“Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
The virgin birth can be a problem for a seeker. My former boss once asked me if I “seriously believed” that Mary was a virgin when she became pregnant with Jesus. When I replied yes, she coughed ‘a-hem’ to herself and shrugged me off for a fool. Back then, I didn’t have an answer; I just had faith. The subject never came up again.
Years later, after I had moved on, I heard my former boss was dying from cancer. I sent her an email saying that I was praying for her. My prayers (which I kept to myself at the time) were that she would believe, despite her mental stumbling block of the virgin birth issue. Her worldview was biased against believing in anything supernatural. Sadly, she passed away, but my hope is that she came to faith in those final moments of life.
Philosophical Naturalism is the undercurrent belief of many today in secular society. It states that nothing outside of the natural is possible; in other words, miracles don’t happen. But Philosophical Naturalism can’t be entirely true because it doesn’t explain ALL of the things that do exist which are immaterial, such as: morality, memory, mathematical principles… just to name a few. (For a more complete list of immaterial realities, see my blog on Naturalism.)
Since immaterial things do exist, it is plausible that at certain times, when God chooses, He can suspend the natural laws to create a supernatural event. That’s easier for a Christian to believe, but for the doubter, it’s more difficult. Yet, once naturalism is shown to be unreliable, often the skeptic will turn to a conspiracy story that the virgin birth was borrowed from pagan myths. But many pagan mythologies describe the gods having sex with mortal women. This was not the case in the Biblical narrative! Instead, second century historians record that the pagans tended to adopt (a.k.a. “borrow”) elements of Judaism/Christianity into their religious beliefs, not the other way around.[i]
Each Christmas, the truth claims of Christianity become targets of skepticism, some of it rather harshly. But honest scrutiny can be a good thing. It forces Christians to grapple with these truth claims, to know what they believe and why it’s true. One thing I have learned in all my years of study and faith is that God is good, and we can rest in that knowledge first and foremost. Knowing God is good, then it follows that we should give God the benefit of the doubt, recognizing that if we don’t have an answer yet, God can show us the way to finding the truth. He is “The Truth,” after all. (John 14:6.) Give God the benefit of the doubt in times of uncertainity; we do that for people in a court of law, and we should do no less for the Creator of it all.
Think Divinely: If God can create the universe out of nothing, He certainly can create the miraculous conception of the virgin Mary.