In Defense of the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Mother

By John - webmaster Ecclesia Militans

This article is intended as a response to an article of the same name found on the "Jesus Is Lord" website, and written by "Sis. Sandy/w Tracy."

The article is intended to disprove the Catholic position that Mary was ever a virgin. Needless to say, the authors (Sandy and Tracy) have failed miserably in their task. The first of their arguments is as follows:

(a) Joseph had intercourse with his wife Mary after her firstborn son, Jesus, was born.

"And knew her not TILL she had brought forth her FIRSTBORN son:" -Matt. 1:25

The presumption seems to be that the phrase "till" means that Saint Joseph had intercourse with the Blessed Virgin after their "Firstborn" (which they seem to presume means there were other children afterwards) had been born. Needless to say, this is ridiculous and unscriptural.

We shall first deal with the phrase "till," and then move on to the word "firstborn."

The expression "and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son" does not prove their point. As an example, one could say of a wicked man that he did not repent till his death, and yet that would not mean that he repented after his death, now would it? Another example would be that found in II Kings (II Samuel 6:23) wherein we read: "Therefore Michol the daughter of Saul had no child till the day of her death." Who would be so foolish as to conclude that she had children after her death?

With regards to the phrase "firstborn," this likewise proves nothing. An only son could be called "firstborn," and was so called under ancient Hebrew law since the term "firstborn" had a technical or legal signification. As it is, we can still state quite correctly of a mother that "she died giving birth to her firstborn son." In Hebrews 1:6 we read "And again when he bringeth the first begotten into the world, he saith, and let all the angels of God worship him." This shows conclusively that the word "firstborn" means "onlyborn" here. Who would say that God the Father has more than one Divine Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity? And what fool will maintain in the light of the above evidence that Mary’s "firstborn" son was not her "onlyborn" son? The onlybegotten of the Father is the only begotten of the Mother.

The above points are proven in depth by Saint Jerome in his superb Defense of the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary against Helvidius.

They move on to their second argument:

(b)We are never told in the Bible that Mary took the vow of virginity. The marriage bed is God's will for married couples (Genesis 1:28; 2:21-24). Mary, by allowing Joseph to marry her, would have committed treachery and poured contempt upon the holy covenant of marriage if she had withheld herself from him. The Bible says Joseph and Mary had at least six (6) children which were the Lord's half brothers and sisters. Yet the Catholic religion has even tried to pervert that. Please see below.

In the first place, the Bible is not our sole rule of faith and, therefore, it is not upon this book that our religion is to be founded. In the second place, it was the Catholic religion which wrote, compiled, and preserved, the Scriptures down to our own day - hence Tracy and Sandy have no right to make use of the Holy Writ to attack the Catholic Church, or, indeed, for any purpose other than that which the Catholic Church gives them permission for. This point is proven by Bishop Henry Graham in his superb book "Where we got the Bible, and our debt to the Catholic Church."

Tracy and Sandy’s claim that every married couple are required to have intercourse, and her quotation from Genesis, would have been a powerful point if the marriage of the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph were a regular marriage. As it is, the Blessed Virgin was the spouse of the Holy Ghost (as can be seen in Luke where it states that the Holy Ghost "overshadowed" her) - hence it would not have been proper at all for her to have had intercourse with Saint Joseph.

Lastly, Sandy and Tracy presume that Saint Joseph wished to have intercourse with her - this they have not yet proven, but presumed.

(a) The Bible says Mary did have other children.

"Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? AND HIS BRETHREN, James, Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And HIS SISTERS, are they not all with us? -Matt. 13:55-56

"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the BROTHER of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not HIS SISTERS here with us? And they were offended at him." -Mark 6:3

"But other of the apostles saw I none, save James THE LORD'S BROTHER." -Gal. 1:19

The above verses are completely pulled out of context by Sandy and Tracy. These were the children of Mary, the wife of Cleophas, sister to our blessed Lady; (Matthew 27:56. John 19:25.) And therefore, according to the usual style of the Scriptures, they were called brethren, that is, near relations to our Savior.

St. Jerome, in the above-mentioned treatise against Helvidius, answers the above objection with undeniable arguments. The "brothers of the Lord" were, says Saint Jerome, cousins and not real blood brothers of Christ.

As it is, the Early Church was not given to sentiment, nor was it hesitant or doubtful when it sang openly and with loud voices the praises of Mary ever Virgin (aeiparthenos). Still, for many non-Catholics such as Tracy and Sandy, the belief of the early centuries is worth nothing, for it must be dashed to pieces against the obstacle of the "brethren" of the Lord. This expression in the New Testament, so they seem to hold, is decisive. Is it? Let us see....

Protestant preachers often state "My dear brethren...," and yet no one in the audience is so foolish as to think that he is talking only to blood brothers. Members of religious orders or social brotherhoods (Freemasons, Elks, etc.,) call each other "brother". And yet does this mean that they are blood brothers? Certainly not.

This point is further proved when we consult Old Testament Hebrew usage. In the book of Genesis, for example, we read "Let there be no quarrel, I beseech thee, between me and thee, and between by herdsmen and thy herdsmen: for we are brothers." (Genesis 13:8) And yet Abraham who is here speaking to Lot was not Lot’s brother, but his uncle.

Again we see in Genesis 29:15 Laban, speaking to Jacob, saying "Because thou art my brother, shalt thou serve me without wages?" In the context, it is clear that Laban was the uncle of Jacob, the son of Rebecca. A similar usage can be found in Chapter 10 of the book of Leviticus; while in Par. (1 Cron. 23:21) we read that Eleazar died leaving no sons, "but only daughters, and the sons of sis their brothers took them,"(to wife). The "brothers" who married them were really (from the context) their cousins. We know that neither the Hebrew nor the Aramaic language possessed a word for "cousins". Rather than use an awkward circumlocution such as "the son of one’’s uncle," they simply said "brother". People in the same community or general locality would have easily understood what sort of relationship was meant by the use of the term "brother," for among the Hebrews especially, family lines and ties were carefully noted. In a Semitic environment (and the Scriptures were written in this environment) the expression "brethren" and "brothers" of the Lord, could very well designate other relatives than strict blood brothers of Christ.

In the Gospel of Saint John, chapter 19 verse 26, it is related that as Christ was dying on the cross He entrusted His Mother to the care of St. John. Now if Mary had other children it is incredible to think that Christ would have given Her to someone outside of the family. At the death of one of her sons Mary simply would have been commended to the care of her other sons and daughters. This would especially be the case in a Hebrew community where family ties were so strong. Any other way of acting would have constituted a scandal, and Christ in His dying moments would not (and could not) have left such an example to the Christian world. We are therefore forced to conclude that Christ entrusted His Mother to St. John precisely because after His death on the cross Mary would have been altogether alone. (St. Joseph having died before the start of Christ’s public ministry in the year 29). She had no other children, no sons or daughters who could care for her. Christ is designated as "the" son of Mary, (not "a" son of Mary.) "The" is singular.

However, Romanism tries explains away this fatal contradiction by pretending or deliberately misleading its readers that the Mary spoken of is not the same Mary, the mother of earthly Jesus. But that won't work. The Scripture plainly refers to JESUS (Mark 6:1-4) teaching in the synagogue, and they in the synagogue call Mary his mother, and then start naming her children!

The verse being referred to is Mark 6:3. To quote it:

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joseph, and Jude and Simon? Are not also his sisters here with us? And they were scandalized in regard of him.

This is no more explicit than the above verses. It states that Mary was His Mother, and that James and Joseph and Jude and Simon were His "brothers." But, as was seen above, the term "brothers," in Hebrew usage, could, and often did, mean others than merely blood relatives.

The above is more than sufficient refutation and proof that the Blessed Mother of God, Mary Most Holy, did indeed remain a virgin throughout her life.

In Our Lady of Victories,
John - webmaster Ecclesia Militans.