For the Incarnation, God clearly wished to have a pure womb which no one had yet passed through. It is the same principle as the Lord asking for a colt upon which no man had yet sat, when He wished to enter Jerusalem. Certain things are kept aside for the use of the King, and only the King. What is the point of our Mother’s virginity beyond the fulfillment of this prophecy, however?
Why does it matter that the blessed Virgin Mary remained a virgin all her life, even after the conception and nativity of our Lord & Saviour? The virginity of the Mother of God surely did not much matter after this? Marriage and childbearing are virtuous and holy states, after all. God never does anything without a reason, so what purpose or point would it serve that Mary remained a virgin even after the events of Christ’s generation?
Do NOT listen to this individual: when the Gospels speak of Jesus’ “brothers and sisters,” they are referring to his cousins- it is known for a fact that when translated from the original languages, there was only one word for brother/cousin, so they meant the same thing!
As to your question, the perpetual virginity of Mary matters, because it shows us the Immaculate nature of her entire being from conception through to her assumed body and soul in Heaven. From the Litany of the Blessed Virgin: “Virgin most undefiled;” this shows us her humanly perfection, lesser only to God Himself.
Marian dogmas were declared dogmas because of how they relate to Christ. Defining Mary’s conditions serve as linchpins that reinforce the divinity and reign of Christ. This is why it was important to dogmatically declare Mary the Theotokos, because of continuing disputes among splintering Christian factions over whether or not Christ was truly divine. Even to the present day this is the greatest divider that sunders Islam from Christianity.
Mary’s perpetual virginity is a reinforcement (or theological proof, if you want to look at it that way) of how Christ was the Word of God made incarnate. Because Mary was the ark that held the Word of God in flesh (again, parallel to how the Israelite ark held the word of God in stone), it was fitting for her unique position to remain untouched throughout her life, just as the Israelites’ Ark of the Covenant was kept intensely sacred. Because of the intense fearful reverence towards the Most High, and the distance given to sacred objects, it was generally easily understood among the ancient Hebrews why Mary would have remained celibate.
Mary having children would also be problematic because Christ is not just the Son of God, but the only Begotten Son of God. There is no multi-kingship of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is one Christ, and one Bride (Church).
Not so. Jesus’ “brothers” were most likely cousins. Families lived in large groups, not in nuclear family units like we have today. And in the culture and language of the time all children who were related and raised in the same family group were called brothers/sisters even if they had different parents.
This is not the Catholic tradition. The word 'brother" is used differently throughout the Gospels and can refer also to cousins etc. as has been discussed by more learned men on many threads.
Why does Mary’s virginity matter? Simple - Truth matters. In an increasingly fluid and subjective cultural framework the Church’s stable rock-like position is essential for the continuation of its message- the Word of God.
I believe she’s sinless, but there is something I don’t fully understand. If she had had sex with Joshph, she wouldn’t be sinning anyway, since he was her husband. What I have wondered lately is: how could Joseph make it through a sexless marriage? And that means their marriage was never consummated.
Mary is the Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of Jesus Christ, and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. It matters, because Mary was faithful, her entire life, to the Holy Spirit, her spouse. Further, she is the Temple of the Most Holy Trinity, the Ark of the Covenant, and still is! So yes, it matters that she was, and is, a virgin. Some are ready to take that honor away from her, wrongfully.
Further, it’s also the truth, and we need to get the truth out. A number of us Catholics even do reparations, like on the First Saturday of each month, as requested by Our Lady for all the Sacriliges she has had to endure such as this, at our expense. She was pure, immaculate, and yet, her own children have been guilty of these sins, questioning her word and making false accusations against her, after all the things she’s done for us.
I don’t think the argument that Mary is the “spouse” of the Holy Spirit - and thus ethically forbidden to have children by Joseph - holds much water, considering the fact that she was betrothed and espoused to Joseph before and after the Incarnation began. If her espousal to the Holy Spirit makes her “married” to the Holy Spirit, her espousal to Joseph makes her a polygamist (in the context of that argument).
The point about the Ark is well taken.
By the way, it is not very convincing just to be told “because it’s the truth”. As true as it may be, don’t forget 1 Peter 3:15.
I too have heard it compared to the Ark of the Covenant, as in, having held the Word of God (Jesus) she became a sacred vessel. As God killed Uzzah for touching the Ark, likely Mary and Joseph would have had a problem.
It matters because it proves that Jesus was God made flesh, because she became blessed by bearing him. If she were to have sex with Joseph afterwards, it would prove Jesus was not God. But she didn’t, so it shows that he is God
As to your second point, I was wondering that myself a few weeks ago, and the general consensus that I reached from various sources indicates that it is likely that Mary and Joseph had made vows of perpetual virginity (or at least abstinence in his case). Don’t you think that if angels were to appear to you several times you might be able to put some urges aside?
First of all, Mary’s perpetual virginity is prophesied in this passage:
Ezekiel 44:2 (RSV-CE): 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.
From a Crisis Magazine article on the subject:
The notions of consecration and virginity have always been part of the Christian tradition. Indeed, as we have seen, pre-Christian tradition (both pagan and Jewish) also recognized at some instinctive level that the two went together. For virginity entails self-denial and, in some mysterious way, new life in God. It is a kind of sacrifice and, contrary to modern notions, it’s the sacrifice of something supremely good, not of something “dirty.” As David said, he would not offer “burnt offerings which cost me nothing” (1 Chr 21:24). The entire principle of sacrifice rests upon the reality that something really good — not a piece of trash — is being offered to God.
The Perpetual Virginity of Mary doesn’t really have anything to do with sin. As TK421 explained above well, it’s because of who Jesus was and Mary’s unique role as the New Ark of the Covenant that we believe Mary was a Perpetual Virgin. She was consecrated, set apart, for God wholly and entirely. Since she was to be the bearer of God incarnate, it was fitting that she bear Him and only Him.
It would have been improper and unfitting and even I would argue disrespectful for Mary to resume normal married life after having borne the Eternal Son of God. Just like it would be wrong and disrespectful in the same sense for me to take the chalice used to consecrate the Sacred Blood and use it to drink my Gatorade. Is there something sinful about Gatorade? No. But after having been set apart for such a holy purpose, for the cup to just be used like something common would be disrespectful. Not for the chalices sake, but for What the chalice held inside of it. Same thing with Mary.
As far as Joseph goes, he was a just and righteous man, as the scriptures tell us, so when he found out that Mary’s child was of the Holy Spirit, he would have known exactly what that meant. It meant she was no longer just any ordinary Jewish girl, but she was consecrated to God. He would never have dared to even think of touching her in that way. If you’ve ever been in the presence of a truly holy person you would know what I mean. Mary would have inspired Joseph to purity.
And yes that does in fact mean their marriage was never consummated, but that doesn’t mean it was invalid. A marriage is valid upon ratification, the exchange of vows. It’s indissoluble only after consummation.
The Gospels never mention Mary’s relation to Elizabeth. It is pious tradition that they are cousins.
Now, the word for brother, in Koine Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, could actually mean any number of relationships with a male, everything from cousin to nephew to step brother to close male friend! We see this clearly in Genesis 14:14 and 16. In these passages, Lot is called Abraham’s brother, even though the genealogies in 11:27, 12:5, and 14:12 show that Lot was Abraham’s nephew. Why the discrepancy? Because the word for brother in Hebrew can also mean nephew, as said above.
In that one poster’s defense, you did ask why the Perpetual Virginity matters, so I think what he was trying to say was that it’s important because it’s the truth and the truth matters. I don’t think he was trying to say we just have to believe without any good reason.
That’s how I understood his comment anyway, I could be wrong though.
St. James the Less, the author of the first Catholic Epistle, was the son of Alphaeus of Cleophas. His mother Mary was either a sister or a close relative of the Blessed Virgin, and for that reason, according to Jewish custom, he was sometimes called the brother of the Lord