Why do Catholics believe Mary, the mother of Jesus, remained a virgin throughout her life?
First of all, please know that this question has zero sarcastic intent. Recently, I listened to Catholic radio and the response to this same question was that the New Testament does refer to Jesus' brothers, but that is is referring to the apostles or other like-minded individuals who are followers of Christ, rather than the step-brothers of Jesus. Yet Protestants believe Mary had other children, which seems correct to me. I do not understand this doctrine of "ever Virgin Mary."
Personally, I feel that Mary is an important figure, regardless. Is anyone "in the know?"
It must be a reason based upon human tradition and Catholic reasoning because there is no evidence in the bible that she remained a virgin after Jesus' birth.
For her entire life? I didn't know that. Jesus had siblings in the Bible so Mary wasn't a virgin with her husband.
Hi, rose-the-planner. Please pardon my heavy fingers; I accidentally deleted your answer. I'm so sorry. I was trying to delete my answer because I had too many words, and I ended up deleting the whole thing. Anyway, I want you to know I loved your answer, and I respect your devotion very much. Feel free to re-submit if you wish to. I agree with what you said, by the way.
Good points, Bonnie-Jean. St Jerome apparently made this distinction of the virgin birth, and you have answered my question in stating that Catholics accept knowledge from priests. Yet, I disagree with point 2. Unusual births, yes. Virgin births, no
Well now, if you're interested in the ramblings of an atheist who nonetheless has studied the Bible for years and still considers it one of the best bodies of stories ever written--I'd suggest this belief is probably loosely related to the injunction that priests and nuns are married to Christ, hence sex is unnecessary. The simple fact of the story--that Jesus entered the world via a VIRGIN birth, indicates that there is something just not quite right about sex. In terms of the myth of Mary and the reverence for her virginity among Catholics, does it not make perfect EMOTIONAL sense that believers would want her to remain virginal throughout her life?
Hi Moonfroth. There is definitely that emotional connection. I do think the Virgin birth is necessary to the conclusion of Jesus' identity. But yes, there does seem to be a (Catholic) stigma that Mary's having sex would somehow render her impure...
Priests and nuns go against what the Bible states be fruitful and multiply. @moon I like that you did read the Bible with an open mind even though you are an atheist.
Please look up the Super Gospels on Youtube. The reason, I believe Our Blessed Mother did not have any other biological children is because she promised God that she would never sleep with a man. Mary was only married to Joseph because she was an over age (older than 12) virgin that could no longer reside in the temple as a young girl soon to ripen. Before the high priests of her temple had married her off to Joseph, they had addressed the congregation as to what they should do with such a unique situation. Mary had promised perpetual chastity to God and the temple did not want to go against that in that they might be cursed. So, the consensus was simply to remove her from the temple at the age of 12. She was to live under the house of Joseph- an elderly widower with grandchildren older than Mary. He took her in and for 2 years she remained under his care. When Mary turned 14 the high priests were convinced that it was time she be married. The staffs of all of the considerable men were collected- Joseph's among them. The high priest said that the staffs would be returned to them and that a dove would fly from the chosen staff. The staffs were returned and no dove flew from the staffs. Joseph had not collected his short staff that was placed to the side. He was afraid that if her were chosen people would talk about him for it was shameful for such an elderly man to take such a young wife. Joseph was given his staff. A dove flew from the roof, landed on his staff and flew away. Joseph was congratulated as the lucky groom to be wed to Mary. Far from interested in consummating the marriage, Mary was gifted 5 (?) virgins to attend to her while Joseph was off on business. Shortly after God appeared to Mary and filled her with the Holy Spirit.
It was Mary's promise to God that leads our belief in her perpetual virginity. Upon the knowledge of her conception, her parents -Jochim and Anna- whom were both elderly and blessed with Mary as a sign of God's grace- vowed to give their child to the service of God. For it had already been written.
thanks writ> that is indeed the story (and a great story it is!), but reciting the story does not answer Savvy's question, viz, why does the Tradition, and Catholicism in particular, place such VALUE on virginity? Why must Mary remain virgin?
Thanks MoonFroth I would have to say it is her virginity and her protection from anything impure that kept her holy. Her promise of virginity was one intended to last forever and necessary to fulfill her purpose as the Blessed Mother.
Hello Writ.The Super Gospels are a "harmony" of ancient gospels. The problem I have with them is that the only manuscripts which are scholastically sound are those originally written no later than 70AD. Later documents are comprised of speculation.
Moonfroth/Saavy, please comment on this. I fight with a friend who has alternate views about Catholicism/Christianity, particularly that the very theology of it all is copied from the Ancient Egyptians- Isis being their virgin mother. Thoughts?
cont'd -- given all the repetitions, how can one argue the efficacy of the Bible over all other bodies of myth? Mary's virginity is probably a plagiarism of older myths. Lifelong virginity certainly makes one special!
Hi Writ. Note "hiero gamos" where a mythological male consistently penetrates a woman to impregnate her. These mythical characters were indicative of the cycle of vegetation. Re: Pagan Mysteries, etc. read, Ronald Nash: The Gospel and the Greeks.
Where is any scripture proving this or even hinting at it?
Savvy-re: pagan penetration. Check out the vision of St. Teresa. A heavenly cherub with a beatific smile repeatedly plunges a golden spear into her heart. She SIMULTANEOUSLY has blinding pain and incredible ecstasy. Remind you of anything?
Moonfroth, the ancient religions did not have virgin births, just unusual births. The seeming parallel between Mary and paganism has been discredited, even by liberal professor, Thomas Boslooper. St. Theresa's ecstasy can bring hiero gamos to mind.
I just learned a lot, but what is true after those thousand of years...
she remain virgin till she die but if she had another children why did jesus ask john to take her as his mother while did,nt he tell him to take her to his brothers. the truth is those brothers of jesus christ is his cousins which some refer as children of salome marys sister.
Writ -- re: Mary/Isis as Virgin Mothers. Studying the great mythologies of world cultures separated by vast reaches of geography and TIME reveals a fascinating repetition of great mythic stories--the advent of a \messiah, great flood, virgin birth.
Writ & Moonfroth. Even Liberal professor, Thomas Boslooper, and religious Historian, Mircea Eliade, and all serious scholars have concluded that primitive Christianity was not influenced by Hellenistic mysteries. Virgin stories were popular A.D.
Because a lot of people think that sex is dirty. Picturing Mary having sex is like envisioning your grandparents getting it on. And no one really wants to go there.
If people viewed sex as one of the most natural and fundamental aspects of being a human being, then I doubt that they would care if Mary remained a virgin or not.
Jesus was to be born of a virgin and He was. It was not sin for Mary to then know her husband and have other children which she did for of course she was no longer virgin after giving birth. She was to bless among women, not worshiped. She cannot forgive our sins and she did not die for them and she is not God. Only blessed, unless too many take that blessing from her by worshiping her.
Well, if you worshiped a virgin impregnated by a spirit, and believed she then had to shove the baby out of her ear canal, you'd think it was safe to assume she would avoid subsequent sex.
I am a Catholic, and this was one of the issues I had to resolve when I converted to Catholicism after being raised as a Baptist. There is a passage in Matthew, I think, possibly Mark, that says Mary was a virgin before and after the birth of Christ. Catholics believe she remained pure and also believe that she was born without the stain of original sin (that is the doctrine of Immaculate Conception, which many confuse with the Virgin Birth, which was the result of Divine Intervention.) The reference to the brothers is questionable, because there was no word for cousins. As a Baptist, everybody, called everybody else, at least on Sunday, Sister or Brother.
The point I tell my Baptist friends is what difference does it make if Catholics chose to believe it. We all believe as Christians, that Mary was chosen by God to give birth to a Son, who would be named Jesus and would laterdie for our sins, allowing us to enjoy eternal salvation.
At the crucifixion, Jesus is quoted as turning to the disciple he loved and said "behold thy mother" and then turning to his mother, Mary, and saying, woman "behold they son", and Mary went to live with that disciple. If there were biological brothers, why doesn't the Bible say that Jesus turned to his brother or the son of his mother?
I am not trying to play word games. The Catholic church teaches that Mary was always a virgin. Other faths do not. I rather concentrate more on the common beliefs of the Christian faiths rather than the differences, since in this case, the Catholic belief, does not really have any impact on overall Christian beliefs.
Catholics are Christians. They believe in Jesus as the savior and as the Son of God. We do believe that the bread and wine given at communion does become the body and blood of Jesus, but it cannot be proven, because like the existence of God, which cannot be proven, it is something that is accepted as a matter of faith.
Catholics do not believe only Catholics are going to heaven. Catholics believe all believers and followers of the true God. are going to heaven. It is all a matter of faith. By the way, at my wedding we had two Catholic priests and my Baptist minister taking part in the ceremony. My then pastor did not have a problem with being a part of the wedding celebration.
Thank you for your very thoughtful comment, Larry Wall. Does not Mark 6:3 refute the supposition of Mary's virginity? Also, can you find the passage in the NT you spoke of? Know that I respect your Catholic faith; I've attended the beautiful Mass.
I can't find the passage I mentioned. Maybe I read something else years ago. It is a belief I accept as a Catholic. God chose Mary to be mother of Jesus. That alone makes her special. Mark 6:3 gives room for a theory but does not prove the contrary.
Mary is exceedingly special. No question there, Larry W. I still favor the historical account of the NT, as it was written between 30 to 70 A.D, within the lifetime of eyewitnesses. And also, Matt 1: 24& 25. Thank you much for your kind reply.
I think you need to keep in mind two things --
(1) Catholics are supposed to attain their knowledge from their priests, not from the Bible. Even Protestant ministers of most sects spend the Sunday sermon telling the congregation *how* to interpret the Bible. Different versions of the Bible can be very different in what they actually say, as the first translations of the Hebrew 'bibles' were done into Greek; there is a wide difference in how Hebrew and Greek interpret and translate, from one to the other and eventually into English.
(2) One has to consider the times in which Jesus was born. The Roman Empire ruled most of the world. Every pharaoh and Roman emperor was deemed to be partially or all God, and from a virgin birth. Therefore, if Jesus was to become the king of the Jews, he would immediately be given the traits 'son of God' and be the result of a virgin birth.
I believe one of those Bibles states that Jesus had one brother, James, who became a carpenter and continued the family business after the death of Joseph.. No one seems to know if Mary and Joseph were actually married and if this occurred after the birth of Jesus, but they were at least common-law, if not through a ritual. If one wants to look at it more literally, even if Mary and Joseph were having sex, the actual insemination of Jesus was an act of God.
Divinity itself is open to many interpretations. Judging by writings of his contemporaries in Jerusalem, Mohammedanism and even Tibetan scrolls, Jesus had at the very least reached a condition of "grace" and wisdom unusual for his peers. And the mother of such an individual would be just as exceptional. She was virginal (pure) in her devotion to God and her son all her life.
I believe the Catholics stuck with the "ever virgin Mary" because they wanted to underline the purity of the concept she represents.
To actually think a woman is still physically virgin after child birth is a medical impossibility (except if maybe she had a C-section, which is unlikely in those times).
It is most likely she's considered a virgin from the point of view that she hadn't had actual sex, to get pregnant and give birth.
So,i think that gives a reasonable answer to the question.
Jesus was born of a virgin Mary.
Before she slept with Joseph a baby was conceived, so Joseph had to take her so that no one will take her as an adulteress.
If Mary would have remain a virgin her entire life, what about Joseph??? He also would have probably a virgin his entire life, which is not true...
As I understood - Joseph and Mary were young about 16 or 17 - and they were to be married. They did not have a sexual relationship - she was a Virgin - as chosen by God the Father to bear Jesus His Son from a Human Womb - making Jesus half-human and half-divine. Joseph married Mary and she gave birth to Jesus without having a sexual encounter as a normal woman. After Jesus was raised - Joseph and Mary did love each other and so being had other children - brothers & sisters of Jesus. They were a family, a normal loving family - she was the Virgin designated by God for this magnificent birth as Elizabeth was chosen to give birth to John the Baptist also divine. Elizabeth was an old lady past menopause and could no longer bear children. True Miracles of God the Father. Happy Mother's Day.
Hi Deb Welch. Thank you for a lovely Mother's Day message. No doubt, Mother Mary was a special and blessed woman, chosen by our Father to conceive Jesus, who was born of the Holy Spirit.
Don't forget - too - Mary and Joseph were both Jewish. They were not Catholic or Protestant before Jesus.
Yes. I appreciate your bringing this up, Deb Welch.
I believe that she was blessed among us human. She conceived a child by the Holy Spirit, there is no human intervention that makes her still a virgin.
Literally that is the concept of calling her "virgin Mary." after she gave birth she is no longer a virgin physically but what makes a person virgin is her purity that is why she was chosen.
MARK 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Jude, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us?
(I found this passage the other day and remembered this question. This said - Jesus had siblings?)
i had this argument with my christian friend who said that Mary was not a virgin and she had other children beside Jesus. She also said some dirty remarks about HER which I was furious. I consulted the church priest about this matter as I belong to the catholic church. He said that people are born with mouth, bad mouth, dirty mouth, good mouth, there is no way that we can stop them from preaching the bad news. Just believe what we had been thought and believe in Mary. She will answer our sincere prayer when we are in need of help.
How can Mary answer prayers when she is dead?
Hi peachpurple. I'm sorry to say that your friend isn't much of a Christian to say such things. The important thing is you stood up for your beliefs. Frankly, I like the idea of intercessory prayer!
Peace there might be some things I might disagree about the Catholic Church but to disrespect Mary-there is nothing bad about her for somebody to say mean things about her.
After reading some of the comments, I do not get why not having more children seems to be an argument in favor of the "ever virgin". A LOT of people have sex and do not have children.
I have never heard about any Catholics refer to Mary as a Virgin for her entire life. I believe they refer to her as the Virgin Mary because she was a virgin when she conceived Jesus. When Joseph has found out she was pregnant they weren't married yet and that was a public disgrace. He was going to marry her to protect her reputation. But he did not realize that she was going to give birth to Jesus until God revealed this to him. So he married her but she wasn't a virgin her all life. She remained a virgin until after she gave birth to Jesus. Matthew Chapter 1. After Jesus was born Mary had other children.
Catholics do believe that Mary was a virgin her whole life, I believed that too when I was a Catholic. After I turned twenty-six I was introduced to the teachings in the Bible, and I learned otherwise. She did have other children
It has been years since I was a Catholic and maybe forgot hearing that or maybe what I learned from the Bible erased what I learned from Catholic School
I know this is part of their doctrine, but whether any practicing or lapsed Catholics *actually* believe this is not certain. My husband who was raised Catholics says most don't *really* believe all the unbelievable parts of their doctrine. And if some people do believe it? Well, I don't see any harm in it.
I DON'T KNOW THAT MUCH ABOUT THAT BUT the value of that human being shouldn't be about his mother being a virgin when he was conceived (seriously???) or remaining sexually inactive. We really need to get rid of that stigma. Reason why when you become an unwed mother for whatever reason, some people will always see you as a bad woman.
Great question. I've always admired the Catholic Church for its history and ritual, but I have difficulty with it and any other church teaching as "fact" things which are so obviously speculative or hung on interpretations that could go multiple ways. Accepting Christ as we generally understand and know him is the important thing and all the other stuff seems like listening to sports talk radio to me--interesting but mostly just talk based on opinion. Too many churches state as fact things that at best should be stated "is likely that." or "we believe is probably true and here's why." Having said all that and with no disrespect, the perpetual virginity seems like a very human construct. The alternative is equally plausible. And what about Joseph? If the Catholic version is correct he either cheated on her (unlikely) or remained celibate himself (poor guy, after all his generous and selfless acts up to then). And considering there is at least some evidence that his earthly parents didn't quite understand who/what Jesus was at first (and that seems odd given the heavenly visits before his birth), it seems more likely that they would have tried to live a "normal" life together. But I'm a layperson rambling. I guess I just don't get why this is so important to some, and why they would think more or less of her either way.
Thank you for stopping by, ftracy3. Frankly, I agree with your assessment. Why is perpetual virginity important? Your other points are equally valid. Yes, Catholic rituals are beautiful. They and other churches answer questions, but not always fully
Mary was only a virgin at the time of the conception of Jesus because that was God's plan. Joseph married her but she the miraculous conception occurred first.
I am not Catholic, but that's my interpretation.
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