October 05, 2012 00:00
By S Tsow
Special to The Nation
Recently a fragment of a 4th-century Coptic papyrus was discovered in which Jesus Christ refers to "my wife". The fragment doesn't reveal what he said about her. Many people nowadays accept the idea that Jesus was married, largely because of Dan Brown's b
Christianity has always believed that Jesus never married, and there’s no hard evidence to the contrary. A 4th-century text doesn’t prove anything. A lot of mythologising can go on in four centuries. Many apocryphal gospels were floating around in those days, some of them quite imaginative.
But there’s another reason to believe that Jesus was unmarried, and it’s based on his recorded teachings. These are not the teachings of a married man.
To see why, let’s construct an imaginary scenario. Let’s assume that Jesus is married to Mary Magdalene. They’re living in a little cottage on the shore of the Sea of Galilee with their three children: God II (named after his Grandfather), Jesus Jr, and Mary Jr.
Mary: Husband, the children are hungry.
Jesus: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6.)
Mary: We don’t have any food, and we’re all wearing rags.
Jesus: Do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O woman of little faith? (Matthew 6:25-30, slightly adapted.)
Mary: We’ve got bills piled up to the moon, and the rent is due tomorrow.
Jesus: Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day. (Matthew 6:34.)
Mary: The neighbours are complaining that you’re a shiftless layabout who ought to be providing for his family. What can I say to them?
Jesus: Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5.)
Mary: Husband, we don’t have any money. You’re a carpenter. Can’t you make a table or a chair or something and sell it so that we can get some money?
Jesus: Do not lay up treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:19-21.)
Mary: That’s it, I’ve had it, my mother warned me not to marry a man like you. I want a divorce.
Jesus: I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:32.)
Mary: Arrrgh! (Runs out the door and jumps into the sea; drowns.)
You see? Even if Jesus had been married, he wouldn’t have stayed that way long.
S Tsow can be scolded for his heretical beliefs at firstname.lastname@example.org.