Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. Matt 1:19
In 1975 I was in high school. One of the girls in my class went missing. No one abducted her in the middle of the night and she did not run away from home. Her parents sent her away because she was pregnant.
That is the way it was. Certain things that are “normal” today were shameful for families back then. Divorce and suicide also devastated families and how friends and neighbors treated them.
In the days of Joseph and Mary, pregnancy before marriage was akin to adultery, especially when you are engaged. I do not believe there was any danger of stoning Mary to death for adultery. The Roman government was the authority for the death penalty at that time and they probably could care less if a young woman was pregnant or not.
But the shame it brings to a family was Joseph’s concern – the shame for her family and for his own. After all, his parents were a key in the arrangements of marriage into Mary’s family.
Everyone agreed to annul the engagement and keep it quiet.
Even with this thought in his mind, the Bible calls Joseph a “just man”.
A just man does the right thing but often must have it revealed to him.
For Joseph, the revelation came in a dream.
Now I’ve had some dreams in my life but I don’t think I’ve ever run out and bought a new car just because I dreamed I would buy a new car.
Joseph now has a choice only he can make – obey the voice in his dream or continue to put her away secretly.
A just man does the right thing because a just man listens to God.