By now, you may have heard the news that new archaeological evidence points to the possibility that Jesus was married. Reactions have run the spectrum from “who cares” to “that’s blasphemy!”
Christians usually assume Jesus was (and is) asexual. Or at least heterosexual with really really strong self-discipline. In either case, the sexuality of Jesus is something largely ignored or nonexistant. This, of course, leads to some difficulty when Christians try to think spiritually about sex.
My community, Missio Dei, is currently working through an 8 week exploration of sexuality. Since I’m often the person who writes the liturgy, I find myself “googling” suitable prayers to incorporate into our worship. If I can’t find something that fits, I write prayers myself. During this series it has been almost impossible to find good prayers.
Try googling “sexuality” and “prayer” or “prayer” and “sensuality.” Most of the top links present sexuality as a dangerous thing to guard against. A number of prayers ask God to save the prayer from sensuality, as though sensuality is a bad thing. If I were a visitor from a planet that didn’t have sex, I’d assume that it was something better left avoided. A mostly bad thing that could maybe be used well in the right hands…like acid or something.
Most discussion around sexuality in churches treats it like acid. Our first question is: when is it dangerous? Instead of asking “when is sex sinful?” and then proceeding to get people to stop sinning, why not ask “when is sex a sacrament?” and then find ways to encourage people to encounter the grace of God through sexual expression? I think this will go a long way to help people love others more deeply (which is, after all, part of the Greatest Commandment), but also help everyone all around to enjoy their lives more.
Getting back to Jesus. What would it mean for us to embrace our Lord as a sexual being? Some medieval mystics had a way of embracing a sort of eroticism in their relationship with the Risen Christ. Perhaps that is a start. But it might also be helpful to let go of any hangups that cause discomfort when talking about the sexuality of the human Jesus who walked dusty Palestinian roads and found others physically attractive.
Do you think of Jesus as asexual? Would it trouble you to learn that Jesus was married? Or that he was gay? How does your understanding of Jesus’ sexuality inform your spirituality?