Friday, June 14, 2013

Mary's Perpetual Virginity

Last week we looked at the reasons why the supposed evidence that Mary had other children after Jesus is, in the end, not very strong evidence at all.  So now let’s look at some Biblical basis’ for Mary’s perpetual virginity.  There seems to be quite a few verses that point to Mary’s perpetual virginity although the weight of the arguments are arguable. 

We find in Luke 2:41-51 that Jesus is found missing.  Joseph and Mary are frantic and search for him for three days and then find him in the Temple.  I find it odd that throughout those three days there is no mention of any siblings helping in the search for Jesus.
A second argument can be made by the fact that in Jewish society younger sons never gave public advice to an older brother, much less, the oldest son.  This would be very disrespectful.  And this is what seems to be happening in John 7:3-4 “So his brothers said to him, "Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples may see the works you are doing.  For no man works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world”.”

A third argument is pretty evident at His actions on the cross.  Our Lord entrusted his mother to John.  That action makes no sense if Mary had other sons (John 19:26-27).  The social customs of the time would have made such an action unthinkable.

Lastly, we find that in Luke 1:34 Mary is surprised by the angel’s announcement that she will bear a son.  She was already betrothed, or to be married, and she was surprised that she is going to bear a son?  Why would she be surprised at that statement?  She answered that she does not know man.  You would think that Mary would just assume that her husband-to-be is going to father her a child.  She would only be surprised if she had vowed to never know a man.  Only after she questions the angel about her virginity does the angel explain that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the holy thing which is born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)  Only then does she seem to understand.

The descriptive term to “overshadow” gives the connotation of a man overtaking a woman, as the coming together of man and women.  In essence, Mary believes she is connected to God in a marital fashion.

After learning of Mary’s expectancy, Joseph was contemplating quietly divorcing and putting her away because he knew that she would be accused of adultery and the possibility of Mary being stoned to death was definitely present.  As he was contemplating his choices an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream and said to him: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1:20).  Thus he received confirmation that he was called to live his marriage in a completely special way. 

Therefore, we see that even though Mary was with child and he knew that the Child was not his, he still accepted Mary as his wife on the word of a powerful dream.  Is there any better reason to keep a chaste life when you know you are to marry God’s mother and raise His Son?

Another way of arguing the perpetual virginity is by looking at the typology of Mary as found in the OT. “A type is a person, thing, or event in the Old Testament that foreshadows something to come later in time, either later in the Old Testament itself of in the New Testament. It is like a taste or hint of something that will be fulfilled or realized. The anti-type (New Testament event) is always greater than its type (shadow of an event in the Old Testament). And both are independent of each other.

“Types” are explained in Rom 5:14 and Heb 9:9, as a figure, 1 Cor 10:6 and 2 Thess 3:9 and 2Pet 2:6, as examples, 1 Cor 10:11 and Heb 11:19, as a type.

The Egyptian Exodus told in Hosea 11:1 is quoted exactly in Matt 2:15 when speaking of Jesus’ return to Israel from Egypt: “where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."”

What Matthew has done here is he took an historical event and interpreted it as a shadow of something greater to come in the future, which he sees as ‘fulfilled’ in the person of Jesus the Messiah.

Other examples of type/antitype pairs are:

A) Jonah in the belly of the of whale is a type of Christ in the tomb. For Jonah stayed in the belly for three days as did Christ stay buried for three days until His resurrection.

B) The manna in the desert, Ex 16:31, is the bread of life compared to its antitype the living bread of life, that is Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, Matt 26:26

We can see from these examples that the Old Testament writers as well as the New Testament writers wrote and used these kinds of connections to show the greatness of God…through His imagery, and interconnections woven throughout Scripture.

Let’s see if we can find a new antitype that fits-in with the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant type. The Ark of the Covenant contained the Ten Commandment tablets, a golden pot containing some of the manna that fell from the sky during the 40 years of wandering the deserts after their liberation from the Egyptians, and the rod of Aaron.

Now, when we look for another container holding something similar yet greater than these objects, we can’t help but notice how Mary, the mother of Jesus, fits that description very well.

The Ark contained the Ten Commandments, the Word of God written by the finger of God on stone tablets. In Mary contained the Word of God made flesh, God incarnate.

The Ark also contained a pot of the miraculous bread that fell from the sky to sustain the wandering Jews after their liberation. In Mary contained the bread of life giving us spiritual life instead of merely physical sustenance.

The Ark also contained the rod of Aaron, the proof of true priesthood. In Mary’s womb is the true priest. And the Ark is treated as such that one who touches it without proper reverence died (2 Sam 6:6-7). Pretty good incentive to refrain from improperly touching Mary huh?

And lastly we also find that where God has entered through Mary's virginal opening so too must that opening remain shut as seen in Ezekiel 44:1-2 " The man led me to the outer gate at the east side of the Temple area. The gate was closed, and the LORD said to me, "This gate will stay closed and will never be opened. No human being is allowed to use it, because I, the LORD God of Israel, have entered through it. It is to remain closed

Since there is no break in this belief of ever-virgin through Christian history up until a few decades ago, we need to acknowledge that the perpetual virginity of Mary to be a default position.  Therefore those against this precept need to prove otherwise not the other way around.  I believe I have discredited any ‘proof’ showing that Mary and Joseph were having marital relations after Jesus’ birth in last weeks leaflet and today  I believe I have shown that there are some verses that point to the ever-virginity of Mary.  To conclude, Mary was a virgin before the conception of Christ, during her pregnancy and after our Lord’s birth up to her last day on earth.  To accept anything different will need additional proofs to the contrary.

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