THE “SCANDAL” OF THE VIRGIN BIRTH?
T. PIERCE BROWN
For the past 60 years, we have read an occasional reference to the scandal connected with the birth of Christ. A recent article, “Christmas at Matthew’s House,” has more speculation and erroneous implications than any I remember reading from any source. I have seen several critical reviews of the article, but do not remember any of them pointing out one simple fact that would make all such speculative writing vain, even if it were not false or blasphemous.
When Mary was known to be with child by the Holy Spirit and Joseph was minded to put her away, it is often assumed, without any Biblical reason, that the whole community knew she was with child, though unmarried, and therefore assumed that she was immoral. There is nothing in the record or secular history of which I am aware, that suggests that anyone except Joseph and Mary knew that she was with child when they married. How long she had been in that condition is not stated, but one may look in vain for any of the friends or enemies of Jesus in that day bringing such charges against either Mary or Jesus. In fact, in Luke 3:23 it specifically says that it was supposed that he was the son of Joseph, but does not suggest that anyone supposed that he was an illegitimate son.
All of the scandalous insinuations and blasphemous remarks were never made in any historical record in or out of the Bible, as far as I can discover, until after the inspired Apostles revealed that she was with child before her marriage. Why anyone who claims to be a minister of Christ feels the need to fabricate a whole series of events involving some scandal that never existed is one of the mysteries of the ages.
His enemies charged that he was a glutton and a winebibber, and a friend of publicans and sinners, but not an illegitimate son of an adulterous woman. If there had been accusation of this sort, as many of my brethren seem to think, she would have been in danger of being stoned. There is no hint of such. There is a high degree of probability that Joseph took her for his wife within the first month after Jesus was conceived, and thus no one would assume anything except that the child was his.