For about as long as Christianity has been in existence, Jesus has usually been considered celibate. An unmarried, chaste, monk-like, bachelor kind of guy. Definitely not doing the deed with Mary Magdalene, despite the rumors.
But what if it turns out we're wrong -- and Jesus really was married? That tantalizing question is churning in our minds now that papyrus has been found that reads in part: "Jesus said unto them, 'My wife ... she will be able to be my disciple.'" YOUR WHAT?
Okay, don't freak out yet. Dr. Karen L. King, the historian who identified the papyrus, says that the artifact is the real deal, but it doesn't "prove" Jesus was married. But it is making me wonder -- if Jesus were married, how would that change how we think of him?
After all, we kind of like our Jesus celibate. He's less complicated that way. Men and women equally can approach him for support and guidance. Thinking of Jesus as a (gulp) sexual being kind of adds tension to that relationship.
Not that some people don't already think of him in a sexual way! Pleeeenty of people have gazed up at a crucifix and thought unsavory, lustful thoughts about that naked Jesus. We don't like to talk about it, and it's definitely not the norm. But yeah, people go there.
Now imagine if Jesus had been a married man. That opens up all kinds of questions. Does that mean he had ... SEX?!? Unthinkable for our culture -- but consider all the deity sex in other religions, like Hinduism. What about dying young and leaving behind a grieving widow? How did they meet? Was it an arranged marriage, traditional for the time? Did they have children? And what would that mean for traditions like the Catholic practice of celibate priests and nuns? The whole reason they're celibate is because Jesus was. Or so we think!
Like Dr. King says, this papyrus doesn't prove anything except that maybe there was a Christian sect that believed in a married Jesus. (It is believed to have been created a couple hundred years after Christ's death.) But it is interesting to imagine how different Christianity might be with a married Jesus.
Do you think it's even remotely possible that Jesus might have been married?
Image via biblevector/Flickr