Friday, July 26, 2013

Was Mary a perpetual virgin? Did she have other children besides Jesus?

There are certain religious groups that teach Mary was always a virgin even in the years following the birth of Jesus. On the Catholic Answers website, the authors make the following statement, “The faithful knew, through the witness of Scripture and Tradition, that Jesus was Mary’s only child and that she remained a lifelong virgin” (catholic.com).

This post is not concerned with religious tradition or opinion. Instead, we will be asking “what does the Bible teach”?

Mary was a virgin when pregnant with Jesus.
Although some would deny the reality of this miracle, the Scriptures attest to this fact. In Matthew chapter 1 an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him that Mary (his fiancĂ©) would give birth to a child “conceived by the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20). 

Following this encounter, the inspired author Matthew informs the reader that this occasion was to fulfill the prophecy of (Isaiah 7:14) which states:
“Behold the virgin shall be with child and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means “God with Us.” (Matthew 1:23).
The text further enforces this immaculate conception in the following two verses.
“And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus”. (Matthew 1:24-25 emp mine)
It is clear from the gospel accounts that Mary was a virgin at the time of the conception and birth of Jesus. 

Mary had other children after Jesus
Although Catholicism teaches that Mary was a virgin her whole life, Scriptures teach that Mary had other children after Jesus was born. (Thus, proving she was not a perpetual virgin). Note the following passages:
“While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” (Matt. 12:46-47).
When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these [ac]miraculous powers? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” (Matthew 13:53-56)
These two passages and others teach that Jesus had brothers and sisters. One would not be wrong in saying that they were His “half-siblings”, since Joseph was not His real father, but nevertheless, these passages prove that Mary was not a perpetual virgin.

Conclusion
Mary was a wonderful godly woman. The Father chose her to be the means by which the Messiah would enter the world. She was a virgin at the time of Christ's conception and birth, but later had other children through her marriage to Joseph. 

This article will conclude with Wayne Jackson’s thoughts from Christian Courier. He wrote concerning the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity:

“The doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity is bereft of any reasonable evidence. It is an ancient superstition that has been thrust upon sincere souls who have been taught to never question the voice of the Church. Many of these good people, however, are now reviewing their faith with a more critical eye. May their tribe increase”. (Jackson).

By Cliff Sabroe -Quotes from NASB95.  
Image from - http://klarchdiocese.blogspot.com/