Protestant teaching of Mary

… I know I may be opening up an endless conversation, but what is the Protestant teaching of Mary?
Mary and Joseph was engaged before Christ’s conception
Mary and Joseph later were married
Mary and Joseph were always engaged and never married
Mary ever virgin or no
Mary have other children or only Jesus
Mary adopted other children that were unwanted or abandoned
Mary adopted Joseph’s children from other marriages (step children to Jesus)
Joseph was a widower
it is ok to show Joseph beside Mary in family portraits or not? (if images are allowed in Protestantism)


yay or nay on anything of this, please provide sources from bible or other tradition books/non cannon books. i just want to know here these beliefs/ideas are coming from. too much diversity on this topic within the Christian world that contradict each other.
please use greek when you are able to over hebrew. thank you <3

I believe all the original Protestant Reformers – Luther, Calvin, etc. – accepted Mary’s perpetual virginity.

But Protestants as a whole will not have one answer.

I think it might be more productive to ask the original apostolic churches that exist today (Catholic, Assyrian Church, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox) what they understand regarding Mary.

(Preface: I don’t have sources, this is anecdotal, but being a cradle Protestant, I think I know the issue.)

I don’t know that there’s any solid teachings. Coming from a church life as a Baptist pastor’s kid, Mary was never mentioned outside of the Christmas season. If someone brought up her perpetual virginity, most fellow Baptists I know either didn’t know and wouldn’t care what their position was, or they knew their position (that Jesus had “brothers” as we understand them, and not just cousins as the original language allowed for), but also didn’t care. They’d point to a verse that showed Mary had other children (misinterpreted) but they’d treat the issue as someone saying that ice is different from water because it’s not liquid. Clearly a nonsensical statement! So because they initially misinterpret the verses, the main issue with private interpretation, they conclusively deny her perpetual virginity. But they still didn’t care, thought it was a non-issue.

This is a common interpretation, but in my churches, there was no official teaching. Baptist churches are way too loosey-goosey.

Sure, we show the Nativity scene all the time.
The rest of the questions are treated as non-issues

It’s not the virginity, it’s the immaculate conception and the assumption that’s a big issue.
Also, all phrasings like co-mediatrix or co-redemptrix wouldn’t work.

I remember making my young Confirmation priest very uncomfortable about Jesus’ brothers and us being required to believe in perpetual virginity. At the time I was probably not very polite about my fierce skepticism.
Currently I view that perpetual virginity more as a state of mind than something physical. The way a rape victim in a way is still a virgin. (And no, I am Not calling the Virgin Mary a rape victim!) It may not be theologically sound but it works for me.


I guess the question I would have to ask is whether Mary’s supposed virginity was used first in a symbolic way, such as being a metaphor, namely that she was a very special and righteous person who was the mother of the Savior?

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It’s not the virginity, it’s the immaculate conception and the assumption that’s a big issue.

All the OP’s questions seem to relate to the virginity of Mary in some way or another.

But again, I’d look to the Eastern churches too. It’s not like the Catholic Church randomly came up with these beliefs out of the blue. That something akin to them is found in other apostolic communions, like Eastern Orthodox, expresses the ancient origin of them.

For example, just today I read this on the Syriac (Maronite) tradition of Mary’s Assumption:

So it’s not just Latin West. Not just Byzantine East. But even Syriac Christianity (in this case Maronite Church, which is in communion with Rome).

There can be no doubt that the Virgin Mary is in heaven. How it happened we do not know. And since the Holy Spirit has told us nothing about it, we can make of it no article of faith . . . It is enough to know that she lives in Christ.
(Sermon of August 15, 1522,)

It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary’s soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God’s gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin"
(Sermon: “On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God,” 1527)

She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin- something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil.
(Personal {“Little”} Prayer Book, 1522)

— Martin Luther

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Ex-Baptist here.

Mary was a pious woman, but sinful. Jesus’ brothers are half-brothers she conceived with Joseph. She died just like the rest of us. And honestly, I heard a lot more about Mary of Bethany as an example.

I didn’t know the Devil could have enmity with a ‘sinful’ Woman. I find it super strange, also, that an immaculate angel would Hail a ‘sinful’ Woman to be full of grace. Hmmmm. :roll_eyes:


We’re all sinful and presumably the Devil hates us, too.

Anyway, Protestants just generally focus on Mary a lot less so they probably don’t have generally accepted answers to these questions. Mostly I think the consensus is Mary was a very good woman who was specially favored by God but no more than that.


Up above - on this site - you see a magnifying glass -
Type in each question ( one at a time )
It’s a search tool -
And you get all past discussions on the various subjects concerning Mary.

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Did you used to believe that or is that what you still believe?

God didn’t place enmity between you and the Devil like He did with Mary. Lucifer fell at Mary’s Fiat and was eternally replaced by her. The opposition that the Devil has with Mary is so strong that he trembles at her name.

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Protestants denominations are so diverse that I can’t really say.

Great! So you can go there to find all the past discussions instead of posting what we already know on here? :wink:

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I’ll speak from the American Evangelical position.

Mary was chosen by God to be the earthly mother of Christ/God/The Word made flesh (however you want to put it).
Mary was made pregnant by the Holy Spirit and was a virgin.
Mary was full of grace (favor) and was blessed by God for her special purpose
After Christ was born Mary and Joseph had a normal marriage including having other children
Christ was Mary’s savior just as He is the savior of all who have faith in Him.

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What does favor mean in this context? Is favor used more or is it grace?

Are you sure, brother?

Evangelicals don’t tend to think about Mary much. Nor do they typically place much emphasis on the Dedication and Southern Baptists will outright downplay the wedding at Cana. Mary doesn’t really exist beyond the stable.

The saddest, absolute saddest thing I’ve ever heard! There is no Saint in Heaven that was not piously devoted to Our Blessed Mother.

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