Sunday, February 05, 2012
In which The Blogger indulges in some Controversial Speculation
A guest writer on Queering the Church (if an electronic entity can have a sexual orientation, can you guess what this one's might be?) wrote on the theme Was Jesus Homosexual? Having been struck early in my Catholic education by the huge contradiction of the Church's condemnation of homosexuality versus the mass of naked male saints in Great Religious Art writhing in pain/pleasure as they're being martyred (Saint Sebastian being the poster boy for Catholic homoeroticism, see below) I replied with this comment:
It might help to put this discussion into the context of the culture in which Jesus was born and raised. Can we assume that Judaism was as homophobic then as Orthodox and UltraOrthodox Jews are today? If so, it is even more striking that Jesus never said one word against homosexuality -- or even about homosexuality.
But he didn't grow up and live in a wholly Jewish world; the Roman presence was very strong, open and accepting of all cultures (as long as they capitulated to Roman political dominance) and homosexuality was a given in Roman life, especially in the military. Those sayings and encounters of Jesus concerning Romans (before falling into their hands at the end of his life) are all cordial -- pay Roman taxes, although that would not be a popular stance to take to a Jewish audience; and the celebrated supplication by the Roman officer on behalf of the man we now know, thanks to proper translation, to be his lover and not his servant. Jesus had no problem healing the Roman's lover and even praised the man's faith in coming to him for assistance. Not a word of rebuke, as with the woman taken in adultery, and no remarks about those decadent Romans and their pretty boys.
How many Romans did Jesus know? About four miles from Nazareth was a Roman town with military presence. There was a lot of construction work there and as the New Testament identifies Joseph as a carpenter and Jesus as going into his father's trade, it isn't impossible that they spent time there because the work was there. Jesus may well have known Roman culture and been very comfortable with it.
So, was he homosexual? Barring some sensational new documentation we'll almost surely never know his sexuality for certain (or barring some completely faithful translation of the gospels free of the manipulation they've been subjected to over the centuries, or barring a major, unprejudiced reconsideration of the many gospels the Catholic Church decided to suppress over the centuries because they didn't say what the Church wanted them to say). But one fact that I don't usually hear as part of the discussion stands out: Jesus never married. Now aside from all the old jokes about Mary wailing, "Oy, I want grandchildren and my son runs around the country with twelve men," which may or may not be an indication of something, not marrying would not be typical. Or perhaps he did marry young in the usual parent-arranged marriage and it failed -- there are those three decades of "hidden years" after all, for which no records survive that we know of. Who knows what might have been going on?
A couple of typical and clearly homoerotic representations of Saint Sebastian in Renaissance/Baroque art:
Nobody knows who Jesus was nor with they ever. No offense to anyone but Jesus is only a convenient myth to be used whatever way Believers find that is to their advantage.