Perpetual Virginity of The Blessed Virgin Mary... Am I missing anything?


**Mary’s Perpetual Virginity **

There are four arguments against Mary’s perpetual Virginity. First, “until” in Matt 1:25 seems to imply that Mary and Joseph had marital relations after the birth of
Jesus. Secondly, according to both the Old and the New Testament sexual
intercourse for married couples is divinely approved (Gen 1:28, 9:1, 24:60; Prov
5:18; Ps 127:3; 1 Cor 7:5, 9). Third, we are told that Jesus had brothers and sisters
(Matt 12:46-47; Matt 13:55; Mark 3:31-32; 6:3; Luke 8:19-20; John 2:12; 7:3, 5, 10;
Acts 1:14). Lastly, Jesus is called Mary’s “firstborn” (Luke 2:7).

Argument # 1. “Until.” The problem with this understanding is that it forces a
modern English use of until on the Bible. In the Bible the Greek and Hebrew words
for until means only that some action did not happen to a certain point. Scholars are
in agreement on this point. For example, Dr. William Hendriksen, the former
Professor of New Testament Literature at Calvin Seminary in Grand Rapids,
Michigan writes: “This conclusion cannot be based merely upon the negative plus
“until.” That wording does not always introduce an event (in this case: she gave
birth to a son) whereby the earlier situation (the couple had no sexual relations) is
reversed (they now begin to have sexual relations).” From The Gospel of Matthew, p.

Consider this quotation from Samuel: “And so Saul’s daughter Michal was childless
until the day of her death (2 Sam 6:23).” Are we to conclude that she bore children
after her death? How about the raven released from the ark? We read that the raven
“flew back and forth until the waters dried off from the earth (Gn 8:7).” Does that
mean the raven returned? Other examples can be seen in Dt 34:6; 1 Macc 5:54 and
Ps 109:1 [RSV 110:1].

Argument # 2. Sexual intercourse for married couples is divinely approved. All
Christians agree that intercourse between married couples is divinely approved.
However, the fact that marital intercourse is divinely approved does not mean that
it is divinely commanded. Nor can it be argued that because it is approved, Joseph
and Mary fulfilled that marital right.

Argument # 3. The “brothers” of the Lord. Neither Aramaic, the language Jesus
probably spoke, nor Hebrew has a separate word for cousin. In reality the term,
brothers, was commonly used in the Bible to describe close family members
including cousins and uncles. Lot, for example was Abraham’s nephew. He was the
son of Abraham’s brother Haran. Yet in Genesis 14:14, Lot is depicted as Abraham’s
brother. In Mt 29:15 Jacob is called the brother of his uncle Laban. Again in 1 Chron
23:21-22 the daughters of Eleazar married their brethren. This is not possible
because Eleazar had no sons. These brethren were really their cousins, the sons of
Cis. Cis was Eleazar’s brother.

We learn from other Biblical passages that the word brother even had a broader use.
In the case of the forty-two brethren of King Achaziah (2 Kings 10:13-14), the
expression is used to refer to mere kinsman, not even close relatives. Similar uses
are found in: Dt 23:7; Jer 34:9. Brother was also used to describe unrelated people,
such as a friend (1 Kings 9:13, 20:32; and 2 Sam 1:26). In Amos 1:9 the word is used
to describe an ally.

In the passages that refer to the brothers of the Lord, Mt 12: 46-47, Mk 3:31-32, and
Lk 8:19 all seem to be relating the same incident. The use of the word brothers, as
we have already seen, is not persuasive that Mary had other biological children.
Specific brothers are named in two passages. In Mt 13:55 James and Joseph and
Simon and Judas are listed. James and Joseph are identified in Mt 27:56 as the son of
another Mary, probably Mary of Clophas found in Jn 19:25. Simon appears to be
Simon the Cananean of Mt 10:4. Judas is called the son of James in Lk 6:16 and Acts

The second listing of brothers occurs in Mk 6:3. They are James and Joses and Judas
and Simon. James and Joses are identified in Mt 15:40 as the sons of another Mary.
This is probably the same Mary discussed above who appears in Jn 19:25. Judas and
Simon appear in Matthew’s list (Mt 13:55).

Argument # 4. Firstborn son. This objection ignores the ancient Jewish idiomatic use
of the word firstborn. This term clearly refers to the first child who opens the womb
(See: Ex 13:2 and Nb 3:12). The Mosaic law commanded that the firstborn son be
sanctified (Ex 34-20). Are we to suppose that parents had to wait until a second son
was born before they could call their first son the firstborn, and only then were
obligated to carry out the Mosaic provision? This was clearly not the case.
Conclusion: There is no Biblical evidence that indicates Mary had any other children
after the birth of Jesus. However, the above discussion does not present a Biblical
case for Mary’s perpetual virginity. **What is that Biblical basis? **


Biblical Basis for Mary’s Perpetual Virginity.

Position # 1. At the Annunciation Mary question, “How can this be” (Lk 1:34) makes no sense except in the concept of a vow of lifelong virginity. This is the
understanding from the earliest interpretations of this passage. Mary and Joseph
were betrothed, that is, legally married at the time of the Annunciation. It’s hardly
sensible to suppose that Mary’s question was an inquiry regarding the biological
process of how children were conceived.

Position # 2. A second Biblical argument that supports the traditional Christian
belief in Mary’s perpetual centers around the account of Jesus being found in the
temple at age twelve (Lk 2:41-51). There is no hint of other children.

Position # 3. In the passages that refer to Jesus’ brothers, the sacred authors are
careful to only call Jesus the son of Mary, no one else. Additionally, in referring to
Jesus as “the son of Mary” (Mk 6:3), the force of the Greek implies that Jesus was
Mary’s only son, not a son.

Position # 4. In the Jewish society in which Jesus lived, younger sons never gave
public advice to an older brother, much less, the oldest son. This would be very
disrespectful. Yet, we find Jesus’ brethren advising Jesus to leave Galilee and go to
Judea to make a name for himself (Jn 7:3-4). Similarly, at another time his brethren
attempted to restrain him saying: “He is out of his mind (Mk 3:21).” These passages
are understandable if these brethren were in fact Jesus’ uncles.

Position # 5. Lastly, Jesus’ action at the foot of the cross, when he entrusted his
mother to John, makes no sense if Mary had other sons (Jn 19:26-27). The social
customs of the time would have made such an action unthinkable.


This is from Dave Armstrong’s Blog

[many excellent arguments here: several that are, I suspect, little-used or thought-of today. Many were certainly new to me]
It is written (Ezech. 44:2): “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.” Expounding these words, Augustine says in a sermon (De Annunt. Dom. iii): “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?” (ST 3, q. 28, a. 3, sed contra)
Without any hesitation we must abhor the error of Helvidius, who dared to assert that Christ’s Mother, after His Birth, was carnally known by Joseph, and bore other children. For, in the first place, this is derogatory to Christ’s perfection: for as He is in His Godhead the Only-Begotten of the Father, being thus His Son in every respect perfect, so it was becoming that He should be the Only-begotten son of His Mother, as being her perfect

Secondly, this error is an insult to the Holy Ghost, whose “shrine” was the virginal womb, wherein He had formed the flesh of Christ: wherefore it was unbecoming that it should be desecrated by intercourse with man.
Thirdly, this is derogatory to the dignity and holiness of God’s Mother: for thus she would seem to be most ungrateful, were she not content with such a Son; and were she, of her own accord, by carnal intercourse to forfeit that virginity which had been miraculously preserved in her.
Fourthly, it would be tantamount to an imputation of extreme presumption in Joseph, to assume that he attempted to violate her whom by the angel’s revelation he knew to have conceived by the Holy Ghost.
We must therefore simply assert that the Mother of God, as she was a virgin in conceiving Him and a virgin in giving Him birth, did she remain a virgin ever afterwards. (ST 3, q. 28, a. 3c)

As Jerome says (Contra Helvid. i): “Although this particle ‘before’ often indicates a subsequent event, yet we must observe that it not infrequently points merely to some thing previously in the mind: nor is there need that what was in the mind take place eventually, since something may occur to prevent its happening. Thus if a man say: ‘Before I dined in the port, I set sail,’ we do not understand him to have dined in port after he set sail: but that his mind was set on dining in port.” In like manner the evangelist says: “Before they came together” Mary “was found with child, of the Holy Ghost” [Mt 1:18], not that they came together afterwards: but that, when it seemed that they would come together, this was forestalled through her conceiving by the Holy Ghost, the result being that afterwards they did not come together. (ST 3, q. 28, a. 3, ad 1)
Jerome, . . . grants that this is to be understood of knowledge by intercourse; but he observes that “before” or “until” [see Mt 1:24-25] has a twofold sense in Scripture. For sometimes it indicates a fixed time, as Gal. 3:19: The law “was set because of transgressions, until the seed should come, to whom He made the promise.” On the other hand, it sometimes indicates an indefinite time, as in Ps. 122:2: “Our eyes are unto the Lord our God, until He have mercy on us”; from which it is not to be gathered that our eyes are turned from God as soon as His mercy has been obtained. In this sense those things are indicated “of which we might doubt if they had not been written down: while others are left out to be supplied by our understanding. Thus the evangelist says that the Mother of God was not known by her husband until she gave birth, that we may be given to understand that still less did he know her afterwards” (Adversus Helvid. v). (ST 3, q. 28, a. 3, ad 3)

Some, as Jerome says on Matthew 12:49-50 “suppose that the brethren of the Lord were Joseph’s sons by another wife. But we understand the brethren of the Lord to be not sons of Joseph, but cousins of the Saviour, the sons of Mary, His Mother’s sister.” For “Scripture speaks of brethren in four senses; namely, those who are united by being of the same parents, of the same nation, of the same family, by common affection.” Wherefore the brethren of the Lord are so called, not by birth, as being born of the same mother; but by relationship, as being blood-relations of His. (ST 3, q. 28, a. 3, ad 5)

So are there any other arguments possible?


Great post Godisgreat23.

Yes I have run across other arguments against the Perpetual Virginity
of the Blessed Virgin Mary. None of them convincing.


Jesus had to fulfill all prophecy, not just some of it.

Zechariah 12:10
Knox Translation

On David’s clan, on all the citizens of Jerusalem, I will pour out a gracious spirit of prayer; towards me they shall look, me whom they have pierced through. Lament for him they must, and grieve bitterly; never was such lament for an only son, grief so bitter over first-born dead.

If Jesus was not an only son, then neither did He need to be a first-born. Once you begin to throw out the requirements of prophecy, you open the door to false messiahs.

The Book of Tobit was probably composed in Aramaic* about 200 BC. In it, one sees that a husband would call his wife “sister” because they were from the same tribe. Thus was the Aramaic written and thus was it spoken.




I read through Zechariah 12 only yesterday (since this week is the week of Zechariah fulfillment), and I never saw that which you point out, so thanks for pointing that out, and how did I miss that?


Search engines are a wonderful thing. The Knox Translation is the most clear in this regard. Other translations state that the mourning will be “as one mourns for an only child” which is then misinterpreted to mean that the Messiah need not be either first-born or an only son (or one, but not the other). Well, why would Zechariah prophesy both aspects of the one to be pierced?

One protestant site which lists the prophesies that were fulfilled by Jesus completely omits this. Are you kidding me? Is opposing the Catholic Church more important than knowing the truth? I emailed and received no response.


The reason for that is as a protestant we placed Zechariah 12 into the future return. The logic is that the Jews rejected Jesus but at his return they will accept Jesus and finally mourn. It is compounded by an incorrect understanding of the Kingdom of God and millenium.

The problem is though Zechariah 13 strike the shepherd that the sheep may be scattered is referenced as being fulfilled so Zechariah becomes kind of non-sequential.

(Off topic sorry).


I think that it is thought that Joseph was a much older man - who quite possibly was previously married and may of had children - not the hollywood version where they are both teenagers. He may of been a widower and it is thought that he took Mary to protect her.
Why did Jesus have St john take care of her after the crusifixion - where are these children - he would not of had to of done this if he had brothers and siters that were Marys children.


Once you reject the authority of the Church, twisting and inventing things out of whole cloth must occur. That is why I have embraced a Church which holds that its teachings are infallible. All other Churches do not believe in infallibility and thus, admit that they could be teaching error.


Nice post (18) po18guy.

Jesus had to fulfill all prophecy, not just some of it.

Zechariah 12:10
Knox Translation

On David’s clan, on all the citizens of Jerusalem, I will pour out a gracious spirit of prayer; towards me they shall look, me whom they have pierced through. Lament for him they must, and grieve bitterly; never was such lament for an only son, grief so bitter over first-born dead.

If Jesus was not an only son, then neither did He need to be a first-born. Once you begin to throw out the requirements of prophecy, you open the door to false messiahs.

The Book of Tobit was probably composed in Aramaic* about 200 BC. In it, one sees that a husband would call his wife “sister” because they were from the same tribe. Thus was the Aramaic written and thus was it spoken.

  • Inside the Bible, Fr. Kenneth Baker, SJ

Your conclusion of “Once you begin to throw out the requirements of prophecy, you open the door to false messiahs.” is very insightful (as is the rest of the post).


Well, when I hear someone badmouthing our mom, it gets my dander up. And, to think that I had the usual “Mary problem” for years after my entry into the Church. Glad that’s all behind me!


If you can prove the vow, then there is another scripture you can use from the old testament

There is also the scripture in Luke 1:34, where the archangel Gabriel tells Mary that she is to be the Mother of the Messiah, and Mary asks, “How can this be, since I know not a man?” We already found out earlier in Luke 1:27 that Mary and Joseph were betrothed to one another. So why would Mary, who knew the facts of life (we know this because of the nature of her question) ask such a question if she and Joseph were already betrothed? Because of her vow of virginity. We learn that her vow of virginity taken as a youth can even be enforced during marriage, if her husband doesn’t object, in Numbers 30:2-7:

"When a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. Or when a woman vows a vow to the LORD, and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father’s house, in her youth, and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself, and says nothing to her; then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if her father expresses disapproval to her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself, shall stand; and the LORD will forgive her, because her father opposed her. And if she is married to a husband, while under her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself, and her husband hears of it, and says nothing to her on the day that he hears; then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand."

closed #15

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