Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #130

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

Hey folks,


I want to share with you an urgent situation that I was made aware of by an email I received from Catholic apologist Tim Staples about a friend of his. If there is anything you can do to help this family out, it would be greatly appreciated!


"Howdy Folks,


Some of you know the Acosta family. Andy and Arlene Acosta are good friends of Valerie and me and wonderful Catholic people. In fact, Andy was one of my groomsmen at Valerie and my wedding. They have eight kids and they are struggling financially right now. Andy lost his job as an office manager and had no luck in finding work for some time. He finally had to take a job that could not pay the bills entirely causing them to lose their house. Since then Andy has been “underemployed” as he continues to seek better paying work. They have now run out of savings and have nothing left. With government assistance and what Andy makes now, they cannot pay the rent, food, etc. A friend was helping them with their rent but can no longer do so. If anyone can help them his address is below.


How can you help? If you can send them any money that would help tremendously. They need to make it through the holidays and hopefully Andy can find better paying work in the coming New Year. If you know someone who may be hiring, Andy can send you his resume (he lives in the Los Angeles-Orange County area but is willing to relocate anywhere).


I have been helping Andy and Arlene when I can over the last few months. Andy is a great guy who is really down on his luck. They have lost everything, but Andy’s faith in the midst of all of this is truly an inspiration to me. He maintains his sense of humor and deep faith in God in the worst of times. But this situation is really weighing on his family. Any help would be appreciated.


God Bless,


Tim Staples


Their address is:


Andy and Arlene Acosta


8907 Arcadia Ave.


San Gabriel, CA 91775


I’ve put my check in the mail to the Acosta family…if you can help them and their eight kids out with your prayers and maybe with a few dollars, it would be a very good thing and I know they would be eternally grateful.

Introduction

In this issue I am going to continue with, and hopefully finish up, the topic of the perpetual virginity of Mary.


I have two more Bible passages to present that support the Catholic teaching on this subject, and then I want to answer one of the main objections I have heard to this particular teaching on Mary.

Challenge/Response/Strategy

 Perpetual Virginity of Mary  (cont’d)

There are two other passages from Scripture that I wish to mention to support the biblical argument for the perpetual virginity of Mary – Ezek 44:1-2 and Luke 1:34.

"Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east; and it was shut.  And he said to me, "This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut."

If a gate of the temple which has been used by the Lord is so holy that no one else shall enter through that gate, then how much moreso the gate by which the Lord entered into this life to bring salvation to all mankind?  Mary is the gate through which the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered, and therefore it (her womb) shall remain shut and no one else will enter by it.   

Luke 1:34, "Then said Mary unto the angel, ‘How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?’"  Mary, after being told by an angel she was going to conceive a child in her womb, asks the angel, "How shall this be?"  If Mary was planning on having normal marital relations with Joseph, then this has to be one of the dumbest questions of all time.  Think of a woman, any woman, who is engaged to a man.  This woman is hoping to have many children with her soon-to-be husband.  An angel appears to her and says, "You shall conceive a child in your womb."  What would the woman say?  She would say, "Great!"  "Wonderful!"  "Awesome!"  She would not say, "How can this be?"  She would know that once she got married, and she and her husband engaged in the marital act, that the natural result would be a child.  So, again, if Mary was planning on having normal marital relations with Joseph, then this was a really dumb question. 

But, if Mary had taken a vow of perpetual virginity, if she had made a vow to God to remain a virgin for her entire lifetime, then this question makes perfect sense.  Why else ask that question?  Now, someone might say, "Well, Mary simply had never had the birds and the bees talk with her mom, so she simply didn’t understand the physical process involved."  Sorry, by her own words, we see that Mary clearly knows that one has a child by "knowing" a man.  This was a Jewish euphemism for engaging in the marital act.  So, if it is not out of ignorance that Mary asks that question, what then?  Mary asks that question because she knew that she and Joseph were not going to have physical relations.  That is the only thing that makes this question make sense.  Ask someone who does not believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary the question of why Mary asked this question, and see what they say.  I’ll bet it doesn’t make a whole lotta sense.

So, we see that the Bible actually presents some pretty strong evidence – Old Testament and New – for Mary being a perpetual virgin.  There is no direct "proof" of that from the Bible, but there is a strong case to be made using the Bible.  What objections are raised then, by those who say the Bible proves Mary was not a perpetual virgin?  Outside of the passages like Mark 6:3 which refer to Jesus’ "brothers" and "sisters," which I have already shown are not referring to other children of Mary, there is one Bible passage that is usually laid down as the trump card by folks who object to the Church’s teaching on this matter.  That passage is Matthew 1:24-25, which says, "When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son…" 

"See," they say, "It says Joseph knew her not UNTIL she had borne a son.  Which means that he did "know" her after she had borne a son.  Therefore, Mary was not a perpetual virgin." 

Does the use of the word "until" automatically mean that something was true up to a certain point of time and then it was no longer true?  Absolutely not.  Let’s look at 1 Tim 4:13.  Paul writes to Timothy and says, "Until I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching."  Does that mean that Timothy, after Paul visited him, never again publicly read the scripture or preached or taught?  It does if "until" automatically means things change after the "until" condition is met.  So, ask those who throw Matthew 1:25 at you if Timothy stopped the public reading of scripture, stopped preaching, and stopped teaching after Paul arrived. 

Also, ask them if Jesus is to reign forever or not.  They will undoubtedly say, "Yes, Jesus will reign forever."  Then simply take them to 1 Cor 15:25 which says, "For He [Christ] must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet."  Which means, using the same interpretative model they used for Matt 1:24-25, that Jesus is not going to reign forever.  He only reigns "until" He puts all His enemies under His feet, then He no longer reigns.  After all, the word "until" means that things change after the "until" condition is fulfilled. 

Yet, Scripture tells us very plainly that Jesus will reign forever: Luke 1:33, "and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there will be no end."  Rev 22:5, "And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they [Father and Son] shall reign for ever and ever." 

So, it seems that Jesus does reign forever, even though Scripture says He will reign "until" all of His enemies have been defeated.  Which means the word "until" does not absolutely denote a change of condition.  One more example that proves this is from Acts 8:40.  In Acts 8:40, it tells us that Philip preached the gospels all over the place "until" he came to Caesarea.  So that means he stopped preaching the gospel after getting to Caesarea, right?  I don’t think so.

Does the word "until" ever signify a change of condition?  Absolutely.  In fact, that is the most common usage of the word.  However, as I have clearly shown, it is also used to simply show the way things are up to a certain point in time, without necessarily indicating a change of condition after that certain point in time.

So, Matthew 1:24-25 is simply letting you know that Jesus’ birth was a virgin birth.  That Joseph had no relations with Mary before Jesus’ birth, thus fulfilling the prophecy of a virgin giving birth.  There is no intent here to imply that Joseph did then have relations with Mary after the birth of Jesus. 

 

[Had computer problems all afternoon and didn’t quite finish, but I want to send this out today as I’ll be out of the office all day tomorrow.  I also did not have the time to do a thorough proof of this, so if you see any major gaffes, please let me know.]

 

In Conclusion

I hope everyone had a happy and holy Thanksgiving holiday and I hope you have a great week. Should be back with another issue next week.

God bless!

John

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Apologetics for the Masses