Skip to comments.Why is the perpetual virginity of Mary so important to Catholics? [Ecumenical Vanity]
Posted on 03/17/2012 2:30:01 PM PDT by reaganaut
I understand the history of the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary (ἀειπαρθένος). I know it was taught as early as the 4th century, and I understand the development of "Spritual Marriages" in the Early Middle ages. That isn't what I am asking.
I have a good grasp of the history, doctrine and Biblical texts. I have done a lot of research on the topic. I grew up in Catholic school and Matthew 1:25 always got me in trouble during Catechism class.
And he knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. (Matthew 1:25).
"Know" is a very common idiom for sex in Judaism of the period of writing. Again, I don't want to debate the text or history.
Protestants have no issue with Joseph and Mary having a normal marriage and having sexual relations AFTER the birth of Jesus (not before for obvious reasons) and having other children.
What I am curious about is the WHY the doctrine is important to MODERN Catholics (Medieval Catholics I get). Why does matter if Mary was ever-virgin (after the birth of Christ) or not?
Just curious: why "firstborn son" rather than just "son" or "child" if she had no other children later?
Another point I forgot to mention before. At the Annunciation, Mary says to the angel, "How can this be, since I know not man?" That question doesn't make sense from a young woman engaged to be married under normal circumstances. It only makes sense if Mary had already taken a vow of perpetual virginity.
Not sure if you’re disagreeing with something, but you are certainly welcome to expand on Whom Jesus is!
Not at all intended as such or to offend (although it obviously did). Use of the word "cult" was not meant to imply "worship" of Mary, but prayer to Her or any Saints for intercession with God. I believe that is still allowed and somewhat encouraged by the RCC and is a point of honest theological discussion between friends and brothers who agree on most but not on everything.
There is an emphasis upon “only son” wherever it applies in numerous passages within the Bible, in both Old and New Testaments, not only in the instance of the only begotten Son of God, so your question has merit.
Firstborn children are special under the Mosaic Law. Exodus 13:2 reads (God speaking), "Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine."
Thank you for the link, I will definitely check it out.
Mary’s Perpetual Virginity emphasizes the divinity and miraculous conception of Jesus. He was not an ordinary human child, and he was not biologically Joseph’s child. Because of this, Mary was “off limits” to Joseph in sexual terms.
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The virgin birth covers this, not the perpetual virginity.
There are other reasons why Jesus would have said that to John other than the lack of half brothers, but that isn’t the topic of this thread.
Mary had many other children: Matthew 12:46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Acts 1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Mark 6:3
This is the builder, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon, isn’t it? His sisters are here with us, aren’t they?” And they were offended by him. The meaning is clear: For neither did his brethren believe in him. At first they might take to him, and embrace him as the Messiah, and expect he would set up a temporal kingdom; in which they might hope, on account of their relation to him, according to the flesh to enjoy great honors and privileges; but finding that he was not inclined to anything of that nature, and talked in a quite different way, they grew sick of him, and rejected him, as the Messiah. The Bible mentions at least 6 children. Amen!
That is why the VIRGIN BIRTH is important, not the perpetual virginity.
The ancient Aramaic language had no word for cousin. Jesus had no brothers and sisters. The ancient Jews even used "brothers and sisters" for other people of their village and ALL cousins.
If Jesus had had brothers, He would have consigned His mother's care, speaking from the Cross, to one of His brothers, not to John. It would have made NO sense for Jesus to tell John to take care of Mary if there had been other children of Mary. She had no other children.
St. Paul wasn’t a Christian when he thought he was defending Judaism.
I'm thinking that it might be a “hot button” because it is connected to something that Catholics revere (Mary) but is often misstated in attacks on them. Clearly Catholics do not worship Mary in the same manner that they worship Christ. They revere her, and her relationship to Christ, but they get ready to be attacked at the mention of Mary.
As a Mormon, we have similar “hot button” topics. We don't worship Joseph Smith, but we revere him as the first prophet of the restoration. But as soon as the topic comes up, we get ready for the claim that we worship JS, and don't even talk about Christ.
That is untrue, just as the statement that Catholics worship Mary in the same manner as God is untrue.
Doctrinally, I agree with you. There is nothing scriptural that seem to require Mary remaining a virgin after Christ's birth, but clearly Catholics teach that, and are sensitive when the topic comes up.
You asked a fair, legitimate question and you’ve obviously done your homework, so I’ll take a shot.
There are a lot of arguments folks can make in favor of the doctrine and probably none of them really get at the heart of what you are asking: WHY is it so important? Why MUST she have been perpetually a virgin?
Well, perhaps she mustn’t have after all.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it is most fitting that Our Lady was ever-virgin, but that is only my human sensibilities talking. Perhaps God could have arranged it some other way. I don’t know. I would not presume to limit Him in that way. So I think the theoretical arguments are useful only to a point.
In the end, we do not defend Mary’s ever-virginity because we think it must be theoretically true. We defend it because we believe it is historically true—that it is part of the deposit of the faith that was passed down through the Apostles to the early Church to us.
So I would ask you to strip away all the theorizing on both sides and just consider it as a historical question. Let’s suppose Mary was ever virgin as a fact. And suppose the Apostles knew that, and suppose they passed that fact down to us. It wouldn’t be quite as important *why* God chose to do it that way—we would just accept that like we accept the Resurrection or the miracles or anything else.
Also, I learned that Joseph accepted this and that Mary would remain a virgin. We don't know when Joseph died, but Joseph was NEVER mentioned again after Jesus' birth. Mary was mentioned again, but not Joseph. It's assumed that he didn't live too much longer. But, who knows really.
But Matthew was written in Greek and there is a word for cousin in the greek so that would have been used.
And, Jesus still could have consigned Mary to John because she was a spiritual mother, not because there were no physical brothers. Scripture states, Mary believed, but most (if not all) of his family did not. Why would he trust his mother to unbelievers?
Yet, I did not mistate it nor have I ever claimed that Catholics worship Mary. Also, in my research I have not seen this mistated in an attack on Catholicism either. Other things related to Mary, but not this.
Not going to get into LDS doctrine with you on this thread, you know where I stand on that.
However, thank you for your measured and polite response.
Tradition, right? Not Scriptural.
Finally! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! That is exactly what I was searching for.
Your post helped greatly in my understanding of why.
Why do you assume that ancient Greek had the word for cousin?
Besides, why would the translator CHANGE a meaning from "brother" to "cousin," just because Greek had the word and Aramaic didn't? A translator would have held to what the speaker said: brother.
If Jesus had brothers the brothers wouldn't have let their mother travel around following Jesus. The brothers would have been taking care of her all along. The brothers would have been at the Cross with their mother and brother.
Jesus had no brothers.
Where does it say that Jesus' family were non-believers? His cousin John the Baptist and his parents believed.
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