Last week, churches around the world marked the birth of Jesus Christ. In celebrating this joyous event, many congregations read the account of Christ's nativity from the Gospel of Matthew. Though most Christmas cards and paintings appropriately emphasize the relationship between mother and child, Matthew's gospel highlights the role of another main character: Christ's earthly father, Joseph. According to Scripture, Joseph was a righteous man who planned to quietly divorce Mary (to save her from public humiliation) when she was found pregnant before their marriage was consummated. Before Joseph could leave, however, an angel of the Lord appeared to him explaining that the child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Following the angel's instructions, Joseph took Mary home and raised Jesus as his son.
God, the Heavenly Father, ensured that His Son had a human father. This, of course, was not technically necessary. God could have easily sent Gabriel to Mary before she was engaged to Joseph. Because no human father was involved in the conception of Christ, the character of Joseph may seem superfluous. Yet in God's wisdom, Joseph was there with Mary in the manger. Jesus was obedient to Joseph as a child (Luke 2:51), and, no doubt, learned to be a carpenter by following Joseph's example. Even though Joseph was not Jesus' biological father, God apparently regarded the role of an earthly father sufficiently important that he made provision for His Son to have one. Today, our post-modern culture minimizes the role that fathers play, and, in many instances, has reduced fatherhood to the role of a mere "inseminator".
Recently the Washington Post ran an article entitled " My Father Was an Anonymous Sperm Donor", written by an eighteen year-old girl named Katrina Clark whose mother was artificially inseminated. Miss Clark described how she was angry for many years about the fact that she did not know even minor details about her father. "I was angry at the idea that where donor conception is concerned, everyone focuses on the 'parents'—the adults who can make choices about their own lives," Miss Clark wrote. "The recipient gets sympathy for wanting to have a child. The donor gets a guarantee of anonymity and absolution from any responsibility for the offspring of his 'donation.' As long as these adults are happy, then donor conception is a success, right?"