Slide background

Cobalt Blue: A Novel

A novel for courageous readers and seekers, COBALT BLUE is a turbulent, gorgeous ride into sacred sex..

Order Now

Emails to my Therapist

Virgin Birth? Miraculous Birth

earth lens flare light
Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, late December is an intense time of year in this hemisphere and the concept of the virgin birth has probably affected your life.

Nativity scene with 3 wise men and the Christmas star.
There’s plenty of argument about whether Jesus was born of a virgin mother. Fundamentalists of course say yes. Liberal Christians often say the virginity is symbolic. Historians have other points to make. Example:

The original Hebrew text of Isa 7:14 is not about a virgin. Rather, the Hebrew used to describe the woman in Isa 7:14 is almah, a word that means “young woman.””

And then there’s the fact that examples of virgin birth occur in many religions, some pre-dating Christianity, frequently enough that the concept might seem to be a built-in part of human psychology.

I consider myself Christian-among-other-things. Raised a Methodist, I still believe in the Christian creed, liberally interpreted, with the important exception of the idea that Jesus is the one and only route to all that is good and enduring. Also, no religion offers anything more miraculous than the ordinary methods of conception and childbirth. If I were from another planet, I’d think the whole business pretty far-fetched. I know a man who, as a small child, thought that his mother having a new baby on the way meant that he would soon have to “go back in her stomach,” an assumption no more outrageous than what actually happens.

Conception and childbirth fall into the category of oft-repeated ordinary miracle.

I don’t much care whether Jesus was born of a virgin, but given a choice I’d rather he wasn’t. Because: exalting virgin birth helps to make sex seem sinful, unholy, impure. Also, unlike the story of the fall from Eden in which a woman is the bad guy, virgin birth by a woman makes men seem unworthy. Neither of those attitudes is good for people to live by, yet both are part of what shapes us. Neither sexual guilt nor male-bashing (or woman-blaming) are healthy, in my view.

So, my choice is to believe that birth by any means, and sex, and humans of any gender, and getting my shopping done, are all miraculous, all a bit far-fetched. All well worth celebrating.

Nativity: birth of Jesus

And here’s Patti Smith’s rendering of “O Holy Night,” which I find myself coming back to even in ordinary seasons.

Follow This Blog


Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  • December 17, 2015 at 4:43 pm Reply

    My almost 80yo mom just called me up to tell me that if Mary was a virgin then Joseph is not Jesus’ father. So, technically, Jesus was a bastard. She also thought it was hilarious to think that for nine months, Mary and Joseph did not have sex!

    Great post, as always! Love Patti Smith too. Just read her book Just Kids. Powerful!

    • Peggy Payne
      December 17, 2015 at 6:03 pm Reply

      Thanks, Beth! And I too love Just Kids. Terrific book! I’m looking forward to getting to her new one.

  • Lee Grohse
    December 17, 2015 at 9:01 pm Reply

    Oh, Beth! Your mom could have been even more entertained had she been Catholic since Catholic doctrine is that Mary and Joseph NEVER had sex ! (“blessed Mary, ever virgin.”). That’s the thing about being Catholic: Just a routine virgin birth is not enough. You need to throw in an Immaculate Conception, lifelong virginity, and bodily Assumption into heaven. Go big or go home! Thanks, Peggy. I had not heard Patti Smith sing this. I loved it.–I love everything about Patti Smith (and everything about Christmas!)

    • Peggy Payne
      December 17, 2015 at 10:57 pm Reply

      Yes, Immaculate Conception. Thanks, Lee. Mary is also believed by many to have been born of a virgin.

      And I like the idea of loving both everything about Patti Smith and everything about Christmas, possibly a somewhat unusual combo.

  • December 17, 2015 at 9:48 pm Reply

    I was raised Methodist and my husband is Catholic (lately uber Catholic, as the older he gets the more Catholic he is.) His explanation for the virgin birth is that God wanted Jesus to be born unstained by sin or any kind, so his mother had to be pure. That says to me, also, that sex is sinful.

    • Peggy Payne
      December 17, 2015 at 10:57 pm Reply

      I agree, kenju. It does seem to cast the shadow of sin.

  • Jane Andrews
    December 18, 2015 at 2:56 am Reply

    I am Catholic, but I really don’t much care how Jesus was concieved. I am far more interested in what he had to say once he got here. In none of the gospels does he directly reference a virgin birth, so I guess it wasn’t that big a deal to him either. He did make sure that John would look after Mary after his death. What a good son. Also, the gospels mention Jesus’ sisters, but they are un-named. To correct this oversight, I have named them “Vivian” “Rose” and “Juanita.” As far as original sin goes, The original sin was not sex, it was disobedience. If you study the Kabbalah, you’ll find that sex is a mitzvah. And by the way. the woman should come first. So, all this to say. Do the right thing and don’t get hung up on details that are beside the point. Be merry. Be well.

    • Peggy Payne
      December 18, 2015 at 4:14 pm Reply

      Wonderful, Jane. Your comment is a creed in itself. And I love the sisters’ names.

  • December 18, 2015 at 12:50 pm Reply

    Enjoyed this post. and idea of not placing such unrealistic expectations upon women. Patti Smith singing was beautiful, too. Remember her fondly from old days.

    • Peggy Payne
      December 18, 2015 at 4:13 pm Reply

      Hadn’t even thought of the idea of expectations of women, Susan. Thanks. And P. Smith is still around, singing and writing. Her memoir Just Kids is terrific.

  • December 19, 2015 at 2:51 am Reply

    Interesting post – I reserve judgement about virgin birth, but what’s written about Jesus make him well worth emulating, as long as I don’t have to be perfect, and pay the price.

    • Peggy Payne
      December 21, 2015 at 8:11 pm Reply

      You said a lot in a small space right there, DrBob.

  • Paul fredericks
    December 23, 2015 at 3:06 am Reply

    Patty you should read Luke 2 and Matthew 1 verses 18 to25 and the truth of the virgin birth is right there in front of you in the written word of God ,Patty then turn to John 14 verse 6 which tells you the only way to eternal life is through his son Jesus Christ and not through any other Religion .God bless you Patty and have a Merry Xmas .

Leave a Comment


Follow This Blog