Monday, September 24, 2012

Is Jesus is "too holy" for sex?

Thus is the title ("Too holy" for Sex? The problem of a married Jesus) of Becky Bratu's just-published piece (NBC News) on public reactions to the idea of "Jesus' wife".  She too sees how communally we are struggling with the problem of a sexual Jesus and how this transgresses our commonly (and cherished) Christian view of the Holy as male and celibate. 

Whether authentic or not (yet to be determined), our discussion of the Jesus' Wife papyrus is fascinating.  It shows us the faultlines, the borders, the limits of our theological views.  It shows how they were constructed hundreds of years ago, and have become "natural" for us.  They are part of our internal selves.  God is male and celibate.  Sexual desire is sin. 

Even after the counter-cultural sexual revolution of the 1960s, these parameters still grip our religious views.

20 comments:

Jared Calaway said...

Maybe when I teach Sexuality and Christianity this spring, I should ask the class if Jesus was too holy for celibacy. That might elicit some interesting responses.

rameumptom said...

FYI, while many religions may struggle with this concept, The Latter-day Saints (Mormons) do not have a problem with a married Jesus. In fact, tradition from their leaders, such as Brigham Young, shows they believed Jesus probably was married.
Mormons view the male/female relationship differently in regards to Adam and Eve, which perhaps also affects this. They believe in eternal marriage, which includes the bearing and rearing of children.
In the Book of Moses, a revelation given to Joseph Smith, after Adam and Eve fall from grace, an angel explains the future atonement. Eve makes the following prophetic statement:
"And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient."

The Fall was not a bad thing in Mormon theology. It was necessary to get the ball started for the plan of God, which includes eternal marriage and posterity.

Rob Crompton said...

I'm sure that at the heart of the Christian unwillingness to contemplate a sexual Jesus there is the idea of Jesus as too holy for sex and the female body as too yucky for holiness.

But isn't another important part of it the exclusivity of sexual relationship? So Jesus's closest relationship with a human just can't be with someone else forever excluding me, me, me and me...

Susan Burns said...

Here is a comment from Beau Quilter @ James McGrath when asked how he would complete the sentence (Jesus said, "My wife...")

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
“You don’t know what you are asking. To sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to the one for whom they have been prepared,” Jesus said, "My wife."

LOVE that!

Agrix123 said...

If you enjoy "Forbidden Gospels" you would probably also value a recent UK publication BEFORE THE DELUSION by Wm Gleeson - for a highly unorthodox account of Biblical history. It looks like a novel but is impressively researched - well worth a look.

RjPitt5 said...

Did you not hear Paul in the new Testament where he state that Mary keep him and the Apostles busy with work, Truly i say to you did you not hear Peter mother ministered to Christ or the three women that ministered to Christ, how many times do you see the apostles ministering to Christ , know ye not what this is saying of truth and women in that day.

lightseeker said...

Sorry for the length of this... just a lot of thoughts I wanted to get in!

Perhaps if Jesus had been asked by his disciples concerning celibacy (e.g., “Shall we practice celibacy?”), he might have replied in same fashion as in Mt 9:15 and Th 14: “Why? In what way have I sinned?” On the EarlyChristianWritings.org site, of Saying 14, “F. F. Bruce writes: "The saying expresses the same negative attitude to external acts of piety...” Even in the canonical gospels, Jesus disdained external (or public) acts of piety. Those who need external crutches to show others they are righteous have not yet reached a true spiritual state of unity with God. Celibacy might fall into this category as well.

Also, if Jesus’ teachings were about upholding God’s intent, the spirit of the Law, and not the letter of the Law, and as he claimed, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light,” it seems celibacy would be a very difficult standard to demand of his followers. And in 1 Corinthians, Paul clearly states that his advice on celibacy comes from him, not from the Lord.

As for Ben Witherington’s statement in the NBC article, “[Jesus] also thinks it was perfectly viable for an able-bodied man to become single for the sake of [god’s] kingdom.” Hmm, “to become single” seems to be the traditional, taught interpretation of the Church, to conform to the dogma that Christ is married to his Church (and don’t dare interpret it differently!). A eunuch is actually is one who has become both (originally) male, but also female. In antiquity, eunuchs were not asexual by a long stretch! Eunuchs were often used by their masters as the “female” partner, as well as for their ability to “satisfy” female members of the household without threatening the master’s honor (i.e., they could not impregnate the master’s female property – wife, slaves, etc.) With this understanding, Jesus’ reference to becoming a eunuch seems to have the hidden reference to the original celestial state of mankind before the fall, as created by God: “in his [glorious] image, he made them ... both male and female.” It seems a somewhat gnostic (inner wisdom) teaching for more spiritually advanced disciples has slipped into the canonical texts, one that would have been taught in private – a “meat” teaching for adepts, rather than a “milk” teaching for those who did not yet “have ears to hear”. To perfect oneself was to reintegrate and recover one's wholeness, an internal state of being both male and female. Jesus’ statement regarding the angels in heaven (to "be perfect" like them)seems to back this up: “Neither do they marry, nor are they given in marriage.” Some groups may have taken this in an asexual, genderless sense and practiced celibacy, rather than understanding the angels had no need to marry because angels already contain both the masculine and feminine aspects of God; they are already perfect, whole. I believe Jesus had a mystical understanding that we humans are the angelic beings, the beings of light, when not in embodied form on earth. We are the elohim. “Is it not written, 'I said, ye are gods.'” "You are the Light of the World."

lightseeker said...

Also...

As to the idea of that a married Jesus would have made him exclusive, loving one person above all others: “Get thee behind me Satan!” That’s a limited, human idea of erotic love. It’s a concept that comes from a mindset of lack, not God’s abundance. It’s not the unconditional love of God that Jesus espoused – a love that overflows the cup/heart, with enough to go around for all, no matter any personal – human – preferences. Of course Jesus had personal human preferences for those closest to him (his inner circle of disciples, preference for “Peter, John, and James” etc.). But he understood that God loves, and His abundance flows equally, to ALL humans (see Mt 5:45). So Jesus could have been married (an important part of being fully human), and also have loved ALL people unconditionally (fully embodying the Love and Light of God).

Susan Burns said...

No way would the patriarchical corporate structure allow this fragment to be judged as authentic. They will look until they find the littlest problem and then call it a fake. I feel very bad for Professor King. She must have been very nieve to think her discovery would get a fair hearing. Now she will probably be hounded out of her profession. She broke the pharisaic code of biblical scholarship and announced before the heirarchy gave her permission.

lightseeker said...

Right Susan!

I'm appalled at how quickly the cries of "fake" and "modern forgery" have been front and center -- even before the results of the ink tests are in, or other experts on ancient papyri have had a chance to examine the fragment and weigh in. I feel bad for Prof. King, too. It's not merely a true skeptical stance (with open mind, undecided one way or the other until all the evidence is in) these nay-sayers have taken, but rather it's a knee-jerk apologetic reaction in defense of outdated, possibly incorrect dogma.

And of course the Church can't admit it's been wrong about celibacy all along, now that's it's so firmly established.

Robert Mathiesen said...

Scientific tests may not ever be able to settle whether the text on the fragment is genuinely old. If a hypothetical forger got a scrap of genuinely ancient papyrus and also some genuinely ancient charcoal or lampblack, and went to the trouble to make ink from that charcoal or lampblack according to a genuinely ancient recipe, then both the papyrus and the ink would pass any sort of carbon test for age. So far as I know, there is so far no scientific text that can show when the ink went down onto the papyrus. (But it's been years since I kept up to date with the science involved in forgery detection, so by now someone may have come up with such a test.)

In that case, all that remains are (1) the kinds of arguments from the text, the handwriting, and the "fit" between the imperfect text and the size and shape of the fragment itself, and (2) arguments from circumstances of the text's discovery and/or how it came to the notice of the world. In the nature of the thing, these kinds of argument rarely yield absolute certainty.

In short, we may never know for sure whether the fragment is a fake or not.

Robert Mathiesen said...

PS What does seem close to certain is that it is not a fragment of a page from some lost *codex-form* book. The kollesis that is visible in the photographs suggests to me that it is a scrap of a roll instead. If it's not from a codex, the odds of its being a part of a lost gospel fall dramatically, given the strong preference of early Christians (and Gnostics, I suppose) for the codex as opposed to the scroll.

April, do you happen to know whether early Coptic papyrus codex leaves often exhibit traces of a kollesis? I have not ever looked at the published facsimiles with that question in mind.

Susan Burns said...

The handwriting looks as if the writer does not know how to hold a stylus properly. A calligrapher holds a pen so that the nib is always at a 45 degree angle. Some of these letters do not show the variation in thickness that a properly held stylus would achieve. It's true that professional scribes are obviously trained in how to hold a stylus so that the graduated thickness of strokes are uniform. Trained scribes were an important element of Temple worship because each Hebrew letter is divine and contains a boatload of meaning in each stroke. How each letter is written is just as important if not more important than the contents of the passage. The GJW was written by someone that was less concerned with the letters than they were with the meaning of the passage. This is a point for authenticity. If a forger went to all the trouble to use ancient materials, surely they would have found a calligrapher that knew how to hold a stylus. Apparently,the author was more concerned about getting out the Good News than in his handwriting.

Susan Burns said...

Then the question is; why didn't this literate author use his regular writing implement? If he knew how to write with a pointed instrument, why did he use the stylus with a slanted nib? I think the reason is because he had to use a stylus for the document to be holy. He knew he needed to use a stylus, he just didn't know how to do it. It takes a lot of practice.

Susan Burns said...

The Hebrew word for stylus is "shevet" and also can mean sceptre. The stylus was a cultic item from the Temple of the People of the Book. Genesis 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. When Moses received the law on slabs of stone, the letters were cut all the way through so that the glory of God shone through. The letters are a portal into the Kingdom of God and so must be created in a ritualized procedure. The person that wrote (or copied) this gospel wanted to follow the forumula for as a fulfilled prophesy.

Susan Burns said...

The sceptre of the lawgiver is the palm frond. Ancient coins depict elaborate sceptres woven from palm fronds. The tip of the stem can be cut at a 45 degree angle to resemble a seven or chevron. A chevron shaped writing device will draw a stylized ellipse resembling a flame. The lulav (palm branch)is also a conduit to the patriarchs but only if the tip has not begun twinning and unable to form letters. When Jesus entered Jerusalem he was greeted with palm fronds. Perhaps the people were proclaiming him as "Lawgiver".

The Tree of Knowledge must have been a Palm.

harris said...

yes , you right.....
jesus is too holy...
http://www.decks-etc.com

Kimberlee Smith said...

Jesus is holy, never been sinned. Let us be focus in his holiness.

Mississauga Church

Chidinma Nwoha said...

Nobody says Jesus is too holy for Sex. besides the bible doesn't say that Sex is a sin. but I think its better to focus on Jesus as he is portrayed in the bible instead of trying to ask discomforting questions. thanks.
http://www.unn.edu.ng.
log in to this site for more answers.

Buyers Beware said...

If Jesus (Yashua) was a physical being like us and not a spirit man like the Mystical Gnositcs claim than we have to assume that he was married, not to mention the legends take us to a married family man.

Had the Jewish and Roman Orthodox Catholic and Christian Church (JROCCC) not been organized with the Sumerian Atlantan brotherhood mentality a sexual Jesus (Yashua) would have been accepted as an example of the love between a man and a woman (Father,Mother,Son etc.).

The problem is that the JROCCC has lied to us BIG TIME.

Until we wake up to what was really going on in the ancient and prehistoric world, we are going to continue to spread the JROCCC misinformation, disinformation and lies.

I believe that Jesus was a god/man a sort of Super Jesus archetype as well who did not die on the cross. I believe if he appeared today we would call him an alien.

I believe people are angry about being lied to by the JROCCC and will not put up with there DOCTRINES oF DEVILS and DEMONS.

Had Marcion been successful in starting the Christian Church we would have a much different religion today. Unfortunately the Mithra, Son God, Yahweh Ildabaoth the Demiurge Jews worshipers, etc.,. are the ones who started Roman Christianity. Mankind has been glorifying it and or forced to glorify the JROCCC ever since. The JROCCC is riddled with satanic and pagan history. If people would open their eyes they would see the writing on the wall.

It is clear that the followers of Jesus (Yashua) were Christian Gnostics, not Mystical Gnostics. Mystical Gnosticism is a twin sister of the New Age Religion.

Buyers Beware

Here is a link to one of my articles online: http://share.pdfonline.com/fbb80fab823049b48785fe0cd20668e3/JESUS AND THE PIOUS FRAUD.htm