Category: Mary the virgin mother of Jesus

It is the official position of the Roman Catholic Church that Jesus’ mother  Mary remained a virgin for her entire life. Is this concept biblical? Before we  look at specific Scriptures, it is important to understand why the Roman  Catholic Church believes in the perpetual virginity of Mary. The Roman Catholic  Church views Mary as “the Mother of God” and “Queen of Heaven.” Catholics  believe Mary to have an exalted place in Heaven, with the closest access to  Jesus and God the Father. Such a concept is nowhere taught in Scripture.  Further, even if Mary did occupy such an exalted position, her having sexual  intercourse would not have prevented her from gaining such a position. Sex in  marriage is not sinful. Mary would have in no way defiled herself by having  sexual relations with Joseph her husband. The entire concept of the perpetual  virginity of Mary is based on an unbiblical teaching, Mary as Queen of Heaven,  and on an unbiblical understanding of sex.

So, what does the Bible say  about the perpetual virginity of Mary? Using the New American Bible, which is a  Catholic translation, we can see that the perpetual virginity of Mary is not  taught in the Bible. Matthew  1:25 NAB tells us, “He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and  he named him Jesus.” He, Joseph, did not have sexual relations with her, Mary,  UNTIL after she bore a son, Jesus.” The meaning of this Scripture is abundantly  clear. Joseph and Mary did not have sexual relations until after Jesus was born.  Matthew  13:55-56 NAB declares, “Is He not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother  named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not His sisters  all with us?” Catholics claim, correctly, that the Greek terms for “brothers”  and “sisters” in these verses could also refer to male and female relatives, not  necessarily literal brothers and sisters. However, the intended meaning is  clear, they thought Jesus to be Joseph’s son, the son of Mary, and the brother  of James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, and the brother of the unnamed and  unnumbered sisters. Father, mother, brother, sister. It is straining the meaning  of the text to interpret “brothers” and “sisters” as “cousins” or “relatives”  with the mentioning of Jesus’ mother and father.

Matthew 12:46 NAB tells  us, “While He was still speaking to the crowds, His mother and His brothers  appeared outside, wishing to speak with Him.” See also Mark 3:31-34; Luke 8:19-21; John 2:12; and Acts 1:14. All  mention Jesus’ mother with His brothers. If they were His cousins, or the sons  of Joseph from a previous marriage, why were they mentioned with Mary so often?  The idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary cannot be drawn from Scripture. It  must be forced on Scripture, in contradiction to what the Scriptures clearly  state.

Mary the mother of Jesus was described by God as “highly favored” (Luke 1:28). The phrase “highly favored” comes from a  single Greek word, which essentially means “much grace.” Mary received God’s  grace.

Grace is “unmerited favor,” meaning something we receive despite  the fact that we do not deserve it. Mary needed grace from God just as the rest  of us do. Mary herself understood this fact, as she declared in Luke 1:47, “. . . and my spirit rejoices in God my  Savior. . .”

Mary recognized that she needed the Savior. The Bible  never says that Mary was anyone but an ordinary human whom God chose to use in  an extraordinary way. Yes, Mary was a righteous woman and favored (graced) by  God (Luke  1:27-28). At the same time, Mary was a sinful human being who needed Jesus  Christ as her Savior, just like everyone else (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:236:23; 1 John 1:8).

Mary did  not have an “immaculate conception.”  The Bible doesn’t suggest Mary’s birth was anything but a normal human birth.  Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus (Luke  1:34-38), but the idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary is  unbiblical. Matthew  1:25, speaking of Joseph, declares, “But he had no union with her until she  gave birth to a son. And he gave Him the name Jesus.”

The word “until”  clearly indicates that Joseph and Mary did have sexual union after Jesus was  born. Joseph and Mary had several children together after Jesus was born. Jesus  had four half-brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (Matthew 13:55). Jesus also  had half-sisters, although they are not named or numbered (Matthew 13:55-56). God  blessed and graced Mary by giving her several children, which in that culture  was the clearest indication of God’s blessing on a woman.

One time when  Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd proclaimed, “Blessed is the womb that  bore You and the breasts at which You nursed” (Luke 11:27).  There was never a better opportunity for Jesus to declare that Mary was indeed  worthy of praise and adoration. What was Jesus’ response? “On the contrary,  blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:28). To Jesus, obedience to God’s Word was more  important than being the woman who gave birth to the Savior.

Nowhere in  Scripture does Jesus, or anyone else, direct any praise, glory, or adoration  towards Mary. Elizabeth, Mary’s relative, praised Mary in Luke 1:42-44, but her  praise is based on the blessing of giving birth to the Messiah. It was not based  on any inherent glory in Mary.

Mary was present at the cross when Jesus  died (John 19:25).  Mary was also with the apostles on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14). However, Mary is never mentioned again after  Acts chapter 1. The apostles did not give Mary a prominent role. Mary’s death is  not recorded in the Bible. Nothing is said about Mary ascending to heaven or  having an exalted role there. As the earthly mother of Jesus, Mary should be  respected, but she is not worthy of our worship or adoration.

The Bible  nowhere indicates that Mary can hear our prayers or that she can mediate for us  with God. Jesus is our only advocate and mediator in heaven (1 Timothy 2:5). If offered  worship, adoration, or prayers, Mary would say the same as the angels: “Worship  God!” (see Revelation  19:10; 22:9.)  Mary herself sets the example for us, directing her worship, adoration, and  praise to God alone: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God  my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now  on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great  things for me — holy is His name” (Luke  1:46-49).

Many  people mistakenly believe that the Immaculate Conception refers to the  conception of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ conception was most assuredly immaculate, but  the Immaculate Conception does not refer to Jesus at all. The Immaculate  Conception is a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church in regards to Mary, Jesus’  mother. An official statement of the doctrine reads, “The blessed Virgin Mary to  have been, from the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and  privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Christ Jesus the Savior of  Mankind, preserved free from all stain of original sin.” Essentially, the  Immaculate Conception is the belief that Mary was protected from original sin,  that Mary did not have a sin nature, and was, in fact, sinless. The  problem with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is that it is not taught  in the Bible. The Bible nowhere describes Mary as anything but an ordinary human  female whom God chose to be the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ. Mary was  undoubtedly a godly woman (Luke 1:28).  Mary was surely a wonderful wife and mother. Jesus definitely loved and  cherished His mother (John 19:27).  The Bible gives us no reason to believe that Mary was sinless. In fact, the  Bible gives us every reason to believe that Jesus Christ is the only Person who  was not “infected” by sin and never committed a sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23; 2 Corinthians 5:211 Peter  2:22; 1 John  3:5). The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception originated out of  confusion over how Jesus Christ could be born sinless if He was conceived inside  of a sinful human female. The thought was that Jesus would have inherited a  sinful nature from Mary had she been a sinner. In contrast to the Immaculate  Conception, the biblical solution to this problem is that Jesus Himself was  miraculously protected from being polluted by sin while He was inside Mary’s  womb. If God was capable of protecting Mary from sin, would He not be able to  protect Jesus from sin? Therefore, Mary being sinless is neither necessary nor  biblical. The Roman Catholic Church argues that the Immaculate  Conception is necessary because without it, Jesus would have been the object of  His own grace. The thought goes like this – for Jesus to have been miraculously  preserved from sin, which itself would be an act of grace, would mean God  essentially “graced Himself.” The word grace means “unmerited favor.”  Grace is giving someone something he or she does not deserve. God performing a  miracle in preserving Jesus from sin is not “grace.” In no sense could Jesus  possibly be infected with sin. He was perfect and sinless humanity joined with  sinless divinity. God cannot be infected or affected by sin, as He is perfectly  holy. This same truth applies to Jesus. It did not take “grace” to protect Jesus  from sin. Being God incarnate, Jesus was in His essence “immune” from  sin. So, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is neither biblical  nor necessary. Jesus was miraculously conceived inside Mary, who was a virgin at  the time. That is the biblical concept of the virgin birth. The Bible does not  even hint that there was anything significant about Mary’s conception. If we  examine this concept logically, Mary’s mother would have to be immaculately  conceived as well. How could Mary be conceived without sin if her mother was  sinful? The same would have to be said of Mary’s grandmother, great-grandmother,  and so on. So, in conclusion, the Immaculate Conception is not a biblical  teaching. The Bible teaches the miraculous virgin conception of Jesus Christ,  not the immaculate conception of Mary.