The virgin birth of Jesus is by far the most ridiculed teachings of the Christian church, and because of that many who claim to be followers of the Christ have gone so far as deny it.
However, it is one of the essential Christian doctrines.
First, a quick review of what the essential Christian doctrines are. These are beliefs that negate the Christian faith if they are denied; anyone who denies any of these doctrines are not disciples of the Christ, no matter how much they may try to convince you (or themselves) otherwise. They are:
1. The infallibility of the Bible in the original manuscripts
2. God’s sovereign rule over all creation
3. Human depravity
4. The necessity of God’s grace
5. The virgin birth
6. Christ’s sinlessness
7. The full humanity and deity of Christ
8. The atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Christ
9. The triunity of God
10. The necessity of faith
11. Christ’s second coming, final judgement and reign.
Last time, we looked at the necessity of God’s grace. The virgin birth makes the radical demonstration and fulfillment of that grace as shown in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ possible.
The Bible is quite clear that our sinful nature has been passed on from the first man (Adam) through the male line. Genesis 3 makes it clear that although Eve was tricked into becoming the first human to sin, Adam did so knowingly and deliberately. Because of his sin, that natural tendency to disobey God is passed down to every human through the male. See also Romans 5 (especially Rom. 5:12).
Because of this, the Savior must not have any natural male DNA, but because the Messiah must also be male, the virgin conception is the only solution to the problem.
In order to fulfill the requirements for being our Savior, the Christ must not only be sinless, but fully human as well as fully Deity. If he was born of both a human mother and father, he would have no legitimate claim to Deity – he would be the same as all of us. On the other hand, if he had no human parent at all, he would have no claim to humanity, and would not be eligible to be the Messiah. It was a man who placed us under the penalty of sin; it must be a man who pays the cost.
Finally, the Christ must be born in this miraculous manner in order to fulfill prophecy. Notice that in Genesis 3, the predicted Savior would be “the offspring (literally ’seed’) of the woman” rather than of the man. This is opposite of how descent was universally traced in the middle east at the time. Isaiah 7:14 explicitly predicts the virgin birth, and is quoted in Matthew 1:23.
To deny the virgin birth of the Christ is to deny the infallibility of the Bible (essential #1) and makes the next essential doctrine impossible – the sinlessness of Jesus the Christ. More on that next time.
In the meantime, here are links to some more in depth resources:
Let Us Reason Ministries has a good article on the topic.
Here is a link to a chart comparing prophecies about Christ in the Old Testament with their fulfullment as recorded in the New Testament.
This article at Compelling Truth is short, but has a very well put summary of why this doctrine is so important to the faith at the end.
For those of you who are of a more scholarly bent, here’s an article by A.N.S. Lane entitled The Rationale and Significance of the Virgin Birth. It is in .pdf format, and well worth the read.