An evangelical's explanation of the virgin birth



On Jack Kelley’s website,, he has this explanation of the virgin birth:

*COLOR=“DeepSkyBlue”]Q. I love your site and may the Lord bless you and your ministry. My question surrounds Mary, the mother of Jesus. I understand that, since the Fall in the garden of Eden, all of mankind is born with a sinful nature. Although physically a virgin, can you tell me how Mary was “purified” to make her worthy to give birth to the Messiah? Some scriptural references would help immensely.

A. This has been the focus of no little controversy over the years, but I believe the answer can be found in Exodus 20:5. There the Lord speaks of visiting the sins of the fathers on the children. I believe this is a hint that our sin nature is inherited from our earthly father, not from our mother. If so then even though all mothers have a sin nature, theirs is not passed to their children, only the father’s. That means that Jesus, while born of a human mother, did not inherit Mary’s sin nature. And since His Father was without sin, so was He. ]*



So, um, what are children supposed to have inherited from their mother?


well, it kinda makes sense. All men and women on earth had an earthly fallen mother, yet Jesus had for his biological father God Himself. Is it any great leap to say there is a correlation between this, and the fact that all men but Christ have inherited sin through their fathers?

Furthermore, the only other explanation I have heard is that Mary herself was also a virgin birth…though there is only apocryphal evidence of this.


I have heard this explanation from Protestants before.

Jeff S.


Ok I went and actually looked at the quote in Exodus. It appears that he is taking it out of context. Look what the whole quote actually says.

Exodus 20

You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth;
2 you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation;
**but bestowing mercy down **to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.

This is dealing with the 10 Commandments. Specifically the commandment against idolatory. Notice it divides the people up into 2 different groups, those that hate God and those who love him and keep his commandments? Those that hate God are punished. Those that love God and obey him are not. It has nothing to do with inheriting “sin nature”.


I think perhaps you have misunderstood the notion of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, which had nothing to do with her mother being a virgin at the time of Mary’s conception or birth.

Or have you encountered a group that actually teaches the virgin birth of Mary as well as of Christ?



Does anybody really believe that we inherit original sin / “sin nature” from our fathers?

Does anybody really believe, for example, that a human being cloned from a woman would have no original sin / sin nature? (assuming you accepted that the clone really would be a human person)


Good one, VociMike.

It does seem, both here and in the recent evolution threads, that many people have a rather literal understanding of the way in which Original Sin is passed down or “inherited,” like it’s a physical part of the sperm or egg.

The same notion pops up when some Catholics defend the Immaculate Conception by insisting that Mary had to have been pure and unstained by sin, lest Jesus be rendered all icky by having been born from her body.

Yes, there’s a sense in which sin comes down to us from our first parents and is a part of the human condition we cannot escape on our own … but it’s not inherited in the sense that we can discuss which side of the family we get it from…



remember though, in genesis 3:15 it prophesesys about “the woman’s seed.” Everywhere else in scripture it talks about the man’s seed. So if mary was a sinner, jesus would have inherited the sin nature from mary.


The reason that it is untrue is if we can only inherit Original sin from our father–then who did Adam and Eve inherit it from?

Not to mention that Original sin is not a stain that is handed down–it is a privation or lack of sanctifying grace.

God chooses not to bless us with sanctifying grace at our conception.

That doesn’t mean that God couldn’t give us sancitfying grace at conception if He wanted to.

He did with Mary.

With Jesus God did not have to give sanctifying grace because being God Jesus already posses it!

The fact that Mary was given sanctifying grce meant that the perfect God Jesus could unite His perfect Divinity and His perfect humanity with Mary’s pre-fall perfect humanity.

That’s why Jesus could be like us–be perfect–but be different from us in having No Inclination towards sin–which is what privation or lack of sanctifying grace does to us.

In the Garden of Eden before the fall Adam and Eve had sanctifying grace or a tendency or Inclination to always doing God’s will–that’s why they were naked and not ashamed.

It was only after they lost that sanctifying grace that they made garments for themselves.

So all of us will have that lack of sancitfying grace or natural Inclination towards doing God’s will until we die–we will not have it like Mary or Jesus.

That doesn’t mean though that we’ll be STAINED with original sin–even though we have an Inclination towards sin or Cocupiscence–we can still be filled with transformative grace by Jesus through the sacraments of His Catholic Church and either in this life or in purgatory can indeed become perfect as he commanded.

Either when we leave purgatory and enter Heaven or if we’re in Heaven as saints we will eventually have sanctifying grace returned to us.

Then all Inclination towards sin or Concupiscence will be removed and we’ll be like Adam and Eve before the fall and like Mary and Jesus always were!



That’s my theory as well. Original sin was through Adam. Adam and Eve had children, who were a mixture of Adam’s genes and Eves. As these had children, you had different proportions of Adam and Eve in both. Eventually a woman, and it would ahve to be a woman, arose who was all Eve, and thus was born without stain of original sin. However the Y chromosome does not recombine, so to get a man, a miracle was required.


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