This question is really a question about Jesus human mother, Mary. Mariolatry is the worship of Mary. Mariology is the study on the doctrine of Mary. These terms have divided Catholics and Protestants for centuries. Actually, they have much in common regarding Mary. They agree that she’s “most blessed among women” in that she was chosen by God as the vessel from which He would bring forth the savior of the world, she conceived Christ as a virgin, and she lived an exemplary life of faith. But it’s the differences in their views that have caused much division. The most important of these differences are: The perpetual virginity of Mary, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Bodily assumption of Mary, Mary’s role as the Mediator between man and Christ, as well as the veneration of Mary and her images. The question I’m attempting to answer concerns the perpetual virginity of Mary.

According to Ott’s “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma,” The Lateran Synod of A.D. 649 was the first to stress the threefold character of Mary’s virginity. As a result, Catholics believe that “Mary was a Virgin before, during and after the Birth of Jesus Christ.” All agree that Mary was a virgin at conception. The question is did she remain one. Ott finds Biblical support in several passages. Mary’s statement to the angel that announced her conception of Jesus, “…I have known not a man,” infers that she took an oath of perpetual virginity. That Jesus entrusted the care of His mother to the Apostle John is evidence that there were no other children to care for her after His death. Regarding the references to Jesus’ brothers, Ott points out that the term might also be translated as “cousins.” Further, Joseph may have been a widower with children from a previous marriage. As a side note, Martin Luther accepted the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary and said it wasn’t an essential doctrine of the faith.

That she had made a vow of virginity is contradicted by the Bible in that she was already “betrothed” to Joseph. That Christ entrusted His mother in the hands of John is not evidence that she had no other children, only that they weren’t present at the cross. Also, they did not become believers until later. Regarding the “brother/cousin” debate, Matthew 13:55 says, “Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us?” To include cousins in this statement seems inconsistent with its purpose. Besides, there is a Greek word for cousin that’s used in Colossians 4:10 connecting Mark and Barnabas. There is no single example where the Greek word “Adelphos” is used to mean cousin. Finally, if these “brothers” are children of Joseph from a previous marriage, the oldest son would have been the physical heir to David’s throne, not Jesus. So much more could be said!

“…and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.” Matthew 1:16