Can a Christian NOT believe in the virgin birth?
This question comes down to the inerrancy of Scripture as well as believing God is the creator. If one can accept God creating the universe, that he made man from the ground, why would it be so difficult to believe that God is able to bring a child in the world without any sexual relations? He did so with Adam and Eve. We are supposed to believe the core Bibles doctrines and this includes the nature of Jesus.
There are 2 specific times the virgin birth is mentioned in the Old Testament. Once in Gen.3:15, the other time
Isa 7:14: "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel- this is fulfilled in Matt 1:23.
Some want a ‘Christianity’ without the Virgin Birth. They tell us that the Virgin Birth story should be interpreted symbolically rather than literally. People are entitled to believe different things, but there is a certain criteria of doctrine believers must agree on to be a Christian.
Matthew’s account begins with: “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about (1:18). When God’s Word tells us that this is what happened, what right do we have to challenge that it might have happened some other way? If we take this view of this important doctrine on the incarnation, then what else can be altered.
The word Alma Hebrew, Betula is the accurate word for virgin. In the Hebrew culture all young women were to be virgins. They did not have a permissible society like we live in today. Jewish girls in that period were promised in arranged marriages and usually became engaged when they were twelve or thirteen years old. Joseph was already engaged with Mariam (Mary) which was the first stage of a marriage. If she became pregnant before marriage she would be disgraced, and could even be executed as an adulteress under the law.
Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"(Luke 1:34) In our modern vernacular - a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). She knew this was not humanly possible and needed an explanation, as this would be the first time in history for this to occur. She accepted from the angel the explanation: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you” (Luke 1:35).“Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). God’s Word emphasizes Christ’s birth is miraculous and there are some things we cannot fully explain this side of heaven. The virgin birth is no greater miracle than feeding of the 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes, or Jesus bringing people back to life. God who is all-powerful spoke all creation into existence, so a virgin birth is not a strain in his supernatural ability.
When Joseph finds out about her pregnancy his immediate intention is to back out of the marriage to avoid putting Mary in a very difficult situation. The same angel that announced to Mary what would take place comes to Joseph in a dream and assures him. Joseph acknowledged that “what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20). He was invited to “take Mary as (his) wife” (Matthew 1:20). Luke 1:36-56 says that she spent three months of her pregnancy at the house of her relative Elizabeth in Judea.
This is not a biological miracle, but a supernatural one. This would explain how God was birthed as a normal human being. It was necessary that God enter the world by being born like anyone else so that He could be a genuine human. If he had come with no relation to human parentage then He could not claim to be an authentic human. It was prophesied in Gen.3:15, the “the seed of the woman,” meaning without a man, a virgin conception would occur.
This would be the supernatural means of bringing Immanuel into the world as a man. The virgin birth became the means for the sinless Son of God to be human. It was necessary to preserve his humanity from the pollution of sin and harm so the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary. This sin nature is passed on through the man (seed of man). This is why it was not passed on to Jesus: He had no human Father to be part of His conception. The Bible makes the point that it is in Adam we all sinned, not Eve. Romans 5:12 tells us sin entered the world through one man. Normally the seed (egg) of the woman is fertilized by the seed of the man. It is the male seed where the sin nature is passed on by fertilization of the female egg. By having the virgin conception, this bypassed the natural process to insure that nothing was transferred to the female egg by a man. Jesus who is the author of life participated in a miracle with no fertilization. The scientific name for this process is parthenogenesis. This has been observed in reptiles and fish but not in humans.
The Bible explains that Joseph “did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. (Matthew 1:25). He had no sexual union with her. This is emphasize. To make the point that it is a miracle of God: “what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20)
To question the Virgin Birth after one is a Christian, whether one understands it or not has to do with our faithfulness to the word and our understanding of Jesus Christ? We are to believe the Word of God. In the same way, we can’t explain how God spoke and things were created. We cannot accept the parts we fully understand and those parts of the bible we don’t we disregard. It may be intellectually challenging, many things in the Bible are which proves that our God is a supernatural being.
The virgin birth of Christ is a necessary historical fact. The Virgin Birth is integral part of God’s Son coming into the world to be our savior. It is the foundation as Christ’s resurrection is the capstone of proof of who he is. Christ’s birth, his life and His resurrection present His uniqueness.
He entered the world as no other man. Once it was time to reveal himself to his people He lived a supernatural life. He died supernaturally by dismissing his own spirit and resurrected 3 days later
Did Mary feel any labor pains when she gave birth to Jesus. This is brought into question because labor pains are a curse that God pronounced on women from Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:16). Because Mary conceived Jesus supernaturally does not exclude her from pain. The Bible is silent on this matter.
After the birth of her firstborn son Mary did not remain a virgin in her marriage. Luke 2:7 emphasizes Mary's "first-born", implying that she had other children later. Matthew 13:55-56 and Mark 6:3 records Jesus having a normal family of four brothers and at least two sisters all produced by Mary and Joseph.
There were many witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. The virgin birth isn't written in the epistles or writings of Paul. The virgin birth story goes to Mary herself, as she gives Luke who is gathering a detailed account on the life of Christ for his gospel.
Luke 1:1-2 “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us”
The Bible lays great emphasis on Christ’s resurrection. We should not, however, conclude that the virgin birth story is any less important or true because it is not emphasized. The virgin conception/birth became the means to birth the sinless Son of God.