Saturday, June 4, 2011
Was Joseph Permitted to Kiss Mary?
Catholic Answers had a thread on their Forum- Was Joseph Permitted to Kiss Mary ?
And of course, Rome's foremost defender on this thread- not willing to "sully the purity of the Virgin Mother" says, "No!".
Unless of course it was a "chaste kiss". A kiss 'like Mary would have for her infant son'.
But of course we know the real question was, 'Did Joseph ever have intercourse with Mary?'. The real purity issue.
Now this defender is somewhat more firm here, "NO!" (Rome made it official in 1854).
And this defender maintains Joseph's celibacy with Mary..
And knowing where this is leading- insists that 'not having intercourse with your spouse would not at all be unusual or improper in their culture'.
Really? Beware when they play the specious 'culture-card'. Culture hasn't changed all that much.
And this is where this forum moderator (AmbroseSJ) tries to appeal to some specious tradition. A tradition without an apostolic source (unless early church-father Ambrose of Milan is an some kind of apostle).
According to historian-Phillip Schaff, it is thought that Ambrose of Milan was the first to promote this form of asceticism.
The notorious Pelagius was soon prominent in popularizing this ascetisism in the 4th century. It seems Pelagius appealed to Ambrose's slavishly allegorical interpretation of Ezekiel 44:1-3.
And it was this same Ambrose that was one of the first to suggest that intercourse was "impure". According to Schaff, he was likely the church father who established the first monastery in Italy (see Schaff here). And Ambrose was a church father of whom many mothers forbade their daughters to hear 'lest their daughters go the barren way of Ambrose's sister, the nun.'.
But let's get back to Joseph.
Now it is suggested by Rome that the text in question (Matthew 1:18-25) was "requiring" Joseph to keep his impure hands (and lips) off of Mary in perpetuity. A view that 4th century Jerome (with his very low view of marriage) would have no problem with. And a requirement that Joseph himself would allegedly have 'no problem with'.
But is this what the text says?
Well, let's look at that seemingly obscure Ezekiel text first. The text that Ambrose appeals to.
Constables notes are very helpful here.
Indicating that this "gate" was certainly not an allegorical gate (womb) as Ambrose supposes. And that this very human "Prince" was certainly not Jesus as Ambrose supposes.
Pretty dull of Ambrose on that one too.
Now what of Rome on the Matthew text?
Well, Rome likes to pander to both Ambrose and Jerome [and yes, even to the heretic Pelagius].
Pander to them by reading stuff into the text that just isn't there.
By insisting that Joseph maintained Mary's virginity. And by insisting just as Jerome insisted, that "until" doesn't necessarily mean "only until" (v.25).
But then even the word "until" is unnecessary, isn't it? Unnecessary and diversionary. A definite waste of ink and inkling.
Yet isn't the context of this text about the purity of Jesus- rather than the purity of Mary or Joseph?
The fulfillment of the virgin prophecy 'spoken by the Lord'- rather than Joseph's maintenance of Mary's virginity?
Isn't this about the divinity of Jesus- rather than 'the divine calling' of Joseph?
And about Joseph's calling the Divine One "Jesus"?
And what of the angelic preamble? Was Joseph truly "afraid" of taking Mary as a wife? Or merely "reconsidering" (v.20)?
Or did the angel actually tell Joseph to, "Be truly afraid of taking Mary as a wife in the fullest sense"?
Or to, "Be truly afraid of a 'usual and proper' marriage"?
In other words, was the angel actually telling Joseph to be a mere 'surrogate husband'? A mere 'surrogate daddy'?
No. That is too much reading into the text. With no supplementary evidence to support it.
And with no evidence to the contrary- I believe that Joseph remained "a righteous man" (v.19).
And became a husband and father in the fullest sense of the tradition.
Indeed, so much more than a surrogate husband.
And so much more than an aspartame daddy.