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Our readers asked:

Did Mary eventually have sex with Joseph?

Ginny Kubitz Moyer Answers:

According to Church tradition, no.  Mary remained a virgin her entire life.

This belief is reflected in numerous early Church writings.  The Protoevangelium of James, written around A.D. 150, portrays Mary as a consecrated virgin who never had sex with Joseph.  Early Church Fathers, including Augustine and Jerome, spoke of Mary’s perpetual virginity.  Even Martin Luther himself affirmed this teaching.

Admittedly, this tradition is challenging for many modern Catholics.  It’s probably helpful to view it not as a repudiation of marital sexuality, but as a statement of the uniqueness of the Holy Family.  In raising the Son of God, Mary and Joseph had a lot on their plate.   It’s understandable that they would focus on Jesus rather than add additional children to the family.

As the National Conference of Catholic Bishops say in their letter Behold Your Mother: Woman of  Faith,

“God called Mary and Joseph to sublimate the consummation of their married love in exclusive dedication to the holy Child, conceived not by a human father but by the Holy Spirit.”

 
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The Author : Ginny Kubitz Moyer
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is the author of the award-winning book Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area and blogs at randomactsofmomness.com.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • James Faehr

    In matthew it says joesph did not have relations with Mary untill after Jesus was born

  • Ginny

    Todd, check out the footnotes for the New American Bible and the passages you cited. They have some helpful information about the original texts and the challenges of English translation (particularly with regards to the Greek word that is translated as “until” and the original term used for “brothers.”)

  • Todd Hickman

    Matthew 1:24-25
    New International Version (NIV)
    24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

    It’s plainly in the bible that Joseph waited to have sex with Mary until after Jesus was born. It’s why these verses refer to Jesus’ brothers and sisters:

    Matthew 13:55-56 “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 “And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his home town, and in his own household.”

    Mark 6:3 “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. 4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his home town and among his own relatives and in his own household.”

    You have to do serious spinning to hold onto a tradition in lieu of what the bible very plainly states.

    Mary and Joseph had sex and had other children after Jesus was born.

  • William Bengle

    I used to think the answer was yes. But lately I doubt that for many reasons. 1) Joseph was older and a widower and more able to “control” his urges than a younger man. 2) when the angel of God tells you your wife is going to give birth to the Messiah your whole perspective changes…very less likely to give the handmaid of the Lord a filthy sanchez 3) until his public ministry began it’s likely that Joseph and Mary were never not in the Divine Presence of Jesus. And within the complex dynamic of the 1st century palestinian extended family that kind of privacy never really happened anyway.

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