Was Jesus Gay?
Sir Elton John recently caused a firestorm of criticism on the twittosphere and blogosphere when he made comments that may have pissed off a couple of rank-and-file members of various christian denominations. Specifically, he said this:
I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems.
On the cross, he forgave the people who crucified him. Jesus wanted us to be loving and forgiving. I don’t know what makes people so cruel.
Pretty horrible, right? What kind of evil, god-hating monster could make such callous and hateful comments? But, you know, just for the hell of it, why don’t we examine this contention in some more detail.To start off with, The Catholic church wouldn’t necessarily consider being gay a sin. Certainly, they consider homosexual acts to be sinful, but we already consider Jesus to have always been chaste, both from male and non-male activity. The Catholic Church itself has these things to say as part of their official catechism:
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same-sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.*
So, at least in principle, according to the Catholic Church, being gay is not in itself sinful; it just constitutes an extra source of temptation. We already accept that Jesus was subject to temptation (Luke 4: 1-13) and being gay wouldn’t violate the doctrine that J.C. was sinless, and therefore was eligible for all his nifty savior-ing.
Now, for the circumstantial evidence (my favorite)
To start with, Jesus lived in a time where men were permitted to marry at the age of accountability, which is around thirteen. It is arguable whether it was socially acceptable to remain single after this specific age, but Jewish custom was such that all Jews had an obligation to “Be Fruitful and Multiply” (Gen 1:28). A more probable age for marriage is around 20, and considering that tradition assumes that Jesus remained unmarried and celibate, at the very least we must accept that the state of Jesus’ marital state was slightly unusual. Granted, there were cults around like the Essenes that practiced celibacy, but the idea that Jesus himself was a member of that cult is still controversial.
For those of you who are Mary Magdalene conspiracy theorists (or just lovers of poorly written Dan Brown works), you may want to consider the role of the “The disciple whom he loved”, as the evidence for a censored relationship between Jesus and him is quite similar. (John 19: 26-27), (John 13:23-25), (John 21:20). Granted, the accepted translation of the love bit is agape (brotherly love), rather than eros (romantic love), but I’m not above speculation that this word was conveniently edited at some point by a homophobic cleric, or even simply mistranslated/misunderstood in the days before there was a written record. In any case, I’m sure Jesus loved all his Apostles with agape, so can someone tell me why there is one apostle who is repeatedly singled out as the one that Jesus loved above all the rest? I thought God loved all his children equally.
I mean, and then there is all the clichéd stuff like that he had a really close relationship with his mother, all the way to the very end of his life (John 19: 25), and the fact that he spent his entire ministry travelling around with predominantly men. Also, of note is that he was very accepting to alternative lifestyles, including prostitutes, beggars and tax collectors (Luke 15:29-32). I wonder, is it really such a stretch to include the hated homosexuals in this group, even though Jesus was pretty pro “traditional marriage” in Matt 19: 3-6? There are many contemporary examples of self hating religious individuals who were homosexual, like Ted Haggard, and I don’t see why Jesus, being fully human, wouldn’t be subject to some of the cultural norms of his time. He did, after all, believe in casting out demons, which I fully reject as BS superstition which would have been interpreted by the authors as fact.
I like this sort of speculation, mostly because it is harmless and challenges your preconception. Whether Jesus was gay or not really wouldn’t affect the core doctrines of Christianity, being as he would still be sinless and die for your sins blah blah blah. Considering that most Americans today view Jesus as a white guy with long flowy hair, when he was certainly a middle eastern looking type, I don’t see why speculation on his orientation should be taboo. If he was god, it really wouldn’t matter what sexuality his mortal body was, given that god should encompass all possibilities, including but not limited to gay, straight, male, female, cis, trans, multi, undecided and robot. That he was forced on account of being human to encompass a particular arrangement of matter, I ask, why would it be impossible for him to be gay?
*In no way, shape or form do I endorse any of the churches hateful, bigoted and uneducated stances on homosexuality. For the record, I’m going with the medical establishment on this one, which states that homosexuality is naturally occurring, and is as much of a choice as being straight is. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms recognizes sexual orientation as something that is a fundamental right, and on that basis alone I heartily endorse equality in all forms. What two (or more, or less) consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom is of no concern to me, and anyone who disagrees is, at least in part, wrong. See some other posts on Gay Rights that I have put up on this blog. Also, for further reading, check out this post on religious tolerance.