The Virgin Birth Myth? (Part 1)


More than a month from now, we will be remembering the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s not the intent of this series to discuss the date of His birthday. I already wrote about it here. I want to focus on whether it’s true that Jesus was born of a virgin or not. 


A billboard questioning the Christmas holiday. Image credit: The NonBeliever 
Knowing how militant (read: aggressive) critics of Christianity can be, I expect a flood of attacks questioning the facts and the circumstances regarding His birth. Yet, I believe it’s a great jump-off point for us to share the Good News.

Did the Bible really teach the virgin birth of Christ? 

In Matthew 1, we read: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” (v. 18, ESV. Emphasis added) The New Living Translation leaves no doubt as to what the clause “before they came together” means: “This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Emphasis added) 


Image credit: Bible Films Blog
Luke clearly pointed out that May was a virgin when she conceived Jesus. “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary.” (1:26-27, ESV) Twice in this passage, Mary was called a “virgin.” To exclude the idea that “virgin” only meant “young woman,” Luke noted Mary’s response: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (v.  34a) The word “virgin” in this verse is a translation of the Greek clause “I do not know a man.” The word “know” here is a euphemism for sex. In short, she never had sex with anyone before. 


A scene from The Nativity. Image credit: Hope is the Word

Not only that Mary was a virgin when she conceived, she also remained as such until she gave birth. According to Matthew 1:25a, “[Joseph] knew her not until she had given birth to a son.” (ESV. Emphasis added) In other words, “he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born.” (NLT) (The conjunction “until” also implies Mary and Joseph went on to consummate their marriage afterwards. According to Matthew 13:55, Jesus have half-brothers and half-sisters.) 

The virgin birth is also a fulfillment of what the Bible prophesied. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” (1:22-23, ESV)

So, the Bible teaches the virgin birth of our Lord Jesus. But granting for argument’s sake that it did actually happen, was there really a need for Christ to be virgin-born? Couldn’t He just enter the world the usual way? Is it really important to believe in the virgin birth?

Read: The Virgin Birth Myth? (Part 2)

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