Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes mistakenly referred to as “Mormons,” believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, born to the Virgin Mary. In Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah prophesied of Jesus’ birth: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Latter-day Saints believe that this prophecy was fulfilled and recorded in Matthew 1 and Luke 2, both of which chronicle Jesus’ birth.
New Testament Accounts
In Luke chapter 1, we see the account of an angel appearing to Mary and telling her that she would have a son. Mary at first was confused, and asked the angel, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” The angel replied, “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” (Luke 1:30-35). Latter-day Saints believe this account to be true, and that Mary was a virgin, just as other Christian denominations believe. Latter-day Saints also believe the account in Matthew of Jesus’ miraculous birth.
In the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, there are several places where Mary, or Jesus’ mother, is mentioned by way of prophecy or vision. In the book of 1 Nephi, the prophet Nephi sees a vision of Jesus’ birth. Nephi said of Mary, “And in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white . . . most beautiful and fair above all other virgins” (1 Nephi 11:13-14). During his vision, Nephi was escorted by an angel. In the next verse, Nephi records what the angel said to him:
And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God? And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things. And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh. And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms (1 Nephi 11:15-20).
From Nephi’s vision, the account in the New Testament is corroborated. Mary was a pure virgin, and the mother of the Son of God. Nephi also states that Mary was “carried away in the Spirit,” similar to Luke’s description of her being “overshadowed” by the Holy Ghost.
Later in the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma teaches the people that Jesus “shall be born of Mary, . . . she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Alma 7:10). Again, the language of the Book of Mormon echoes the Bible, teaching that Mary was a virgin and was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost.
Jesus is the Son of God
Latter-day Saints believe that God the Father is Jesus’ father, not the Holy Ghost. The Church of Jesus Christ’s official website, lds.org, states: “Mary was Jesus’ only earthly parent because God the Father was Jesus’ father”[1, emphasis added]. We believe that Jesus inherited different characteristics from each of His parents: from His mortal mother, Mary, Jesus inherited the ability to die; from His immortal father, God the Father, Jesus inherited the ability to rise again. However, Latter-day Saints don’t profess to understand exactly how Jesus’ conception took place. The how of the virgin birth is not important; what’s more important is that we know it did happen.
What Latter-day Saints Don’t Believe About Mary
While Latter-day Saints do believe in the Virgin Birth, we do not believe in the Immaculate Conception, as the Catholics do, nor do we believe in Mary’s perpetual virginity or her assumption into heaven. We believe that Mary was a precious and chosen individual, but also that she was mortal, and, in that sense, just like any other mortal on earth. We do not pray to Mary or believe she can intercede on our behalf. We do honor her as the mother of the Son of God on earth, and as a virtuous and chosen woman.