We call Joseph Mary’s “husband.” I thought that if a marriage isn’t consummated, it isn’t technically a marriage. Is Joseph’s title as Mary’s husband merely honorary?

A man and a woman are truly married as soon as they commit themselves to each other by vow before God—not when the marriage is consummated. In a Christian context, a sacramental marriage becomes indissoluble when the marriage is consummated, but the marriage itself exists from the time the vows are said. Joseph and Mary were married under the Old Covenant and so their marriage wasn’t the Christian sacrament, and wouldn’t have been truly indissoluble in any case. But because they were pledged by oath to one another, their marriage was a true and valid one. Incidentally, the point is more than a technicality, since Matthew seems to predicate Jesus’ messianic claim to the title “Son of David” (a phrase used throughout Matthew’s Gospel) at least in part on his legal status as the son of Joseph, whom the angel addresses as “son of David” (Mt 1:20).