This discussion is to somewhat counter the position taken by Pageau on the virgin birth. He discusses the symbolism in the virgin birth one must first, apparently, understand in order to understand why God preferred it. And although I too have a mighty appreciation for symbols, I have an even greater appreciation for not confusing them for signs. A sign is by definition a symbol that is clear. Whereas a symbol is by definition a sign that isn't. And it is quite arguably the most dangerous problem in the universe to pretend a thing is clear when it isn't, or even more, to pretend a thing isn't clear when it is. And although I agree with Pageau's lengthy, almost mathematical, clarification of the symbolism surrounding the virgin birth, I would point out an important thing—maybe the most—that is clearly mentioned in the scriptures but almost never mentioned outside of them. And it is this: that God preferred to enter the world in a strange combination of the pure and the scandalous. And that His birth was precisely more scandalous, because it was most pure.
When God came to us through the unwed Mary, He chose not merely to arrive humble, but arrive humiliated. Everyone laughed with Sarah, the mother of Nations, at her unexpected pregnancy. But surely no one leered at her as they leered at the mother of God. Everyone wonders at the odd, angelic instruction given to Sampson’s father about how to avoid scissors. But certainly no one wonders at the one given to Joseph about how to avoid scandal.
I'm not saying I would have preferred for God to be born to the happily-married virgins, Larry and Mary Smith. I don’t know exactly what I would’ve preferred--maybe for God to be borne across the stars on an astroid-bassinet like baby superman, or maybe brought to a doorstep with a lightening scar on his forehead. But, and this is precisely my point, even though I'm not saying I would have preferred the story to start with little Larry, Jr, I am saying I would have preferred it to start with a little less scandal.
I may be more or less familiar with the innocent gazes turned toward babes left on doorsteps, but I know all too well the invectives hurled at a fatherless boy and his unwed mother.
But God, knowing this and infinitely more, by his choice and will, preferred to counterpoise the purity of his birth against the scandal of it.