Here is the key question: should we place Mary in the context of her Hebrew background (see Judges 11:37-40) or in the thought patters of St Jerome? The strongest argument that Mary had sexual relations with Joseph after Jesus’s birth is the text itself. I know of the backbending anchorites engage in to make the text say the opposite of what it says. It simply doesn’t work.
In the bible perpetual virginity is a tragedy (47).
The strongest argument for perpetual virginity is that Joseph would have been overawed by Mary’s high calling in giving birth to God himself that he wouldn’t have “polluted” her womb with dirty sex afterwards (Peter Gillquist, Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith, Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1989, 118). Here are the problems with such a view:
- Even if correct, it is pure speculation.
- If one partner refused sex to the other, he/she would have grounds to divorce the other (Exodus 21:10-11).
- Neither Mary nor Joseph knew that Jesus was God incarnate until after his resurrection. They would have known he was called, perhaps even Messiah, but that didn’t mean Logos Incarnate (51).
Roman Catholicism is guiltier of this than Orthodoxy, though both share the same unbiblical presuppositions. If we may reason analogically, the High Priest is sort of an analogue to the Bishop today. Yet the High Priest could marry. Why may not the Bishop?
Secondly, God has said that celibacy is “not good.” The entire scale of being ontology falls with those two words.