Matthew 1:19

Being a man of principle, and at the same time wanting to save her from exposure, Joseph made up his mind to have the marriage contract quietly set aside.

(Revised English Bible)

Joseph follows the law (presumably) by intending to divorce Mary. But why is it necessary that he also shows compassion in wanting to protect her from shame? It does seem necessary to the story.

Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. In some traditions Mary’s own conception was immaculate.

Perhaps the figure of Mary, as the mother of God, has to be protected from even the shadow of a threat of anything remotely possibly unpleasant.

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