Whatley: Can a virgin give birth?

Published 10:13 pm Tuesday, December 12, 2017

“Can a Virgin Give Birth? Yes—but it’s Very, Very, Very, Very Unlikely” is an article by Melinda Wenner Moyer on Slate.com, and it’s also a question that reappears every Christmas.

It’s called “parthenogenesis.” We’ve seen it happen in a wasp, a fish, a bird and a lizard, but never in a human. Well, there was that one time.

Ordinarily an egg cell senses a rise in calcium stimulated by the presence of a sperm cell and divides into two cells, each containing half the required genetic material.

The other half of the required genetic material is supplied by the sperm cell and those, now complete cells, continue to divide, creating a fetus and an infant and eventually another human being with the genetic characteristics of both parents.

If, by mistake, the egg cell begins to divide and multiply without a sperm present, it creates an abnormal tumor containing a disorganized mass of human parts, and the “embryo” will die in about five days.

There is only one scientific report of human parthenogenesis in “Nature Genetics,” a 1995 scientific journal. An infant, examined by a doctor because his head was growing abnormally, had entirely female blood cells and other cells that were entirely male. It was a partial parthenogenesis.

So there really remains only one recorded instance of a virgin birth.

“Now all this happened in order to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet, ‘A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel’ (which means, “God is with us”). So when Joseph woke up, he married Mary, as the angel of the Lord had told him to. But he had no sexual relations with her before she gave birth to her son. And Joseph named him Jesus.” (Matthew 1:18-25)

So, “can a virgin give birth?” The answer is yes… once! Her name is Mary and her virgin-born son’s name is Jesus.

Maybe you know him?

Pastor’s viewpoint is written by Charles ‘Buddy’ Whatley, a retired United Methodist pastor and, with Mary Ella, a missionary to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.