Was Jesus the product of a sexual union between two human
partners, or was he born of a virgin, the product of a supernatural
As a yoga devotee I was introduced to the theory that
Jesus was most likely an illegitimate child, conceived outside of marriage
by an illicit sexual union between Mary and some unidentified man, probably
My teachers insisted that because God was an impersonal
'Life Force,' he could never manifest himself in such a personal way:
overshadowing a virgin and placing a seed of life within her womb. The Bible
plainly teaches otherwise—that the Holy Spirit actually descended upon the
Virgin Mary causing her to conceive. The resulting child was therefore
titled "the Son of God." (Luke 1:35) This supernatural
origin sets Jesus apart from every human being born into this world, before
or since. It presents Jesus as being uniquely God, not just divine in the
general sense promoted by a pantheistic, monistic worldview.
Altogether, five of the eleven main living religions—Buddhism,
Christianity, Jainism, Taoism and Zoroastrianism—claim supernatural events
surrounding the birth of the founder. Buddha was supposedly a pre-existent
heavenly being who was born in connection with his mother receiving a
prophetic dream. Jainism teaches that its founder, Mahavira, was
supernaturally placed in the womb of his royal mother and that he lived a
sinless life. The most remarkable story concerns Lao-Tzu of Taoism, who,
according to legend, was born a fully mature, wise old philosopher after
being carried seventy-two years in his mother's womb. Zoroaster, and all
subsequent saviors in Zoroastrianism, are described being born of a virgin.
So this kind of doctrine is certainly not confined to Christianity.
Islam seems to oppose Christianity's claim, strongly
disputing the thought that God could ever 'beget' a son, but the
argument is really semantical. A passage from the Qur'an firmly declares,
"Say, he is God, the One! God, the eternally Besought of all! He
neither begets nor was begotten and there is none comparable unto
him." (Qur'an 112, emphasis by the author, See Qur'an
3:42–47, 19:22–36.) This definitely is true in a natural, physical
sense: God would never 'beget' a son through an actual conjugal
relationship with a woman. However, in terms quite similar to Christianity's
claim, the Qur'an reveals Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary by the 'in-breathing
of the Holy Spirit.' It also declares that he lived a sinless life. Jesus
is even called "the Spirit of God" seven different times.1
Yet he is strangely placed in a position inferior to the prophet
Mohammed, who was born of the normal reproductive process.
According to the Bible, virgin birth was a necessary
characteristic of the true Messiah. Isaiah 7:14 prophesied that "a
virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel"
(meaning "God with us"). Jesus was that holy child called
Immanuel. He was God with us, born of a virgin. John 1:14 and John
3:18 even title him "the only begotten of the Father" and
"the only begotten Son of God." This makes it clear that
all other claims to this holy status are false claims.
Why was such an exclusive, spiritual status essential? In
order to provide forgiveness for a sinful human race, there had to be a
sinless, substitutionary sacrifice. Jesus could not have filled this role
had he been conceived naturally; for the Bible teaches all human beings are
conceived in sin. (See Psalm 51:5.) In other words, because of
the sinful-ness of all parents, a sinful status is imparted by conception.
This results in a sinful nature being resident in children even before they
are old enough to make conscious choices between resisting or yielding to
evil impulses. The correct line of logic is this: that we human beings are
not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. The sin nature of
the first man, Adam, has been passed to all his offspring. (See Romans
Being conceived by the sinless Holy Spirit, Jesus was
born with a sinless nature. He could, therefore, succeed in living a sinless
life, something no other human being has ever accomplished. This
understanding is basic to Christianity, a doctrinal hinge on which it turns.
(See Hebrews 4:15; 7:26–27, 1 Peter 1:19; 2:22, 1 John 3:5.)
1 Dr. Anis A. Shorrosh, Islam Revealed (Nashville,
Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1988) p. 101.