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Matthew 28:1 - Perpetual Virginity of Mary
Victor M. Eskew
The Catholic Church believes that Mary, the mother of Jesus, remained a virgin after the birth of Christ. In other words, she did not ever have a sexual relationship with her husband Joseph, and she never had any more children. This doctrine is called “The Perpetual Virginity of Mary.” “And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenus, the ‘Ever-virgin’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1995, p. 141)
In response to this, it is pointed out that Mary did have other children according to Mark 6:3. “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.” The Catholic Church has an interesting response to this verse. In their Catechism, they write: “The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to the other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, ‘the brothers of Jesus,’ are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls ‘the other Mary.’ They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression” (p. 141). The phrase, “the other Mary,” is found in Matthew 28:1. “In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magadalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.”
The fact that there were other Mary’s who lived in the days of Jesus isn’t denied. It was a very common Jewish name. The problem arises when the Catholic Church assumes that “the other Mary” is the biological mother of Jesus’ brothers and sisters. It is also interesting to see that they allow Jesus to be called “the other Mary’s” son. They only do this because they hold to the doctrine of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. If Mary remained a virgin, these “brothers and sisters” cannot belong to the real mother of Jesus. Basically, they pervert the plain, simple meaning of a verse in order to hold to their false doctrine.
In Mark 6:3, Jesus is referred to as “the carpenter.” This ties him to his earthly father, Joseph, who was also a carpenter. In fact, let’s read Matthew’s account of this. “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?” (Matt. 13:55). In this text, the Jews do not have reference to some “close” family member. They are referring to Jesus immediate family. Joseph was His earthly father. Mary was not some surrogate mother. She was His real mother. The brothers and sisters were also real brothers and sisters. They were the offspring of Joseph and Mary. Joseph had only been commanded to refrain from “knowing” Mary until after the birth of Christ (Matt. 1:24-25). After that, he enjoyed a normal sexual union with his wife, and they brought other children into the world. Mary did not remain a perpetual virgin.