The Virgin Birth Matters: The Divinity of Jesus

virgin birthSkeptics and Christians alike focus far too much on biology when thinking about the doctrine of the virgin birth. Derek Rishmawy recently critiqued a ridiculous piece in Popular Science claiming that the virgin birth was biologically impossible. Obviously, he points out, Christians know that virgin birth is not natural, that’s why we emphasize it so much. It is a dramatic and miraculous entrance of the Son of God into our world. Christians nonetheless, still tend to focus on biology when they talk about the Virgin Birth. There is far more going on behind this doctrine, however. The virgin birth matters to Christians for reasons far greater than the biological.

Ask an average Christian why the virgin birth matters and they will most likely give you an answer related to genetics. Jesus had to be born of a virgin in order to be born sinless. Michael Bird points out, “Historically speaking, biology has often been stated as the main reason for virgin conception” (Evangelical Theology, 371). But, he points out, we inherit genes from both our mothers and our fathers. So it makes little sense to insist that Jesus’ sinless perfection depends on his being born only of Mary. Protestants, after all, believe Mary was herself a sinner. Biological speaking it makes no sense to suggest that the virgin birth is what prevents Jesus from being born in sin like all the rest of humanity. As Bird puts it, “A virgin birth would not protect Jesus from Adamic DNA.” While avoiding the issue of biology we can still point to the fact that Jesus’ birth demonstrates his divinity.

The doctrine of the virgin birth began to arise formally in the second century. According to historians and theologians a number of heretical groups began oppose the idea, arguing that either Jesus had a purely human birth, or that he did not have a human birth at all. The heart of the matter was the nature of Jesus. Was Jesus divine or human? Was Jesus a man adopted by God? Was Jesus God in the flesh? Was Jesus the Son of God the Father? Each of these questions is answered differently depending on how one understand the birth of Christ. The virgin birth gives us a divine Jesus, it gives us the god-man. The virgin birth gives us the Jesus of Scripture. Michael Bird writes:

The virgin conception means that Jesus was not simply a holy man whom God honored with divine status. It means that Jesus was not a cosmic ghost disguised as a man dispensing philosophically savvy self-help advice to be true to ourselves. (371)

The virgin birth matters because it proves the relationship of the Son to the Father. It matters because it demonstrates the unique, miraculous, divine nature of Jesus himself.

The virgin birth is not about genetics or biology, but it is still about divinity. The virgin birth protects the gospel of the Son of God entering the world to rescue us, because we could not, after all, rescue ourselves. The virgin birth matters.

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