Friday, February 28, 2020

Luke 1:34 And The Perpetual Virginity Of Mary

        "In Luke 1:34, when Mary was told by the angel Gabriel that she was chosen to be the Mother of the Messiah, she asked the question, literally translated from the Greek, “How shall this be since I know not man?” This question makes no sense unless Mary had a vow of virginity. When we consider that Mary and Joseph were already “espoused,” according to verse 27 of this same chapter, we understand Mary and Joseph already have what would be akin to a ratified marriage in the New Covenant. They were married. That would mean Joseph would have had the right to the marriage bed. Normally, after the espousal the husband would go off and prepare a home for his new bride and then come and receive her into his home where the union would be consummated. This is precisely why Joseph intended to “divorce her quietly” (Mt 1:19) when he later discovered she was pregnant. This background is significant because a newly married woman would not ask the question “How shall this be?” She would know—unless, of course, that woman had taken a vow of virginity. Mary believed the message, but wanted to know how this was going to be accomplished. This indicates she was not planning on the normal course of events for her future with Joseph." (https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/the-case-for-marys-perpetual-virginity)

        First of all, the fact that Mary was a virgin at the time the angel Gabriel announced to her the news of God using her as an instrument to bring about His will does not mean that she would always remain a virgin.

        Secondly, the text says nothing about Mary making some vow, either implicitly or explicitly. That is something which Catholics have read into the text. 

        Thirdly, if Mary knew that she would forever remain a virgin, then she would have plainly said to the angel that she would never know a man. However, her response was that of an ordinary woman.

        Thirdly, the understanding of "betrothed" found in the quoted excerpt is quite different than how the term has normally been used. The Reformation Study Bible has this footnote on Matthew 1:19: "Joseph . . . resolved to divorce her quietly. Engagement was almost as binding as marriage, and infidelity during betrothal made divorce almost obligatory."

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