Is Mary ever-virgin?
The author of the above mentioned article introduces his answer to this question in the following way:
Catholics and Orthodox call Mary ever-virgin. Isn’t the Bible clear that Mary had other children?
Does the New Testament say Mary had other children?
And my answer to this is:
Does the New Testament say Mary didn’t have other children? Even if the Bible didn’t mention any name of any child of Mary, does this mean that she didn’t have other children? Please, prove that Mary didn’t have other children, and give us the biblical principle according to which Mary should not have had other children.
Or even more:
Does the New Testament say Mary didn’t have normal marital relations with her beloved husband, Joseph? Even if “until” doesn’t always mean that something happened after that “until”, but there are places in the New Testament where “until” clearly means that something happened after that “until”. So do you have a proof that in Matthew 1:25 “until” does not mean that Joseph and Mary had normal marital relations after that “until”? Why, or according to which biblical principle, Mary should not have had normal marital relations with her husband? Actually, the Bible says that Mary should have had normal marital relations with her husband if everything happened normally, as we will see in this article.
But let us first see what is the real issue that makes Roman Catholics so eager to defend the principle of the ever-virginity of their Mary…
The real issue
Actually, the whole issue is about the following: To whom belongs the glory of the virgin birth of Jesus? To Jesus or to Mary? We have seen in a previous article (What is the importance of the virgin birth of Jesus?) that Roman Catholics see in the virgin birth of Jesus some merit of Mary because of which she deserved the grace that was given to her by God. They link this merit to the virginity of Mary, as we have seen, although that virgin birth is about Jesus and not about Mary… Of course, this teaching has been developed during long centuries, as Christians wanted to express their respect to Jesus by meditating on the blessedness of Mary; but as they have put the Word of God aside and began to interpret things according to their pious superstitions, so during time people began to concentrate on Mary rather than on Jesus, and therefore they got to what Roman Catholics believe today. We have seen how the purpose of this teaching is to take the glory of Jesus and to give it to a creature, Mary, and how this teaching rather dishonors Mary. Now, Roman Catholics build on this false teaching their whole view of the ever-virginity of Mary. In the Middle Ages a false idea developed according to which virginity is the purity of a woman, and that all sexual relations are a defilement for the woman’s purity, even within marriage. So if Mary is without sin, and if she has all those merits because of which God was obliged to give her all those graces, as Roman Catholics think, then if she loses her virginity by a sexual relation, even within marriage, then she will become defiled. Even until this day, Roman Catholics and many other people like them, especially in Eastern cultures, think that sexual relations, even in marriage, defile a woman… They thus consider virginity as being purer than marriage, therefore they call Mary “a pure virgin”, as if she would not be pure if she were not a virgin anymore… One of their canons says: “If any one saith, that the marriage state is to be placed above the state of virginity, or of celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity, or in celibacy, than to be united in matrimony; let him be anathema” (Council of Trent, Session 24, Canon 10). Look how virginity is indirectly considered the merit in celibacy… So you are cursed by the Roman Catholics if you think otherwise… How sad that Roman Catholics cannot apply this principle to Mary, because she chose to get married… So, according to this anathema, can we conclude that Mary is less blessed than a woman who didn’t get married?… A Roman Catholic will answer “no”, because according to them the problem is not whether or not marriage is less blessed than celibacy, but the problem is that the sexual relations within marriage make a woman less pure than a virgin, as virginity is a merit according to them… Therefore they fight to prove that Mary stayed a virgin even after marriage and after the birth of Christ, because their non-biblical opinion is that Mary would cease to be pure (or as pure as before) if she had normal marital relations in marriage… By the way, this is why their nuns should not get married (because according to them virginity is a merit, and sexual relations, even within marriage, make a woman less meritorious); when in their apologetics Roman Catholics explain the issue of the virginity of nuns with biblical passages, they are just being hypocrite, because the basis for that virginity is not really that biblical basis, but it is their view about virginity and the purity of women. You can see this in their songs about Mary and about their female Saints where they praise the purity of their virginity, as if married women could not be saints and pure… I was once talking with a woman in the East about the Gospel; she was talking about Saints and their merits; I told her that all true believers are saints and that we all should be saints; her reaction was: “How can we be saints?? With all what I do with my husband every day?!…” (She means the marital sexual relations…) I have often met this reaction, either directly or indirectly… Roman Catholics often accuse me of being a Jehovah’s Witness, as they don’t know who a Jehovah’s Witness is and what is the difference between Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christians… Why do they accuse me of that? Well, one reason is because I say that Mary may have had normal holy marital relations with her husband… The reaction is: “Oh no! You think that Mary is a sinner?! How can you think that Mary is defiled with sexual relations?? It’s Jehovah’s Witnesses who disrespect Mary like that! You’re a Jehovah’s Witness!…” I call Roman Catholic teachers to wake up, and instead of eagerly trying to make Mary a goddess, let them begin to teach those whom they call “the children of Mary” the true biblical teaching about marriage and virginity, and let them explain to them what cults like Jehovah’s Witnesses teach so that they may not accuse Christians of being cultists… Roman Catholics may argue that they don’t think that sexual relations in marriage are sinful; then I ask them: Then why do you eagerly try to prove that Mary stayed a virgin during her whole life, although the Bible doesn’t say anything about this issue? If sexual relations within marriage are not sinful, then what is the problem if Mary had those relations with her husband after the birth of Jesus? But if your issue is about the physical sign of virginity, then let me inform you that a woman loses that sign of virginity when she gives birth, even if that sign was there before the birth. So Mary lost that physical sign when Jesus was born. So when we talk about the ever-virginity of Mary, the issue is not about whether or not she always had that sign in her body, but about whether or not she had any marital relations with her husband. The issue is about virginity as abstinence, and not about physical virginity, unless Roman Catholics are so superstitious that they think that it is essential for Mary to have that sign of virginity in her body… I hope they don’t think that a girl who has lost that sign for any reason other than fornication is a defiled girl who is not virgin anymore… Tertullian explains how Mary ceased to be a virgin at the moment of the birth of Jesus. As he emphasized the reality of the body of Jesus against those who thought otherwise, Tertullian explained that this fact surely made Mary cease to be a virgin (i.e. losing the physical sign of virginity) at the moment of the birth of Jesus. Let’s read Tertullian together from his writing Anti-Marcion, On the flesh of Christ, chapter 23: “she was “a virgin,” so far as (abstinence) from a husband went, and “yet not a virgin,” as regards her bearing a child. There is not, however, that parity of reasoning which the heretics affect: in other words it does not follow that for the reason “she did not bear,” she who was “not a virgin” was “yet a virgin,” even because she became a mother without any fruit of her own womb. But with us there is no equivocation, nothing twisted into a double sense. Light is light; and darkness, darkness; yea is yea; and nay, nay; “whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” She who bare (really) bare; and although she was a virgin when she conceived, she was a wife when she brought forth her son. Now, as a wife, she was under the very law of “opening the womb,” wherein it was quite immaterial whether the birth of the male was by virtue of a husband’s co-operation or not; it was the same sex that opened her womb. Indeed, hers is the womb on account of which it is written of others also: “Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord.” For who is really holy but the Son of God? Who properly opened the womb but He who opened a closed one? But it is marriage which opens the womb in all cases. The virgin’s womb, therefore, was especially opened, because it was especially closed. Indeed she ought rather to be called not a virgin than a virgin, becoming a mother at a leap, as it were, before she was a wife. And what must be said more on this point? Since it was in this sense that the apostle declared that the Son of God was born not of a virgin, but “of a woman,” he in that statement recognised the condition of the “opened womb” which ensues in marriage.” [Tertullian mentions here the following verse from Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians where Paul calls Mary a woman and not a virgin: “but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, come of woman, come under law” (Galatians 4:4)] So you see that the issue is about virginity as abstinence, and not virginity as a physical sign. Now, Roman Catholics think that this abstinence is essential for Mary to stay sinless, because they think sexual relations are sinful even within marriage…
So this is the real issue behind this whole debate about the ever-virginity of Mary. Roman Catholics are not defending a biblical principle with this issue, but they are rather defending this false teaching about virginity and about the merits of Mary, a teaching that comes from the Dark Ages and not from the Bible… Thus, if we take the questions that I asked above, we get the following answers:
What is the biblical principle according to which Mary should not have had other children?
Answer: There is no such biblical principle, but if Mary had other children, then, according to the Roman Catholic view, she was defiled as she lost her virginity! And as Mary is without sin, according to the Roman Catholics, so she should not have had other children, because sexual relations are sinful even within marriage… How could she keep her merits as a goddess if she had other children?… Besides this, Roman Catholics superstitiously think that the womb that bore the Holy One could not bear any other human. The answer to this superstition is from the Bible: “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14) If Jesus Himself was not ashamed to take the same flesh and blood that we have, thus sharing the same flesh with us, then why would Mary refuse to share her womb with human children whom her son loved so much that He shared with them their same body in order to save them? Why do Roman Catholics represent Mary as an unloving woman who doesn’t understand that having children is not something bad, and that if she has other children after Jesus then that will not defile her womb, or any such superstitious idea?
According to which biblical principle Mary should not have had normal marital relations with her beloved husband, Joseph?
Answer: There is no such biblical principle, but according to the Roman Catholic superstition, all sexual relations are sinful even within marriage, and as Mary is without sin so she could not have had such sinful relations… How could she keep her merits as a goddess if she lost her virginity??…
I should also note that this superstitious view of Roman Catholics concerning marital relations takes different representations in their arguments. I will tell you about one of them here. Look how a Roman Catholic builds on different superstitions of his heresy to reach a very wrong understanding about Mary and about God:
If Mary is the daughter of the Father (Luke 1:28), is the mother of Christ (Acts 1:14), then is she not the spiritual bride of the Holy Spirit as that is Who made her with child (Matthew 1:18 )? For Jesus certainly was “legitimate,” for Scripture states Jesus Christ was “made under the law” (Galatians 4:4). Yet St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary were not married when Christ was conceived (“made”) (Luke 1:27). Consequently, the Holy Spirit must be the “spiritual” husband of Mary, otherwise Christ would have been illegitimate. If the Holy Spirit is the “spiritual” husband of Mary, then would she not be “in essence” committing adultery if she and St. Joseph were to have sex? Therefore, both Mary and St. Joseph must have remained chaste during their marriage.
(This is found on the following link: http://www.catscans.com/catholicsite/mary.htm)
First Luke 1:28 doesn’t say one word about Mary being the daughter of the Father… Maybe this Roman Catholic thinks that just putting a reference in parentheses will impress the Christians… And note that Jesus being made under the Law doesn’t have anything to do with being a legitimate son or not, but it’s about being a human who should obey the Law of God. Besides this, if Jesus doesn’t have a father in flesh, that doesn’t mean that He’s illegitimate, because that’s what the virgin birth means: that Jesus was born of a virgin, in a supernatural way, without any intervention of a man, so He is Mary’s legitimate son in flesh without a human father in flesh. Add to this the fact that Mary was betrothed to Joseph when she got pregnant with Jesus, and in that Jewish custom betrothal was like a marriage; the difference was that the couple could not live together and have physical relations before they were married. But legally they are almost husband and wife, because they are to be husband and wife for sure. That’s why the angel who came to Joseph in his dream called Mary Joseph’s wife, although they were not married yet: “but while he pondered on these things, behold, an angel of [the] Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, fear not to take to [thee] Mary, thy wife, for that which is begotten in her is of [the] Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20) That’s like saying: “Take her as your wife, because you’re already engaged to her to be her husband for sure“. God would not command Joseph and Mary to get married if that would not morally agree with the fact that she was pregnant by the holy work of the Holy Spirit, as this Roman Catholic makes it sound… Now, you see how Roman Catholics build on false understandings of the Scripture… See how this Roman Catholic builds on this wrong understanding the idea that Mary was pregnant with Jesus before she was the wife of Joseph (betrothed to him)… Then, with an erroneous pattern of logic, he reaches the heretic idea that Mary is the spiritual bride of the Holy Spirit! This is a big blasphemy against God, and a very wrong understanding about what happened when Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary. When Mary got pregnant, that was not because she had “spiritual” sexual relations with the Holy Spirit (what a strange idea!), but because the Word supernaturally became flesh of her flesh by the Holy Spirit’s work. Thus, Jesus is NOT the son of the Holy Spirit (once again, what a strange idea!), but the son of Joseph in the commonly accepted sense, and yet the Son of God (and “Son of God” doesn’t mean that Jesus was the fruit of a sexual relation that God would have had with Mary! What a blasphemous idea! To understand what “Son of God” means, please read our article What does the word “Messiah” mean? Who is the Messiah?). So if no sexual relation happened in the conception of Jesus Christ, then how would marital relations between Joseph and Mary be some kind of adultery?? Nowhere in the Bible is Jesus called the son of the Holy Spirit, and nowhere in the Bible is Mary called the bride of the Holy Spirit. All of this is an invention of Roman Catholic superstitions. Note how much this idea is dishonoring for Mary and for the holy covenant of marriage! And note how this Roman Catholic author says that Joseph and Mary remained chaste during their marriage! Can anyone of those Roman Catholics explain to me what it means to be chaste within marriage?? Are sexual relations within marriage unchaste (i.e. impure)?! Do you now see how Roman Catholics think that sexual relations are unchaste or impure even within marriage?…
The biblical position
Having clarified what is the superstitious and non-biblical basis of the Roman Catholics in this issue, I pass to explain the biblical position. As we have seen in the article What is the importance of the virgin birth of Jesus?, the Bible makes it clear that Mary was kept a virgin until Jesus was born. The very fact that the Bible says that Joseph kept her a virgin until Jesus was born means that Joseph didn’t marry her to keep her a virgin during her whole life, but that he obediently chose to keep her a virgin until Jesus was born. Otherwise, the Bible could say that Joseph kept her a virgin until death… Roman Catholics do not notice that the Bible never says that Mary kept herself a virgin after marriage, but that Joseph kept her a virgin until Jesus was born… That was to emphasize the self-control of this righteous man, Joseph, in obedience to the Will of God concerning the mother of the Lord. Roman Catholics do not really value the grace of God that appears in the life of Joseph. So the Bible is clear about the fact that Mary was kept a virgin until Jesus was born. We have also seen in the above linked article that the importance of this virgin birth is related to Jesus and not to Mary: Mary didn’t stay a virgin because virginity has some virtue in it in opposition to an imaginary defilement of marital relations, but because Jesus had to be born in an unnatural way so that He may not inherit our sinful nature. We have seen the details in the above mentioned article; I encourage you to read it again. And as the topic of the Bible is Jesus, and not Mary, so after making it clear that Mary was a virgin until Jesus was born, the Bible doesn’t concentrate on Mary anymore and doesn’t tell us anything about her life with Joseph, because that has no importance in relation to the Plan of Salvation and to the holiness of Jesus Christ. Although sometimes some brothers and sisters of Jesus are mentioned in the Bible, but even there the Bible doesn’t make things clear so as to settle the question in a final way. Why is it so? It’s because the Holy Spirit doesn’t want us to be occupied with Mary and with her private relations with Joseph, and He rather wants us to concentrate on the Person of Jesus Christ. How shameful that Roman Catholics, with their superstitious beliefs, are dishonoring Mary by trying to enter into her private life with Joseph! And those who from the side of the Reformation answer them by saying that Mary had other children are falling in the same trap of Satan into which Roman Catholics had fallen! Indeed, what is the devil trying to do with this whole issue? What he wants to do is to turn our eyes from Jesus Christ, and to occupy us with a creature, i.e. Mary… Satan wants us to study the example of Mary without accepting what the Word of God says about her, but by adding our superstitions to the Word of God, as Roman Catholics have done. Those who oppose them by saying that Mary had other children fall in the same trap, as the Bible never says that Mary had other children, just as it never says that she didn’t have other children. Jesus didn’t fall in this trap of Satan when it was put before Him. You remember the following passage that we have seen in our previous studies in this series:
“And it came to pass as he spake these things, a certain woman, lifting up her voice out of the crowd, said to him, Blessed is the womb that has borne thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep [it].“ (Luke 11:27-28)
This woman wanted to turn the eyes to Mary rather than to Jesus and to the Word of God, just as the Roman Catholics are doing today. But Jesus didn’t fall in that trap. Of course Jesus respected His mother in flesh, and He also called her blessed among women, just as the Bible calls her and just as we call her, too. But when the trap is to make the eyes turn towards a creature (even if that creature is Mary) instead of the Creator, the stand of Jesus is very clear: Not to fall in that trap, and to concentrate on the Creator and on His Word. Our stand is the same as our Lord’s stand: We don’t want to concentrate on a creature like Mary, but on Jesus Christ who is the topic of the Word of God. Mary has her place among the saints (i.e. the true believers in Christ), but she doesn’t have the place of worship. If we learn things from the lives of the saints, that’s because they all point to Jesus and not to themselves; they all received graces from Jesus, and they all didn’t deserve anything, just like us. We don’t want to fall in the trap and we don’t want to concentrate on Mary rather than on Jesus. Even when we study the life of Mary, we want to concentrate on Jesus, and not on a creature, whoever that creature is. The Bible concentrates on the virgin birth of Jesus because it’s about Jesus, so we concentrate on that. The Bible doesn’t say anything about the rest of Mary’s life with Joseph, because that’s not the issue, so we also do not want to enter into the private life of Mary, because even if we do, we will not have a final answer as the Bible didn’t give us such an answer, but we will rather dishonor Mary just as Roman Catholics are doing today. We don’t really care whether Mary stayed a virgin (or rather was kept a virgin) during her whole life or not. If she didn’t stay a virgin, she was not defiled, as we are sure that a blessed saint like her would only have had sexual relations with her husband and not with anyone else. If she stayed or was kept a virgin during her whole life for any reason that we didn’t know about, then that doesn’t make her purer as Roman Catholics think. What if Mary was barren like the majority of the godly women mentioned in the Bible (like Sarah and Hannah and Elizabeth)?… Indeed, Mary is often compared with Hannah, and her song of praise (called Magnificat) in Luke 1:46-55 is often compared with Hannah’s song of praise in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. And what does the Spirit say about Hannah? “but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the LORD had closed her womb.” (1 Samuel 1:5) So what if the Lord has closed the womb of Mary, too? In that case she would not have other children than Jesus although she had normal relations with her husband. Actually, Roman Catholics who are busy trying to prove that those called “brothers and sisters” of Jesus are not His real brothers and sisters, do not even try to think seriously and in accordance with the Word of God why those brothers and sisters who are not the real brothers and sisters of Jesus are often, if not always, mentioned with Mary… Could it not be that the Holy Spirit used this method to cover the details of Mary’s private life with Joseph? Could it not be that the Holy Spirit wanted to cover the barrenness of Mary by implying that the real fruitfulness is in the spiritual relationships and that the whole value of Mary is in her relation with Jesus, just as is the value of all believers? Could it not be that the Holy Spirit would in this way commend a decision that Joseph and Mary could have taken not to have other children besides Jesus, implying that real fruitfulness is in the service of Jesus? Note how Mary is always called “the mother of Jesus” or “His mother”, thus stressing on her relationship with Jesus, and note how those “brothers and sisters” of Jesus are always called His brothers and sisters even when mentioned with Mary. So the stress is on the relationship with Jesus. And even here, the Lord made it clear that the real issue is the obedience to the Word of God, because not all those who are related to Jesus in flesh are saints (because in that case all of the Jews would be better than all other humans…), but only those who hear the Word of God and keep it: “But he answering said to him that spoke to him, Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? And, stretching out his hand to his disciples, he said, Behold my mother and my brethren; for whosoever shall do the will of my Father who is in [the] heavens, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Matthew 12:48-50)
So we have the following options:
1. Mary could have had other children (mentioned or not mentioned in the Bible, that doesn’t matter). In this case, Mary would not have been defiled, because marital relations are not sinful. On the contrary, the Bible says that the marital relations are pure and that they should be kept pure: “[Let] marriage [be held] every way in honour, and the bed [be] undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers will God judge.” (Hebrews 13:4)
2. Mary could have had very normal relations with her husband Joseph, and yet without having any other children, as she could have been barren. This doesn’t mean in any way that she was defiled. On the contrary, this would give us a beautiful lesson: That God had mercy on Mary and opened her womb to have Jesus as the only fruit, and that this fruit was so sufficient that she didn’t have any other child although she had normal marital life. Mary is barren without the grace of God, and she is fruitful only by the grace given to her from God and the fruit of this grace is Jesus. But the Bible makes it clear that Mary should have had normal marital relations with her husband if everything happened normally. Read with me: “Let the husband render her due to the wife, and in like manner the wife to the husband. The wife has not authority over her own body, but the husband: in like manner also the husband has not authority over his own body, but the wife. Defraud not one another, unless, it may be, by consent for a time, that ye may devote yourselves to prayer, and again be together, that Satan tempt you not because of your incontinency.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5) So Mary should have given her husband his due, and she should have had normal marital relations with him. Even if abstinence would be applied, it should have been by consent for a time (and not for always) so that the couple may not be tempted. By presenting a Mary who didn’t give Joseph his due, Roman Catholics are indirectly teaching Roman Catholic women to live an inconsistent marital life and to refuse to give their husbands what is due to them…
3. Mary could have stayed (kept) a virgin after the birth of Jesus just as she was before His birth, but not for the same reason and not in the physical sense of the word, as we have seen above (for she lost the physical sign of virginity when Jesus was born, as Jesus opened her womb according to Luke 2:22-23). We can’t know for sure why Mary could have stayed a virgin, but we can imagine a pious reason. What if the following happened: after Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary accepted their vocation to be totally devoted to Jesus, and thus they didn’t want to have marital relations, because they wanted to give the whole of their time and attention to Jesus and didn’t want to have other children? No one can forbid this exceptional couple from taking such a decision, but under the condition that this decision was taken with a total mutual and common consent, because the Bible says that husband and wife should not defraud each other, as we have seen above (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Note that this opinion also has a Christian principle in the Bible according to which we should rather concentrate on the spiritual “offspring” rather than on the physical offspring; this principle is expressed by Jesus in the following words: “Jesus answering said, Verily I say to you, There is no one who has left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, [or wife], or children, or lands, for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, that shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time: houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions, and in the coming age life eternal.” (Mark 10:29-30) This doesn’t necessarily mean that a man should leave his wife in a geographic sense (although that is the direct meaning). This could mean the following: “But this I say, brethren, the time is straitened. For the rest, that they who have wives, be as not having [any]: and they that weep, as not weeping; and they that rejoice, as not rejoicing; and they that buy, as not possessing; and they that use the world, as not disposing of it as their own; for the fashion of this world passes.” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31) This doesn’t necessarily mean to abstain from marital relations with common consent, but that could be one of its applications, according to the circumstances. This also doesn’t mean that Mary and Joseph should have necessarily chosen this application of this principle, because, as we have seen, all of the three options would not be sinful. But one can ask: What if Joseph and Mary chose the option of abstinence in order to give the whole of their times to the service of Jesus? Although Joseph and Mary didn’t have that kind of New Covenant maturity, as is seen in their inability to understand many things that were happening (cf. Luke 2:49-50), but they could have applied this mature decision by a special guidance of the Holy Spirit. Also, what if they were applying the Old Covenant’s principle of ceremonial purity in the presence of God incarnated among them as expressed in Exodus 19:15. It is to be noted that the principle of abstinence for prayer that we have seen above in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 is the New Covenant’s way of applying by faith the Old Covenant’s principle of Exodus 19:15. Note that it’s always for a time, but it could also be applied for the whole life in particular cases, such as is the case in Mark 10:29-30 that we read above. I remind you once again that all of these possibilities about Joseph’s and Mary’s decision are not directly expressed by the Bible, although they are not against the teaching of the Bible. John Piper has a beautiful sermon about this principle, although he concentrates more on singleness rather than on marriage: Single in Christ: A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters. I encourage you to read it. But note also that, even if applied by Mary and Joseph, this principle doesn’t make Mary better than any other Christian who applied this New Testament principle of spiritual offspring. Note that, if we say that this principle was applied by this couple, then we’re saying that Joseph also applied it, and thus Mary is not better than Joseph in this matter. This has nothing to do with any merit that would exist in Mary and which other Christians could not have received from God.
This third opinion or option has usually been the opinion of pious Christians. But note that the reason according to which those Christians usually believed in the ever-virginity of Mary was not the same reason for which Roman Catholics believe in it, but it is a reason that once again puts Christ at the middle of our occupation and worship and doctrine and thus respects the biblical principle. When Roman Catholics quote those pious Christians who had this opinion, they are being hypocrite, because those Christians didn’t agree with their false teachings about Mary. And even if some of those real Christians agreed with the Roman Catholic principle of virginity’s higher purity, then they were in error because of ignorance. Humans are not our reference (not even the greatest saints), but the Word of God is our and their reference.
You notice that all of these three options about Mary are possible, and yet none of them has a clear-cut back up in the Word of God. One can defend each of these three options with many arguments, and yet none of these options is backed up by the Bible concerning Mary, although the Bible clearly explains that none of these three options is sinful if Mary chose any of them; after explaining how virginity for the Kingdom is blessed, Paul says: “But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned.” (1 Corinthians 7:28) Note that Paul says in this verse that marriage is not a sin, so if Mary got married, she has not sinned. And note also the following important point that many people, especially Roman Catholics, do not notice in this verse: note how marriage is opposed to virginity; in other words, Paul is saying that there is nothing called a married virgin. In the mind of the Apostle, “married” is equivalent to “not a virgin”, so he says that if a virgin marries (i.e. ceases to be a virgin), she has not sinned.
So the Word of God does not give any clear-cut answer concerning what happened in Mary’s private life after the birth of Jesus. Why is this so? We have seen the reason above: because this is not the issue, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t want us to be occupied with Mary’s private life with Joseph, as that has no consequences concerning our Faith and concerning the Plan of Salvation, contrary to what Roman Catholics think. Why don’t we think for example about what happened in the private life of other women?… Let’s take for example Joanna the wife of Chuza (cf. Luke 8:3): if this godly woman served Jesus, then does this mean that she should have stayed a virgin?? Does this mean that she didn’t have marital relations with her husband Chuza?… Should we even care to know what happened in Joanna’s private life with Chuza??… So why should we be preoccupied with what happened in the private life of Mary and Joseph after the birth of Jesus? Is it not because the superstitious views of the Roman Catholics make Mary a supernatural being, unlike other women?… So a true Christian may think any of the above three options is the right one; the essential is that we don’t make of this an issue and that we don’t turn our eyes from Jesus to a creature. Whatever is our opinion about the rest of Mary’s life with Joseph, Mary could not be a mediatrix or a goddess or the Ark of the New Covenant or whatever the Roman Catholics have invented about her, because none of the above options gives us any reason or argument to accept those anti-biblical teachings. We rather prefer to keep all those three options possible about Mary, because the Holy Spirit wanted it to be so and because none of those options dishonors Mary. On the contrary, we should be thankful that the Holy Spirit has given us such a great example in Mary by keeping her private life after the birth of Jesus as a secret: This secrecy makes us concentrate on Jesus and on the Word of God when we study the example of Mary, just as we do with all saints. Let me explain how. When we study the example of Mary, as we don’t have any detail in the Bible about her private life after the birth of Jesus, so we will study the biblical principles that could have been applied by Mary and Joseph, as we have done above. Thus, we study the three options that we have seen above, and Mary becomes for us an exemplary figure who gives us an encouraging lesson to apply those three principles in our lives, each according to his condition and calling. Am I a single person? I learn from Mary and Joseph blessed abstinence and self-control until marriage, and I also consider the blessings of staying single for the Kingdom as I consider the option according to which Mary and Joseph devoted their lives to Jesus and as I study the teachings of Jesus about celibacy for the Kingdom. Am I a married woman? Then I learn from Mary that I should be obedient to my husband and that I should give him his due and should not defraud my husband, thus not giving a place for the temptation of Satan. And as I follow the third option, I could also learn from Mary holy abstinence, instead of using unnatural birth control, keeping in mind that this abstinence should be done only in common consent with my husband and that the purpose of this abstinence should be the service of God (whether by our time or our money or whatever we have), and not any carnal purpose that people have today when they consider birth control. Do you see how many rich lessons we can learn from Mary if we don’t put her in the superstitious Roman Catholic box of a Medieval idea about virginity?… That’s why Jesus said that we should not concentrate on Mary, but we should rather concentrate on obeying God’s Word. When you study the example of Mary, concentrate on what the Bible teaches, and not on personal subjective superstitions.
The position of the Protestant reformers
The author of the Roman Catholic article that we are studying says that reformers like Luther and Calvin and Zwingli believed in the ever-virginity of Mary. Although he doesn’t provide any quotation in context, but that’s not an issue for us, because we have already explained that many true Christians believed in the ever-virginity of Mary, but we have seen that the reason was not the same reason that Roman Catholics give. Note that all of the quotations that this author brings from the reformers are not detailed studies about the ever-virginity of Mary, but only personal opinions from the reformers. Note especially the position of Calvin who didn’t even say that Mary’s ever-virginity was possible, but he said the same thing that I am saying in this article: That the Bible doesn’t back up any of the positions concerning the private life of Mary, because that’s not the issue. You see how this Roman Catholic author quotes a passage where Calvin opposes those who say that Mary surely had other children, but this Roman Catholic does not quote for you passages like the following from Calvin: “The conjecture which some have drawn from these words, that she had formed a vow of perpetual virginity, is unfounded and altogether absurd. She would, in that case, have committed treachery by allowing herself to be united to a husband, and would have poured contempt on the holy covenant of marriage; which could not have been done without mockery of God. Although the Papists have exercised barbarous tyranny on this subject, yet they have never proceeded so far as to allow the wife to form a vow of continence at her own pleasure. Besides, it is an idle and unfounded supposition that a monastic life existed among the Jews.” (Commentary on Luke 1:34). So it’s not true that Calvin believed in the ever-virginity of Mary. Just as the Roman Catholics pick and choose the parts that they like in the writings of the Church Fathers, they do the same with the writings of the Protestant reformers… John Calvin said very clearly that we should not inquire about what happened in the private life of Mary after the birth of Jesus, as the Holy Spirit didn’t say anything about that; he said in his commentary on Matthew 1:25: “This passage afforded the pretext for great disturbances, which were introduced into the Church, at a former period, by Helvidius. The inference he drew from it was, that Mary remained a virgin no longer than till her first birth, and that afterwards she had other children by her husband. Jerome, on the other hand, earnestly and copiously defended Mary’s perpetual virginity. Let us rest satisfied with this, that no just and well-grounded inference can be drawn from these words of the Evangelist, as to what took place after the birth of Christ. He is called first-born; but it is for the sole purpose of informing us that he was born of a virgin. It is said that Joseph knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born son: but this is limited to that very time. What took place afterwards, the historian does not inform us. Such is well known to have been the practice of the inspired writers. Certainly, no man will ever raise a question on this subject, except from curiosity; and no man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation.” I wish if both Roman Catholics and Protestants would listen to these wise words of Calvin and would stop disputing about vanities and would concentrate on Jesus Christ, because the private life of Mary after the birth of Jesus will not change anything in the position of Mary or in our Salvation, as all what Mary has is a pure grace received from God and she has nothing in her that she deserved by any personal merit. But the more interesting point here is that this Roman Catholic is bringing as witnesses people whom his Pope has called heretics… I hope they have begun to understand that those reformers were Christians and not heretics, and that they respected Mary by the very confession of Roman Catholics who say that the reformers respected Mary, contrary to the misrepresentations of the Roman Catholics about them today. Although those reformers made it clear that Mary is not a mediatrix or a goddess, and yet they didn’t make an issue of the ever-virginity of Mary, because they didn’t want to waste their time with secondary issues that turn our eyes from Jesus, but they wanted to concentrate on the important issues. Some of them thought that we should not examine what happened in the private life of Mary after the birth of Jesus (as we have seen in the case of Calvin), others just accepted the traditional position of the ever-virginity of Mary, even sometimes with the same superstitious background (ex.: Luther), but none of them thought that this should make an issue in the Church, but on the contrary, they thought that this should not be an issue. Even when defending the ever-virginity of Mary, they were fighting against a false teaching that attacked Jesus and not Mary; they concentrated on Christ, and not on any merit in Mary. After all, if Mary stayed or was kept a virgin, that doesn’t mean that she has any merit, as we have seen; and the reformers knew this. But let’s say that those reformers had the same principles that the Roman Catholics have (which is of course not true), then what would that mean? It would mean nothing, because those reformers were not inspired writers! Christians do not follow human reformers, but they follow the Word of God. And we have seen above what is the biblical position concerning the topic that we are studying. Roman Catholics are inconsistent with themselves when they quote the reformers to prove that the ever-virginity of Mary is biblical, as if the reformers were the reference to decide whether something is biblical or not, even when they give their personal opinions… As there are biblical Christians who are not Protestants (example: me), so the argument that Roman Catholics build on the Protestant reformers doesn’t stand against us who follow the Word of God and not human reformers.
In brief, our answer to Roman Catholics on this issue is: The Bible doesn’t say anything about the private life of Mary with Joseph after the birth of Jesus. So be decent and stop intruding yourselves into the private life of this blessed woman. And let’s agree that Mary was kept a virgin during the whole rest of her life; then what does this prove about Mary? Answer: nothing more than a devotion to God inferior to the devotion of any other Christian who chose to be eunuch for the sake of the Kingdom, just as Jesus said: “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.” (Matthew 19:12); indeed, even Roman Catholics admit that celibacy is better than marriage (although they confuse celibacy with an imaginary merit that would exist in virginity), as we have seen above; so as Mary was married, then her devotion to God was always inferior to the devotion of any Christian who chooses to be devoted to Christ in celibacy… This ever-virginity of Mary (of course, in the sense of abstinence, and not in the sense of physical virginity, as we have seen above) could also mean a devotion to Jesus similar to the devotion of any other married Christian who applies the following principle that Jesus gave: “Jesus answering said, Verily I say to you, There is no one who has left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, [or wife], or children, or lands, for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, that shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time: houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions, and in the coming age life eternal.” (Mark 10:29-30) So Mary has no merit superior to any such Christian, especially that both this Christian and Mary received it from God as a grace to be devoted to Christ in that way. And just as we don’t worship a Christian who has chosen to be eunuch for the sake of the Kingdom or a married Christian who left his wife for the sake of the Kingdom, we also don’t worship Mary for any of those reasons. In brief: Roman Catholics are concealing the real issue with this problem of the ever-virginity of Mary; the real issue between the biblical Christians and the Roman Catholics is not whether Mary stayed a virgin during her whole life or not; the issue is whether this perpetual virginity or any other reason means that Mary is what Roman Catholics say about her. And we have seen that Roman Catholics are wrong in this matter.
Thus, once again, we have seen how Roman Catholics want to take the whole Glory of Jesus and to give it to Mary. In this process, they are ready to misquote the Bible, and the Church Fathers, and the Protestant reformers… and even us… The essential for them is to glorify Mary instead of Jesus, and they will do that for all cost, even if Mary herself comes and tells them not to do that; in that case they will tell Mary that she’s not the true Mary, but that she’s a Protestant or a Jehovah’s Witness, as is the habit of Roman Catholics… They thus do the will of Satan who wants to turn our eyes from Jesus to creatures (see Romans 1:25). As for us, we don’t want to fall in that trap of Satan. So was Mary ever-virgin? We don’t even care about that. What we care about is that she was a virgin before Jesus was born, and that’s what the Bible expresses very clearly, while it keeps as a secret any detail of the private life of Mary after the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom belongs the whole Glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ
Posted in Religious Movements | Roman Catholicism and similar heresies
This is part 6 of the series: Roman Catholic desperate defense of Marian worship