Catholic Convos

To be frank, I am seeking respectful discussion regarding beliefs about Mary. To my understanding, what Rome teaches about Mary is heretical and false. It is a different Mary than the Mary that Protestants (like myself) hold to. Doctrine about Mary may seem like an unimportant matter to most. However, unbiblical views about her can become very serious and idolatrous.

Not only do I have Catholic coworkers, but I have friends who believe what I’m about to address. As a student of the Word, I have convictions and beliefs about Mary that have been developed from the pages of Scripture. These are not beliefs that were thought up by man, nor are they my personal opinions.

In this post…

I want to lay some thoughts before you, and invite you to share your constructive thoughts. I have legitimate questions.

Recently, I was discussing differences between Catholicism and Protestantism with a friend of mine at work. He brought up the fact that they believe that Mary not only gave birth to Jesus as a virgin, but Mary also died a virgin. She never lost her virginity. This belief is wrapped up in certain doctrines like the Immaculate Conception. Furthermore, this means Catholics believe Jesus did not have any siblings. Catholics believe Mary only gave birth to Jesus, alone.

So, I plainly asked my devout Catholic friend how he handles Matthew 13:55-56, which states, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”

The responses to this question from my Catholic friends have ranged. Some have said they don’t know how to respond to this  Bible text. Some said Jesus’ siblings were Joseph’s children conceived by another woman other than Mary… Some have said they were his spiritual brothers and sisters.

Help me out.

Looking at the text, how can it be possible to assert Mary remained a virgin her whole earthly life?

I won’t go rambling now! I do hope to get constructive thoughts in return to help me better understand the Catholic teaching on this. How can we take this text and be able to say that Mary remained a virgin, and Jesus did not have any actual brothers or sisters?

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Read Catholic Convos Pt. II here!

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11 thoughts on “Catholic Convos

  1. Hi, paytej! It is difficult to defend Mary’s “perpetual virginity,” but Catholics do. Here is another passage that causes problems for the Catholic view:

    Matthew 1:24-25
    24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.
    According to The New American Standard Bible, verse 25 is literally “and was not knowing her” until.

    Here is how the Catholic New American Bible translates and footnotes these verses:

    Matthew 1:24-25 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

    24 When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. 25 He had no relations with her until she bore a son,[a] and he named him Jesus.

    Footnote: 1:25 Until she bore a son: the evangelist is concerned to emphasize that Joseph was not responsible for the conception of Jesus. The Greek word translated “until” does not imply normal marital conduct after Jesus’ birth, nor does it exclude it.

    I believe that Catholic dogma states that Mary had to be “ever virgin” and “conceived without sin” in order to be holy enough for her role as Christ’s mother. Also, they put a high premium on celibacy which is another issue but somewhat related. I believe they also use the argument that Jesus would not have given her into the care of the apostle John if she had had other children (sons).

    I’m a former Catholic, raised and educated as a Catholic. Keep encouraging your Catholic co-workers and friends to read The Bible.

    1. Thank you for your comments Maria. Very interesting. That word ‘until’ is quite clear to me that they certainly were a true married couple. Looking at the verse in my post shows me Jesus did in fact have actual siblings. Matt. 1:24-25 is clearly coherent to this point. Thank you!

  2. I agree with you that Catholic dogma on Mary pushes the evidence way further than a reasonable person would go. I would encourage you at the same time to consider what she teaches us. I could go through every event in her life (annunciation, visitation, nativity, presentation, epiphany, Cana, et cetera) and note lesson after lesson that we can learn just from her few words and actions. Moreover, the Magnificat is arguably one of the most beautiful poems in all of scripture, and has a great deal of poignancy in our modern world in which many of us long to see the mighty cast down from their thrones. Was Mary immaculately conceived? Was she celibate within her marriage to Joseph? I don’t think so. But is she an incredible saint, even (dare I say it) our spiritual mother? That I can believe.

          1. “I don’t believe Mary would want us to believe that about her…” An interesting thought! Drop by my blog sometime; I’ve got many thoughts on ethics and theology that may interest/inspire you.