In Isaiah 7:14, the Lord promises a sign, that a virgin shall conceive a child called “God with us,” or Immanuel. We are told in the Gospels that this virgin was Mary, the wife of Joseph.
However, what was given as a sign (a virginal conception) has been wrongly augmented into the Roman Catholic teaching that not only was Jesus conceived within a virgin’s womb, but that Mary remained a virgin perpetually after that:
The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ’s birth “did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it.” And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the “Ever-virgin.” #499 of the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church
There are a few key features to that confession: 1) Only as the Church increased in their Marian beliefs did they create the belief of perpetual virginity. 2) No scriptural support is given for the belief.
So it is interesting to see what the Bible actually says about Mary.
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. Matthew 1:24,25
The Holy Spirit testifies that Joseph & Mary did know each other intimately, though it was not until Mary “had brought forth her firstborn son.” That Joseph & Mary waited to be intimate was inherent in Isaiah’s prophesy as well, which stated that a virgin would do 3 things: conceive, bring forth a son, and call him Immanuel.
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
Here Jesus was in His “own country” (v.1) teaching in the synagogue (v.2). But the people there knew Him not as Lord & Savior but as the Son of Mary, and when faced with His teaching and His power, they were astonished. How could this man which they grew up with, who has a mother, brothers, and sisters which they also knew, have such power?
It wouldn’t be logical for these people to claim that his disciples were his brothers & sisters, for to accept that it is possible to be brethren with the Lord would be to accept His claims, which they clearly are not. They stumble at Christ’s teachings because they are all too familiar with His humanity.
And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. John 2:17
I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. Psalms 69:8-9
Jesus fulfilled this prophecy from the Psalms, including the portion about His “mother’s children,” for Mary had several besides Him. We have testimony that He was alien to His brethren:
For neither did his brethren believe in him. John 7:5
Even after the Ascension of Christ into Heaven we can find testimony that He had at least one half-brother (a child of Mary & Joseph, whereas He was of Mary but not Joseph).
But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Galatians 1:19
It has been claimed (by Roman Catholicism, for instance) that Paul actually meant “James the Lord’s cousin” and that “brother” is an acceptable substitute. However, “cousin” was not a foreign word to the followers of Jesus, and had Paul meant that, he would have used it, as Luke did in Luke 1:36. The word translated “brother” in Galatians 1:19 is adelphos, which refers to the womb. Brothers are of the same womb; cousins are not.
Brethren, truth is important in all aspects of our belief, including what we know about Mary. In a world much more familiar with the Roman Catholic Church’s Mary than with the Bible’s, truth in our belief is all the more important.
Be sure that you are able to defend your beliefs if need be, and be willing to teach them to others.
[ Special Thanks ]