The Sinless Perpetual Virgin

After hearing so many Christmas messages by different pastors, the role of Mary is often a part of the story that is misunderstood. Mary remained a sinless virgin her entire life. She was the perfect vessel to carry Jesus. She was made perfect by the Holy Spirit.

I hear many pastors reject the fact that Mary remained a Virgin after the birth of Jesus. The Catholic Church has always taught that Mary remained a virgin her entire life, but most Protestants contend that she had more children after Jesus. The arguments employed to debunk Mary’s perpetual virginity are based upon misunderstanding of Bible verses and terms.

One of the most commonly used arguments is based on (Matt 1:25),"and he did not know her until she brought forth her firstborn son." Protestants argue that the word "until" indicates that Mary and Joseph engaged in conjugal love after the birth of Jesus. The problem is they use the modern meaning of "until," instead of its Biblical meaning. In the Bible, “until” means only that some action did not happen up to a certain point; it does not imply that a action happened later. A perfect example is (2 Sam 6:23), "Michal the daughter of Saul had no children until the day of her death" Does this verse mean Michal had children after her death? Of course not, no one would believe that.

Protestants also use (Matt 1:25) to claim Jesus could not be Mary's "first-born" unless there were other children, but this is ignorance of the way the ancient Jews used this term. The first male child of a marriage was termed the "first-born" even if he turned out to be a only child. Jewish parents did not have to wait until a second son was born before they could call their first the "first-born".

One last area of confusion is in which the terms "brothers," and "sisters " of the Lord are used in the Bible. One must first understand the reason for the confusion. In the Hebrew and Aramaic languages spoken by Christ and His disciples did not have special words to denote cousin or kinsman. In the Bible "brother" and "sister" are not restricted to their modern meaning. When reading the Bible, one must look at the context of each verse in order to understand it. Furthermore, in every passage that refers to Jesus' brothers or sisters, the sacred authors were very careful to only call Jesus the son of Mary, no one else. This is evidence that the early Christians understood Mary’s perpetual virginity, and that the brothers and sisters of the Lord were relatives nothing more.

The Biblical evidence that supports the belief in Mary's perpetual virginity is overwhelming. First, the account of Jesus being found in the temple at age twelve (Lk 2:41-51). There is no mention or even a hint of other children. The probability of Mary and Joseph having more children if they were sexually active would have been a forgone conclusion, because the ancient Jews didn’t practice any form of birth control. Second, Jesus' action at the foot of the cross, when He entrusted his mother to John, makes no sense if Mary had other sons (Jn 19:25-28). If Jesus actually had brothers, it would have been customary by Jewish law that he bequeath her care to them. Instead he chose St. John the apostle, who was not related to Him by blood. The reality is that there is no biblical basis for rejecting Mary's perpetual virginity, but there is compelling evidence to support it.

In one interview we did with a local pastor he stressed the "sinful nature" of Mary. In his words, "only a professing sinner would call Christ their savior." Well, he had it partially correct.

Many say God could not have saved Mary from the stain of Original Sin because the Bible says, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23). The Bible proclaims in Mary's own words that she had a savior. "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior " (Lk 1:46-47). But Mary was saved in a very special way by our Lord. She was showered with all the blessings and gifts of Christ’s Redemption at the very moment of her existence. The Catholic Church has always understood that God transcends time and space and can do anything. In a dialogue between Jesus and His disciples about salvation this is made perfectly clear, “ It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."(Mark 10:25-27) We must be very careful not to put limits on what God can and cannot do.

But I'm sure you will want Scripture in place of my own belief. Well, Biblical support for Mary's Immaculate Conception is found in the gospel of Luke. "And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" (Luke 1:28) Gabriel addressed Mary in a most extraordinary manner using the title "full of grace" which means without sin rather than her proper name. Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit reaffirms God's gift to Mary by saying, "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb."(Luke 1:41). This parallel blessing makes it clear that Mary, just like Christ in His humanity, was from free from the stain of Original Sin.