Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #33: “He Knew Her Not…Until”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on Mary as he counters evangelical Protestants’ arguments that Mary was not a perpetual virgin because Scripture says, “He Knew Her Not…Until.”

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Celibate Roman Catholic clerics had a low regard for sexual relations within marriage and taught that Mary, their spotless “Queen of Heaven,” was a perpetual virgin.

“The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ’s birth “did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity* but sanctified it.” And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the “Ever-virgin.” – CCC 499.

Protestants counter by pointing to Matthew 1:25:

“but (Joseph) knew her not until she had given birth to a son.”

The verse indicates Mary and Joseph had normal marital sexual relations after Jesus was born. Broussard attempts to refute the Protestant interpretation with three rebuttals:

(1) Broussard posits that the word “until” (Greek – heōs) doesn’t necessarily signal a change in future status. As an illustration, Broussard offers the saying of one friend to another, “Be safe until I see you again.” The speaker in that case isn’t implying that his friend should be unsafe after they meet again.

(2) Broussard provides examples in Scripture where heōs – “until” or “to” – is used to indicate a select period of time without reference to change in the future, such as 1 Timothy 4:13, 1 Corinthians 1:8, and 2 Corinthians 3:15.

(3) Broussard argues that, framed in context with preceding verses, Matthew is “trying to persuade his audience (in Matthew 1:25) that Jesus’ conception and birth were miraculous, not to tell us what Mary did afterward” (p. 185).

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

Did you catch Broussard’s argumentation? He’s claiming that, paraphrasing Matthew 1:25, “Joseph didn’t have sex with Mary until she gave birth to Jesus” only means that Joseph didn’t have sex with Mary while she was pregnant, and doesn’t convey that he had sex with her afterwards.

We fully understand that heōs – “until” or “to” – doesn’t always indicate/signal a change in future status. But in the case of Matthew 1:25, the clearest interpretation is that Joseph and Mary began normal, marital relations after Mary gave birth to Jesus. Broussard’s argument that “but (Joseph) knew her not until she had given birth to a son” connotes the same lack of future change as “Be safe until I see you again” is lexical subterfuge.

Are there ANY Bible verses that either explicitly or implicitly teach that Mary was a perpetual virgin? No, there are not. The notion is based solely on Catholic tradition. We’ve previously discussed that the Bible teaches Jesus had multiple half-siblings. See here.

The Roman Catholic church’s low regard for natural sexual relations within marriage meant that Mary, the chaste and spotless Queen of Heaven, could never have been “soiled” by her husband. In contrast to Catholicism, the Bible honors the sexual union of husband and wife. The apostle Paul wrote under divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit that married believers ought not to withhold themselves from each other as the Roman church claims Mary and Joseph did.

“Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” – 1 Corinthians 7:5

*Included in the RCC’s doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity is the not-widely-known assertion that as she was giving birth to baby Jesus, He miraculously passed through her hymen without rupturing it, thus preserving her “virginal integrity.”

Is the perpetual virginity of Mary biblical?
https://www.gotquestions.org/perpetual-virginity-Mary.html

What does the Bible say about sex in marriage?
https://www.gotquestions.org/sex-in-marriage.html

45 thoughts on “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #33: “He Knew Her Not…Until”

  1. Hi, Papa Tom! As I read this chapter my thought was “Author, thou dost protest too much.” To say that Matthew 1:25 is not saying Joseph and Mary had sexual relations after the birth of Jesus is ridiculous. Well done with stating Paul’s view of marriage, sex and unity. I cannot reconcile/grasp why Mary‘s virginity is something Catholic doctrine holds so tightly too. I had no idea about the RCC’s teaching on the actual, physical birth of Christ. I do think that Protestants downplay the role/significance of Mary; however, the more I read and learn the more I understand why. Great work on this one Tom! I know they take a lot out of you! Someday maybe I could FaceTime/Skype/Zoom with you and Corrine and ask you more questions live?! Totally unrelated to this topic but relates to your site’s mission: I saw my niece last weekend and my mom asked her, “How do you like CCD?” She responded, “I hate it!” This may well be the only time she hears about Jesus in any capacity. There is no talking about Jesus or the Bible in their house. My brother is a believer in science and my sister-in-law is RCC and participated in rituals.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Mandy! Thanks for all of your comments and encouragement!
      RE: Catholicism’s focus on Mary
      I may have mentioned to you previously that it’s quite revealing that Broussard devotes 10 of his 50 chapters to Mary and the saints. Catholics devote so much of their energy and focus on these claims about Mary (like this chapter about her perpetual virginity) because they seek to substantiate her alleged right to the offices of Mediatrix, Co-Redemptrix, and Advocate. She must be semi-deified in order to hold those offices, which require divine powers. That’s what all of these chapters about Mary and the saints are essentially about.
      RE: Conference call
      Yes, we would enjoy getting together with you someday via one of the internet/phone portals! Even I’m getting more tech savvy during this lockdown!.
      RE: your niece and CCD
      Our oldest son’s girlfriend’s 14YO daughter (typical “modern” family) is being forced to take CCD by her father in order to be “confirmed” and she regularly tells everyone how much she hates it. Nobody goes to mass. It’s almost better that they don’t. It reminds me of when my classmates and myself were forced through the requisite rituals like in an assembly line while in Catholic grammar school. Nobody knew Christ as Savior. I will continue to pray for your brother and his family.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you for your prayers, you are SO kind!!! I had no clue why Broussard spent so much time on this, thank you! I am such a novice when it comes to this stuff! My brother hasn’t been inside a church since my nephew’s baptism almost 5 years ago. My sister-in-law possibly go but doesn’t bring the kids. My mom got them a little people Nativity and he was unhappy so that’s the state of things with them. It’s heartbreaking but what can ya do?! Prayer changes things that’s all I know! Thank you Tom for all your time and energy you pour into me! How is Corrine doing today? It’s a real arthritic day here, praying for Corrine and her back.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. RE: unsaved family and friends
        Yes, we can light at least one candle each day just by praying and then waiting for an opportunity as the Lord leads. Corinne sends out a Bible verse to our unsaved family members every day, she’s more of an extrovert and a more assertive “witnessor” than me.

        It’s a blessing for me to help other Christians understand the differences between Gospel Christianity and the RCC. As you can imagine, getting saved out of the RCC, but then hearing unwitting evangelical leaders infer or say it’s fine is so disappointing and such a disservice to both evangelicals and Catholics.

        Thank you for your prayers for Corinne! Her malady is complex and involves cranial asymmetry leading to neck and shoulder strain that was all exacerbated by a femur fracture 1.5 years ago. The discomfort brings on panic attacks. Argh! Sorry for all the details! Do you have arthritis?

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I’m SO sorry I have been spelling with two r’s rather than n’s. It won’t happen again! I don’t have arthritis…yet. I have scoliosis so my back gets super tight and achy with humidity and precipitation. I can understand totally pain and discomfort brining on panic attacks. I remembered in my “real or perceived” post that you mentioned your wife had a terrible ordeal that she is working through. Were you in a car accident if I may ask? I was just wondering based on her injuries. Sorry if this is too personal, feel free not to post!

        Liked by 2 people

      4. RE: two r’s
        That’s quite alright, Mandy. The two r’s is the more popular spelling so we’re both used to it.
        Sorry about your scoliosis! I know that can be very uncomfortable. My wife has that as well. She was born with the cranial asymmetry, but she coped with it until she broke her femur in 1984 showing our two sons how to skateboard and she was bad off with head and neck pain and anxiety for a couple of years until the symptoms abated. She refractured the same femur in 2018 by falling in the bathroom tub followed by the same head/neck/back discomfort and anxiety/panic. Being forced to walk differently because of the broken leg was the final straw for an already imbalanced, over-strained system.
        Doctors can now do all kinds of things for babies born with cranial deformities, but they didn’t have the science back in 1955.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks! We need to speak with a rep at the Workers Compensation Board next so it’s all on hold till then. Enjoy the rest of your busy afternoon. I’m finishing off the jambalaya then R&R.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Keep me posted with the Board; hope your wife gets it. Just finish our new and improved youth group (we basically double our efforts to reach all our youths). I got beat up and burned up walking today didn’t expect it to be sooo hot.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks! Lord bless your youth group efforts! For me, walking in the extreme summer heat is almost as challenging as walking in the winter’s snow and ice.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I think one of the thing I feel I see in history is that people who warn others are often seen as crazy and sensational by those who are the majority…its not easy to be “prophetic.”

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, brother! I try to write these apologetics posts keeping in mind that most people don’t know a lot about the details of Catholicism (that includes most Catholics). I could get very wordy with these post but I’m trying to keep them under 700 words.

        Liked by 1 person

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