Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Good Friday procession along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem's old city this year. (photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)
A Good Friday procession along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem's old city this year. (photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

Was Jesus Gay? Probably

By Paul Oestreicher, Guardian UK
22 April 12

I preached on Good Friday that Jesus's intimacy with John suggested he was gay as I felt deeply it had to be addressed.

reaching on Good Friday on the last words of Jesus as he was being executed makes great spiritual demands on the preacher. The Jesuits began this tradition. Many Anglican churches adopted it. Faced with this privilege in New Zealand's capital city, Wellington, my second home, I was painfully aware of the context, a church deeply divided worldwide over issues of gender and sexuality. Suffering was my theme. I felt I could not escape the suffering of gay and lesbian people at the hands of the church, over many centuries.
Was that divisive issue a subject for Good Friday? For the first time in my ministry I felt it had to be. Those last words of Jesus would not let me escape. "When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, 'Woman behold your son!' Then he said to the disciple. 'Behold your mother!' And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home."
That disciple was John whom Jesus, the gospels affirm, loved in a special way. All the other disciples had fled in fear. Three women but only one man had the courage to go with Jesus to his execution. That man clearly had a unique place in the affection of Jesus. In all classic depictions of the Last Supper, a favourite subject of Christian art, John is next to Jesus, very often his head resting on Jesus's breast. Dying, Jesus asks John to look after his mother and asks his mother to accept John as her son. John takes Mary home. John becomes unmistakably part of Jesus's family.
Jesus was a Hebrew rabbi. Unusually, he was unmarried. The idea that he had a romantic relationship with Mary Magdalene is the stuff of fiction, based on no biblical evidence. The evidence, on the other hand, that he may have been what we today call gay is very strong. But even gay rights campaigners in the church have been reluctant to suggest it. A significant exception was Hugh Montefiore, bishop of Birmingham and a convert from a prominent Jewish family. He dared to suggest that possibility and was met with disdain, as though he were simply out to shock.
After much reflection and with certainly no wish to shock, I felt I was left with no option but to suggest, for the first time in half a century of my Anglican priesthood, that Jesus may well have been homosexual. Had he been devoid of sexuality, he would not have been truly human. To believe that would be heretical.
Heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual: Jesus could have been any of these. There can be no certainty which. The homosexual option simply seems the most likely. The intimate relationship with the beloved disciple points in that direction. It would be so interpreted in any person today. Although there is no rabbinic tradition of celibacy, Jesus could well have chosen to refrain from sexual activity, whether he was gay or not. Many Christians will wish to assume it, but I see no theological need to. The physical expression of faithful love is godly. To suggest otherwise is to buy into a kind of puritanism that has long tainted the churches.
All that, I felt deeply, had to be addressed on Good Friday. I saw it as an act of penitence for the suffering and persecution of homosexual people that still persists in many parts of the church. Few readers of this column are likely to be outraged any more than the liberal congregation to whom I was preaching, yet I am only too aware how hurtful these reflections will be to most theologically conservative or simply traditional Christians. The essential question for me is: what does love demand? For my critics it is more often: what does scripture say? In this case, both point in the same direction.
Whether Jesus was gay or straight in no way affects who he was and what he means for the world today. Spiritually it is immaterial. What matters in this context is that there are many gay and lesbian followers of Jesus - ordained and lay - who, despite the church, remarkably and humbly remain its faithful members. Would the Christian churches in their many guises more openly accept, embrace and love them, there would be many more disciples.


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+18 # ancrum 2012-04-22 07:19
I thought Jesus ran off with Mary Magdalen to Provence to
found the Merovingian Dynasty. Failing that, I thought Jesus was the mythical stand-in for Osiris. Guys, make up your mind!
Stop projecting. As Christian Soldiers are still going onward with guns and guided missiles, what happened to Jesus as the universal energy of compassion and unconditional love for all mankind and in that aspect becomes perforce the revelation of God?
+7 # jack406 2012-04-22 07:21
Wonder if that is why priests aren't allowed to marry?
But it doesn't explain why the Catholic Church treats women as second class citizens. They can't be Priest. They can't hold higher offices.
Why would any woman be a nun in the Catholic church when they can become priests in more modern churches>
+4 # Maverick 2012-04-22 08:32
Wonder if that is why priests aren't allowed to marry?>

As I understand it, early priests -- even the Pope -- WERE allowed to marry. In later years, it was "revealed" to be more in the best interests of the church for them to NOT marry, so that when their life is through, all their assets revert back to the church.
+15 # baldyc76 2012-04-22 07:24
Very interesting and eye-opening. It makes logical and theological sense. If true, it would shake the "male/heterosexual" Roman Church. The Church that preaches against homosexuality and all non marriage sexuality.
-4 # Milarepa 2012-04-22 07:25
Well, Mr. Oestreicher, I'm not sure this is new thinking. However, using Jesus' alleged homosexuality as an act of penitence for the suffering and persecution that still persists in many parts of the church is certainly a novel twist. I suggest you take a little time to think about this. Maybe you can come up with something even more outrageous!
+7 # RICHARDKANEpa 2012-04-22 07:34
Jesus, and I wonder but not totally believe also Christ, avoided arguments. I think the Mennonites actually follow him or is it him. However Rev. Richard Warner actually caught Jesus's or Christ's spirit.

If Jesus came again, the conversation, might be as follows:

Jesus, I would like you to meet my wife Paul and our adopted son Jimmy, to which Jesus might answer: Jimmy I am glad to meet your warm relatives your father and your Uncle Paul.

Don't expect Jesus or Christ to choose sides in our arguments of today.
+23 # MJnevetS 2012-04-22 07:37
Certainly not to mock Rev. Oestreicher, but assuming his hypothesis is correct, it would be the ultimate in irony if all these ultra-conservative, gay bashing born-agains were heretically blaspheming their gay savior. Amen to that brother!
-3 # barbaratodish 2012-04-22 07:38
What if Jesus had been beheaded after he was crucified? How much harder would it have been to "brand" Jesus holding his bloody head?
+25 # artful 2012-04-22 07:38
Nice article. Simple, thoughtful. Not outrageous at all. Seems plausible.
+11 # Skeeziks 2012-04-22 07:41
Whether Jesus was the Son of God, I really do not know, but he certainly has brought forth to mankind the reasons for all of us living our lives fully and with love for our human counterparts on this Earth. Too bad we don't practice them fully or help fully to pass them on to our descendents.
-1 # pernsey 2012-04-22 07:41
This is really stretching it to me, and doesnt line up with the Holy scripture if you dig deeper then what the author has posted.

Im not going to start a big debate about it, I have relatives that are homosexual and I love them dearly as people and family. This just is telling one persons point of view...I could get into other scriptures that would counter this completely, but I dont have the time to post them, and I doubt they would change anyones mind anyway.

Im just saying I dont think so.
+5 # Anglican 2012-04-22 07:49
Many thanks for this thoughtful article.

As I understand it, there are people today who claim to be asexual, whether actually such or not.
-1 # Politicalprincess 2012-04-22 07:54
After many years of research and reflection on the matter I have come to the conclusion that Jesus, the brilliant pacifist, had asperger's syndrome. Fortunately he has the support of his family and disciples to help him as he developed his groundbreaking theory and presented it to the world. He also felt his theory was so important he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice like other great leaders and thinkers.
+1 # 2wmcg2 2012-04-22 08:08
This is a thoughtful and courageous article with some Biblical support. Having said that, I doubt if Jesus would have associated himself with the moralistic gay rights movement of today.
-18 # yisraelyahuda 2012-04-22 08:10
You should try reading the scripture and stop spreading your satanic gospel. Levitucus 18:22, but i agree that the false "jesus" that is plasterd on the walls of religious, christian churches of ceasre borgia is a homosexual, but the true messiah that is written in the scripture of the old and new testament is a man that you would not even recognize if you saw him right before your wicked face, because of the false destorted images that was painted of him during the euro renaissance period.what you have written here of the "true" messiah is an abomination to satisfy your wicked backwards nature.The natural use of sexuality is to procreate, not to satify some twisted, lustful desire of two men or two women.One could easily prove that this act is not of God by simply asking the scienfific hypythosis, what would happen if all of manking suddenly turned gay? could someone answere that question, because the God i know said be fruitful and multiply.
+1 # sokolowmus 2012-04-22 08:44
In reality, in all societies, a certain proportion of people are gay, somewhere around 15%, maybe less. Get over it! It's a fact of life, like it or not. Long as they aren't hurting you...or hurting others...what's the problem? (If you think "they're an abomination" that's just your opinion.)
-6 # robjh1 2012-04-22 08:14
Articles and assertions like this sets the gay movement back centuries.
+3 # gregpace 2012-04-22 08:21
Here is some food for thought. For most who believe that we reincarnate, an important aspect of why is that we seek balance through many lifetimes. When someone seems to be averse to women or womens' rights and other issues, they very well may incarnate as a woman again, to help balance this averseness and to learn to serve more deeply. Or, they may have been a woman who was deeply persecuted or suffered greatly and need to balance out these issues. This reasoning follows through to the sexuality issues especially. When I see someone who is homophobic, I think that possibly they will spend a lifetime as a homosexual, to become empathetically respondent to the class of people who chose to incarnate as a reflection of non-heterosexuality . It doesn't matter what our sexuality or sex is; what matters is that we love ourselves and each other. That was the message of The Christ. Who cares if Jesus had sex or not. Maybe he refrained from having those kinds of relationships. If I had an agenda in my lifetime this time around such as someone like Jesus (or Guatama,or Mohammad) had, I probably would be a bit detached from complicating things with personal baggage, to do what I came here to do.
+1 # KurtLaw 2012-04-22 08:22
Well he forgot the Essenes were often celibate. Much of what we know about 1st century Judea comes from a Jewish traitor named Josephus, who recounts a Jewish sect called the Essenes (who wore white robes). The Essenes wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, anticipating the gospel story. The upper classes of that day were often gay under the influence of hellenism, even in Judea. Jesus Christ was neither gay nor straight. Mystics don't need physical sex, having other ways to achieve ecstasy.
-2 # Writ 2012-04-22 08:27
How outrageous. Jesus shows brotherly love to his youngest disciple and suddenly this writer, who is probably gay himself, wants to make Jesus gay with no evidence of this whatsoever. Yet, he can say that there is no evidence of Mary Magdaline and Jesus while suggesting there was something between John and Jesus, because Divinci chose to show Jesus's love of John by painting John's head on Jesus shoulder as proof. How so? Its merely the artist's interpretation. Mary is also in the painting so where does it show homosexuality? In terms of Mary his mother, and John, it shows a concerned son assuring his mother was not left alone. This is a ridiculous assertion. What next, God the father, gay too. Then the angels and all the saints and the entire world after that...please.
+1 # lcarrier 2012-04-22 08:32
Whether or not he was gay himself, he was compassionate towards everyone except the money-changers whom he drove from the Temple. So you could say that he was the first to distinguish between "Church and State," the former being the province of religion and the latter being the province of Caesar (to whom things of monetary value were to be rendered).
+1 # Writ 2012-04-22 08:33
What next Paul Oestreicher? Will you write an article making Jesus a woman, Arab, and a shape shifting alien because the apostle Thomas and other apostles did not recognize him when he returned to them after his crucifixion.
+4 # revtravel 2012-04-22 08:35
Hello? Naked boy in the Garden of Gethsemane? Mark 14:50-52 or so. Curious, no? But what I find most silly is the speculation by all parties in this. There is soooo little factual data about Jesus. Perhaps none in fact. Gospels were written down long after he was gone and perhaps the closest thing to his words was Gospel of Thomas which only recorded words not events. The rest we create out of some strange need for legends. We aren't even honest about recent historical figures half the time even with such access to reliable written records, films and photos, recordings. What folly to think we can even begin to guess details of Jesus.
0 # bobby t. 2012-04-22 08:42
I have been waiting for a man of god to step out of his shul, mosque, or church and declare that the bible is wrong. gays are not abominations. This man does that. If rabbis came out and said this, that the bible is wrong, that women should not be stoned, etc. then I may reconsider my
anti-theist stance, that is my belief that all major religious institutions are committing the sins that they talk about. To make men and women and children suffer for the last five thousand years, is the greatest sin of all. Shame is cast on all places of "god" that preach these horrible thoughts. They are the ones that need repentence. Thank you Paul.
-2 # Michael_K 2012-04-22 08:46
Gee, Jesus was gay, Mohammed was a pedophile, Buddhe was grotesquely, morbidly obese... any thing else you need to add? Did we miss offending anyone?
+1 # Zagreus 2012-04-22 08:47
The author of this piece is clearly just looking for their fifteen minutes of fame.
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