Why do Christians think Mary was a virgin?

… or do they?

Why do Christians believe the Mother of Jesus was a virgin? Do all sects believe it? (We’ve had various threads on questions of Biblical historicity lately; why not this one?)

Paul never said she was a virgin, Mark never said she was a virgin, John never said she was a virgin. Jesus bled like a human, slept like a human, ate like a human, presumably excreted like a human; why couldn’t he have been conceived like a human?

Matthew and Luke mention Mary’s virginity briefly (and in self-contradiction: Jesus couldn’t have been of the “House of David” if he didn’t have a human father). Some say the virginity claims were later additions to appeal to Romans, who had their own myths connecting divine birth and virginity.

I’ll stipulate that Joseph might have had a dream to assuage disappointment at finding his bride pregnant, but where’s the paper trail? Did someone approach a Gospel writer 100 years later, saying “My great granddad once told me about this dream he had?”

I am not trying to ridicule anyone’s religion; my question is sincere. Many Christians accept stories like Garden of Eden as metaphors, yet the Virginity of Mary often seems to be a central plank of Christianity. Yet it is implausible, mentioned in the Gospels only briefly (and among the Nativity “embellishments”), ignored by Paul, etc.

I think that’s mostly a Catholic thing. I’m no biblical scholar, but I think Mark6:3 mentions Jesus having siblings, which suggests to me that Mary did not stay a virgin.

I believe the OP is refering to Mary being a virgin when Jesus was conceived, which is indeed a belief generally held by all Christians (and Muslims as well, actually).

I have always been a bit confused over whether she is just supposed to have been a virgin before God the F did the nasty - i.e. He was her first - or still be one after Jesus was conceived. If the latter, does that mean G the F has some sort of ghostly dong that can go right through a hymen without breaking it? (I imagine He has got to be pretty well endowed, right?)

How about after giving birth? I guess it depends on your definition of virginity, but for anyone to claim to be a virgin after squeezing a baby out of there, no matter how it got conceived, does seem quite a stretch (no pun intended).

The doctrine of perpetual virginity (that it stayed intact even after the birth and that Joseph never got in there) is just a Catholic thing. That part’s not in the Bible, though, and the gospels say unambiguously that Jesus had brothers and sisters.

Not really Christian, but its really close and gaining steam. The Urantia Book says Jesus was conceived just like everybody else.

IIRC, there was a Jewish tradition that the Messiah would be a virgin birth arising from a mistranslation of a OT verse. So, like a lot of features of the Gospels, it was probably an attempt to shoehorn Jesus’s life into the previous messianic prophecies.

As to why its emphasized so much in some Christian sects, I suspect its because the cult of Mary is popular with a lot of Christians (presumably because there aren’t a lot of other biblical females to fill the niche), and being a pregnant virgin is something that sets Mary apart from normal humans.

I expect the common among Christians (and others) attitudes that sex is evil and that virginity = purity have a lot to do with it too.

A good point. And the development of the concept of Original Sin gave the virgin birth a deeper theological significance then the more mundane miracles of the New Testament, which is probably another reason for its heavy emphasis.

Indeed, Mary’s virginity was so important that not only do Catholics believe she was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus, and somehow remained a virgin for the rest of her life (poor Joseph), but that she herself was “immaculately conceived” (which I always assumed meant she was a virgin birth as well, but actually googling, I can’t find that stated explicitly anywhere).

No. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception means that she was conceived and born without Original Sin, but not that she was the product of a virgin birth herself. (In fact, Catholic tradition says explictly that she wasn’t, and even names her parents as Sts. Joachim and Anne).

Don’t be too quick to discount people’s ability to find ambiguity in the “unambiguous,” especially when the preservation of an axiomatic tenet is at stake.

“Brother” means “cousin.”

“Wine” means “grape juice.”

“Young girl” means “virgin.”

That kind of thing.

You answered the question yourself in the OP: Christians believe that Mary was a virgin because the Gospels (at least, the two which address the point of Jesus’ birth) say that she was a virgin. What’s so complicated about that?

Quoth njtt:

The midwife attending at Jesus’ birth was surprised to find that Mary’s hymen was still intact, so it’s not just that God was Mary’s first. Whether you interpret that as meaning that God’s dong is ghostly or that the semen was just teleported into her or what isn’t addressed in the Bible.

Duuh. :confused: I mentioned a wide belief that Eden was metaphor. My question seeks to compare relative belief in implausibilities.

Just for clarification, are you saying the hymen-and-midwife bit appears in the Gospels?

I’d say it’s more than just briefly. Here are the relevant passages:

The bit about fulfilling the prophecy is a reference to the OT verse that Simplicio mentions.

Verse 25 seems to clearly indicate, contrary to Roman Catholic belief, that Mary and Joseph Did It after Jesus was born. Cecil weighs in here.

In my understanding, the Virgin Birth is important to Christians because of the Incarnation: the standard Christian belief that, in Jesus, God became a human being (as the gospel of John puts it, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”)." Christian doctrine insists that, from birth, Jesus was fully divine and fully human. (Could he have been fully divine in the sense that orthodox Christianity insists if he had had a human father as well as mother? I don’t know, but for those who answer No to that question, I can certainly understand why they insist on the Virgin Birth.)

It’s actually in the Apocryphal Gospel of Mary AKA The ProtoEvangelium of James, not the Biblical Gospels. As Rufus might say “To believe that Jesus was conceived by a Divine miracle is a matter of faith. To believe that He just transported out without breaking the hymen, that’s just stupid.”

I think you’ve been whoosed. Either that, or Chronos is confusing something he heard somewhere else with the Biblical account. No, there’s nothing in the Bible about a midwife or a hymen at Jesus’s birth.

And, while the Bible doesn’t go into detail as to how Jesus’s conception occured, my understanding is that we’re not supposed to think of it as an act of sexual intercourse between the Holy Spirit and Mary. Jews and Christians don’t go in for those gods-having-sex-with-mortals shenanigans that the pagan deities were known for.

Matthew 1:24-25

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Scripture does not seem to record if God was a tough act to follow . . . .

BTW, this is pretty clear, beyond clear, actually, that Mary did the deed with Joseph, so where do the Catholics get the perpetual virginity ‘thing’?

To go further here, did the Catholic Church ever have the discussion as to whether or not they would observe Biblical Inerrancy and Biblical Literalism ?

We already have the answer to that (they wouldn’t), but does any Church teaching or policy, or stricture or edict address why they are not Literalist and Inerranticists?

This I believe is a strong part of it, she was exempt from original sin which is very important. How I see it:

(* indicated from scriptures)

Premise for next paragraph: Mary was/is the female Jesus figure. Scriptures talk mostly of men, which I believe is due to the sin of Eve, which placed her in submission*. Whatever is bound on earth is bound in heaven*. And man is the image of God*.

Man has a counterpart, women, who man is made to be one with, God would also need a female counterpart - this I believe is what we call creation. But since the serpent deceived Eve, Eve was placed in submission, so that also bound creation (Mother God) in submission, therefore we only have Father God for now, Mother needs the redemption of her daughters to re-obtain equal status (because what is bound on earth is bound in heaven), and that’s why we don’t hear about Mother God in scriptures. Our patriotically society is due to the serpent deception of Eve, not God’s preferred plan, but one He mediated for us * due to what happened with Adam and Eve.

Jesus, the perfect Son would also need a female counterpart, that of Mary, also sinless, though because of the role of women, we wouldn’t hear much about her in that capacity. Jesus would have to fulfill the curse on Adam (in Gen 3), basically work hard then die, Mary would have to fulfill the curse on Eve (bear a child in pain). If it was just Jesus alone there would be no redemption for the curse upon Eve, as Jesus could not bear a child.
The virginity of Mary I believe stems from what the scriptures say numerous times say about the redeemed, that God will make one as a virgin, meaning as if they never sinned. It isn’t necessarily physical sex, but spiritually combining yourself with another evil entity (choosing to follow the advice of the little devil sitting on your shoulder instead of that little angel sitting on the other shoulder).

How Jesus was conceived. It is very possible that He could have been placed there, but I believe it was done by a high angel, meaning that Jesus was a nephlium, a hybrid. That angel would be of God, unfallen, and therefore exempt from original sin.

How does that tie in with the house of David? David is associated with ‘mighty men’ a term used for the nephlium*, as well as having the wisdom of angels*. We know David has many wives*, perhaps he was also having supernatural affairs and wifes. The star of David has been linked to Kaballa <sp>, basically a belief that the star is a supernatural portal, 2 interlocking spinning pyramids, one a portal to heaven the other to earth. David may have had access to the heavens. That chain of lineage would also have to have a physical counterpart on earth, therefore a human lineage or in this case 2.

Christians were hardly the only religious people that placed a certain value on virginity.