The Virgin Birth

Was Jesus born sinless simply because Joseph had nothing to do with it? Is sin passed down through the man’s sperm, as was thought by many people in the Church throughout the ages?

The answer to both questions is no. Donald Macleod writes: “The first man was holy because God made him so; the new man (the Christian) is holy because God makes him so. … Holiness can exist in human life only by virtue of divine action and so far as Jesus Christ is concerned that action occurs in the very commencement of his existence” (The Person of Christ, IVP 1998, p.41).

One implication of making such doctrine clear is the understanding that it is neither the sex act in general nor the man’s contribution to it that furthers sin; it is, in fact, a gift of God that both male and female participate and sex itself is a beautiful picture of the union between God and regenerated humankind. It is the assurance of the Gospel that God’s good gifts are not good because we say they are but because God says they are.

Another implication of clarity in these doctrinal issues is the emphasis on holiness coming from Christ alone and not from our own endeavoring to be better or to make a difference. Instead, the onus is on God for our changed way of life both inwardly and outwardly, and Scripture testifies to the fact that God does so, faithfully.

Are there others? What do you think?


8 thoughts on “The Virgin Birth

  1. I am not sure the argument that sin is transferred from the male can be so easily dismissed. Clearly the promise to the woman in Gen 3 was that from her seed would come the savior. We also know clearly from Romans that in Adam all die.

    Now, is it genetic, or through the sperm, I don’t think so. The whole levirate custom would seem to run contrary to that notion. I do like the force of Macleod’s argument and agree with it, but I don’t think it is forceful enough to deny that in some way sin is transferred generationally through males.

    What think ye?

  2. You *can* say what the connection actually is… 😉 I’m looking for a Scriptural implication and where such a doctrine might be found…not in the Fathers, but in Scripture.

  3. We should note thatTertullian believed in what became the idea of Traducianism, which held that the human soul is transmitted by parents to the children, here was the foundation of Augustine’s doctrine of the original sin. And this of course was first physically.

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