Pastor’s viewpoint: Dec. 9, 2017
As a special chemist in the U. S. Navy during the early ‘70s, I did a bit of genetic mapping and it was fascinating. We humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes in each cell. Those 46 chromosomes are created from DNA material and they determine the characteristics of the organism in which they are created and exist. Twenty-three chromosomes come from the male parent and 23 from the female parent.
They are bound together in a double helix discovered by Watson and Crick who won the Nobel Prize for their discovery; it’s a twisted ladder-like structure (as though you twisted the top of the ladder to the left and the bottom of the ladder to the right). At some point, the “ladder” separates and serves as a pattern for the creation of our individual proteins.
And now, scientists are able to map and compare the DNA, matching it, with a 99-plus percent certainty to a particular person. Twenty-five years ago, Mary Ella and I were in Yellowstone Park and the guide showed us a hot spring and told us they used the bacteria in that pool for the early DNA testing.
“ Mary said to the angel, “I am a virgin. How, then, can this be?”  The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and God’s power will rest upon you. For this reason the holy child will be called the Son of God.  Remember your relative Elizabeth. It is said that she cannot have children, but she herself is now six months pregnant, even though she is very old.  For there is nothing that God cannot do.”  “I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary; “may it happen to me as you have said.” And the angel left her.” (Luke 1:26-38)
In a normal birth, the egg and sperm each contribute half the chromosomes needed to create a new human being. If it’s a virgin birth, called parthenogenesis, the female chromosomes re-create themselves and supply all the DNA material. There is certainly no shortage of people who simply don’t believe in the virgin birth of Jesus and the scientific side of my brain understands them. So, I asked Alexa (my Echo) who said, “Sorry, I’m not sure.”
In fact, Mary, who knew nothing about chromosomes or DNA, says, “I am a virgin. How, then, can this be?” And Joseph considers breaking the engagement, because he, too, knows he is not the father. So, we are stuck with two choices, either the mother of Jesus is a rather loose woman (which I cannot and will not believe) or she is, in fact, a virgin. But I have the same question, “If she is a virgin. How, then, can this be?”
The angel simply says, “For there is nothing that God cannot do.” I remember Doug Oldham singing, “God said it and I believe it and that’s good enough for me!” And Mary quietly says, “I am your servant … may it happen to me as you have said.”
Charles ‘Buddy’ Whatley is a retired United Methodist pastor and, with Mary Ella, a missionary to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.