According to LDS teachings, Mary was like every other person on earth; she originated as a spirit-child of Heavenly Father and one of his wives. Then, after she was on earth and betrothed to Joseph, Heavenly Father had sexual relations with her to provide a body for Jesus. The idea of a father having sex with his daughter apparently doesn’t seem to bother Mormons. Neither does it seem to dawn on them that a woman who has had sex is not a virgin!
Okay, now that I’ve gotten your attention, let me provide quotations from Mormon sources which will confirm what I just stated. What saved me lots of research time is that most of these are cited by Mormonism Research Ministry at http://www.mrm.org/virgin-birth, and were copied from there (emphasis mine).
Brigham Young (2nd President and prophet)
1. "The Father came down and begat him, the same as we do now..." (The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, vol. 1, p. 321; February 16, 1849, Salt Lake City)
2. "When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost... Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven... Now, remember from this time forth, and for ever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. I will repeat a little anecdote. I was in conversation with a certain learned professor upon this subject, when I replied, to this idea 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, and be palmed upon the Elders by the people, bringing the Elders into great difficulties." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, pp. 50, 51)
3. "I believe the Father came down from heaven, as the Apostles said he did, and begat the Saviour of the world; for he is the only-begotten of the Father, which could not be if the Father did not actually beget him in person." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 238)
4. "When the time came that His first-born, the Saviour, should come into the world and take a tabernacle, the Father came Himself and favoured that spirit with a tabernacle instead of letting any other man do it. The Saviour was begotten by the Father of His spirit, by the same Being who is the Father of our spirits, and that is all the organic difference between Jesus Christ and you and me." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 218)
5. "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, vol. 8, p. 115)
6. "The man Joseph, the husband of Mary, did not, that we know of, have more than one wife, but Mary the wife of Joseph had another husband. On this account infidels have called the Savior a bastard. This is merely a human opinion upon one of the inscrutable doings of the Almighty. That very babe that was cradled in the manger, was begotten, not by Joseph, the husband of Mary, but by another Being. Do you inquire by whom? He was begotten by God our heavenly Father. This answer may suffice you---you need never inquire more upon that point." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 268)
Heber C. Kimball (one of the original 12 apostles, and first counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency)
"In relation to the way in which I look upon the works of God and his creatures, I will say that I was naturally begotten; so was my father, and also my Saviour Jesus Christ. According to the Scriptures, he is the first begotten of his father in the flesh, and there was nothing unnatural about it." (Journal of Discourses, 8:211).
Orson Pratt (original member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles)
1. "God, the Father of our spirits, became the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. Hence, the Father saith concerning him, 'Thou are my Son, this day have I begotten thee.' We are informed in the first chapter of Luke, that Mary was chosen by the Father as a choice virgin, through whom He begat Jesus. The angel said unto the Virgin Mary, '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.' After the power of the Highest had overshadowed Mary, and she had by that means conceived, she related the circumstance to her cousin Elizabeth in the following words: 'He that is Mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His name.' It seems from this relation that the Holy Ghost accompanied 'the Highest' when He overshadowed the Virgin Mary and begat Jesus; and from this circumstance some have supposed that the body of Jesus was begotten of the Holy Ghost without the instrumentality of the immediate presence of the Father. There is no doubt that the Holy Ghost came upon Mary to sanctify her, and make her holy, and prepare her to endure the glorious presence of "the Highest', that when 'He' should 'overshadow' her she might conceive, being filled with the Holy Ghost; hence the angel said, as recorded in Matthew, 'That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost;' that is, the Holy Ghost gave her strength to abide in the presence of the Father without being consumed, but it was the personage of the Father who begat the body of Jesus; and for this reason Jesus is called 'the Only Begotten of the Father;' that is, the only one in this world whose fleshly body was begotten by the Father. There were millions of sons and daughters who he begat before the foundation of this world, but they were spirits, and not bodies of flesh and bones; whereas, both the spirit and body of Jesus were begotten by the Father---the spirit having been begotten in heaven many ages before the tabernacle was begotten upon the earth.
"The fleshly body of Jesus required a Mother as well as a Father. Therefore, the Father and Mother of Jesus, according to the flesh, must have been associated together in the capacity of Husband and Wife; hence the Virgin Mary must have been, for the time being, the lawful wife of God the Father; we use the term lawful Wife, because it would be blasphemous in the highest degree to say that He overshadowed her or begat the Savior unlawfully. It would have been unlawful for any man to have interfered with Mary, who was already espoused to Joseph; for such a heinous crime would have subjected both the guilty parties to death, according to the law of Moses. But God having created all men and women, had the most perfect right to do with His own creation, according to His holy will and pleasure: He had a lawful right to overshadow the Virgin Mary in the capacity of a husband, and beget a Son, although she was espoused to another; for the law which He gave to govern men and women was not intended to govern Himself, or to prescribe rules for His own conduct. It was also lawful in Him, after having thus dealt with Mary, to give her to Joseph her espoused husband. Whether God the Father gave Mary to Joseph for time only, or for time and eternity, we are not informed. Inasmuch as God was the first husband to her, it may be that He only gave her to be the wife of Joseph while in the mortal state, and that He intended after the resurrection to again take her as one of his own wives to raise up immortal spirits in eternity.
2. "As God the Father begat the fleshly body of Jesus, so He, before the world began, begat his spirit. As the body required an earthly Mother, so his spirit required a heavenly Mother. As God associated in the capacity of a husband with the earthly mother, so likewise he associated in the same capacity with the heavenly one; earthly things being in the likeness of heavenly things; and that which is temporal being in the likeness of that which is eternal; or, in other words, the laws of generation upon the earth are after the order of the laws of generation in heaven" (The Seer, pp. 158-9; cf. B. H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints, vol 2, p. 270)
Joseph F. Smith (6th President)
"Shall we as Latter-day Saints deny the truth and then claim that God made man in his likeness in the beginning? Shall we come under the impression that God possesses the power of creation, and yet did not literally create? He is not without his companion any more than I am without my companion, the mother of my children...
"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. (a "classic sermon delivered by President Joseph F. Smith at the Box Elder Stake conference of December 20, 1914, as recorded in the Box Elder News of January 28, 1915" (Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr., Doctrine and Covenants Encyclopedia, p. 398; cf. Messages of the First Presidency 4:330)
Joseph Fielding Smith (10th President)
1. "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, 1954, 1:18).
2. “The birth of the Savior was a natural occurrence unattended with any degree of mysticism, and the Father God was the literal parent of Jesus in the flesh as well as in the spirit.” (Religious Truths Defined, p.44)
James E. Talmage (member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles)
1. The relationship of the Christ to the Eternal Father has been set forth in such plainness that I do not think any wayfaring man amongst us can fail to understand. We recognize in Jesus Christ the Son of the Eternal Father, both in spirit and in body. There is no other meaning to attach to that expression, as used by the Eternal Father Himself---'Mine Only Begotten Son.' Christ combined within His own person and nature the attributes of His mortal mother, and just as truly the attributes of His immortal Sire. By that fixed and inexorable law of nature, that every living organism shall follow after his kind, Jesus the Christ had the power to die, for He was the offspring of a mortal woman; and He had the power to withstand death indefinitely, for He was the son of an immortal Father. This simplicity of doctrine has shocked many, but the truth is frequently shocking just because of its simplicity and consequent grandeur." (Conference Report, April 1915, p. 121)
2. Notice that the following Talmage quote is in currently used CES Institute manuals (official Church curriculum):
"That Child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father, not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof; and, the offspring from that association of supreme sanctity, celestial Sireship, and pure through mortal maternity, was of right to be called the 'Son of the Highest'" (James Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 23rd ed., p. 81; quoted in Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual: Religion 231-232, p. 9; quoted in The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles [New Testament Student Manual: Religion 211–212], p. 24)
Melvin Ballard (LDS Apostle)
"Mary told the story most beautifully when she said that an angel of the Lord came to her and told her that she had found favor in the sight of God, and had come to be worthy of the fulfilment of the promises heretofore made, to become the virgin mother of the Redeemer of the world. She afterwards, referring to the event, said: 'God hath done wonderful things unto me.' 'And the Holy Ghost came upon her,' is the story, 'and she came into the presence of the highest.' No man or woman can live in mortality and survive the presence of the Highest except by the sustaining power of the Holy Ghost. So it came upon her to prepare her for admittance into the divine presence, and the power of the Highest, who is the Father, was present, and overshadowed her, and the holy Child that was born of her was called the Son of God.
Men who deny this, or who think that it degrades our Father, have no true conception of the sacredness of the most marvelous power with which God has endowed mortal men---the power of creation. Even though that power may be abused and may become a mere harp of pleasure to the wicked, nevertheless it is the most sacred and holy and divine function with which God has endowed man. Made holy, it is retained by the Father of us all, and in his exercise of that great and marvelous creative power and function, he did not debase himself, degrade himself, nor debauch his daughter. Thus Christ became the literal Son of a divine Father, and no one else was worthy to be his father." (Deseret News, 23 Dec 1923; Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard, 166-167; Crusader for Righteousness, 144; taught to students by BYU-Idaho professor Robert L. Marrott)
Ezra Taft Benson (13th President)
“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. He is the Son of the Eternal Father.” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 1988,pp.6-7)
Bruce McConkie (apostle, member of the First Council of the Seventy, and a General Authority)
1. “Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers.” “Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events.” (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 546-7, p742.) (cited from my personal copy)
2. "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." (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ, p. 294)
3. "The Father had a Son, a natural Son, his own literal Seed, the Offspring of his body." (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ, p. 355)
4. "The great God, the Eternal Elohim, the Father of us all, ... in his love, mercy, and grace condescended to step down from his Almighty throne, to step down to a lesser and benighted state, as it were, and become the Father of a Son 'after the manner of the flesh.' ... This then is the condescension of God-that a God should beget a man; that an Immortal Parent should father a mortal Son; that the Creator of all things from the beginning should step down from his high state of exaltation and be, for a moment, like one of the creatures of his creating... We have spoken plainly of our Lord's conception in the womb of Mary; in reality the plain assertions are found in the revealed word, and we have but certified that the words mean what they say and cannot be spiritualized away. And as it is with reference to our Lord's mother, so it is as pertaining to his Father. The scriptures say that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son. The problem is that the intellectually led ministry and laity of the day assume, as Satan leads them to do, that a name-title of this sort is simply figurative and does not have the same literal meaning as when the words are spoken in ordinary conversation. Perhaps again the best service we can render, on the issue here involved, is somehow to get the message across that words mean what they say, and that if Christ is the Only Begotten of the Father, it means just that....
The Father is a Father is a Father; he is not a spirit essence or nothingness to which the name Father is figuratively applied. And the Son is a Son is a Son; he is not some transient emanation from a divine essence, but a literal, living offspring of an actual Father. God is the Father; Christ is the Son. The one begat the other. Mary provided the womb from which the Spirit Jehovah came forth, tabernacles in clay, as all men are, to dwell among his fellow spirits whose births were brought to pass in like manner. There is no need to spiritualize away the plain meaning of the scriptures. There is nothing figurative or hidden or beyond comprehension in our Lord's coming into mortality. He is the Son of God in the same sense and way that we are the sons of mortal fathers. It is just that simple. Christ was born of Mary. He is the Son of God-the Only begotten of the Father." (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ, pp. 467-8)
5. "And so, in the final analysis it is the faithful saints, those who have testimonies of the truth and divinity of this great latter-day work, who declare our Lord's generation to the world. Their testimony is that Mary's son is God's Son; that he was conceived and begotten in the normal way; that he took upon himself mortality by the natural birth processes; that he inherited the power of mortality from his mother and the power of immortality from his Father-in consequence of all of which he was able to work out the infinite and eternal atonement." (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ, p. 473)
6. “God the Almighty, who is infinite and eternal, elects, in his fathomless wisdom, to beget a Son, an Only Son, the Only Begotten in the flesh. God, who is infinite and immortal, condescends to step down from his throne, to join with one who is finite and mortal in bringing forth, ‘after the manner of the flesh,' the Mortal Messiah." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, pp. 314-315)
7. "The Father had a Son, a natural Son, his own literal Seed, the Offspring of his body." (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ, p. 355)
8. "There is no need to spiritualize away the plain meaning of the scriptures. There is nothing figurative or hidden or beyond comprehension in our Lord's coming into mortality. He is the Son of God in the same sense and way that we are the sons of mortal fathers. It is just that simple." (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ, p. 468)
9. "Only Begotten Son. Only Begotten in the flesh, meaning in mortality. This designation of our Lord signifies that he was begotten by Man of Holiness as literally as any mortal father begets a son. The natural processes of procreation were involved; Jesus was begotten by his Father as literally as he was conceived by his mother." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary 1:144)
10. “Begotten means begotten; it means Christ's mortal body was procreated by an Eternal Sire; it means God is the Father of Christ, 'after the manner of the flesh.'" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary 3:138-141)
First Presidency Statement
"Jesus Christ is the Son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily offspring; that is to say, Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the body in which Jesus Christ performed His mission in the flesh, and which body died on the cross and was afterward taken up by the process of resurrection, and is now the immortalized tabernacle of the eternal spirit of our Lord and Savior. No extended explanation of the title 'Son of God' as applied to Jesus Christ appears necessary." ("The Father and The Son; A Doctrinal Exposition by The First Presidency and The Twelve", pamphlet published by the Church, June 30, 1916; quoted in Improvement Era 19:934-942, August, 1916; quoted in Liahona, the Elders' Journal 21:380-384, March 25, 1924; quoted in The Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, pp. 466-7; quoted in Jesus the Christ, 12th ed., by James Talmage, pp. 465-47; quoted in Teachings Of Presidents Of The Church: Joseph F. Smith, p. 353; quoted in Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon, by Jeffrey R. Holland, p. 360; quoted in Church History and Modern Revelation, by Joseph Fielding Smith, vol. 2, p. 160; quoted Man, His Origin and Destiny, by Joseph Fielding Smith, p. 119; quoted in God the Father, compiled by Gordon Allred, p. 150)
1. "[Jesus Christ] was willing to make payment because of his great love for mankind, and he was able to make payment because he lived a sinless life and because he was actually, literally, biologically the Son of God in the flesh" (Messages for Exaltation: Eternal Insights from the Book of Mormon, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Sunday School Union, 1967), pp. 378-379).
2. "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." (Gospel Principles, 1997 ed., p. 57)
1. The official LDS publication “Principles of the Gospel” (1969), signed by the First Presidency, states, “Jesus Christ is the Son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily offspring; that is to say, Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the body in which Jesus Christ performed His mission in the flesh . . . No explanation of the title ‘Son of God’ as applied to Jesus Christ appears necessary.” (cited from my personal copy).
2. "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
3. "Mormons differ from other Christians in our literal belief that we are begotten of God spiritually and that Christ was begotten of him physically. Paul says in Acts that we are God's offspring (17:28-29). We believe that our spiritual conception was sexual just as we believe that Christ's mortal conception was. Elucidating on the latter, James E. Talmage says, 'That child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim the Eternal Father, not in violation of natural law, but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof' (1986, 81)" (Robert A. Rees, “Bearing our Crosses Gracefully: Sex and the Single Mormon,” Dialogue, vol. 24, no. 4, p.99).
4. "The official doctrine of the Church is that Jesus is the literal offspring of God. He’s got 46 chromosomes; 23 came from Mary, 23 came from God the eternal Father" (BYU Professor Stephen E. Robinson, The Mormon Puzzle, produced by the Southern Baptist Convention, 1997).
Contrary to all this evidence, Mormon apologist Robert Millet writes, "While Latter-day Saints clearly believe that Jesus is the Son of God the Father, there is no authoritative doctrinal statement within Mormonism that explains how the conception of Jesus was accomplished," (Another Jesus? The Christ of the Latter-day Saints, p. 74) Remember who these people are who taught this doctrine: LDS officials, including their prophets, apostles, and presidents, including Brigham Young. Were not any of these suthors “authoritative”?!?
Many times in the past when I have confronted Mormons with the idea of Mary not being a virgin, I have been told she was still a virgin to mortal man because it was the god-man who had relations with her. I still don’t understand how a woman who had sex can still be a virgin.
The Virgin birth - from a true virgin - is very important for Christian doctrine. I posted this citation a year ago, but it is well worth posting as a closing statement for this article:
Doctrinally it must be repeated that the belief in the virgin birth of Christ is of the highest value for the right apprehension of Christ’s unique and sinless personality. Here is One, as Paul brings out in Romans 5:12, who, free from sin Himself, and not involved in the Adamic liabilities of the race, reverses the curse of sin and death brought in by the first Adam, and establishes the reign of righteousness and life. Had Christ been naturally born, not one of these things could be affirmed of Him. As one of Adam’s race, not an entrant from a higher sphere, He would have shared in Adam’s corruption and doom - would Himself have required to be redeemed. Through God’s infinite mercy, He came from above, inherited no guilt, needed no regeneration or sanctification, but became Himself the Redeemer, Regenerator, Sanctifier for all who receive Him. (Dr. James Orr, The Virgin Birth of Our Lord, as cited by Herbert Lockyer, All the Doctrines of the Bible, p.39)