What is the theological importance of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary?
From the Catholic Basic Training site:
The importance of Mary’s perpetual virginity is discussed in the relevant sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. But, in brief, Mary is the spouse of the Holy Spirit (remember that Jesus is conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit) and so for her to have sex with anyone else would have been adultery or fornication. Her virginity is a symbol of her purity and undefilement, and ties into the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and also the typology of the Ark of the Covenant.
Many Christians do not believe that Mary is ever-virgin. They feel that this would downgrade sex in marriage. But in reality, Mary’s virginity was part of her unique role in the salvation of the world. Mary was spiritually perfect, and her body was to reflect this perfection. God miraculously preserved her virginity when she gave birth to Christ to keep her pure and undefiled.
My only objection to your reply is that you said it would be adultery for her to have sex with anyone else…
she did not have sex with the holy spirit
she was betrothed to Joseph - but I do believe she made a vow to celibacy and perhaps Joseph too…
I do believe that there is a significant theological reason for her perpetual virginity and I am looking to dig deep into that…
In the reply I provided from another source, I agree that that part of the answer was worded badly. It would probably be better to say that since she became with child through the Holy Spirit, it would not be fitting for her to have intimacy with anyone else. And I do believe “fittingness” is key to understanding this.
What did you think of what the Catechism had to say about it?
These two articles should be helpful to you:
I don’t understand this. It seems to suggest Mary had “intimacy” with God, or the Holy Spirit, in the same way that married couples are “intimate.” Clearly, this is not what the Church teaches, as God (Spirit) is not simply a replacement for a human biological father. Can you clarify? Thanks.
Though she did not intamacy with the Holy Spirit in the same way husband and wife have intamcy she was faithful to her “Spouse” until the end.
Remember that Mary is the Bride of the Holy Spirit. Their offspring is Jesus Christ who is the head and his Body is the Church. That makes Mary the Mother of the Church and our Mother as well.
Mary was the perfect Mother, faithful to her spouse for the sake of her children.
I still don’t understand (sorry).
Married Catholics are all called to be faithful to God, and to their spouse. Until the end.
Mary may be called the Bride of the Holy Spirit (though I don’t know where she is called such by the Catholic Church) but she was as Scripture says the bride of Joseph.
Mary being the Mother of the Church does not have anything to do with her perpetual virginity, as I understand it. If you can clarify I would appreciate it.
I don’t know if I can contribute anything to clarifying but…
The term intimacy means much more than the marital embrace. I have seen and read of the great mystical saints speaking of an intimacy with God, the “unitive way” and their language aften speaks in terms of nuptual love, of the soul being betrothed to Christ etc. Sometimes the language used in describing such feelings can even sound sensual. Look at the language used in the Song of Solomon (Song of Songs).
So when the Bible says in Luke 1: 35
And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;
We can presume that this “overshadowing” by the Holy Spirit with the “Power of the Most High” imparted to Mary such a state of bliss and blessing (as she indicates in the Magnificat Luke 1: 46-55) and such “inimacy” that all in this life would pale by comparison. But where the writings of the saints often speak of receiving hints of such intimacy or brief touches, hints of what true union is like, Mary enjoyed teh most unique experience of any Creature in History. She carried the very nature of God in herself and was atached to that nature as Mother to Son for all of His 33 years.
Thus it can rightly be said that Mary had an intimacy with God that is unique.
The other aspect of this discussion of the PV of Mary is our blessed St Joseph. In him I see perhaps the most direct and clear reason to believe in the Perpetual Virginity. All I need to do is put myself in his place. After all, Joseph knew that Mary was carrying the Son of God, conceived not by man but by the Holy Spirit. An angel came and told him so. Knowing this would I, in his place, dare to have relations with one who is so near to God? I can honestly say that I would not and I am nowhere near as just or rightious as St Joseph.
I hope some of the above is of help.
Do you mean Joseph? Joseph was her spouse, right?