Thursday, January 07, 2010

Debate on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary: Part 1

I hadn't been to HCR in a while, so I decided to stop by there the other day and I noticed there was a thread on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. "d.hyde" was asking some honest questions about it, which I appreciate, so I answered them. Part 1 will be my exchanges with him. The remaining parts of the debate will consist of my exchanges with other members of the forum who were intent on trying to refute the doctrine.

  • I say that the notion is false, and baseless. I believe Scripture shows clearly Mary being a mother to other children besides Jesus. Can anyone that believes otherwise show me how I am wrong. Can you show how Mary was perpetually a virgin, when it is not very clear in Scripture, or other sources of the day?
I don't think that it can be explicitly or unequivocally proven from Scripture, but there are many curious facts in Scripture that point to Jesus being the only son of Mary, and the arguments used to prove that He did have brothers can be easily refuted.

Of course, once you include "other sources of the day," which I take to mean the writings of the earliest Christians, then you find that the Christian Church long held that Mary remained a virgin her entire life. This was a popular belief of the Protestant reformers as well.

  • Can you name some of these if you have the time please. Thank you.
Well, there are these words from Francis Turretin. I don't know if he qualifies as a "reformer," but he was definitely influential to the growth of early Calvinism. Besides him, there is also this article by Dave Armstrong, in which he has compiled the testimony of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Bullinger, and Wesley. For men who were not afraid to subject any element of Catholic teaching to their own interpretation of Scripture, it is peculiar indeed that they all held to the dogma of Mary's perpetual virginity.

  • I discovered this saying from this site:
    "Also "brothers" could have theoretically been Joseph's children from a former marriage that was dissolved by death. However, it is most likely, perhaps most certainly, that Joseph was a virgin, just as were Jesus and Mary. As such, they embodied the true Holy Family, fully consecrated to God."
    Is this a Catholic belief? Either one of these points?
I would categorize that under "pious speculation." The only thing the Church has defined is that Mary remained a virgin her entire life, and thus, Jesus had no blood brothers. There is a tradition found in early works (such as the Protoevangelium of James) that Joseph was an elderly widower when he married Mary, and that the "brothers" of Jesus were Joseph's sons from his previous marriage. But, it's difficult to determine if this is historical fact or hagiography (pious legends about the saints).

I hope that helps. If you would like some articles to read, just let me know.

  • Thank you. I am trying to understand the Catholic position on this topic. And I would like to see any links that you may have on this topic.
Here are some articles that I find most helpful:That should give you more than enough to read!

  • Another question if you don't mind.
    If Mary was a perpetual virgin, how is she to be regarded by the Christian today?
In light of her virginity, Mary is regarded as woman who consecrated her entire self to the Lord. She is someone who handed herself over to Him with singular devotion. She is the Ark of the New Covenant. She is an amazing example to us of what it means to put God above all things and before anyone else, even your own self.

Pax Christi,

1 comment:

  1. "If Mary was a perpetual virgin, how is she to be regarded by the Christian today?"

    "In light of her virginity, Mary is regarded as woman who consecrated her entire self to the Lord."

    Mary's perpetual virginity, coupled with her motherhood of the Son of God, makes her a "fruitful virgin", a paradox to man, but possible to God. In her, we see manifest in the flesh the spiritual fruitfulness of a life consecrated to God (whether in virginity or in some other form).


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