Traveling to Bethlehem (19 December 2010)

The Ever Virgin Theotokos

The Ever Virgin Theotokos

Question: I have heard other “church leaders” say that virgin birth is just a myth, is this true? The only thing true about this statement is that it has been said.  For us Orthodox Christians one of the sad things about modern Christianity is that we have stopped using the word Heresy.  It is quite “vogue” to point fingers at historical beliefs of  the Church and to say, “Oh those were unsophisticated ideas for simple people.” If one takes the time to read the theological opinions and treatises of the Fathers and Mothers of the Church, you cannot use the word “unsophisticated” about them in any way. The post-modern concepts that ridicule the teachings as “unscientific” and folk tales only cast shadows on the expounders of such ideas.

The theology of Virgin Birth took hundreds of years to be developed and formed in the life of our Church.  The theology of Christ as Fully God and Fully man had an impact on the understanding of Mary of Nazareth.  Today, in the Gospel reading of the Genealogy of Christ, Matthew 1, 1 – 25. We are confronted by the humanity of Christ and His entire human lineage.  But, what about “virgin birth” how could that happen? There is the greatest question of all. It could happen, because God willed to happen! This is the Mystery of Incarnation.  God willed to be contained in His creation, born of His creature contained in the womb of a young Virgin. To continue this Mystery, God further willed that she would bear a child by the Holy Spirit, the pre-eternal God. The unbelievable is real. The Theotokos bears the God/Man, while retaining her virginity. For us Orthodox (and Roman Catholics), Mary remains a Virgin before, during and after Christ’s birth. How can this be? By faith, we thus believe in God’s promise and fulfilment in Christ Jesus.   Mary is the “panagia” forever holy. Perpetually Virgin, pure and a willing participant in the greatest miracle in the history of the world. Miracles are not explained they are believed. Our icons of the Theotokos testify to this reality. The stars on the maphorion (veil) of the Theotokos show us three stars. One on her Forehead and one each on her shoulders.  A Virgin: before, during and after the Nativity of our Lord.