"How can this be, since I have no relations with man?"


#1

Quote from the bibile

The angel declares, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son…”

To which Mary replies, “How can this be, since I have no relations with man?”

I don’t understand how this has to do with her remaining a virgin. Yea she had no relation with a man YET. She was engaged to Joseph, so therefore she was just being a good Jewish girl and remaining a virgin until marriage. I’m Catholic, and i have seen many people use this passage when refering to Mary being a virgin, So could someone please explain this to me, because im not getting it.


#2

Common People, I know SOmeone out there can explain tis to me’


#3

Mary, already betrothed to Joseph, responded in a way that is inconsistent with someone who expected to have relations with their spouse.

When the angel said, “you will conceive and bear a son” the angel did not put any sort of timeframe on this nor at this point had the angel indicated the pregnancy would be anything supernatural in origin (ie, if you were planning to have relations with your husband… this would not be a surprising announcement). Mary did not say, “when will this be…?” she said, “how can this be…?”.

A betrothed woman would not ask “how” but “when”, if that woman planned on having relations that would lead to pregnancy. The logical reaction for Mary, if she intended to have relations with Joseph, would be when she might expect this to occur… not how ccould it be possible.


#4

[quote=1ke]Mary, already betrothed to Joseph, responded in a way that is inconsistent with someone who expected to have relations with their spouse.

When the angel said, “you will conceive and bear a son” the angel did not put any sort of timeframe on this nor at this point had the angel indicated the pregnancy would be anything supernatural in origin (ie, if you were planning to have relations with your husband… this would not be a surprising announcement). Mary did not say, “when will this be…?” she said, “how can this be…?”.

A betrothed woman would not ask “how” but “when”, if that woman planned on having relations that would lead to pregnancy. The logical reaction for Mary, if she intended to have relations with Joseph, would be when she might expect this to occur… not how ccould it be possible.
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Good answer. That’s the way I heard it explained too. I have also heard that it was not unusual - although not altogether common - in the time of Christ’s birth that jewish women would sometimes choose to become consecrated virgins. If Mary, prior to her betrothal, chose to remain a consecrated virgin for the remainder of her life, then her response “How can this be since I have no relations with man” is consistent with the understanding that she intended to remain a virgin throughout her life.


#5

[quote=Robert in SD]Good answer. That’s the way I heard it explained too. I have also heard that it was not unusual - although not altogether common - in the time of Christ’s birth that jewish women would sometimes choose to become consecrated virgins. If Mary, prior to her betrothal, chose to remain a consecrated virgin for the remainder of her life, then her response “How can this be since I have no relations with man” is consistent with the understanding that she intended to remain a virgin throughout her life.
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If thats the case, than what seperates her from anyother Jewish woman at the time who pledged virginity, why Mary?


#6

[quote=RomanRyan1088]If thats the case, than what seperates her from anyother Jewish woman at the time who pledged virginity, why Mary?
[/quote]

Because she was pregnant with the Lord, and a single woman without a husband who was pregnant was subject to be stoned.

Joseph saved her life.


#7

[quote=RomanRyan1088]If thats the case, than what seperates her from anyother Jewish woman at the time who pledged virginity, why Mary?
[/quote]

“Why Mary?” is an entirely different question from the one posed in your original post: How do Catholics interpret Scripture to conclude that Mary remained a virgin.

We know from Luke 1:28 that she was hailed by the angel Gabriel as “full of grace” and that she had “found favor with God.” We know from Lk 1:42 that Elizabeth called her the “most blessed among women” And Mary - herself moved by the Holy Spirit - confirmed that “all generations will call me blessed.” Lk 1:48.

I guess if your point is that God *could * have chosen any woman to be the mother of Jesus, then you’re right, He *could * have. But He *did * choose Mary - which reveals a lot about her perpetual virginity - i.e. purity through complete devotion to God.

Mary is different from every other woman (jewish and gentile) because she found singular favor with God and was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus, the Word made flesh. And because she was specifically referred to as “blessed” and the “mother of my Lord” (Lk 1:43) the Catholic Church continues to acknowledge her as such.


#8

[quote=RomanRyan1088]If thats the case, than what seperates her from anyother Jewish woman at the time who pledged virginity, why Mary?
[/quote]

there wouldn’t be a significant difference in terms of the pledge. its offered because it shows, as 1ke points out, that Mom had firmly decided not to have relations and even tho there is an angel standing there telling her she is to conceive and bear a son, and even tho she’s about to get a husband, she reponds as if there is still no doubt in her mind about her remaining a virgin.
in and of itself, this probably isn’t sufficient to ‘prove’ Mom’s perpetual virginity. fortunately, we have been blessed with several ‘proofs’, both in Scripture and Tradition.

a personal perspective which i’ve found serves to reinforce the concept regards Joseph. i figure after one angel comes to tell him that Mom had conceived the child through the Holy Spirit, then a ton of angels fill the sky the night He’s born and some kings come to worship Him and leave fantastic gifts, and then another angel comes, now to say ‘hey, get out of here!!’ right before they started killing baby jewish boys, that Joe has got to recognize that ***something ***is up with this Child. now, if you knew the Lord had come upon a woman and she bore His Child, would you consider having relations with her? as radical as the concept would be, he had to have had some inkling that Mom was somehow, in fact, now Daddy’s wife. he wouldn’t have considered physically taking her as his, they most certainly would have lived as brother and sister.

a cool thing we have in my eastern tradition are the icons. a cool thing about the icons of Mom are that they always have three stars on her garments. these represent her virginity before, during and after Jesus’ birth. some of these icons go way back, giving historic evidence of this truth.

the stars qualify as a ‘proof’ from the Church’s deposit of faith, my thought is just my thought. anywho,
thanks for listening, love and peace, terry


#9

Jewish women were not allowed to have more than one husband. Mary was the spouse of the Holy Spirit. The Mother of the Lord would not have relations with a man being she was the spouse of the Holy Spirit. This is how it has been explained to me.


#10

Marian apologetcs on Catholic.com are top notch if you want to dive into those.

One important aspect often brought up by Protestants is the reference to Jesus’s “brothers and sisters.” In the Greek text from which we have the Gospels today, the word for “brother” and “sister” is the same as the one for “cousin,” among other uses. These “brothers and sisters” are never claimed to be sons and daughters of Mary.

Besides, why would Jesus send his mother to live with John while he was dying on the cross if he had other siblings that could and should have taken care of her?


#11

[quote=1ke]A betrothed woman would not ask “how” but “when”, if that woman planned on having relations that would lead to pregnancy. The logical reaction for Mary, if she intended to have relations with Joseph, would be when she might expect this to occur… not how ccould it be possible.
[/quote]

Exactly. The angel did not say she had conceived, but that she would conceive. Her reaction only makes sense if she could not imagine conceiving at any time in the future, not just at that moment.


#12

[quote=VociMike]Exactly. The angel did not say she had conceived, but that she would conceive. Her reaction only makes sense if she could not imagine conceiving at any time in the future, not just at that moment.
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I fully believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary. But I don’t think anyone without pre-conceptions could conclude her perpetual virginity from this text. The angel visits an unmarried virgin, tells her she will conceive, and she rightly asks “how can this be?” Had conceived, would conceive, I think that’s really splitting hairs. Her response was “How can this be, since I have no husband” not “How can this be since I am never going to have relations with a man”.

Just because I believe a Catholic teaching doesn’t mean I can swallow every weak attempt to scripturally justify of it.


#13

The Jewish folk had an interpretation of the “honor thy mother and father” commandment:

If the father died, the oldest son would be required to care for his mother. If that son died, then the second oldest would take over and so on…

If Christ had younger brothers (and they would have to be younger brothers, since Christ was the first born) then Christ would have handed her over to them in accordance to the commandment. If Jesus didn’t do this, he would have violated the commandment and that’s it, no perfect sacrifice.

Christ gave His mother over to John precisely because there were no younger siblings. John was not a younger brother of Jesus by blood.


#14

[quote=BobCatholic]The Jewish folk had an interpretation of the “honor thy mother and father” commandment:

If the father died, the oldest son would be required to care for his mother. If that son died, then the second oldest would take over and so on…

If Christ had younger brothers (and they would have to be younger brothers, since Christ was the first born) then Christ would have handed her over to them in accordance to the commandment. If Jesus didn’t do this, he would have violated the commandment and that’s it, no perfect sacrifice.

Christ gave His mother over to John precisely because there were no younger siblings. John was not a younger brother of Jesus by blood.
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YES!, this passage I understand, but i don’t see how that other passage does. i also believe in the VIRGIN Mary.


#15

[quote=Racer X]I fully believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary. But I don’t think anyone without pre-conceptions could conclude her perpetual virginity from this text. The angel visits an unmarried virgin, tells her she will conceive, and she rightly asks “how can this be?”
[/quote]

She was unmarried, but she was betrothed. That makes all the difference. She knows she is to be married. She is told she will conceive. And her reaction is “How can this be?” That’s not a logical reaction for any woman who would be expecting to have relations with her future husband.

Sorry if you think it’s weak.


#16

I understand that protestants believe that Mary was a Virgin before her birth, but have problems with her being perpetually a virgin this is where the problem begins.

We believe the Bible to be a whole book with the Old Testament being fullfilled in the new. In the Old Testament there are alot of types of Mary and foreshadowings of things to come through Jesus and Mary.
In the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, we glimpse a mystical foreshadowing of Mary’s perpetual virginity. The symbolism is found in the “East Gate” that Ezediel describes as part of his vision of the heavenly Jerusalem. That gate is perpetually sealed. No one is permitted ot pass through it except for one person: the Prince of Israel (Christ). “Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east; and it was shut. And he said to me, ‘This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut. Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way’” (Ezediel 44:1-3).

I hope this helps. God Bless.


#17

[quote=RomanRyan1088]Quote from the bibile

The angel declares, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son…”

To which Mary replies, “How can this be, since I have no relations with man?”

I don’t understand how this has to do with her remaining a virgin. Yea she had no relation with a man YET…
[/quote]

Yes, and she hadn’t concieved yet, either. Why would she make such a statement knowing she was about to be wed, unless the words ‘have no relations with man’ has another meaning?

If she knew she was about to marry, and planned to conummate the marraige, she would not have been confused when the Angel told her "you will conceive ". It would be ano brainer.

Perhaps she was destined to be the new Ark, and was being readied for this task through a vow of chastity, much as many prophets in the OT were prepared for their roles before they knew of their destinies.


#18

I’m thinking that if she had NOT been a consecrated virgin, her response might have been more like: “Wow! I’m going to be the Mother of the Messiah! Praise God!” But she, a betrothed woman soon to be married, instead said “How can this BE?”

JimG


#19

[quote=Racer X]I fully believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary. But I don’t think anyone without pre-conceptions could conclude her perpetual virginity from this text. The angel visits an unmarried virgin, tells her she will conceive, and she rightly asks “how can this be?” Had conceived, would conceive, I think that’s really splitting hairs. Her response was “How can this be, since I have no husband” not “How can this be since I am never going to have relations with a man”.

Just because I believe a Catholic teaching doesn’t mean I can swallow every weak attempt to scripturally justify of it.
[/quote]

The angel did not visit an unmarried virgin, he visited Mary-- already betrothed to Joseph. A betrothal was a marriage, the bride and groom did not yet live together. A divorce was required if they were to split, it’s not like a modern engagement where they have no actual obligations yet.

She did not say “I have no husband” she said, “I have no relations with a man”. These two statements are not equivalent.


#20

[quote=katiem]Jewish women were not allowed to have more than one husband. Mary was the spouse of the Holy Spirit. The Mother of the Lord would not have relations with a man being she was the spouse of the Holy Spirit. This is how it has been explained to me.
[/quote]

Mary, already betrothed to Joseph, responded in a way that is inconsistent with someone who expected to have relations with their spouse.

This discusson was very interesting. I entered the Church 5 years ago and had not heard these explanations.

I just ran across an interesting tidbit in a Protestant book-Bible Difficulties by Gleason Archer. He says that in Judges 11 where Jeptheth makes a vow to offer as a burnt offering the first to greet him if God will give him victory in battle that this could not have meant a true blood sacrifice as implied by the text, but that his daughter, who greeted him first, became a consecrated virgin.

And that is why she was given two months to mourn her virginity, not her upcoming death. He also cited Ex 38:8 “the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting” and I Sam 2:22 Eli’s sons “were having relations with the women serving at the entry of the tent of meeting” as other scriptural evidence of consecrated virgins in the OT. And we hear that Mary was a consecrated virgin. This is very interesting evidence to support Catholic theology. Does anyone out there know where I can find more information about this Jewish custom? And the guardianship of Joseph rather than sexual partner?
Thanks,


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