Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
Elizabeth to Mary, Luke 1:42-45
In an earlier post, Joshua Torrey demonstrates that John Calvin did not reject the perpetual virginity of Mary, yet, Calvin argues, this is a debate to which those who are fond of arguing sometimes gravitate. The assertion or denial of her perpetual virginity seems particularly important to those who worship and pray to Mary, to those for whom virginity is idolized above marital fidelity, or to those wishing to score one against the papists. However, there are more admirable reasons for arguing from Matthew 13:55, 1 Corinthians 9:5, and Galatians 1:19 that Mary had other children. For example, it shows that Christ is part of a covenant family that continued by God's grace through generations, both before and after him. Being the Son of God, he is certainly the most special son of that family, but by having a regular human life, he sanctifies all of life: by being a brother and son and uncle and brother-in-law, a carpenter's son, a teacher in the synagogue, a guest at parties, a friend, a traveler, a common human life. There is nothing more universal to human experience than family, and Jesus had one.
His family was really normal except for all the ways it wasn't. In Luke 1, Elizabeth is filled with the Spirit at the mere sound of Mary's greeting, and the unborn prophet jumped for joy too. What kind of woman is Mary that the sound of her greeting brought such joys?
Reformed Christians should say a number of good things in response to that question, but we are rightly hesitant out of a concern not to be misunderstood. Under the name of Mary, wide swaths of the baptized pray to her as the Queen of Heaven, she is adored in images that appear a lot like pagan goddess worship, and infertile couples drink liquified wall scrapings from a grotto where it is imagined her breast milk squirted on the walls. Many more Marian idolatry and oddities abound, and Bible believing Christians are right to reject these.
In being careful to avoid errors and misunderstand, we need to remember that rejecting error can lead to different errors.
Keeping that in mind, Joshua Torrey is currently working on fascinating, short biblical theology of sorts on Mary that we will soon post. Until then, I will leave you with this quotation from Bavinck: