In one of the email forums that I’ve been following, there were two question raised that I will try to answer in this post. The questions were:
1. Did Mary remained a virgin after giving birth to Jesus?
2. or.. Did Jesus have natural physical “brothers” or “sisters”?
To answer these questions, the answer is found in Matthew 13:54-58 and Mark 6:1-6. The context of the incident was that Jesus is in Nazareth, his home town. People used to know him and his parents along with brothers and sisters. In Mark 6:3, please note that the people said “Is this not the carpenter’s son?”. It did not mentioned of Joseph because according to tradition and some writings, Joseph was “probably” (I used probably because it’s unsure and have not been confirmed) dead during this time. Furthermore, the context speaks that that the people there are trying to question the legitimacy of Christ’s birth, thus insulting him / offended at him(v.3). This is why Jesus said in verse 4, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” Jesus did not do great miracles there (v.5)
When I was young I tried to ask the same question to a Catholic teacher. And she just answered me that the brothers and sisters that was being referred in these two passages points out to his disciples, and not to his biological brothers and sisters, and she added that what we believe is not the Catholic believes (despite of a clear quotation from the Bible). However, looking at the context of the passage, including the original Greek texts, the passage strongly suggests that these brothers and sisters refers to biological brothers and sisters, especially that it made mentioned of the parents of Jesus.
In addition to this, in a normal conversation, it does not make any sense if the people will make mention of the biological parents yet will not refer to biological brothers and sisters.
Therefore, if Jesus have half brothers and sisters, then Mary is impossible to remain a virgin all through out her life.
Just another info, according to sources (to which I don’t have time to look for, just please search it over the net, Encyclopedias (I believe that I even read this info in Britanica Encyclopedia) etc, tradition tells us that the James mentioned in the passage the brother of Jesus (v.3), became one of the leaders of the Jerusalem church (Acts 12:17, 15:13, 21:18, 1Cor 15:7, Gal.1:19, 2:9 and 12). In the same sources, he was believed to be the one who wrote the book of James in the Bible.