What is the theological significance of the virgin birth? Does the virign birth even matter? Afterall, It’s a doctrine only found in two passages (Luke and Matthew 1). Though we do not ascribe to Mary the veneration Roman Catholics do (for good reason), Protestants recognize that the virgin birth is of immense theological importance. Theologians throughout the centuries have offered various answers to such a question.
- The virgin conception of Christ was the means of His incarnation. It is the means of God uniting both his deity and humanity together. The virgin birth is the way that God sent His Son to earth to bear our sins. There are other ways that Christ could have come but none of them would have so effectively wed His humanity and His deity.
- The virgin conception of Christ signified that though He is fully human, He is a unique human. Jesus is the last Adam (1 Cor 15:45), and as such is a new beginning for the human race. He is like us but also represents us as our covenant head (Rom. 5).
- The virgin conception of Christ signifies that He is uniquely holy. Luke 1:35 says, “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.'”
- The virgin birth highlights God’s power, sovereignty, and creativity as-well-as emphasizes the supernatural aspect of our salvation which is wholly a work of grace.
Did the virgin birth protect Jesus from the taint of original sin? Some have posited that the virgin birth or conception was necessary to prevent Jesus from contracting or receiving the taint of original sin. I do not think this is the case. Why do I disagree? I’m glad you asked.
- This would imply that original sin is passed down solely through men or fathers. Scripture places blame of women as well for sin (Gen. 3:6; Psa. 51:5; 1 Tim. 2:13-14).
- This view would impugn the goodness and righteousness of the marriage gift of sex. If original sin was passed solely through the male by way of the sexual act, the act itself could be conceived as dirty or evil. Sex is good because it was given by God who is good. Sex is meant to be enjoyed in the way God intended it to be enjoyed. Sex is never called “bad” or “dirty” within the Word for good reason. This idea would not only elate the ascetics in the early church but also the Gnostics who viewed material things as morally inferior to spiritual things. Jewish creation theology will not allow such a perversion!
- There are other more cogent views on how the stain of original sin is passed on to Adam’s progeny that are more theologically and biblically faithful to the text. Throughout Church history, there have been various ways to view how the process occurred. The realistic view says that Adam, in his substance, had all our substance present within him. Under this view, we were there. Adam was like a sandman. When he sinned, the sandman was broken up dispersing the sand throughout his followers. The example view says that Adam and his sin mystically exerts a strong comparative influence and example over us in such a way that we take on his sin. The seminal or biological view (the one assumed by those who argue the virgin birth protected Jesus from original sin) says original sin is passed through the sexual act between a man to a woman. The voluntary view says that each person is born exactly like Adam with the ability to or not to sin. Lastly, the federal headship view says that Adam was our covenant head and represented humanity before God. Under this view, you’re guilty not because you are actually there. You are guilty because he was like your congressman, your representative. When he fell, it was judicially reckoned to all his descendents to be born with the effects of his fall. Of the options, the federal headship view likely represents what Scripture teaches concerning the passing on of original sin.
- Scripture never implicitly or explicitly says the virgin birth protected Jesus from the malady.