Pregnant but Not Married
MARY is in the third month of pregnancy. You will remember that she spent the early part of her pregnancy visiting Elizabeth, but now she has returned home to Nazareth. Soon her condition will become public knowledge in her hometown. She, indeed, is in a distressing situation!
What makes the situation worse is that Mary is engaged to become the wife of the carpenter Joseph. And she knows that, under God’s law to Israel, a woman who is engaged to one man but who willingly has sexual relations with another man is to be stoned to death. How can she explain her pregnancy to Joseph?
Since Mary has been gone three months, we can be sure Joseph is eager to see her. When they meet, likely Mary breaks the news to him. She may do her best to explain that it is by means of God’s holy spirit that she is pregnant. But, as you can imagine, this is a very difficult thing for Joseph to believe.
Joseph knows the fine reputation Mary has. And apparently he loves her dearly. Yet, despite what she may claim, it really seems she is pregnant by some man. Even so, Joseph does not want her to be stoned to death or to be disgraced publicly. So he makes up his mind to divorce her secretly. In those days, engaged persons were viewed as married, and a divorce was required to end an engagement.
Later, as Joseph is still considering these matters, he goes to sleep. Jehovah’s angel appears to him in a dream and says: “Do not be afraid to take Mary your wife home, for that which has been begotten in her is by holy spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you must call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph wakes up, how grateful he is! Without delay he does just what the angel directed. He takes Mary to his home. This public action serves, in effect, as a marriage ceremony, giving notice that Joseph and Mary are now officially married. But Joseph does not have sexual relations with Mary as long as she is pregnant with Jesus.
Look! Mary is heavy with child, yet Joseph is putting her on a donkey. Where are they going, and why are they making a trip when Mary is about ready to give birth? Luke 1:39-41, 56; Matthew 1:18-25; Deuteronomy 22:23, 24.
▪ What is Joseph’s state of mind when learning of Mary’s pregnancy, and why?
▪ How can Joseph divorce Mary when they are not yet married?
▪ What public action serves as Joseph and Mary’s marriage ceremony?