By Eric Johnson
Both Mormons and Evangelical Christians believe in the “Virgin Birth.” Yet what have LDS leaders taught about this special event to distinguish it from the biblical doctrine? A church manual provides a backdrop for the teaching:
From their accounts we learn that Jesus was born of a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to marry Joseph when an angel of the Lord appeared to her. The angel told her that she was to be the mother of the Son of God. She asked him how this was possible (see Luke 1:34). He told her, ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God’ (Luke 1:35). Thus, God the Father became the literal Father of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only person on earth to be born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father. That is why He is called the Only Begotten Son (Gospel Principles, 2009, pp. 52-53).
A church pamphlet put it in a very straightforward manner: “He is the Son of God, literally, actually, as men are the sons of mortal parents” (What the Mormons Think of Christ, a pamphlet published by the LDS Church, p. 44). To explain this concept to children, the 1972 Family Home Evening journal attempted to help parents teach it to their children. The manual cited sixth President Joseph F. Smith on pages 125-126 who said,
I want the little folks to hear what I am going to tell you. I am going to tell you a simple truth, yet it is one of the greatest truths and one of the most simple facts ever revealed to the children of men. You all know that your fathers and that your mothers are indeed your mothers–you all know that don’t you? You cannot deny it. Now, we are told in scriptures that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God in the flesh. Well, now for the benefit of the older ones, how are children begotten? I answer just as Jesus Christ was begotten of his father. . . . Now, my little friends, I will repeat again in words as simple as I can, and you talk to your parents about it, that God, the Eternal Father, is literally the father of Jesus Christ (Box Elder Stake Conference, Dec. 20, 1914. Ellipsis mine)
The magazine then provided a graphic (located to your right) and said,
At this point, discuss in your own words how Jesus was the only begotten Son of God. You might do this by using the following illustration on a chalkboard or piece of paper. All boys and girls have a mother and father on earth. Your mother and father, of course, are mother and I. Jesus is the only person ever born on this earth that is different. Jesus had a mother on earth. What was her name? (Mary.) But who was his real father? (Heavenly Father) So you see, Jesus is the only person who had our Heavenly Father as the father of his body (Italics in original).
There is no getting around this description and graphic. And yet it has been taught throughout the church’s history. Second President Brigham Young taught,
The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood – was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers (Journal of Discourses 8:115).
Tenth President Joseph Fielding Smith stated, “CHRIST NOT BEGOTTEN OF HOLY GHOST . . . Christ was begotten of God. He was not born without the aid of Man, and that Man was God!” (Doctrines of Salvation 1:18. Italics in original. Ellipsis mine). Thirteenth President Ezra Taft Benson stated,
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 7. See also the Church News, December 18, 2004, p. 16).
The idea that Jesus could even be begotten by the Holy Ghost, as taught in Matthew 1:18, is mocked sexually by Young:
If the Son was begotten by the Holy Ghost, it would be very dangerous to baptize and confirm females, and give the Holy Ghost to them, lest he should beget children, to be palmed upon the Elders by the people, bringing the Elders into great difficulties (Journal of Discourses 1:51).
In an apparent attempt to smooth the rough edges of such a blasphemous doctrine, Apostle Bruce R. McConkie wrote,
For our present purposes, suffice it to say that our Lord was born of a virgin, which is fitting and proper, and also natural, since the Father of the Child was an Immortal Being (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ, p. 466)
But McConkie was never one to mince words. He said,
What does it mean to believe in Christ? It means to accept him as the Son of God in the literal and full sense of the word. It means to believe that God is his Father in the same sense that all mortal men have fathers (Ibid., p. 294).
What Does Christianity Teach
To even suggest that Heavenly Father–whom LDS leaders have taught has a body of parts and passion–physically came to the earth to have one-on-one relations with the virgin Mary to create Jesus is highly offensive to Bible-believing Christians. This is certainly not a biblical concept! If God the Father (as the literal father of all spirits in the Preexistence) indeed came down to literally impregnate Mary–God’s spirit daughter in the preexistence state–this would be nothing less than incestuous! According to Matthew 1:18, the Holy Spirit came upon Mary in a non physical way to produce Jesus, and there is nothing sexual about the Virgin Birth.
Another article to consider
Test your Understanding
- According to Mormonism, who is the literal father of Jesus?
A) Joseph Smith B) Elohim (God the Father) C) The Holy Spirit D) Joseph
2. Which is the way a 1972 church manual explained how Jesus came to be?
A) Heavenly Father + Mary = Jesus B) God + Heavenly Mother = You C) Jesus + Mary = You D) God + Asherah = You
3. According to Mormonism’s teaching of the Virgin Birth, the man Jesus
A) was created in the spiritual realm
B) was created in the physical realm
C) was created in the preexistence
D) was created as half man, half god
4. According to Apostle McConkie, the father of Jesus was:
A) A mortal being B) A spiritual being C) sinful D) An immortal being
5. Which of the following would NOT be a logical conclusion if God the Father did have physical relations with a human to create Jesus?
A) God the Father must have created all humans in the same way Jesus was created
B) This would be an incestuous act since Heavenly Father supposedly created Mary as a spiritual child in the preexistence
C) Such an act would be unbiblical because the scripture doesn’t teach that God has a physical body
D) Such a doctrine would be blasphemous and would totally go against God’s nature
Answers to the quiz