Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Virgin Birth

Sounds wild? A child born of a virgin. Happens pretty regularly these days. It is a less common occurrence throughout history.

Is it a “miracle”? You could say that anything, even when there is a valid, natural and reasonable explanation, is a miracle. Or you could say nothing is a miracle.

I believe in miracles. (lets leave the “since you came along" and the rest out of this :-)

There is a movement among Christians to save embryos that would otherwise be destroyed. Women can volunteer to carry an embryo and then raise the child as their own. Some of these women are virgins.  Virgin births.

Back in the 1980's I read a book, and excuse me if I forget what book, that discussed a case from the 1800's. A young girl became pregnant and was examined by a doctor. Her hymen was intact. This caused quite a stir. A virgin birth! The doctor and the girls parents were not quite up to believing that their daughter, who had been caught in (for the 1800s) compromising situations with a couple of different boys, had been selected by God to be the virgin mother for the second coming of Christ. They pretty much hammered her until she explained what happened.

She and a boy were going to have sex and before he could actually get it inside of her he came. The boy's semen was all over her vagina. Apparently some of the semen worked it's way into her and fertilized an egg. This was a pretty amazing thing to the doctor, but, beliveable since the girls hymen was intact. The girl's father grabbed the nearest shotgun and that was that. By the time the baby was born the girl was married and was no longer a virgin.

There are recorded instances of a girl's hymen ending up being pushed aside rather than broken so that she becomes a “swinging door virgin”. See “everything you wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask”. Truthfully it would never have occurred to me to ask if a girl could become a :swinging door virgin”, but, I didn't title the book. That might be the book where I read about the virgin pregnancy, but, I don't think so. Virgin pregnancies may have been discussed in “everything you wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask” also though.

So virgin pregnancies can occur under the right conditions and if the father doesn't have a shotgun handy, or a spear or whatever, a virgin birth can occur.

Is that a miracle?

I think so.

There are legends about the Virgin Mary being raped by a Roman soldier. In some of the legends the soldier is identified. Archaeologists and theologians have gone so far as to track down this soldiers grave. Supposedly Joseph refused to accept that a rape by a pagan heathen had defiled his betrothed. I don't buy that, but, some do and it is possible. It is also possible that the Roman soldier didn't actually penetrate Mary so it was decided she hadn't been raped.

If that had happened and Mary had gotten pregnant, been inspected by a couple of the women in Nazareth and found to be a virgin it would have caused some consternation. In that case I suspect Joseph and Mary's family would have accepted the birth as a miracle.

I have not yet met a woman who had any kind of relationship with her mother and didn't want her mother around when she gave birth and brought the kid home. Mary took off to Bethlehem. Kind of wacked, but, Bethlehem was a pretty important city to the family of Judah. When Judah and Israel split most of Judah stayed in Jerusalem. Bethlehem became one of the cities people went to so they could sacrifice. It was a pretty important city.

When it was discovered that Mary was pregnant and a virgin it may be that Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem to discuss the issue with a particular Rabbi and that this was during a census. Mary then gave birth the night they arrived, maybe early, and kind of screwed up discussing a virgin pregnancy with a Rabbi.

Sound reasonable?

So the whole story can be explained in natural, reasonable terms.

Does that mean it wasn't a miracle?

This is an explanation of people. It is based on common understanding of the times and traditions. It lacks something though.

The Holy Ghost.

In order to understand scripture we could study the scripture as I have done, we could study the culture of the time as I have done, we could review translations as I have done and we can develop reasonable, natural theories as I have done.

There is no faith in any of that.

Faith is accepting and believing something without reason or evidence.

Sure, I can talk reasonably about what might have happened to explain a virgin birth. I choose instead to accept the Bible as truth and I seek my understanding through the Holy Ghost. I do not seek an understanding through logic, reason, inference, implication or the teaching of people. I read the Bible, I pray and I place my faith in God. If God has a reason for me to understand something a particular way God uses the Holy Ghost to help me.

My suggestion for you. Ignore people. God's ways are not the ways of people. Pray and accept guidance from the Holy Ghost, even if that guidance conflicts with what people think God's ways should be.

The best example I can think of in this is abortion.

God is pro-choice. God created choice. People say abortion is murder. What does the Bible tells us? That when men strive and cause a woman to lose her fruit the punishment is decided by the judges. Exactly what happened in the United States, the judges of the Supreme Court decided the punishment for abortion is zilch.

What about a Rabbinical interpretation? There are actually Rabbinical courts that can decide things like this, but, there is something that is very telling.

One of the things the great Rabbis of Judaism have done is compile a list of the Mosaic laws given by God to Moses. This is called the Mizvot and there are 615 of them (613 some say, look it up on the web). The law against abortion in Exodus 21:22 is not on that list.

Why not? You could ask a Rabbi. I'll just point out that God gave Moses instructions on abortion, Moses gave those instructions to the people in the book of Exodus and the Rabbis did not choose to see that instruction as a commandment against abortion by God.

Yeah, a lot of Christians will tell you that the Bible does not address abortion.

So how can we understand this quagmire? Prayer and the Holy Ghost.