Why does Mary's Perpetual Virginity Matter?


#1

Ok folks, this has come up several times recently, and I don’t have a good comeback. It’s not just Protestants, either, it’s Joe Blow in the pew. And they don’t care that it’s a dogma.

I know all the arguments about Mary being perpetually virgin, but don’t know what to say when someone comments that it doesn’t matter if she had other children or not.

Please, help me defend my Mother!


#2

It attests to the importance of her place in God’s plan.


#3

I can’t give a definitive answer, but I think it has also to do with WHO Jesus is. It is difficult to keep in mind that He is a divine Person–the Second Person of the Trinity, who is God, who took on a human nature, and is at the same time fully human. But in his Personhood, he is divine.

We call Mary the Mother of God, mainly to emphasize who He is. Perhaps it just wouldn’t be fitting to have a sibling who could say, well, I am the brother of God.

We are adopted children of God through our spiritual brotherhood with Jesus. If there were sibligs, God would have an actual bloodline.


#4

I can think of many reasons why it could matter. The one that pops to my head is that Mary having other children paints God in a negative light. We all know what sibling rivalry did in the Old Testament, especially with Cain and Abel. Cain murdered Abel out of jealousy because God favored Abel’s sacrifices. Joseph’s brothers nearly killed him because God favored him with interpreting dreams.

Imagine the disappointment if your older brother was God? Imagine how torn Mary would be if she had to divide her time amongst her other children. I think a mother tries to love all of her children equally and unconditionally, but wouldn’t having God as a son require her to love him more than the others? Having Jesus as an only son shows how merciful God is, and how devoted Mary was. I think she knew that if her oldest child was God, that would mean that she would have to love one child more than the other.


#5

God put her in a very important position…

If Mary said no what would’ve happened??

This is something protestants don’t take to consider…

There have been no Tombs or other “Sons” of mary that have existed. Otherwise we would have a record of them. Surely the ECF would have known and written about it…

Also the protoevangelium, written around 1-2 century tells the things people want to know about Mary’s life… Its probably the earliest account we have of her …


#6

hey, a protestant here. I ve been reading up on catholocism lately. I hav’nt seen anything that makes me want to convert yet. there’s been some good and some that I cant force to make sense. this question matters to me because it’s a point of challenge to the teaching accuracy and therefore authority of he catholic church. I think I can probably weigh in on the perpetual virginity of Mary. In Romans 7 the apostle paul forbids spousal neglect in the area of conjugal duty. in other words for mary to obstain indefinately from sex with joseph, would in the paul’s mind be a matter of neglect and infidelity and be a setup for temptation. not only that, it would be a direct disobedience of joseph to the angel who told him to take mary as his wife. as I understand it, in the pentetuchal culture of the day this would have meant nothing less than the breaking of the hymen through sex in a ritual wedding with both the families as whitnesses of the obvious sign on the bedclothes–Joseph waited until after Jesus was born to fulfil this command. of course, by then the sign of first-time sex would have been removed through the birthing process. in light of catholic teaching on the importance of sex and procreation in the definition of marriage and the theological significance of marriage, I don’t understand how the catholic church would believe mary obstained from sex without record of direct testimony to the effect from people who knew her–especially since marriage is holy and sex in marriage is holy in the sight of God. Her abstenence within marriage would seem to point to sin rather than otherwise. God is not her husband. the conception of Christ was not sexual. it would seem her fidelity to God would be demonstrated in part by a proper relationship with the human husband God provided her.

however, In unenlightened human thinking, virginity helps to elevate her to a place of authority as mother over God the Son and ultimately unites her with Christ as a comparable authority over the church. her perpetual virginity contributes to a popular conception of her as near but not quite deity. it puts her above sainthood. for an insider’s way of putting it, I recomend checking the catachism of the catholic church.

hopefully there’s a good rebuttle coming because I’m tired of having conversations with catholics who can’t reasonably expain or defend catholic dogma.


#7

I asked a priest the same question and he said it mattered to him because if Mary had other children it would be easier to cast doubt on the virgin birth of Jesus.


#8

Why was the virgin birth necessary at all? God could just have become incarnate to a woman who had a dozen other children. People will say “to prove that Jesus was more than human!”, but where’s the proof? How did anybody, at that time or now, know for certain that Mary really was a virgin when she conceived Christ? The answer is, there was no possible way for anybody to know. We must take God’s word for it. But God could have become incarnate with a non-virgin mother and we could also have taken His word for that.

On a practical note, if Mary had other children there would have been a great temptation to worship them as God also.

But at a deeper level, when is it proper for a woman to bear the children of two fathers? When the first father dies, of course. Also, perhaps, when the first father abandons mother and child.

Now, did God die? Did God abandon Mary and Jesus?


#9

The authority of the Church comes from Jesus Christ himself. Jesus said to St. Peter, "whatever you bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, whatever you loose on earth shall be loose in heaven. He further instructs his disciples, “He who hears you, hears me, he who rejects you, rejects the One who sent me.”

I think I can probably weigh in on the perpetual virginity of Mary. In Romans 7 the apostle paul forbids spousal neglect in the area of conjugal duty. in other words for mary to obstain indefinately from sex with joseph, would in the paul’s mind be a matter of neglect and infidelity and be a setup for temptation.

Not exactly, God’s way is not our way. The belief of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary dates back to Patristic times of the Early Church. Second, in Scripture during Mary, Joseph and twelve year one Jesus went to the temple, there were no mention of his sisters or brothers.

One needs to bear in mind that there is no Aramaic word for cousin or Hebrew word for it. So the Gospel writers wrote brother and sisters. The brothers and sisters of Jesus are his close cousins. In fact, in was common at the Jewish culture at the time to call someone brother or sister, especially they are a blood revelative. St. Jerome, affirmed that Mary remain a virgin throughout her life. She was the consecrated virgin to God.

Second, in Biblical Typology, a Mary is the type of Ark. In the OT, anyone who touch the Ark died. Only priest can touch the Ark. Since Mary is the type of Ark, Joseph, a Jew, also knew that he could not defile the Mother of the Lord. Since Mary’s womb contain with her, the Word of God.

not only that, it would be a direct disobedience of joseph to the angel who told him to take mary as his wife. as I understand it, in the pentetuchal culture of the day this would have meant nothing less than the breaking of the hymen through sex in a ritual

It would not a direct disobedience. Anyone who remains a virgin for the sake of the kingdom even a married woman or man is nothing against the God. For they seek the Kingdom of Heaven.

wedding with both the families as whitnesses of the obvious sign on the bedclothes–Joseph waited until after Jesus was born to fulfil this command. of course, by then the sign of first-time sex would have been removed through the birthing process. in light of catholic teaching on the importance of sex and procreation in the definition of marriage and the theological significance of marriage, I don’t understand how the catholic church would believe mary obstained from sex without record of direct testimony to the effect from people who knew her–especially since marriage is holy and sex in marriage is holy in the sight of God. Her abstenence within marriage would seem to point to sin rather than otherwise. God is not her husband. the conception of Christ was not sexual. it would seem her fidelity to God would be demonstrated in part by a proper relationship with the human husband God provided her.

For one Elijah, John the Baptist, Jesus, Enoch, and St. Paul remain virgins.

Mary is the handmaid of the Lord. She is not her husband, but symbolically speaking, she is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit since the Holy Spirit overshadow her and she gave birth to Jesus.


#10

however, In unenlightened human thinking, virginity helps to elevate her to a place of authority as mother over God the Son and ultimately unites her with Christ as a comparable authority over the church. her perpetual virginity contributes to a popular conception of her as near but not quite deity. it puts her above sainthood. for an insider’s way of putting it, I recomend checking the catachism of the catholic church.

hopefully there’s a good rebuttle coming because I’m tired of having conversations with catholics who can’t reasonably expain or defend catholic dogma.

Mark 6:3 - Jesus was always referred to as “the” son of Mary, not “a” son of Mary. Also “brothers” could have theoretically been Joseph’s children from a former marriage that was dissolved by death. However, it is most likely, perhaps most certainly, that Joseph was a virgin, just as were Jesus and Mary. As such, they embodied the true Holy Family, fully consecrated to God.

Luke 1:31,34 - the angel tells Mary that you “will” conceive (using the future tense). Mary responds by saying, “How shall this be?” Mary’s response demonstrates that she had taken a vow of lifelong virginity by having no intention to have relations with a man. If Mary did not take such a vow of lifelong virginity, her question would make no sense at all (for we can assume she knew how a child is conceived). She was a consecrated Temple virgin as was an acceptable custom of the times.

Luke 2:41-51 - in searching for Jesus and finding Him in the temple, there is never any mention of other siblings.

John 7:3-4; Mark 3:21 - we see that younger “brothers” were advising Jesus. But this would have been extremely disrespectful for devout Jews if these were Jesus’ biological brothers.

John 19:26-27 - it would have been unthinkable for Jesus to commit the care of his mother to a friend if he had brothers.

John 19:25 - the following verses prove that James and Joseph are Jesus’ cousins and not his brothers: Mary the wife of Clopas is the sister of the Virgin Mary.

Matt. 27:61, 28:1 - Matthew even refers to Mary the wife of Clopas as “the other Mary.”

Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:47 - Mary the wife of Clopas is the mother of James and Joseph.

Mark 6:3 - James and Joseph are called the “brothers” of Jesus. So James and Joseph are Jesus’ cousins.

Matt. 10:3 - James is also called the son of “Alpheus.” This does not disprove that James is the son of Clopas. The name Alpheus may be Aramaic for Clopas, or James took a Greek name like Saul (Paul), or Mary remarried a man named Alpheus.

scripturecatholic.com/blessed_virgin_mary.html#the_bvm-IV


#11

Perhaps Mary’s perpetual virginity was necessary for Jesus to retain the title to the throne of David when he rose from the dead. If he had had a younger brother, wouldn’t the brother have a rightful claim to the throne of David after the death of Jesus? And then, when Jesus rose from the dead, there would have been two with rightful claims the throne of David. I think Mary’s perpetual virginity testifies that Jesus is the Messiah and no one else.

Besides, wasn’t Isaias’ prophecy (7:14) that the Virgin would bear a son, as in one son, and not a bunch of children?


#12

I suggest reading the Early Church Fathers on the topic of the New Eve and the Catehcism regarding Mary’s viriginal motherhood in the plan of salvation.

It is not only on a physical plain that her virginity mattered, it is also on a theological one.

Catechism:

Mary – “ever-virgin”

499 The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man.154 In fact, Christ’s birth "did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it."155 And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the “Ever-virgin”.156

500 Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus.157 The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, “brothers of Jesus”, are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls “the other Mary”.158 They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression.159
501 Jesus is Mary’s only son, but her spiritual motherhood extends to all men whom indeed he came to save: "The Son whom she brought forth is he whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren, that is, the faithful in whose generation and formation she co-operates with a mother’s love."160

Mary’s virginal motherhood in God’s plan

502 The eyes of faith can discover in the context of the whole of Revelation the mysterious reasons why God in his saving plan wanted his Son to be born of a virgin. These reasons touch both on the person of Christ and his redemptive mission, and on the welcome Mary gave that mission on behalf of all men.

503 Mary’s virginity manifests God’s absolute initiative in the Incarnation. Jesus has only God as Father. "He was never estranged from the Father because of the human nature which he assumed. . . He is naturally Son of the Father as to his divinity and naturally son of his mother as to his humanity, but properly Son of the Father in both natures."161
504 Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary’s womb because he is the New Adam, who inaugurates the new creation: "The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven."162 From his conception, Christ’s humanity is filled with the Holy Spirit, for God "gives him the Spirit without measure."163 From “his fullness” as the head of redeemed humanity "we have all received, grace upon grace."164

505 By his virginal conception, Jesus, the New Adam, ushers in the new birth of children adopted in the Holy Spirit through faith. "How can this be?"165 Participation in the divine life arises “not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God”.166 The acceptance of this life is virginal because it is entirely the Spirit’s gift to man. The spousal character of the human vocation in relation to God167 is fulfilled perfectly in Mary’s virginal motherhood.

506 Mary is a virgin because her virginity is the sign of her faith “unadulterated by any doubt”, and of her undivided gift of herself to God’s will.168 It is her faith that enables her to become the mother of the Savior: "Mary is more blessed because she embraces faith in Christ than because she conceives the flesh of Christ."169

507 At once virgin and mother, Mary is the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church: "the Church indeed. . . by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother. By preaching and Baptism she brings forth sons, who are conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of God, to a new and immortal life. She herself is a virgin, who keeps in its entirety and purity the faith she pledged to her spouse."170

Here are some articles on the New Eve:

ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2bvm33.htm

catholic.com/thisrock/2003/0312sbs.asp

catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Faith/0506-96/article9.html


#13

Well I must say you have explained it, but you hav’nt defended it. however early, rhumors of mary’s perpetual virginity perpetuated by church leaders is not a good defense. I am aware that there is plenty of reason to think mary had no other children–that might be why I did’nt use that argument. that does not indicate that she neglected her husband. she may have been barren or joseph may have lacked a good count. paul, although abstinent and unmarried during his ministry years was not a virgin any more than daniel was a gentile {ccc58} {dan1:6} . he would have been unusual to be unmarried and become a phaisee. I don’t know whether his wife left him or died. besides, I’m not claiming that no-one was ever a consecrated virgin for life or than no one should be. clearly such a calling is admirable. I’m claiming that given the theology and design of marriage, perpetual virginity within marriage is wrong. as to claiming the apostolic authority of peter. I hear references to peter’s ordination as head of the church cited as proof of apostolic authority of catholic leadership. however it fails misrably. how do we know that modern day bishops are the true successors of the 12? because of the tradition of the church. however, I don’t believe I’ve seen any evidence that connects the authority of the current bishops to the 1st generation apostles. a political chain of succession does’nt suffice, the doctrine and its interpretation must also remain pure or we can conclude that the memory of the truth was partly lost in generations of slight changes. test the authority by the verosity of the doctrine not the other way.


#14

Right. :thumbsup:

. . ., the virginal birth of Christ points to a miraculous conception (that His Father by Nature is God, not man) by the Holy Spirit (indicating the Trinity of Divine Persons); that Mary had no more children is just one indication that Christ Jesus is different in some essential way from all other humans. If she had had other children there would be absolutely no reason to think Jesus was any different from those siblings in His origin, i.e., that He was God the Son become Man. Thus the Perpetual Virginity safeguards the specialness of Jesus as born miraculously, which safeguards His special conception, which manifests His Eternal Pre-Existence. So there IS a “logic” to the Incarnation of God as Man… . .

bringyou.to/apologetics/a82.htm


#15

seriously though, with regards to mary’s reply to the angel, “how shall this be since I know not a man.” she simply means she has’nt current carnal knowledge of a man. not only that there does’nt seem to be much sense in treating her as mysteriously connect to God as husband if God instructed her earthly husband to take her as wife. the incarnation was not a sexual union of God and woman. it was a unique work in the womb of a woman. God maintains his seperation as creator. by the way, the properties of sane reason apply to theology. contradictions are contradictions regardless of spiritual or natural context.


#16

Who are we to have to defend God’s design?!


#17

If that were the case she wouldn’t have said anything at all. What engaged woman, if told that she will (in the future, not already) conceive a child, would exlaim “How can that be, I know not a man?”? Rather, knowing she will soon be married she’d probably say “Yes, I certainly hope so!”

As has often been pointed out, if Mary were not a perpetual virgin, her reply to the angel is the strangest of all possible replies. She doesn’t say a thing about her son being "the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."
No, she doesn’t ask about any of that. She asks how it will be possible for her to conceive. That was the foremost thing on her mind! An utterly ridiculous question if she were planning on having relations with her husband.


#18

It’s about the absolute holiness of Jesus–God-made man. If men died for touching the ark that bore the tablets and manna, how much more holy is the womb which carried the Word and the true Bread from Heaven.


#19

Mary said, “How can this be?”

Now, she was already betrothed. In her culture, betrothal was nearly equivalent to marriage. Why would a woman engaged to be married, told by an angel of God that she was to become a mother, say “how can this be?” She knew how babies are conceived, and she was engaged to be married.

Yet she asked, “how can this be?”

With the Messianic expectations which were rampant at the time, one might have expected her reply to be, “Wow, I’m going to be the mother of the Messiah!” But she didn’t. She wondered how it could be that she was to become a mother at all.

That indicates to me that she had already made a vow of perpetual virginity.


#20

why didnt she say how shall this b since I’ll never know a man?
is it possible that in the encounter with angel the conception was understood to be imediately impending but that the consumation of her marriage was a long way off in the future. how is it possible that joseph could take her as fully wife without knowing her if the definition of marriage includes sexual union in genesis. it seems like explaining the sensability (defending) of the doctrine of her perpetual virginity in the context of scripture requires hermeneutical gymnastics while the alternative is plain as day.
1pet 3:15


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