What would it do to our faith if Jesus were married?
I’m not sure what I believe about this and I am not even sure that I care if Jesus was married or not, but it is interesting to consider. One week ago an article in the NY Times revealed to the popular world that a piece of 4th C. Papyrus containing reference to the wife of Jesus and a female disciple had been presented in Rome at a conference on Coptic studies. Dr. King from Harvard did her due diligence, presented her findings at a conference and the consensus among scholars is that at least this piece of Papyrus is genuine. My husband and I talked about this and he was nonplussed saying that in his field, there are regular claims of new findings. Time is the test of whether it deserves scholarly attention. (He is an Ancient Near East/Hebrew Bible scholar.) In my world, professionally and of faith…this could be huge.
First, let’s assume that this is completely authentic and a true document. What it really shows is not that Jesus was ever married, rather that someone or a group of someone’s in the 4th C. thought Jesus had been married. But what if they were right?…
Would it make Him any less God? Would we slip into a sort of Ebionite position (an ordinary man but possessing an unusual amount fo righteousness or wisdom) or perhaps one more along the line of Arianism (only God the father was deity, Jesus was more a demi-god of sorts who mediates between God [the father] and the world)?
I find it fascinating that as Christians we have overwhelmingly embraced the incarnation but shunned the notion of Jesus being married. Out of our same mouths, we seem to venerate marriage and functionally vilify being single. Granted, we don’t come right out and say being married for adults is better (except when we do) but our actions, programs, sermons and just about anything else we offer certainly casts a suspect light on anyone single after 30. If we truly reject the previously mentioned heresies and adhere to the Chalcedonian conclusion that Jesus was fully divine and fully human, why is it so egregious that Jesus could have been married?
And for me, more importantly, why don’t we better honor and celebrate those who have traditionally been imitators of Christ remaining single?