How do Catholics justify St. Joseph not being able to consummate his marriage with his wife?

It would seem as though the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity is at odds with Catholic teaching about the purpose of marriage and holding the Holy Family up as the model for spouses would produce very few children, yet Catholics often produce very many children.

So why was St. Joseph's marriage destined to be devoid of marital intimacy?

  • Yes- that question deals with the significance, and this one with the justification: On what do Catholics base their doctrine of the eternal virginity of Mary?
    – Waggers
    Jan 16 '13 at 14:43
  • 2
    A sad world we live in when marital intimacy can only be accomplished through sex. Sep 10 '13 at 15:05
  • Is there a difference between perpetual virginity and eternal virginity? I'm familiar with the term perpetual, but hadn't heard of eternal before Sep 10 '13 at 16:19
  • 1
    I would not call this a duplicate. The asker wants to know how a Catholic would explain this issue: The marriage of Joseph and Mary seems to be at odds with the Catholic teaching on the purpose of marriage because the also teach that Mary is a perpetual virgin.
    – fгedsbend
    Sep 10 '13 at 17:30
  • Interestingly, the early Reformers (Luther, Zwingli, Bullinger, and perhaps Calvin) also believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary. See here.
    – metal
    Sep 10 '13 at 17:46

I am not a Catholic so I guess I cannot give you the best answer, but here's my answer from an Eastern Orthodox viewpoint, which might be quite different from the Catholic one (or not?):

The ultimate purpose of marriage is actually the salvation of the bride and groom together. Bearing children is not a purpose in itself, but a consequence. Having children is encouraged but not 'mandatory'. Not bearing children was seen as a damnation in the Old Testament, but nowadays Orthodox fathers teach that it is fine if married couples choose to live together, but in chastity. See the works of Romanian Orthodox Fr. Arsenie Papacioc.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .