Of all the stories in the Bible, the virgin birth is most likely to elicit a sarcastic comment. Call it misogyny, if you will, but more aspersions are cast on the story of Jesus’ conception and the sexual purity of Mary than on any other miracle in the New Testament. For many modern readers the virginity of Mary is a myth, and the perpetual virginity of Mary (the Roman Catholic doctrine that Mary and Joseph never had sex) is outright fantasy. Yet there's nothing new in this reaction: Myths and legends about Mary have circulated since the early Church—and some of them are downright scandalous.
Questioning the Virginity of Mary can give you third degree burns
From the time of the early Church, there were those who questioned Mary’s virginity. Some rabbinic and ancient Roman sources suggest that Jesus was the son of a Roman soldier named Panthera. According to these early critics, Mary concocted the story of the virgin birth in order to conceal the fact that she cheated on her betrothed with a member of the oppressive military force that was subjugating her people. The particular explanation is actually pretty unlikely, if only because as a resident of Nazareth Mary would have rarely (if ever!) come into contact with Roman soldiers; nevertheless ancient Christian readers took it seriously.