It's hard to imagine anyone making a serious claim of a virgin conception. Right? Wrong! Did you know that nearly one percent of women in the US claim to have conceived as virgins?
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill analyzed data from thousands of young women over the course of a decade and a half and found that nearly 1 in 100 claim to have conceived without ever having had sexual relations (for obvious reasons, the study excluded those conceptions attributed to in vitro fertilization, etc.).
The researchers tell us that such things as fallible memory, delusion, denial, and wishful thinking can all "cause people to err in what they tell scientists" (not to mention outright deception).
It appears that Joseph wasn't the only one who had to weigh the claims of a pregnant "virgin."
We hear a statistic like this and we simply can't believe that anyone, much less one-in-a-hundred someones would ever make such a claim. Such reports are met with more than skepticism; they're met with sarcasm and cynicism.
Mary lived most of her adult life with people believing that either her memory was fallible, her thoughts were delusional or she was simply a liar. No doubt, throughout most of Mary's adult life she had to endure the sneers and jeers, the rumors and suspicions of a skeptical world.
As incredible as Mary's claim would have been 2000 years ago, we have even more cause to be skeptical in our age of science and advanced medicine. But unlike those who first heard Mary's incredible story, we also have the vantage point of history from which to judge her. Looking back we can see how the resurrection of her first born son from the dead not only changed the world, it must have brought Mary a tremendous sense of vindication. One in a hundred may make the claim but only one in the annuals of human history has ever given us reason to believe it.
"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14).