Why Did MARY HAVE TO BE ‘EVER VIRGIN’?


holy Family

Joan: When tradition is contrary to the scriptures I choose the scriptures.

BFHU: We both choose Scripture. Whether you realize it or not, you are, in addition to choosing Scripture, choosing your interpretation or an interpretation of Scripture you have been taught. I am choosing the interpretation that has been held for 2000 years. It is also the interpretation of the Catholic Church which was founded by Jesus Christ Himself, upon Peter and the Apostles. Our Apostolic Teaching (or SACRED TRADITION) is not contrary to Scripture at any point.

Joan:2 different scriptures say that Mary & Joseph did not have sexual relations until after the baby was born.

BFHU:There is no scripture that says Mary was a virgin until AFTER the baby was born. You have just broken the rule about not adding to Scripture. The way you interpret this is not wrong but there is Biblical precedence for interpreting until as follows:

Your interpretation of the UNTIL in:

And knew her not until she had brought forth her son and He called His name Jesus.’

to mean that Joseph and Mary had children after Jesus was born; would then mean we  HAVE to interpret the following verses like this:

As to Michal daughter of Saul, she had no child until the day of her death.2 Samuel 6:23

Interpretation: Using your hermenutic this would have to mean that Michal DID HAVE A CHILD AFTER HER DEATH.

In His days shall shine forth righteousness and an abundance of peace, until the moon be taken away. Psalm 71:7

Interpretation: At the end of the world, the moon will be taken away and righteousness and peace will no longer shine forth.

For He must reign, until He has put all enemies under his feet. I Corinthians 15:25

Interpretation: Once Christ has defeated His enemies, He will no longer reign supreme.

Lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the world. Matthew 28:20

Interpretation: God is with us always, but at the end of the world He will no longer be with us.

I am sure you would agree that the Catholic way of interpreting until would be more appropriate in all of the above verses. And based on historical evidence the Catholic interpretation of until in Matthew 1:25 is also more appropriate.

Joan:Jesus called Mary woman because she is the mother of Jesus & not of God. He is both God & man but He always called his mother “woman.”

BFHU:
Jesus is God as you say. But, He is also fully man. Mary gave birth to Jesus. She did not give birth only to a human person. Jesus was God/Man; fully both at the same time. Since Jesus was God Mary is the mother of God. Not because she created God or preexisted Jesus but b/c she was His mother.

Jesus addresses Mary as woman, not our of disrespect since that would be a sin against honoring father and mother, but because he was highlighting her role as the Second Eve. Whereas the 1st Eve sinned the 2nd Eve (Mary) was sinless.

Joan:I will have to seek the source but it is said that Jesus asked His disciple to take care of Mary because the brothers were not yet believers. I have never bothered to look that up.

BFHU:
That is a very common Protestant INTERPRETATION in a futile attempt to rebut the Catholic contention that Jesus disrespected his siblings by giving His mother to St. John; but you will not find that explanation anywhere in Scripture.

Joan:A previous marriage & children is mighty big news. It is incredible that it wouldn’t even be hinted at.


BFHU:
The Catholic Church is not dogmatic that Joseph had other children. This explanation is the earliest commentary on the brothers of Jesus. But in the 4th century St. Jerome pointed out that the word brother could denote a sibling or other close relationship. As it still does today in English. We use “brothers and sister” all the time and do not mean literal siblings.

Joan:Also if Mary was so sacred that she could not have other children of her own it doesn’t make sense to me that she would be given a husband that did.


BFHU:
Mary could have chosen to have children. But, Mary took a vow of virginity. Joseph was betrothed to her as a brother/husband to be her protector. Mary was the spouse of the Holy Spirit who conceived in her Jesus. If you were Joseph would you enter in to the place where God the Holy Spirit entered? Where God the Son dwelt for 9 months?

Joan:There is a scripture that says to not be unequally yoked. It sure makes sense if having other children would pollute her the to have a polluted husband is what she got. It doesn’t compute.


BFHU:
Yes, Joseph was not sinless. But he was a godly man. Mary was a Godly woman and both were devout Jews.But, I have never heard the admonition “not to be unequally yoked” to refer to the level of sinfulness. If every husband and wife had to be equal in sin and holiness there wouldn’t be too many marriages. Beside how would this even be determined?

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A Tradition of Men: Jesus had Siblings. Mary is NOT a Perpetual Virgin.


images-1

If you click on the image to the left and then make it larger you can read an explanation of the relationships of Jesus’ brothers.

Steve: never are His siblings referred to as anything else to lend credence to them being cousins, like “sister’s son” for example. Or, children from Joseph’s previous marriage, which has no standing in Scripture whatsoever. How is it possible to at the same time justify a belief in Joseph having a previous marriage without historical evidence, or even a single Bible verse to back it up? It is an indefensible argument.

BFHU:In the semitic languages there is no word for aunt, uncle, cousin etc b/c in the small communities in which language developed everyone knew what you meant when you called a particular person your brother or sister. They knew they were a sibling or other relative and they knew the relationship. To be precise they could certainly have used “sister’s son” but that is cumbersome and required more analysis than saying “brother” Please see this post–>Who Were the Brothers & Sisters of Jesus?
Brothers and Sisters of Jesus
The Protoevangelium of James
has Joseph being widowed and older; having children from a previous marriage.

This is one possibility: that the brothers and sisters were step-brothers and step-sisters. The other possibility is that the words brothers and sisters refer to kinsman rather than siblings. Just like it does elsewhere in Scripture.

Steve: Whereas, believing what the Bible says offers all of the knowledge and understanding we need on the subject.

BFHU: We believe what the Bible says but we interpret it differently based on historical information from the ancient Church and history.Protestants pretty much ignore Christian History after the Book of Acts until the Protestant Reformation era.

Steve:  This dogma has done nothing more than cause countless people to worship Mary

BFHU: We do not worship Mary. Adam and Eve were also created immaculate. Sinlessness does not equal deity.

Steve: Claiming it as a “tradition” is not proof, and it does not lend historical evidence.

BFHU: When we talk about tradition we can mean two things. First of all there is what we call TRADITION which is not folksy or something that evolved over time to be a practice of the Catholic Faith. When we talk about Scripture and TRADITION with a capital “T” for instance, we mean nothing less than the TEACHING OF THE APOSTLES.

Scripture is the TEACHING OF THE APOSTLES and

Tradition is the TEACHING OF THE APOSTLES.

That is why we hold both of them sacred. We have other traditions of our Faith that are not Apostolic teaching. The Immaculate Conception and Perpetual Virginity of Mary are TEACHING OF THE APOSTLES or what we call, for short, TRADITION. The Traditions that are also TEACHINGS OF THE APOSTLES are also called DOGMA. So if you come across a tradition that is not a dogma, it is NOT Apostolic teaching but tradition with a lower case “t”.

Steve: I won’t bother quoting Scripture from Exodus 20 about idols and bowing before them.

BFHU: Regarding the worship of idols please see this post—>Protestant Tradition of Men: Catholics worship Idols.
Regarding Mary Co-Redemptrix

Steve:  Many Catholics wish to see her raised to the status of co-redeemer. As if to say, “the job was just too much for Jesus alone, Mary had to have helped him.”

BFHU: First, we are not “raising” her  status. She already is a cooperator or coredemptrix. There is simply debate about whether to officially give her this title. Secondly, are you aware that Muslims vehemently reject that God begot a son because that would mean He needed help and it takes away from the sovereignty and power of Allah!

We both believe no such thing about Jesus, Son of God. And Catholics believe no such thing about Mary being  needed by Jesus. He certainly did NOT need  Mary. But, throughout Biblical history God has chosen to accomplish His purposes through faithful men and women. God could have just zapped a Man-God baby or man to earth and carried on from there but He chose to be incarnate with the help and seed of Mary. I don’t pretend to know why God insists on having people help Him. But it is undeniable that He has people help Him throughout history.

 Steve: But it seems strange to me, that we should both claim the Bible as our base for a foundation,

BFHU: Yes. And this is true of all the Protestant denominations as well. Despite using the same Bible, people interpret scriptures differently when their faith is unhinged from 1500 years of Christian history. The Catholic Faith however, is the Church founded by Jesus Christ Himself and has existed continuously for nearly 2000 years.

Steve:  …..yet one of these beliefs has no grounds to stand on in the Bible to even begin to prove it.

BFHU: Neither view of the “brothers of Jesus” can be proved from Scripture alone. We must therefore, look to historical evidence to settle the question.

Steve: Nor Biblical wording to account for such behavior and thinking.

BFHU: And yet, nothing we believe contradicts Scripture. It only contradicts Protestant interpretations, which is not the same thing.

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


Perpetual Virginity of Mary


For an explanation of why “until” does not HAVE to mean Mary and Joseph had sex after Jesus’ birth please take a look at how the we explain it. It is very interesting. Also, included are early church writings proving that the belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity was not made up later.

Mary Was Only a Virgin UNTIL Jesus was Born.

And here is proof that the Reformers all believed in the Perpetual virginity of Mary:

–>Luther on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary

So, at what late date and by whom was it infallibly determined that Mary had other children?

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.

Mary was Only a Virgin…until…


Steve: “and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin,”
let me point out that Mary was only a virgin when she conceived and until she delivered Jesus. otherwise you are stating all of her children were by virgin birth.

BFHU: Not at all. No one but Jesus is born of a virgin and the Holy Spirit. The “brothers and sisters of Jesus” were not siblings but kinsmen or possibly step siblings born of Joseph and a wife who had died. Please see–>Mary Was Only a Virgin UNTIL Jesus was born

Who Were the Brothers & Sisters of Jesus?

Steve:…let me also point out (Rom 3:23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
and to your intended response that “all does not include Mary”
(1Jn 1:10) If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

BFHU: So then do we “make Him a liar” if we contend for the sinlessness of Jesus, too? I am not saying I have not sinned. I am saying that Mary was preserved, by the grace and power of God, from sin, in order to be a perfect vessel for the Son of God Almighty. Does that not just seem more fitting?

Steve: Furthermore, if Mary was sinless or perfect which is what you are claiming by making her sinless, she would have also been conceived by the Spirit of God moving on her mother.

BFHU: Why? That does not seem logical. Do you believe  that God lacks the power remove the stain of original sin from the one intended to nurture and give birth to the Holy Son of God? Mary was conceived in the normal way by her parents, who were not sinless. But, God acted to create her immaculate just like He created Adam and Eve. It is not like it was the first and only time God did it.

Steve:At which point she would have been divine and Jesus’ blood would not be the ONLY redeeming blood available to us. But, “by HIS blood…”

BFHU: That is just silly. Mary is fully human just like Adam and Eve, but before they fell.
Steve: Finally, if Mary had been sinless/perfect she would have had no need to be filled with the Holy Ghost (ref. Acts 1 & 2), however she was in the upper room and the Bible states (Act 2:4) And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

BFHU: Where does Scripture say she would not  need to be filled with the Holy Ghost if she were sinless? Mary was a child of the OT covenant.
Steve: She would also have had no need for baptism, which is for the remission of sins according to Peter. If you claim Mary was not baptized, which again is for the remission of SINS, then according to Scripture, which is infallible, she was not even saved.

BFHU: Why would Mary, being sinless, need to be baptized for the remission of….no sin? She is saved. She even calls God her savior. She was saved from the moment of her conception rather than from the moment of baptism.
Steve: (Act 2:38) Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.(Act 2:39) For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

God calls men to do what? God calls men to repentance.
(Act 17:30) And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: this does NOT say with the exception of Mary, it states ALL men.

BFHU:  There was no need to say “with the exception of Mary,” because people who were sinners were being called to repentance. The Bible is not a book of systematic theology. You treat it as if it were when you claim that it should have included “with the exception of Mary,” if this was a fact. And I would agree, IF the Bible were a book of systematic theology. But it isn’t.

Steve: Yes, to answer your question, I believe if it is not a Biblical truth, then it is mans theology, and prone to flaws. The Apostles did not teach this nor believe this.

BFHU: I know this is true of you and most Protestants but the Bible does not teach Sola Scriptura/Scripture alone. Your assertion of Sola Scriptura is merely a tradition of men.

Steve: Mary did not ascend to heaven, otherwise the “first resurrection” would have already happened that is stated in (Rev 20:5) But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
The rest of the dead will arise during the second resurrection. If you read the Scripture leading up to 20:5 you will see that those are the dead which will not worship or serve the beast. Then comes the second resurrection in Rev 20:12-15 which ends with the condemnation of those that were not written in the book of life.

BFHU: Are you aware that lots of people, besides Jesus rose from the dead? So, your attempt to interpret the above verses to disprove the Assumption of Mary just does not hold water.

Enoch seems like a possible forerunner of assumption.

Genesis 5:24
Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

Elijah, too, was taken up to Heaven without dying.

2 Kings 2:11
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

 Mt 27:50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[e] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

Steve: The Apostles only baptized in the name of Jesus, in every Scripture you see where it is mentioned, it is only in His name.

BFHU: The Catholic Church simply obeys Jesus when He said,

Mt 28:8 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Yes, there are several scripture where baptism is mentioned “in the name of Jesus.” Perhaps the apostles did baptize this way or it may have been a shortened version of the formula “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Regardless of the history we obey Jesus’ command from Mt. 28 and so do most Protestants. Anyone baptized in the name of the Blessed Trinity is truly baptized regardless of which church or who did the baptizing.

Steve: By saying the proper formula is in the “titles” Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, then you are claiming the Apostles, whom Jesus himself spent 40 days after his resurrection opening their understanding, were wrong. That is quite a bold statement considering they were the ones who actually penned the NT Word of God as His Spirit moved on them.

BFHU: You are jumping to conclusions.  The Father, Son and Holy Spirit is not plural–titles. It is a singular NAME of the Godhead. It bespeaks of the trinitarian God: One Name, three persons.

Mary Our Mother


Written circa 373 AD by St Ephrem the Syrian

No one quite knows, Lord, what to call Your Mother. Should we call her “Virgin”?
-but her giving birth is an established fact;
or ‘married woman”?
-but no man has known her. If your Mother’s case
is beyond comprehension, who can hope
to understand yours?

She alone is your Mother,
but she was your sister, she was your bride too
along with all chaste souls. You who are
your Mother’s beauty,
Yourself adorned her with everything!

She was, by her nature, your bride already
before you came; she conceived in a manner
quite beyond nature after you had come
O Holy One, and was a Virgin
when she gave birth to you in most holy fashion…

If she could carry you, it was because you,
the great mountain,
had lightened your weight; if she feeds you,
it is because
you had taken on hunger; if she gives you
her breast,
it is because you, of your own will, had thirsted;
if she fondles you,
You who are the fiery coal of mercy,
preserved her bosom unharmed.

Your mother is a cause for wonder;
the Lord entered into her
and became a servant; he who is the Word entered
-and became silent within her; thunder
entered her
-and made no sound; there entered the Shepherd
of all,
and in her he became the Lamb, bleating as
he comes forth.

Your Mother’s womb has reversed the roles;
the Establisher of all entered in his richness,
but came forth poor; the Exalted one entered her,
but came forth meek; the Splendorous one
entered her,
but came forth having put on a lowly hew.

The Mighty one entered, and put on insecurity
from her womb; the Provisioner of all entered
-and experienced hunger; he who gives drink to
all entered
-and experienced thirst: naked and stripped
there came forth from her he who clothes all!