Perpetual Virginity of Mary

Sonya:  I also think the perpetual virginity argument is weak at best because if the Bible said she remained a virgin till her death, I am pretty sure we wouldn’t be having a discussion about it.

Bread From Heaven: But, neither would we be having this discussion if Jesus or any of the writers of the NT said that all Christian truth must be found ONLY in the Scriptures. And I know that if Scripture did say Mary was ever virgin and immaculate Protestants would believe it. But why do you believe in Sola Scriptura, since it is not taught or mentioned in scripture?

So you think that Mary’s perpetual virginity is weak b/c it is not found in scripture. OK, that is your choice.

Did you know that Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli firmly believed in her perpetual virginity? So, by whose authority was it rejected among Protestants?

Martin Luther: “It is an article of faith that Mary is the Mother of the Lord and still a virgin…Christ, we believe, came forth from a womb left perfectly intact.” (Works of Luther, V. 11, pp319-320; V. 6, p 510)

John Calvin: “there have been certain folk who have wished to suggest from this passage (Mt 1:25) that the Virgin Mary had other children than the Son of God, and that Joseph had then dwelt with her later; but what folly this is! For the gospel writer did not wish to record what happened afterwards; he simply wished to make clear Joseph’s obedience and to show also that Joseph had been well and truly assured that it was God who had sent His angel to Mary. He had therefore never dwelt with her nor had he shared her company…And besides this our Lord Jesus Christ is called the firstborn. This is not because there was a second or third, but because the gospel writer is paying regard to the precedence. Scripture speaks thus of naming the first-born whether or no there was any question of the second.” (Sermon on Matthew 1:22-25, published 1562)

Ulrich Zwingli: “I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin.”.” (Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Berlin, 1905, in Evang. Luc., Op. comp., V6,1 P. 639

But, what surprises me, unless you haven’t read it, is that the refutation of the Protestant contention, that Jesus MUST have had brothers and sisters would be irrelevant to you. –>Who Were the Brothers & Sisters of Jesus?

Protestants reject the Perpetual Virginity of Mary b/c they know the scriptures speak several times about the brothers and sisters of Jesus. So, if it is scripturally possible that these passages refer to Jesus’ kinsmen or step siblings as opposed to Mary’s offspring, then there is no absolute scriptural refutation of Mary’s Perpetual Virginity. This was amazing and convincing to me twelve years ago when I first looked into Catholicism.

8 Responses

  1. Here’s my question here…even IF your right…What is the benefit of the perpetual virginity and/or immaculate conception? You say that the important one is Jesus Christ, yet you defend Mary as if she was your sole basis for belief. This is why the “protestants” think that you worship her. It is hard to not see her as exalted too much when you have dogmas and doctrine about her. I also saw a program (I think on your blog) about Mariology. Is it not God who matters? We don’t have anything like this for any other person or angel even .

  2. There is no benefit except historical accuracy and giving glory to God for the miracle of the Virgin Birth and Immaculate conception. Some say Mary had to be sin free or she would have passed sin on to Jesus. that is nonsense. Mary’s parents weren’t sinless.

    These beliefs give glory to God and they are so much more beautiful and fitting than Protestant beliefs about Mary.

    If God could create His mother wherein He would dwell for 9 months and be raised by her why would he not create her totally pure? He did not have to, but it is just so much more fitting that Mary was pure and sinless than that the son of God dwelt in the body of a sinful and polluted woman.

    Also, her perpetual virginity is more fitting also. If you were Joseph and the Holy Spirit Almighty God had chosen your wife to carry the Son and impregnated your wife, it is much more fitting to not approach her in the usual carnal manner.

    If, Mary was sinless and a perpetual virgin, why would anyone want to teach she was not. Why should the Church teach what is historically in accurate?

    Protestants jump to the conclusion that we worship Mary b/c they really just ignore her so by contrast and justification for their neglect they judge us to worship her. We are merely defending truth about her. There is nothing wrong with that.

  3. We don’t say much about Mary, because frankly, she doesn’t seem that important. We talk about how God used her just like any other prophet or person in history, but the Scripture only gives a small amount of time to her in comparison to Jesus and even the apostles. Pretty much every Christian would know that she was the mother of Jesus though I would guess.

    I just think that it minimized the importance of Christ when we put too much emphasis on any other person. One thing I thought of though was if Mary was sinless, it seems it would have minimized the times Jesus was tempted as he was growing up. The Bible says he was tempted in all points like we are and yet without sin. Not saying this is proof to the opposite, just pointing it out.

    If you are catholic could you not believe this teaching and still be part of the church?

  4. No, you must believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary to be Catholic. It does not minimize Christ in any way but brings glory to God. Jesus is pleased when we honor His mother. Mary said, “all generation will call me blessed.” But in my experience Protestants NEVER call her Blessed.

  5. Hi guy,
    I found this interesting take on protestant view on the perpaetual virginity of Mary and I’ve copied and pasted it here can you please help me with this assertion:
    What Does the Bible State?
    Two different Gospels accounts state Mary had other sons and daughters.1 These accounts even give the names of the sons.

    “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” (Matthew 13:55–56)

    “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him. (Mark 6:3)

    Some have suggested these brothers and sisters were cousins or more distant relations. If true, why didn’t the writers use the Greek term for cousins (anepsios)? The Greek word did exist and was used in Scripture (Colossians 4:10). If they were more distant relatives, then why not use a Greek word that meant relatives (suggenes), such as the one describing Mary and Elizabeth’s relational status in Luke 1:36? Why did Matthew and Mark use the words most commonly translated as brothers (adelphos) and sisters (adelphe)? In any other context no one would have questioned this meaning.

    A logical point concerning this passage was brought up by expositor Adam Clarke in his commentary:

    Why should the children of another family be brought in here to share a reproach which it is evident was designed for Joseph the carpenter, Mary his wife, Jesus their son, and their other children? Prejudice apart, would not any person of plain common sense suppose, from this account, that these were the children of Joseph and Mary, and the brothers and sisters of our Lord, according to the flesh?2

    It seems rather obvious that these Gospel accounts refer to Joseph’s and Mary’s children. Why would these people criticize Jesus by mentioning his father (as they presumed) and mother and then seemingly switch to distant relatives?

    The Apostle Paul also claimed that Jesus had at least one brother. Concerning his first trip to Jerusalem after his conversion, Paul wrote, “But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19).

    The first chapter of Acts tells how the disciples met to select a replacement for Judas. Luke specifically singled out Mary and the brothers of Jesus.

    Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (Acts 1:12–14)

    To claim Mary was a perpetual virgin even after Christ was born is to deny the words of the Apostle Matthew, who wrote, “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS” (Matthew 1:24–25, emphasis added).

    “Knew” was a modest way of describing sexual relations in ancient times. For example, Adam knew Eve, and she conceived Cain, and he knew her again, and she bore Seth (Genesis 4:1, 25). Cain knew his wife, and she bore Enoch (Genesis 4:17 ). If Joseph never knew Mary at all, the phrase “till she had brought forth her firstborn Son” is pointless. Obviously, Joseph did not sleep with Mary until after she gave birth to Jesus, fulfilling both parts of the prophecy (virginal conception and virgin birth, as Isaiah 7:14 states, “the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son,” emphasis added). But this means Joseph did know her after she gave birth to Jesus, so she was no longer a virgin.

    In fact, sex within marriage is not a sin but is a creation ordinance within marriage that existed prior to sin and the Curse. Jesus quoted Genesis 2:24 in Matthew 19:5–6, reiterating “the two shall be one flesh.”

    Consider that God commanded people to be fruitful and multiply in Genesis 1:28 and twice in Genesis 9 (verses 1 and 7). Malachi 2:14–15 indicates one reason for marriage is to have godly offspring. Why would Mary be disobedient to God? Since she was truly a godly woman, she would have respected His commands and honor them. Having at least two daughters and five sons would indeed be fulfilling God’s commands to be fruitful and multiply.

    The following Gospel account provides more evidence Jesus had siblings:

    While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”

    But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:46–50)

    This event is also described in Mark 3:32–35 and Luke 8:19–21. Here Christ indicated a distinction between His fleshly brothers and mother and His spiritual brothers and mother. This account also further corroborates the idea that Jesus had brothers.

    • Dear Anno Domine,

      The cousin or relative explanation was introduced by St. Jerome in the 400’s AD. However, in the first or early 2nd century the Protoevangelium of James tells us the history of Mary. In this we learn that she was dedicated to the temple for service at an early age and as she matured sexually she needed a male protector. Joseph an older man was chosen. Joseph, we are told had been married previously and had children by his first wife and that these are the brothers and sisters of Jesus. Step siblings. But St. Jerome was a scripture scholar and not a meek and mild kind of guy. I wonder if he addressed some of these issues. Most do not raise a question for me except for this one:

      Some have suggested these brothers and sisters were cousins or more distant relations. If true, why didn’t the writers use the Greek term for cousins (anepsios)? The Greek word did exist and was used in Scripture (Colossians 4:10). If they were more distant relatives, then why not use a Greek word that meant relatives (suggenes), such as the one describing Mary and Elizabeth’s relational status in Luke 1:36? Why did Matthew and Mark use the words most commonly translated as brothers (adelphos) and sisters (adelphe)? In any other context no one would have questioned this meaning.

      This is the explanation I have heard regarding the above legitimate question. Luke was a native Greek speaker so of course he used the Greek word for cousin. However, Matthew and Mark spoke Aramaic and there is no word for cousin in Aramaic therefore either they used the Greek word for their way of using their native language or else they originally wrote in Aramaic and it was literally translated into Greek without interpretation. So, since they used the word for brother in Aramaic when it was translated the Greek word for brother was also used.

      I have always contended that the Protestant interpretation of these passages to mean “sibling” is legitimate. There is no necessity that Mary remain a virgin. And yet, historically there is no evidence that Mary had other children. Even these passages NEVER call them the sons and daughters of Mary but the brothers and sisters of Jesus.

      The author of the piece was scholarly and honest in that he did not try to use this passage which does indeed refer to another Mary:

      Matthew 27:56 Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.


      How did the Church Fathers explain the perpetual virginity of Mary?

      Catholic Answers tract: “Brethren of the Lord”

  6. P.S. I fully understand that the word UNTIL is used in other parts of scripture and we can disregard it’s credebility here but the thing that grabbed me here was the use of the Greek word for Cousin used to describe Mary and Elizabeth but not Jesus and His “brothers and sisters”, That’s what I’m stuck on.

    • Oh man, now I’m confused. They may refer to different ‘Mary’s?

      I’ve heard people saying that the Isaiah’s prophecy states the virginal state of Mary at the moment of Christ’s conception, but not her life. It’s like how one may say a young woman is going to give birth to a son, but she will not be young throughout her life. But I believe Isaiah’s prophecy is indicative of Mary’s virginity because age is inevitable while being virgin is by choice; so it may sound redundant for Isaiah to quote the virginal conception if Mary’s not going to be virgin for life (at least to me).

      Next, some archaeological findings found some ancient pendant with inscribed words that say: James, son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus
      But it has been refuted by Catholics to be authentic because it was scientifically tested to be crafted in at least a century A.D. – which was many many years after Christ’s resurrection. (If I’m not wrong) So there is a high possibility for the pendant to be inaccurately inscribed.

      In addition, some Apologist mentioned that the brothers and sisters are specifically children of different ‘Mary’s and husbands, like the Mary wife of Cleophas. I can’t remember what he had written on his site. So there’s a possibility for this?

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