Joseph and Mary - Engaged or Married when Jesus was born?
Don't Matthew and Luke disagree about whether Mary and Joseph were engaged or married?
What was the marital status of the couple when they enter Bethlehem?

Matthew and Luke are both correct in their statements concerning the maritial status of Jospeh and Mary prior to Jesus' birth. The passages in question are as follows...

Matthew 1:24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. (NIV)

Luke 2:4-6 He (Joseph) went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. (NIV)

First read the following brief article that provides specific details about betrothal and marriage customs at the time of Jesus...

Marriage at the time of Jesus

The aforementioned article provides background for the following statements.

In Matthew, Joseph had been close to divorcing Mary during their betrothal period over the perception that she had been unfaithful to him. Instead, once the facts had been revealed to him, he instead took her to his home as his wife, signifying that he was going to complete the betrothal and become married. It could be assumed that the marriage feast took place as usual here too. Matthew then goes out of his way to show that though Joseph took her home as wife but he did not complete the final act of the marriage, specifically that of entering into the chamber to consummate the union.

Matthew 1:25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (NIV)

Until after Jesus was born, Luke (the physician) is quite technically right in saying that Mary was still betrothed to Joseph. The full marriage ceremony was only completed after she gave birth to Jesus.

For the record, Jewish law held that any child born to a man's fiancee was his legal child. Thus Joseph would have been considered Jesus' father by all. Consider also our article...

The Genealogy of Jesus