The virgin birth of Jesus—more accurately, his virginal conception—is one of two pivotal features of his earthly life.
If Jesus was not virginally conceived, then he was the natural child of either Mary’s infidelity or her marriage to Joseph.
If either of these alternatives was true, then Jesus was born with a sinful nature. If he was inherently sinful, then he was not God incarnate.
If Jesus was not God incarnate, then his claims of deity were lies, and he is not our Savior.
The Bible does not describe precisely how Mary became pregnant. We only have the description she gave to Luke, the Gospel writer. Here is a summary of her narrative.
God sent the angel Gabriel to visit Mary. He said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.”
Mary responded by asking, “How will this be since I am a virgin?” Gabriel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
Mary answered, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then Gabriel left her.
Can the virginal conception of Jesus be explained scientifically? Maybe in part, but not completely. It was a miraculous event.
Some people speculate that Jesus was conceived through parthenogenesis, a relatively common reproduction method in certain plant and animal species that does not require the ovum to be fertilized.
This theory crumbles when we consider the moral perfection of Jesus. He was born without sin.
Parthenogenesis would have utilized an egg from Mary. For Jesus to be born sinless through this process would have required Mary also to be sinless. Otherwise, he would have inherited a sinful nature through her.
The Bible never indicates that Mary was born sinless or that God made her innocent at the conception of Jesus. Instead, it says we are all innately sinful at birth, and we never lose our sinful nature until we enter heaven.
Adam and Eve were created sinless, but Jesus is the only person who was ever born sinless.
A more plausible—but still speculative—explanation for the virginal conception of Jesus is that Mary was his surrogate mother.
Upon leaving heaven, Jesus physically transformed himself into a zygote, the single cell that becomes an embryo. The Holy Spirit then implanted this cell in Mary’s womb.
This possibility concurrently accounts for Mary’s pregnancy while preserving her virginity and the divinity of Jesus.
This speculative explanation is loosely based on precedent. Jesus transformed himself physically multiple times before and after his earthly birth.
The Old Testament records that he left heaven on several occasions to converse directly with Abraham, Jacob, Gideon, Hagar, Moses, and Joshua. Sometimes he appeared in human form. Other times he appeared in the form of a cloud or fire.
The New Testament records that Jesus transfigured into a radiant version of himself in the presence of Peter, James, and John. After his resurrection, he instantly appeared and disappeared in front of several others. Each of these instances entailed a physical transformation.
These incidents do not prove the virgin birth of Jesus. Still, they lend credence to the possibility that Jesus transformed himself into a zygote upon leaving heaven and that Mary was his surrogate mother, not his biological mother.
The resurrection of Jesus is the second pivotal feature of his earthly life. Looking back from this event, we can infer theologically that his conception was virginal.
Jesus was sinless when he lived in heaven before his incarnation. He had to remain holy while on earth; otherwise, he would have lost his divinity.
Had Jesus lost his divinity, he would not have risen from the grave. He would have stayed dead forever.
There is ample evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. He was, therefore, divine. So, his conception must have been virginal.
God Is Limitless
The validity of the virginal conception of Jesus does not depend on a viable human explanation.
God could have easily made it happen by doing something beyond our comprehension. He is not constrained by our knowledge or imagination.
It will be fascinating to hear God explain this miracle when we get to heaven.