Myths about Christmas - that Mary remained a virgin

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Tuesday 23 December 2008

There is an idea floating around that Mary, after the miraculous conception of Jesus, remained a virgin for the rest of her life. As mentioned in a previous post about the virgin birth, the bible talks about how Joseph had no union with Mary until after she gave birth to a son. However, there is nothing in the text that suggests that Joseph did not have a normal ‘union’ with Mary after this birth. Further to this, the bible also talks of Jesus’ siblings without reference to any further miraculous conceptions. See for example in the gospel of Matthew at Chapter 13 verse 54 where his brothers are named and his sisters are mentioned when others are questioning the teaching of Jesus:

“‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?’ they asked. ‘Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren't all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’”

Apart from the extreme comparisons these younger siblings must have endured (“James, stop doing that, why can’t be you more like your older brother Jesus who by the time he was your age was already conversing with the rabbis, feeding the hungry and healing the sick, and you can’t even keep your bedroom tidy”), my own opinion is that any suggestion that Mary remained a virgin for the rest of her life is another myth, not directly associated with Christmas, but almost certainly arising out of the Christmas story.


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