When We Doubt The Virgin Birth

I feel like I’m moving deeper into the life of God and into the communion of saints.

Most of my life I’ve had a sense of the Divine presence. I don’t know whether that’s normative or not. But even before I knew very much of Jesus, of God and saints and church, I sensed that my life, that our lives, are supernatural and that life was much bigger than me. And it’s not like my parents were talking to me about God all of the time. They didn’t. Calvin calls this sense I had our sensus divinitatus. I asked my husband Shawn, a philosopher, about this divine sense and he told me that “some philosophers wonder what it is exactly, and why anyone, let alone everyone, has it.” The point being, that not everyone buys Calvin’s argument that anyone or that everyone has it.

I can’t speak for everyone. I can only speak for myself. I was God-haunted as early as four years old. I remember looking up at moon on a clear Southern California night and wondering why it was following me as I trudged home on the sidewalk. Now why I was out that late, that’s another story I guess. But even then that bright globe suspended in outer space night sky spoke to me of other-worldliness. The reality of God was as thick for me then as it is now. I just didn’t have the words to explain or contain my perceptions.

So if I am moving deeper into the Way, the Truth, the Life, why on earth would I have doubts about the Virgin Birth? I don’t know. Yet, all of a sudden, as I was watching a 1960’s cartoon version of the Christmas story with my six year old daughter, an old doubt resurfaced. I thought, “That’s really hard to believe. How does the Holy Spirit hover over Mary and she become pregnant? It seems so unbelievable.” These thoughts heckled me and nagged me and bullied me for days.

My mind cannot wrap itself around the Virgin Birth. Such miracles don’t occur often. And if we are to believe God and his word, and the testimony of the Church, the Virgin Birth has only occurred once. That is why it is such a every day reality-bending big deal. Only God does impossible things. The Virgin Birth is how he chose to come into the world. If it were a frequent occurrence or even if it occurred more than once in history, Jesus wouldn’t be who he is. It can be hard to believe a once in history occurrence – a miracle of unreal proportions.

I have no problem being open to doubt or allowing it to run its course. We can’t run from our doubts. We must sit with them. Eventually many of them will quiet. Others will return, persistently nagging at and heckling us at a more opportune time. We should always give them their fair shake, answer the door when they knock, invite them in for a wrestling match.

When this doubt came to revisit, I sat with it. I let it nag me and heckle. Then I challenged it to a wrestling match. It had me in a headlock for a while where I admitted, “You are right, it seems pretty preposterous.” And then, there in the headlock, the KJV version of Luke 1:37 (the version I first read it in) came roaring back to the forefront of my consciousness: “For nothing shall be impossible with God.” That was it. I broke free of the headlock, I flipped it around, and then bam! I forced into submission all because of Luke 1:37. And that’s where I am today. If it comes a callin’ again. I’ll Luke 1:37 it.

Now let me say, I’m not trying to make it seem easy. Cut and dry. Doubts can plague us so that it seems we’re wrestling a crowd. I did say, “When it comes a callin’ again.” I assume that it might creep up again. I remember though that I have a great cloud of witnesses that have gone before and in this case, I have Luke:37 that has been decisive. But if and when we doubt, we should doubt in community. Find a safe community to doubt. Read what others throughout history have thought and done.

2 thoughts on “When We Doubt The Virgin Birth

  1. Carl and I substituted in the youth Sunday School class last Sunday and fielded some deep questions about the veracity of God and the Christian faith. This would have been a good addition to that conversation.

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