Updated: January 29, 2023
Joseph was told in his dream not to be afraid to take Mary his wife into his home. In this dream where the angel gave terse, explicit instructions Joseph heard enough to change his attitude, choose God’s will over his own and set a new course of action.
He made a quick decision with firm resolve, “. . . he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took his wife into his home.” She was three months pregnant, had just returned from Judea and so the secret was intact.Matthew 1: 25 says, “. . . he had no relations with her. . . .” The Scripture is clear in stating Joseph had no sexual relations with Mary prior to Jesus’ birth. However, it does not indicate that he did or he did not have relations with her after Jesus was born.
The doctrine of perpetual virginity of Mary is a church tradition supported by the intent of Scripture but not by direct, exact or explicit word. Scripture does not indicate that he was instructed to have no relations with her. It is obvious that he simply chose not to. He was a righteous man. So righteous his sexuality and passion did not impinge on his sense of propriety.
And, if he made the decision not to have sex with Mary prior to the birth of Jesus why is it odd to consider that this was a decision he made for a lifetime? He protected her purity and virginity. After all, she was God’s woman. Could he at some point – allow me to be vulgar simply to make a point to a 21st Century audience – decided it’s OK to plow in God’s field? God’s through with it? Now it’s my turn?I think not. Joseph had nothing much in common with the shameless overt, in your face, sensuality of our day. He was an observant 1st Century Jew, full of Messianic expectations. The kind of man who could keep a secret, change his life at a single word from God, observe Moses’ law yet embrace mercy, hear an angel and obey promptly without second guessing or regret.