Why was the Blessed Mother betrothed to Joseph?


#1

"But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” " (Lk 1:34)

This passage implies that the Blessed Mother never had any intention of abandoning her perpetual virginity; in ancient Hebraic society, then, what purpose would her betrothal to St. Joseph have served? Why would her parents have given her away knowing that she would never bear children conceived of a man?


#2

I don’t remember where I had heard this but I heard that he was betrothed to her in order to protect her virginity. Don’t know how correct it is but it makes sense.


#3

[quote=Mike O]"But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” " (Lk 1:34)

This passage implies that the Blessed Mother never had any intention of abandoning her perpetual virginity; in ancient Hebraic society, then, what purpose would her betrothal to St. Joseph have served? Why would her parents have given her away knowing that she would never bear children conceived of a man?
[/quote]

There is no mention of Mary’s parents in the NT. (St.Anne and St.Joachim.) It can be assumed that they have passed away. It would then become necessary, especially if Mary was an only-child, for her to be cared for through a guardianship marriage. To do this, she would be given into the care of an elderly widower; someone who was secure enough to support her, but with the full understanding that his duty is to protect her virginity rather than bear children with her.

According to the protoevangelium of James (circa 120 AD) Joseph was selected by lots but was hesitant to accept her as he was an old man and she was so young. (It wouldn’t look good for someone his age to wed someone that young, and it also presented the problem that Joseph’s sons would be embarrased to give proper respect and obedience to a step-mother that is younger than they are.)

Thal59


#4

[quote=Mike O]"But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” " (Lk 1:34)

This passage implies that the Blessed Mother never had any intention of abandoning her perpetual virginity; in ancient Hebraic society, then, what purpose would her betrothal to St. Joseph have served? Why would her parents have given her away knowing that she would never bear children conceived of a man?
[/quote]

Sex and bearing children are not the only reasons to get married. Love is the #1 reason. If you fell in love with a woman who was not physically able to have sexual intercourse (and there are physical abnormalities which prevent sexual intercourse) would you not marry her because you couldn’t have sex with her? Shallow reason! Love is far more than sex folks. If you can’t have sex you’d “love” them less? Think about what this says about us. Did the Father demand sex in exchange for giving us His Son? Did Jesus demand sex in exchange for laying down His life for us? I love several men, truly love them, would lay down my life for them, but suggest that I would have sexual thoughts about them and you’re looking for a fight.


#5

[quote=Tom]Sex and bearing children are not the only reasons to get married. Love is the #1 reason.
[/quote]

With all due respect, when it comes to marriages from this time period, that statement is completely false. The foremost blessing for an Israeli woman and the primary (and perhaps ONLY) reason for marriage was to bear children.

Now others have introduced the concept of guardianship.

Why does the Church not include documents like the Protoevangelium in the canon and as part of the teaching documents? These and some other documents seem like valuable resources and citing them as apologetical sources would seem to obligate the Church to include them wholly.


#6

[quote=Tom]Sex and bearing children are not the only reasons to get married. Love is the #1 reason. If you fell in love with a woman who was not physically able to have sexual intercourse (and there are physical abnormalities which prevent sexual intercourse) would you not marry her because you couldn’t have sex with her?
[/quote]

Actually, impotence (inability to consummate the marriage) is an impediment to marriage, so you could not marry a woman who was unable to have intercourse. I know this is true in canon law, and I’m not sure about civil law.


#7

[quote=Mike O]Why does the Church not include documents like the Protoevangelium in the canon and as part of the teaching documents? These and some other documents seem like valuable resources and citing them as apologetical sources would seem to obligate the Church to include them wholly.
[/quote]

Because a document’s usefulness as a source of teaching isn’t one of the criteria for canonicity. Patristic works are cited because they bear witness to Sacred Tradtion, but that doesn’t make them Scripture. The sole criterion for determining canonicity is that:

[H]oly mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical **because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author ** and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.

DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION ON DIVINE REVELATION
Boldface emphasis mine.

BTW, if you are unfamiliar with the Constitution, Dei Verbum, you might want to follow that link and read the whole document. It is relatively short, easy to read, very informative, and has all the Magisterial authority of an Ecumenical Council.

Justin


#8

It’s purely a cultural issue.

Once Mary’s father died, Mary wouldn’t have a man to take care of her. Without Joseph, Mary would have to resort to one of three options:
(a) prostitution (violating her perpetual virginity and immaculate conception)
(b) begging
© starvation

Goodness. I learned that in my (high school) freshman theology class.


#9

[quote=Tom]Sex and bearing children are not the only reasons to get married. Love is the #1 reason.
[/quote]

[quote=Mike O] With all due respect, when it comes to marriages from this time period, that statement is completely false. The foremost blessing for an Israeli woman and the primary (and perhaps ONLY) reason for marriage was to bear children. Now others have introduced the concept of guardianship.
[/quote]

So, you’re saying is the “ONLY REASON” to get married is sex and bearing children? This is EXACTLY what I said, and exactly what you state is false. So you think the “ONLY REASON” to get married at that time was sex and bearing children? Please elaborate that this is the “only” (as I said) reason.


#10

[quote=Mike O]"But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” " (Lk 1:34)

This passage implies that the Blessed Mother never had any intention of abandoning her perpetual virginity; in ancient Hebraic society, then, what purpose would her betrothal to St. Joseph have served? Why would her parents have given her away knowing that she would never bear children conceived of a man?
[/quote]

Joseph, who was of the “House of David”, married Mary and adopted Jesus into the “House of David” making Jesus the “Son of David” and heir to his throne.
I guess we can go ahead and close this thread out. Thus sayeth the “threadkiller”. :cool:


#11

[quote=Mike O]"But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” " (Lk 1:34)

This passage implies that the Blessed Mother never had any intention of abandoning her perpetual virginity; in ancient Hebraic society, then, what purpose would her betrothal to St. Joseph have served? Why would her parents have given her away knowing that she would never bear children conceived of a man?/QUOTE

My confusion here…they were betrothed and not yet married…I’m sure she hadn’t had relations at that point.
[/quote]


#12

[quote=threadkiller]Joseph, who was of the “House of David”, married Mary and adopted Jesus into the “House of David” making Jesus the “Son of David” and heir to his throne.
I guess we can go ahead and close this thread out. Thus sayeth the “threadkiller”. :cool:
[/quote]

He thinks the reason is to include Mary into the house of David, i disagree, but I do enjoy reading his posts.


#13

As I understand, Yes Mary was a virgin at that point, but she did not necessarily think she would be a virgin forever before that point. When the angel Gabriel came to her, she knew that this child he was refering to would not be of her betrothed, but of the Holy Spirit. Her concern would have been that a jewish man of that time was forbidden to have sex with a woman that had been with another man before him. Hence, her saying that she knew not man…meant that she had not been intimate with Joseph yet, btw there is some historical evidence that there were stages to an engagement including her going to live in his home, and perhaps due to age, at some point they would be expected to have sex. So this makes her trepidation and responses more reasonable. Also does explain perpetual virginity since we can assume that Joseph was a proper jew of the times or he wouldn’t have agreed to marry Mary since he knew that there would not be a consumation to the marriage, hence, the angelic visit to him as well.


#14

You are so wrong with this!

When the angel said

“And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS”

it is obvious that an espoused woman would expect to bring forth a child. the Angel did not even said anything about the mission of God, but her reply was:

“Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?”

this is an obvious evidence of her vow of virginity.

[quote=BlestOne]As I understand, Yes Mary was a virgin at that point, but she did not necessarily think she would be a virgin forever before that point. When the angel Gabriel came to her, she knew that this child he was refering to would not be of her betrothed, but of the Holy Spirit. Her concern would have been that a jewish man of that time was forbidden to have sex with a woman that had been with another man before him. Hence, her saying that she knew not man…meant that she had not been intimate with Joseph yet, btw there is some historical evidence that there were stages to an engagement including her going to live in his home, and perhaps due to age, at some point they would be expected to have sex. So this makes her trepidation and responses more reasonable. Also does explain perpetual virginity since we can assume that Joseph was a proper jew of the times or he wouldn’t have agreed to marry Mary since he knew that there would not be a consumation to the marriage, hence, the angelic visit to him as well.
[/quote]


#15

[quote=Thal59]There is no mention of Mary’s parents in the NT. (St.Anne and St.Joachim.) It can be assumed that they have passed away. It would then become necessary, especially if Mary was an only-child, for her to be cared for through a guardianship marriage. To do this, she would be given into the care of an elderly widower; someone who was secure enough to support her, but with the full understanding that his duty is to protect her virginity rather than bear children with her. …
[/quote]

That doesn’t sound quite right. I mean if it was supposed to be a “guardianship marriage” what would be the result when, a few months later, Mary did indeed have a child? The people would assume that either Joseph violated his role of guardian or that he was cuckold. :eek:

It seems to me that Mary and Joseph were married simply to provide Jesus with a normal family environment (as well as the more practical reason of protecting Mary from the fate an unwed mother might have faced back then)
As for her virginity and the details of their private, married life…that was something that that neighbors didn’t need to know anything about.


#16

[quote=Grace and Glory]Actually, impotence (inability to consummate the marriage) is an impediment to marriage, so you could not marry a woman who was unable to have intercourse. I know this is true in canon law, and I’m not sure about civil law.
[/quote]

I believe you are correct as to current canon law, but I believe the law deals with the physical ability to have sex, not with one’s willingness to do so.

In the case of Mary, she was physically capable of having sexual relations, so her marriage to Joseph (provided he was not completely impotent) would have been valid by today’s canon law (AFAIK). Of course, I am no canon lawyer, so I may be incorrect :o.

I’m not sure how it sits with canon law if a couple marries and simply chooses, out of a desire of devotion to God, to remain virgins. I imagine they could still adopt and be parents, then. Maybe a question for AAA.

Peace,
javelin


#17

[quote=BlestOne] As I understand, Yes Mary was a virgin at that point, but she did not necessarily think she would be a virgin forever before that point.
[/quote]

A careful reading of Luke chapter 1 tells us a different story. Nothing written in Scripture is without a purpose, even the timing of the events in the New Testament serve a purpose. Let’s take a closer look at Luke 1.After the salutation, Gabriel tells Mary:

[quote=www.drbo.org] Lk 1,31 Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus.
[/quote]

The fact that she would conceive and bear a child should have been no surprise to any woman who planned to have a normal sexual relationship with her husband. Perhaps the fact that the child would be a boy was a nice surprise, we’d expect her to make a comment about it being a boy, but not about her bearing a child.

[quote=www.drbo.org] Lk 1,32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. 33 And of his kingdom there shall be no end.
[/quote]

Now there’s a shocker, he’s going to be the king? WOW now here we would expect her to ask about this, but again we wouldn’t expect her to ask how she shall become pregnant, it was obvious to any woman planning to have a normal sexual relationship with her husband isn’t it? Notice also that Gabriel has not yet told Mary who the real Father of the child would be. This is for a specific reason, the angel is forcing her to make her statement about her perpetual virginity. Why would the angel stop short of revealing the most important fact of the matter? That the child would be the Son of God. Wouldn’t Mary naturally assume the father would be Joseph? Obviously not, but why wouldn’t she? Next her statement:

[quote=www.drbo.org] Lk 1,34 And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?
[/quote]

the angel is speaking to Mary about shall occur in the future, not her present condition, Mary responds accordingly with her future condition of virginity, NOT her current condition of virginity. Think about it, o.k. Mary, sometime in the future you shall become pregnant. No great surprise right? Mary would naturally assume Joseph and she would have a child. She was stating her future virginity, not her present virginity. To think she was referring to her present virginity doesn’t make sense.


#18

[quote=steveandersen]That doesn’t sound quite right. I mean if it was supposed to be a “guardianship marriage” what would be the result when, a few months later, Mary did indeed have a child? The people would assume that either Joseph violated his role of guardian or that he was cuckold. :eek:

It seems to me that Mary and Joseph were married simply to provide Jesus with a normal family environment (as well as the more practical reason of protecting Mary from the fate an unwed mother might have faced back then)
As for her virginity and the details of their private, married life…that was something that that neighbors didn’t need to know anything about.
[/quote]

I’m with you, in that I haven’t found compelling reasons to believe that Mary was a consecrated virgin and her marriage to Joseph one of guardianship over her virginity. Obviously, as you point out, her pregnancy and the subsequent birth of Jesus would make for quite the scandal, then. Perhaps that is another reason for their flight to Egypt and eventual settlement in Nazareth, but it’s not compelling.

As for the marriage only being to establish Davidic lineage, I find that odd since it was made clear that Jesus was not really Joseph’s son. Also, wasn’t Mary from the Davidic line as well? Only that would make Jesus a genetic descendent of David.

[quote=Mike O]Why does the Church not include documents like the Protoevangelium in the canon and as part of the teaching documents? These and some other documents seem like valuable resources and citing them as apologetical sources would seem to obligate the Church to include them wholly.
[/quote]

From what I know, the Protoevangelium of James has a lot of questionable historical and theological content, so apologists, in general, stay as far away from it as they can. I wish I could recall specifics, but I remember an old thread where a protestant listed several quotes from the Pro. of James that were so ridiculous in light of current theology that they rendered the entire work suspect. It is certainly not inspired, and so has no place in the Canon of Sacred Scripture. I think the problems with content other than some things regarding Mary and Joseph is why it is not included in the Church’s teaching literature.

Without quotes from it, I can’t be more specific, though. Sorry.


#19

[quote=www.drbo.org] Lk 1,35 And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
[/quote]

Now we learn who the Father is to be, but note that it is after Mary made her statement. The only reason Gabriel didn’t continue on with his explanation was to force Mary to announce her perpetual virginity.

[quote=BlestOne] When the angel Gabriel came to her, she knew that this child he was refering to would not be of her betrothed, but of the Holy Spirit.
[/quote]

No she didn’t, read the previous post, or Luke 1. Gabriel stopped short of telling her who the true Father would be to force her to make her statement of perpetual virginity

[quote=BlestOne] Her concern would have been that a jewish man of that time was forbidden to have sex with a woman that had been with another man before him.
[/quote]

Which is correct, and also the one reason Joseph would never consider having sex with Mary, even after the birth of Jesus, the other is found in Numbers chapter 30.

[quote=BlestOne] Hence, her saying that she knew not man…meant that she had not been intimate with Joseph yet, btw there is some historical evidence that there were stages to an engagement including her going to live in his home, and perhaps due to age, at some point they would be expected to have sex.
[/quote]

Betrothal was actually a part of marriage, which lasted generally one year, during this time it was permissible to have sexual relations since they were considered married. This was to give time for the planning of the wedding and have the wedding guests arrive, remember there were no cars, it took a long time to travel. So Joseph and Mary were allowed to have sex, why on earth didn’t they? This is also why Joseph would be required to “put her away” and he is called her husband in Mt 1,19

[quote=www.drbo.org] Mt 1,19 Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately.
[/quote]

No need to do anything if they weren’t considered married is there?

[quote=BlestOne] So this makes her trepidation and responses more reasonable. Also does explain perpetual virginity since we can assume that Joseph was a proper jew of the times or he wouldn’t have agreed to marry Mary since he knew that there would not be a consumation to the marriage, hence, the angelic visit to him as well.
[/quote]

Actually the angelic visit was to show he knew of the vow and the consequences of Numbers chapter 30 if he ever made her break the vow once he took her into his house as his wife.


#20

[quote=Tom]A careful reading of Luke chapter 1 tells us a different story. Nothing written in Scripture is without a purpose, even the timing of the events in the New Testament serve a purpose. Let’s take a closer look at Luke 1.After the salutation, Gabriel tells Mary: The fact that she would conceive and bear a child should have been no surprise to any woman who planned to have a normal sexual relationship with her husband. Perhaps the fact that the child would be a boy was a nice surprise, we’d expect her to make a comment about it being a boy, but not about her bearing a child.
Now there’s a shocker, he’s going to be the king? WOW now here we would expect her to ask about this, but again we wouldn’t expect her to ask how she shall become pregnant, it was obvious to any woman planning to have a normal sexual relationship with her husband isn’t it? Notice also that Gabriel has not yet told Mary who the real Father of the child would be. This is for a specific reason, the angel is forcing her to make her statement about her perpetual virginity. Why would the angel stop short of revealing the most important fact of the matter? That the child would be the Son of God. Wouldn’t Mary naturally assume the father would be Joseph? Obviously not, but why wouldn’t she? Next her statement: the angel is speaking to Mary about shall occur in the future, not her present condition, Mary responds accordingly with her future condition of virginity, NOT her current condition of virginity. Think about it, o.k. Mary, sometime in the future you shall become pregnant. No great surprise right? Mary would naturally assume Joseph and she would have a child. ** She was stating her future virginity, not her present virginity. To think she was referring to her present virginity doesn’t make sense./**QUOTE]

I believe in Mary’s perpetual virginity but I don’t see at all how you can claim that she is making a vow about her perpetual virginity at the Annunciation. I haven’t seen any such interpretations in any Catholic Study Bible (I use NAB and also Igantius Study Bibles) and I’m unaware that the Church interprets the Annunciation that way. If you have an official Church source with such an interpretation it would be most interesting and I would be happy to stand corrected but for me Luke 1 does not mean what you say.
[/quote]


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