils held to define the cannon.

          We have fragments from the 4 gospels that date back to the 1st century. It’s not like the early church did not have scripture and just made it up later.

          What you are insinuating is that the early church knew better than the Bible and therefore tradition demands Mary is not a virgin. But the early church did not all agree on this matter….as I pointed out in the post.

          And it was the church who decided that these 4 gospels were the ones that best fit the traditions they were taught. If this Bible is good enough for the early church it should be good enough for you.

          Reply
          • There was no bible in the early church my friend. The first gospel wasn’t written until well after Jesus’ death. Even so, they weren’t widely disseminated once they were written. There was no post office or Fed Ex and oh by the way, Christianity was illegal. Make some common sense my friend. Don’t build a straw man.

          • I never said the Bible was in the early church. I said gospel accounts existed within the early church. This is clearly seen in the writing of the Ireaeus, Clement, Origen, Justin Martyr, and Papias.

            But it’s really irreverent. Neither the Bible nor Christian tradition support the idea that Mary was a perpetual virgin. The debates of the early church on this matter is divided at best.

          • Furthermore, I never said the Bible was not God good enough for me, again, attempting to put words in someone’s mouth to discredit them is not a valid debate tactic. Not only that, but St. John himself states, in the last chapter of his gospel, that everything Jesus did could never be written down. So who’s not being biblical now? Even the Bible says that everything we need to know is not contained in the Bible.

          • You are missing the point. The Bible said Mary and Joseph had sex and had siblings. The church fathers were the ones who accepted this in the gospel accounts.

          • You yourself agree that the church fathers disagreed on this point, so why are you so sure?

            Furthermore the Bible is not totally clear on the brothers of Jesus. Those “brothers” are never once called the children of Mary, although Jesus himself is (John 2:1; Acts 1:14).

            James and Joseph (also called Joses), who are called Jesus’ “brothers” (Mark 6:3) are indeed the children of Mary—Just not Mary, the mother of Jesus.

            After St. Matthew’s account of the crucifixion and death of Jesus, he writes:

            “There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him; among who were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.” (Matt. 27:56; see also Mark 15:40).

          • Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon?

            This passage is clearly about Jesus and his mother, Mary…..and Jesus’ siblings. If these brothers are the son of another Mary then how is it possible that Jesus is somehow her son?

            “Isn’t this Mary’s son?”

        • I never said Mary wasn’t human. Make a valid argument my friend, instead of trying to put words into my mouth. Mary was sanctified by God. Still human, but holy, set apart. Why would God use a vessel stained with sin? There is no historical precedence for such an action.

          Reply
          • You keep referring to sex as a sin. It is not and Mary was not defiled by sex after the birth of Jesus because sex does not defile a person.

            But to your point, we are all with sin, even Mary. Yet the spirit resides in us. So your logic is flawed.

          • How is my logic flawed? Sex is a physical human activity. Not bad at all. But it has no comparison to communion with God. So why go from conception with God to conception with a man? Only the high priest could enter the holy of holies once a year, and only after a very elaborate cleansing ritual. Clearly, any human activity on Sacred ground is a debasement. Because God is higher, infinitely higher than humans. Furthermore, why would God Himself enter into a sinful, flawed vessel and live there for 9 months when he has the power to avoid doing so? God is the opposite of sin, why would he live inside of a sinful body even for a moment? Also, the angel Gabriel said Hail full of grace. One cannot be full of grace if there is any sin present. How can you be full of something with a little of something else mixed in? Not possible. My logic makes perfect sense, and you have not proven how it doesn’t. You write a quick retort, with a personal insult, and no foundation and call it proper debate. Nope. Try again.

          • Everything we do is a human activity. If simply being human was a problem for the birth of Jesus then I would imagine becoming one would have been an even bigger problem…..which is exactly what he did.

            Furthermore, Jesus did not live inside Mary after his birth. What happened to her body after the birth is irrelevant.

            Even more than that, you are forgetting the just being a woman made her unclean once a month and especially giving birth made her unclean. Are you suggesting that Mary never had her period?

            But really this whole perfection/sinful idea is silly. There is zero theological ground work to assume that Mary needed to be sex-free all her life to be worthy of bearing Jesus.

          • If sex is so great why does the Bible say this?The Bible on Sexuality

            1 Corinthians 7:1-10
            Now for the matters you wrote about: ‘It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.’ …. I wish that all of you were as I am (meaning chaste, my emphasis). But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
            Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: it is good for them to stay *unmarried*, *as I do*. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

            Matthew 19:12
            For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others – and there are those who *choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven*. *The one who can accept this should accept it.’*

            Clearly you cannot accept the hard teaching of Christ that being chaste, abstinent, or remaining a virgin for Him is preferred. You use one verse which is debated as to the sexual relations of Jospeh and Mary, because I suppose chastity has no merit in your mind. But chastity is important to God. And there is Biblical precedence for that.

          • Paul was clear in his advice that he wanted people to not marry so they could devote themselves to the gospel before Jesus returned.

            Moreover, Paul never once said that sex and marriage were bad nor that they would defile a person. That is a gnostic idea.

            No Bible verse at all holds chastity in higher view than non-chastity. Your reference in Matthew is talking about the hard message of divorce, not being a eunuch.

            Jesus said that any man who divorces his wife and married another commits adultery. This is followed by the disciples declaring,

            “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

            Which then followed by Jesus saying “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.”

            In no way does this passage emphasize chastity.

    • Since when is marital relations “dirty”? Stop making theology from your feelings and uninformed notions. The Bible clearly states that Mary and Joseph had sex.

      Reply
      • What book, which verse? And since when is a touch from God just as good as a touch from man? Man had original sin, therefore marital relations are impure. Are they wrong, by no means. But are they pure and holy like God? Not even close. Use your common sense. Why go from conception with God to conception with man?

        Reply
        • “but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus” (Matthew 1:25)

          Nothing is pure like God, not even Mary. She was birthed threw normal conception and she also had to adhere to the ritual purity laws for Jews concerning births.

          Reply
          • In the Bible, it [until] means only that some action did not happen up to a certain point; it does not imply that the action did happen later, which is the modern sense of the term. In fact, if the modern sense is forced on the Bible, some ridiculous meanings result.

            Consider this line: “Michal the daughter of Saul had no children till the day of her death” (2 Sam. 6:23). Are we to assume she had children after her death?

            There is also the burial of Moses. The book of Deuteronomy says that no one knew the location of his grave “until this present day” (Deut. 34:6, Knox). But we know that no one has known since that day either.

            The examples could be multiplied, but you get the idea—nothing can be proved from the use of the word “till” in Matthew 1:25. Recent translations give a better sense of the verse: “He had no relations with her at any time before she bore a son” (New American Bible); “He had not known her when she bore a son” (Knox).

          • There are 100 different ways to say that they did not have sex but none of those were used because they did have sex. But it wasn’t until the birth. Until only has one meaning. It means “up to” or “as far as” some limit or designation is met. In the case of Mary and Joseph, they did not have sex until Jesus was born…. which clearly means they had sex.

            But all that aside, your example passages don’t really help your argument. Yes you were able to find 1 passage where “till” was used slightly differently but you didn’t bother to look at context. The definition of “ad” in Hebrew means “as far as”, “up to” or even “while.” Context tells you how to interpret the word. Clearly the context of 2 Samuel shows that Michal never had children up to her death, or inversely, while she was alive. But had it said Michal had no children till she was 30…..it would clearly mean she had children at age 30. Context demanded that she did not have kids after she died even though the same preposition can be used.

            You example from Deuteronomy isn’t helpful either because it falls into unknown territory. We have no idea if the author is indicating if they knew at the time of writing or if they did not know even up to the time of writing.

            There is no linguistic or contextual reason to believe the author of this gospel was indicating that they never had sex. The method in which they used the word “heos” clearly implies they had sex. There are dozens of examples of how this word is used in the NT and almost always it showed that something did indeed happen, but not until a condition was first met.

          • The discussion of the word “until” comes from St. Jerome who was fluent in Hebrew, and can certainly be trusted. Further, whether the statement is an affirmation or a negation does not change the point — “until” does not necessarily indicate a change.

            Well, if you are looking for other examples consider … Gen 26:13, 28:3, and Joshua 10:33 [there are countless such examples] … the event continues through the word “until” … in fact, the event is perfected through the “until”.

            For the specific use of a negation with “until” consider Genesis 49:10 — “The sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a ruler from his thigh, till he come that is to be sent, and he shall be the expectation of nations.” — shall we think that the scepter is taken away by the coming of Jesus? Of course not! Rather, Jesus coming perfects what came before the word “until”.

          • I happen to also be fluent in Hebrew and Greek. And once again, translation isn’t the main issue, it’s interpretation.

            Neither of your examples above show that an event continued through the until.

            “The sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a ruler from his thigh, till he come that is to be sent, and he shall be the expectation of nations.”

            The until clearly shows that once “he comes” the clause would be fulfilled.

            You are grasping at straws.

  9. God, by His great Mercy, chose to permit His only begotten Son to be made incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary. This was made possible through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    It is known for all eternity, that God would send His Son into the world to enable our fallen nature to be once more redeemed so that we might dwell with Him forever in eternity again.

    This is known for sure. Our Lord was made incarnate by the power of the Holy Ghost. HE being, the third part of the Holy Trinity.

    He is a PERSON.

    He is the TRUE Spouse of the Holy Virgin Mary by Divine Ordinance, she was immaculately conceived free from original sin, so that GOD’s Son might have a suitable dwelling place.

    Traditionally, it is known that St Joseph was an elderly widower

    If you read the early writing “The infancy Gospel of James” you will discover that Our Lady was a temple Virgin. It was a common practice in the Old Testament that the FIRST BORN was consecrated to the Temple. St Joachim and St Anne, (the parents of the Blessed Virgin) had only ONE child, so Our Lady was the First Born. She was consecrated to the Temple, and Tradition states, that she took a vow of permanent virginity. The Gospel is very beautiful, and decrees that upon reaching the age of maturity, the Holy Men of the Temple sought a suitable marriage partner for her. Many suitable spouses were bought into the Temple, and a dove (probably her REAL husband the Holy Spirit) settled on St Joseph’s Staff, and he was therefore preferred above all of the others to take the Blessed Virgin into his home to protect her. A similar vow of Chastity had previously been taken by St Joseph.

    This is a wonder video. A great speaker. Wonderful bible commentary.

    Dr Steve Ray – Footprints of God – Mary; (Holy Land based Documentary)

    http://gloria.tv/?media=404384

    Two others in same series Peter/Paul

    http://gloria.tv/?media=403923
    http://gloria.tv/?media=404823

    Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P45BHDRA7pU

    Here is the Protoevangelium of James – which documents the truth of the spousal relationship of the widower St Joseph and Our Lady St Mary.

    http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/infancyjames-hock.html

    Please see the prophecies of Marie Julie Jahenny, Our Lady of Akita, Blessed Elena Aiello, Blessed Anne Emmerich, and Our lady of Good Success. There is a chastisement due to the world. Many Mystics and Stigmatics have forewarned us.

    God Bless you

    Reply
    • I appreciate your comments but the only evidence for her perpetual virginity is from the Infancy Gospel of James, and it clearly contradicts the Bible.

      I am not sure I care what tradition says. The Bible is clear on this issue. Mary had normal relations with Joseph as the NT points out multiple times.

      Reply
      • I don’t think you are aware that Our Lady has been called by the Roman Catholic Church “The Bride of the Holy Spirit”

        That is one reason why she remained chaste.

        It is required to believe by the Roman Catholic Church that the Blessed Virgin always remained “ever Virgin” You place yourself outside the Church and in peril of your soul if you refuse to submit to the STATED Truth.

        Also regarding the “Infancy Gospel of St James
        It was written around A.D. 120, when some of those who had known the apostles were still alive. It records that Mary was dedicated before her birth to serve the Lord in the temple, as Samuel had been dedicated by his mother (1 Sam. 1:11). This required perpetual virginity of Mary so that she could completely devote herself to the service of the Lord.

        PS to “not care” what Tradition says is to put yourself outside the Church.

        Our Lord stated to Sr Lucia of Fatima that there were five sins against the Immaculate Heart of His Mother at her Convent in Tuy in 1930

        These were Our Lord’s stern words.

        “My daughter, the motive is simple: there are five ways in which people offend and blaspheme against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

        · (1) Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception.

        · (2) Blasphemies against her Perpetual Virginity.

        · (3) Blasphemies against her Divine Maternity and at the same time the refusal to recognize her as the Mother of all mankind,

        · (4) Blasphemies of those who seek openly to foster in the hearts of children indifference or contempt and even hatred for this Immaculate Mother.

        · (5) The offenses of those who directly outrage Her in her holy images.

        “Here then, My Daughter, is the reason why the Immaculate Heart of Mary [My Mother] causes Me to ask for this little act of reparation and by means of it, moves My mercy to forgive those souls who had the misfortune of offending her. As for you, try without ceasing, with all your prayers and sacrifices, to move Me to mercy toward those poor souls.” 1

        http://www.catholicapologetics.info/catholicteaching/privaterevelation/fatima.htm

        Reply
  10. Also, according to Jewish theology and custom, Mary and Joseph would not be technically married unless the consummated the marriage. Sex was the defining characteristic of marriage. It would hardly be assumed that Mary and Joseph were merely living together and not start a family. Joseph knew that Jesus was not from him and to be a good Semitic citizen requires having children.

    Reply

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