The Henry Doorly Zoo in Nebraska had on display three live female bonnethead sharks. The bonnethead is quite attractive in a lethal
hammerhead kind of way. But no matter how attractive these three ladies were, none of them had ever been on a date. You see they lived in a tank, in a zoo. The closest male sharks were, well, unavailable. Sharks, like chickens, can produce unfertilized eggs and sometimes do so perhaps in silent protest at not being allowed to date.
But one day the protest became a bit more pronounced when, on 14 Dec 2001, one of these broody sharks went into labor and out popped a baby girl bonnethead shark (yup hammerheads have live birth).
Everyone with a 5th grade biology class under their belt, including all the world-renowned marine biologists, stood with their collective mouths agape. This, to put it mildly, was new. A virgin shark, who had never as much as held hands with a male, producing offspring. Though some insects and Komodo dragons have been known to confound zoologists, this was the first shark to snub a nose at science.
The story gets even more shocking.
An allegedly envious stingray in the same tank jolted the little celebrity heiress down to Davey Jones’ locker (for those who don’t speak Pirate, the baby shark died).
Marine biologists, after the obligatory 5 minutes of mourning, gleefully examined the dearly departed’s DNA from every angle, confirming that indeed it contained DNA from only one shark in the tank. This had been a genuine virgin birth. Sound a bit fishy?
In October 2008, the Journal of Fish Biology confirmed a 2nd case in which DNA testing proved that a pup carried by a female Atlantic blacktip shark in the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center contained no genetic material from a male.
This is a process called parthenogenesis and is rare but known in some insects, reptiles like the Komodo dragon, and now sharks too. NB: Parthenogenesis can only ever produce female offspring.
Fathers take heart, the phenomenon of parthenogenesis is not an excuse a pregnant teen could use to get out of trouble since parthenogenesis in humans is simply impossible. And that is the point of Luke 1:37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
In The Illegitimacy of Jesus: A Feminist Theological Interpretation of the Infancy Narratives, Jane Schaberg accuses the church of inventing the doctrine of the virgin birth in order to subordinate women (what a novel allegation from a feminist). As she summarizes:
“The charge of contemporary feminists, then, is not that the image of the Virgin Mary is unimportant or irrelevant, but that it contributes to and is integral to the oppression of women.”
Schaberg believes the conception of Jesus was most likely the result of extra-marital sex, or rape by a Roman soldier.
The reason people don’t believe in the virgin birth is because it’s unbelievable. A virgin conceiving without a man is absolutely impossible. So if it did happen, then this baby may well be God. And then one would have to obey what he says.
International TV Interview guru, Larry King, who is Jewish, said that he would like to have interviewed Jesus Christ and would open with this question:
“I would like to ask him if he was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.”
Larry King gets it. He understands that if this one fact is true, life changes. The moment of Gabriel’s appearance defined history for Mary, for Israel, for all humanity, and yes, for you.
Yes it’s impossible, but that is exactly the point: we serve a God who can do the impossible. Gabriel said as much to Mary: Luke 1:37 “Nothing will be impossible with God.”
The fact that it is a miracle is part of the proof that we are saved. This miracle proves that Jesus is God. This is not a minor point of doctrine, the virgin birth is at the heart of the Christian gospel. Jesus was born of a virgin, so he didn’t carry Adam’s original sin, so he was sinless, so he was God, so he could save us.
If he wasn’t virgin-born, Mary was a lying pregnant teen who concocted the whole story to evade trouble (or corroborate her insanity plea). Her testimony is worthless, so is Luke’s, and the whole gospel narrative begins to unravel like a moth-eaten blanket.
I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t bug me in the least that this is impossible, because I know God. Impossible is his middle name!
As you sing “Round yon virgin, mother and child,” this Christmas, your kids will ask, “Mommy, what’s a virgin?” Tell them the truth. And tell them we can be saved because Jesus was born sinless, stayed sinless, and yet died in the place of sinners like you and me.
So yes, this is a “must-believe” doctrine.