The Perpetual Virginity of Mary

The doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary, which is believed de fide (i.e. held by Catholics as being an essential part of faith), states that Mary was a virgin before, during and after giving birth for all her life.[2][3][16] The threefold nature this doctrine (referring to before, during and after) thus subsumes the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus.[2][3][16] (source: Wikipedia: Perpetual virginity of Mary)

The following scriptural reference seems to contradict the Catholic doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary. How do you respond to that?

“Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.” Matthew 1:24-25

Asked and answered about 5 billion times.

That doesn’t resolve the apparent contradiction.

Until Then

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.”)

Thats not very helpful. Dont be arrogant. Jesus said teach the world, he did not say to complain that they ask to many questions. If it is asked 5 billion times you answer it 5 billion times. Do you have the answer or not?

I think frncersmother was just trying to convey that a search of the forum would find an answer.

In all honesty this to me just comes under the field of “does it really matter”?

In either scenario we are presented with a virgin birth, which is the key element in the fulfillment of older prophecies.

Sacred tradition in Catholicism and Orthodoxy has always ruled that Mary was Aeiparthenos (ever virgin), since sacred tradition on both sides has said so since the 2nd century at least (where our earliest record today originates).

As I mentioned in the other thread, when push comes to shove sacred tradition trumps scripture, because tradition precedes the bible and indeed the bible was written to support the teaching of tradition, not develop one of it’s own.

Heck, even Martin Luther and Thomas Cranmer acknowledged the perpetual virginity of Mary. It’s a strong sign that this is the oldest teaching on the subject.

:thumbsup: Irrefutable!

I think it does matter, I mean otherwise our whole way we address Our Lady would have to change. Would it change theology? Not much. Would it change discipline. HUGELY.

Hehe…Well, the discipline is “fluff” that can change easily as circumstances permit or require. I was talking more about the theology which as you say, wouldn’t really change either way.

:thumbsup: Yet most heresies are based on subjective interpretations of Scripture!

“Seems” is not “does.” As well, going simply by one’s personal opinion of text alone (and only 91% of it at that) is designed to be misleading. Thousands of disagreeing denominations the proof. Interpretation is everything. And, why are so many bible Christians obsessed with sex?

No kidding! The evil one has duped the well-meaning (and some not so well meaning) into attacking her for almost 2,000 years now.

Well said. :thumbsup:

He did not " know her " before and he did not " know her " later. That is what the Catholic Church teaches, as you pointed out. Since Mary was selected by God to be the Mother of his Son, doesn’t seem appropriate to you that she remain a perpetual virgin?

Remember the Annunciation when the Angel of the Lord told her she would be the Mother of the Messiah? She responded, " How will this be since I know not man? " And the Angel answered, " The Holy Spirit shall come upon you and the Power of the Most High shall overshadow you." So it is clear that Mary was concerned how she was to maintain her virginity. So why would she become unconcerned after the birth of Christ?


I can see the analogy of Mary being the typological vessel that carried Jesus as the Holy of Holies carried the place where God rested with the Hebrews. Those vessels were only fit for holy things so it is easy to imagine that no one is worthy of entering the vessels that have been set aside for such important holy matters. To do so would be to desecrate a holy place. In the old covenant it meant death.

I use to think like you Counterpoint when I was a Protestant. When I was at college on a secular State university, I took a course called Christianity, it was taught by a liberal Protestant theologian and explored the 3 branches (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant) from each of their respective view points. One day the subject of Mary’s perpetual virginity came up which is something both Catholic and Orthodox believe. This professor then stated and I never forgot that in all his research into the earliest writings of Christians that all of the earliest testimony of others stated that Mary was a perpetual virgin and that all of the earliest writen testimonies were consistent. You may want to quote one scripture verse to try and prove your point but you are eventually going to have to put your limited view point of scripture in total context with other verses and eyewitness testimony. Just because the verse says Joseph didn’t know her doesn’t mean that he “knew” her after Jesus birth. We can see this in the OT concerning David’s first wife who later left him, then came back. The OT said she didn’t have children until her death. That doesn’t mean she had any children after her death either, she couldn’t she was dead.

A text without a context is a pretext. The Knox translation says it much more clearly, since Matthew was illustrating that Christ was the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14:

25 and he had not known her when she bore a son, her first-born, to whom he gave the name Jesus.[3]

Logically it doesn’t make sense for Mary to have known a man after giving birth to Jesus.

If the Virgin Spouse of the Holy Spirit had sex with another, she would be an adulterer and Jesus would be the son of an adulterer. Jesus cannot be both son of an adulterer and God. God was not born from a woman who would be an adulterer. It is not possible.

You don’t have to stay at a Holiday Inn Express to figure it out.


When men oppose Jesus and take things to the bible (ego) instead of to the Church (God-given authority), error is guaranteed.

This is just sophistry. The statement “knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son” not only suggests that Joseph had marital relations with Mary after the birth of Jesus but also that she had at least one more son (hence the qualifier “firstborn”).

The interpretation of the Matthew 1:25 statement that Joseph “knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son” and of the various New Testament mentions of the brothers (and sisters) of Jesus is discussed below under the heading “Scripture”. Some early writers, Tertullian, Helvidius and Eunomius of Cyzicus, interpreted Matthew’s statement to mean that Joseph and Mary did have normal marital relations after Jesus’ birth, and that James, Joses, Jude, and Simon were the biological sons of Mary and Joseph, a view held by Helvidius and Eunomius.[32] (source: Wikipedia: Perpetual viriginity of Mary)

Nonsense. The verse means exactly what it says. Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to God and then subject himself to the Father.

"23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.

26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.

28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." 1 Corinthians 14:23_28

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