RE: Virgin Birth

[Name withheld], I appreciate your comment, particularly about the Gospel of Luke. I 100% agree with this much: Mary’s comments seem strange and unlikely if she already had a sexual encounter.

Please consider 4 reasons why I think you are under-interpreting [Bruce] McConkie’s remarks:

1. The strength of McConkie’s comparison between the way men are begotten of mortal fathers. “Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers.” (Mormon Doctrine, 1979, pages 546-47)

2. Later in the same book he writes that Jesus “was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events.” (1966, p. 742) It seems unlikely that McConkie would have viewed non-standard and abnormal ways of insemination in ~1966 as “the normal and natural course of events.”

3. He elsewhere connects this with his particular, reconfigured definition of “virgin.” While you and I agree that “virgin” speaks to the absence of relations / physical union altogether, McConkie seems to have thought of it in terms of the absence of relations with a particular kind of human (a mortal human). See Mormon Doctrine, 1979, pp 546-47; The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ, p. 466; Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, vol. 1, p. 82.

4. McConkie’s remarks are consistent with remarks by other LDS leaders, who argue that “according to the flesh, [Heavenly Father and Mary] have been associated together in the capacity of Husband and Wife.” (“The Seer”, pp. 158-9; cf. B. H. Roberts, “Defense of the Faith and the Saints”, vol 2, p. 270). Apostle Melvin J. Ballard on this same topic argues that the same “creative power and function” that carnal man uses as “a mere harp of pleasure”, God himself was able to use in a righteous way with Mary. (
In the last part of your comment, you argue,

“Even if there was actual sex [between God and Mary], if Mary was completely unaware that anything had happened, certainly we’d call her a virgin anyway. You wouldn’t call a date rape victim unchaste.”

I have talked to many Mormons about this issue, but I have never heard this argument before. I am at a loss for words.

Before I read your comment and in light of the conversation, I went upstairs to find my copy of LDS author Bruce E. Dana’s book, Mary, Mother of Jesus (2001), which I purchased at a BYU Bookstore (next to Cougareat) a few(?) years ago. Chapters 11-14 (pp 47-62) argue that the Father, who has a resurrected, glorified body, associated in the capacity of husband with Mary in a natural course of events. Also, that she was empowered to physically withstand his presence by the Holy Ghost, and did so without shame, coercion, or hesitancy. Perhaps you will at least find it useful to see how LDS authors like Bruce Dana deal with the evidence and make sense of it.

I believe in the more traditional idea of the virgin birth — there was zero male participation or physical contact or DNA contribution needed. Much like Genesis 1, it was an act of creation requiring no physical contact or sexual union, accomplished by the effortless, omnipotent word of God. The significance of the virgin birth is that God, who is entirely a different species than us, condescended in love to become one of us. The Word became flesh — beautiful and awesome.

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5 Responses to RE: Virgin Birth

  1. historybuff says:

    Most LDS will just recite an apologetic explanation for their unique doctrines and controversial history without even thinking about what they’re actually saying. That is, of course, if they will respond at all.

    If you want to truly understand how little doctrine means to them, consider this: The Mormon Church teaches polygamy as a fundamental tenet of their faith, a doctrine that will be fully implemented in heaven. If you can get an LDS woman to discuss the doctrine, though, and be sincere, you’ll discover that about 95% of LDS women don’t believe in it and regard it as a heresy. Most of them find the concept so distasteful that they will refuse to discuss it at all, even with their husbands. Occasionally they will express their true feelings to an extremely close friend but that’s the extent of it

    That is why when we discuss Mormon doctrines with Mormons we quite often see their eyes glaze over as they prepare to opt out of the conversation. They will then either change the subject or simply leave. The other popular option we’ve observed is that they will recite an LDS apologetic explanation that is obviously illogical and sometimes absurd, such as —

    “Even if there was actual sex [between God and Mary], if Mary was completely unaware that anything had happened, certainly we’d call her a virgin anyway. You wouldn’t call a date rape victim unchaste.”

    The LDS are clearly uncomfortable with their checkered heritage, and this manifests itself in a number of odd behaviors that Christians notice. The LDS notice it too, but they would rather engage in these odd behaviors than confront reality and think logically. It’s kind of like OCD, where a person continually washes his hands. The reason people with OCD engage in odd behaviors is to prevent stress and extreme discomfort. They realize they are behaving oddly but they feel compelled to do it in order to be comfortable with their situation.

    Little by little, most Mormons are beginning to confront reality, and it’s important that Christians be there to help them with a kind word and the truth.

  2. falcon says:

    You know, this would be pretty funny if it wasn’t so tragic. It’s the result of no systematic theology which would just get in the way of Mormon progressive revelation. Progressive revelation simply means that someone got an idea, attributed it to the Mormon god and ran with it. It’s just a lot of fun for them and actually, considering what is being said, spoils (the fun). They believe they are in the one true church, have a community that they enjoy and nothing is going to derail their buzz, especially something as dry and boring as doctrine.
    It’s so much easier just to memorize a few little slogans and repeat them to each other. Problem is, the whole thing quickly collapses once they decide to put their Mormon thinking aside and actually consider things with a fresh set of eyes.
    I think the Baptist pastor Micah Wilder encountered and tried to convert gave Micah the best advice. He told Micah to read the Bible as a child would read it. What he meant was with an openness and honesty, willing to see what God has revealed in His Word. Of course the rest is history as Micah came to Christ on his mission and later his whole family followed him.

  3. Mike R says:

    It’s just incredible to see the lengths many Mormons go to in order to downplay , dodge, or deny teachings their prophets were not embarrassed to introduce in their ” gospel preaching ” . The Mormon Jesus’ conception/ birth is one of these teachings . Interestingly , there are some Mormons today who do believe just what Brigham Young – Bruce McConkie have disclosed about the virgin birth of Jesus , some of these will resort to claiming that this doctrine is’nt a big deal , their salvation does not depend on them believing it etc . That’s convenient rationalizing . But those Mormons who resort to this are not aware of what some of their leaders have said about how Jesus had to be the literal son of Heavenly Father in order for their teaching of the Atonement to be true . That makes it a big deal .
    It does’nt pay to argue with rank and file Mormons about their leaders’ teaching about the virgin birth , or why today’s leaders are embarrassed to repeat what their former colleagues publically taught about it . Mormonism stands or falls on the claims of their leaders , their authority to be God’s exclusive gospel preachers , not on what a rank and file member may think or believe . If these men have taught false doctrine to their flock they are false prophets , and no rationalizing by rank and file members will erase that fact . Rank and file members also need to realize that in following false prophets, and refusing to dismiss them from their lives , they place themselves in serious danger ALSO — Isa 9:16 .

    May the Mormon people do the right ( but difficult ) thing and trust God to help them distance themselves from their leaders . May this coming new year be the year of freedom to worship God in spirit and truth , which will happen if the Mormon people turn to those leaders alone that Jesus sent to preach the true gospel — they’re in the New Testament .

  4. historybuff says:

    When a Christian criticizes the LDS view of the virgin — or non-virgin — birth, as the case may be, the criticism tends to roll off the Mormon like water off a duck’s back. The common response is, “Yes, that’s what we believe. So what?” This is because, as you’ve pointed out, LDS leaders have said some truly bizarre things and Mormons accept it as truth. If it’s bizarre, that’s fine.

    Sometimes, though, Mormons will run across a contradiction between prophets. Now, to a Mormon, that’s a real problem. If they’re going to think seriously about their religion, that’s when they might do it. For example, three LDS prophets prophesied that black people will never receive the LDS priesthood in this life, but every prophet since 1978 has contradicted that. Joseph Smith stated as scripture that he never practiced polygamy, but the Church has conceded that was a lie. Brigham Young taught many doctrines as scripture that contemporary prophets have recanted. There’s quite a list of such contradictions between prophets, and they suggest to a Mormon — to any rational person, really — that the Church can’t possibly be true.

    If a Mormon is non-responsive to Christian pleas to read the Bible as would a child, it is sometimes helpful to simply point out contradictions like those noted above. If they will listen, which is always problematic, it may sink in and they will begin to think rationally. When that happens, it’s important to remind the questioning LDS that they should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water, literally. Just because the Mormon faith is highly defective, that does not mean that Biblical Christianity is also defective.

    In the final analysis, what’s important is the truth, and Christianity can provide that. John 8: 32

  5. falcon says:

    …………..but here’s the deal. Once there’s even a smidgen of doubt that keeps nagging at an LDS, and the door opens just a teensy weensy little bit, the truth/evidence sticks up it’s pesty little head and BOOM, then SLAM as the door is swung force-ably shut. The thought that the “one true church” isn’t all that true and that the prophets who are suppose to be hearing from the Mormon god are totally inconsistent and ignorant is emotionally a kick in the teeth.

    Micah Wilder just wrote this as a tribute to his mother Lynn Wilder on the occasion of her birthday. She has written the book “Unveiling Grace”. I think what Micah writes is what faces and frightens many doubters in the LDS fold.

    “And to the glory of God, He reached into her life and changed her heart in an indefinable way. She too came to a full understanding of the grace of God and came to saving faith in Jesus Christ; while in her 50’s. Her life was never the same. She lost her job, her friends, her colleagues, her reputation, her tenureship, and her life as she knew it. Yet despite all of the loss, she remained faithfully rooted and grounded in her new faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that faith has become what has defined her life.”

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