There is probably no aspect of the Christian faith that has been subjected to more abuse than the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus.
The world, of course, laughs at the concept. But, tragically, so do many professing Christians. I think it would be safe to say that most liberal Christian spokesmen, representing the mainline denominations, would reject the idea of the virgin birth as nothing more than a crude attempt by ignorant First Century disciples to attribute deity to Jesus.
Is the virgin birth central to the Christian faith, or is it only a peripheral issue that should be relegated to the realm of opinion?
I believe it is absolutely essential to the faith, for it attests to the identity of Jesus — namely, that He was God in the flesh.
Make no mistake about it — if Jesus was not God, then His sacrifice for our sins was meaningless. No imperfect man could have died for our sins, because his death would not have appeased our Creator's demand for justice. Our sin bearer had to be a perfect man, and thus he had to be divine.
The Hebrew prophets pointed to the divinity of the Messiah. Isaiah said He would be "Immanuel," meaning "God with us" (Isaiah 7:14). Isaiah also said the Messiah would be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Micah stated that the Messiah would be one who had existed "from the days of eternity" (Micah 5:2).
If Jesus was the Messiah, as He claimed to be (Mark 14:61-64 & John 4:25-26), then He had to be God in the flesh. That requires a miraculous conception, because all people born of human parents are born with a fallen sin nature (Psalm 51:5 & Ephesians 2:3).
To deny the virgin birth is to deny the deity of Jesus.