What If Joseph Had Refused?

Joseph leading Mary

“Then Joseph, being aroused from his sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife (Mary).” Matthew 1:24 NKJV

As I read the verse above, a thought occurred to me that had never occurred before.

What if Joseph had refused to obey the Lord’s instructions? Here are a few possible scenarios that came to mind.

First of all, Mary would have been a single mother raising Jesus on her own. And as we know, single mothers do not have it easy in society. Whether they chose to do it on their own or are left with no choice, it is a difficult task, to say the least. As much as we may think we can do it alone and as hard as we may try, it is impossible to be both mother and father at the same time; a child needs both parents to help them along the way. Women also need the strength, covering, protection, and support of men (their husbands), especially during pregnancy and child-rearing. Mary knew that, and her life would have been totally different if Joseph had refused to marry her.

Secondly, Joseph would have missed out on a great opportunity to be a part of God’s great plan. He would have missed out on being Jesus’ host dad and the blessings that go along with that. He may have been stricken by God with some kind of condition or incurable illness or even killed for his disobedience.

Last but not least, God is in favor of marriage and raising children with both mother and father to help mold and shape them as they grow and develop. So, He needed Joseph to step up and be a husband to Mary and a father to Jesus. God wanted to protect Mary’s honor and shield her from public shame and ridicule, as well as the pressure of being a single parent. He needed to make sure that Jesus grew up in an in-tact family where he would be taught all that he needed to learn before beginning his ministry.

I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Joseph when he found out Mary was pregnant before they even consummated their marriage. He wanted to break up with her quietly and move on with his life. He would have been like many respectable men who would rather not get involved in what seemed to be a scandalous situation.

However, if he was responsible for Mary’s pregnancy, it would have been bad of him to leave her when she needed him most. Some men do that today; they shirk their responsibilities when they find out that the girl/woman they’ve been “messing” with is pregnant. Some of them even go so far as to deny that they are the father. And, in some cases, they are right and have a right to question the paternity of the children they are being held responsible for.

It is no secret that women have become “liberated” sexually. And it is not uncommon to hear or know of cases where a woman has been sleeping around with more than one man. In such cases, it is sometimes difficult for her to tell exactly who impregnated her.  On the flip side, a woman may know who the father of her baby is; but she may prefer a certain man over another to be her baby’s daddy. Yet, a DNA test is able to determine who is or is not the father, if all parties cooperate.

Joseph did not have the luxury of a DNA test, but he knew he had not sleep with Mary. And he had a right to be upset and leave because his fiancée, Mary, was pregnant before he even got a chance to know her (sexually).

Imagine the thoughts that were running through Joseph’s mind. He must have felt betrayed by Mary for going behind his back; for “two-timing” him. He must have wondered who did it. And even after she tearfully explained to him all that happened, he must not have believed her.

How can a virgin be made pregnant unless she sleeps with a man? It was impossible, according to human understanding at the time. Of course, now we have in-vitro fertilization and embryo implantation.

So, Joseph had a right to be upset and a right to leave Mary. But, it took an angel of the Lord to convince him that she was telling the truth. And the angel told him, in other words, that marrying Mary was the right thing to do.

If Joseph had refused, Mary’s name would have carried a stigma; she would have been disgraced, scorned, and ridiculed for having a child out of wedlock. And it would have been worse yet, when people found out that Joseph was not the father.

Joseph is not given enough credit in society today, but he deserves to be honored for making the bold choice he did in marrying Mary and taking responsibility for a child that he knew was not his. Joseph saved Mary’s reputation and shielded her from a life of single-parenthood. Kudos to him for being obedient to God! He was an example of a good husband and father, providing a covering of protection for his beloved Mary and her unborn child, Jesus.

Joseph listened and made their family complete by doing as God commanded. I’m sure God gave him a special reward for doing the right thing.

What is God calling you to do today? Do the right thing, and see what God will do.


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