Father Tony

Was Jesus Gay?

Filed By Father Tony | June 11, 2009 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Gay Jesus

Hey FT,
I am back to ranting that Jesus Christ was a gay man. Since you were a priest versed in all the jargon and able to be viewed as a credible source on the subject, I want you to tell the rest of humanity that there is not one shred of evidence he was heterosexual. Am I correct? It is time to challenge these fundamentalists with their own distorted beliefs. I say if the "gay community" can and should do anything as a collective group, it is to reclaim our first and truest unapologetic gay activist.


Dear ewe,

I have given this matter a good amount of thought over the years and I have come to some conclusions.

Most of us are comforted to imagine Jesus as being like us in thought, desire and appearance. Take a look at the appealing Maybelline Jesus of post-war America for a shining example.

Wishfully thinking may lead you and me to believe that Jesus was gay. Before jumping to that sweet conclusion, pay these tolls on the road:

a) The bible contains no specific affirming reference to the sexual desire or preference of Jesus, except for one veiled reference to John being "the disciple whom Jesus loved". Of course, there has been endless exegetical squabbling about what that meant. Unless other texts are discovered, I suspect we will never know what those words really meant, but we do know that credible scholars cannot rule out the possibility that they indicate a gay relationship between the two.

b) I wish the bible told us more about the close male friends of Jesus, such as Lazarus and Joseph of Arimethea. I've always had a gaydarish feeling that they were gay, but that might also be wishful thinking. I've had the same feeling about John the Baptist who I think looked like Colin Farrell gazing into the eyes of Jesus who looked like Keanu Reeves.

c) Some disciples left their wives to be with Jesus. This is significant no matter what we conclude about the sexuality of Jesus. You've got a bunch of sexually active men who turn from their wives to a single charismatic magnet of a man. We can't automatically conclude that they were all doing the nasty after breaking bread together, but we cannot conclude that they weren't.

d) The women friends of Jesus certainly do seem to contain the classic elements of fag hags, if you'll pardon a designation that many find offensive. Neither Martha nor Mary who were the sisters of Lazarus seem to have been romantically attached to him. Mary Magdalene was part of the "family" but also doesn't come off as his lover. More of a "Will and Grace" relationship.

e) Mary the mother of Jesus seems to have been exactly the sort of Jocasta/Jewish mother to produce a gay son. I suspect she planted in his head the seeds of his messiahship, singing to him like Mama Rose in Gypsy "I had a dream, Jesus. I dream about you, Jesus, it's gonna come true, Jesus..."

f) There are apocryphal gospels that say Jesus had kids, but we can buy that story only if we assume that he and his disciples staged the crucifixion and that he blew town after the hoax was done, taking on a secret identity and working as a carpenter in the south of France with wife Mary Magdalene bitterly complaining throughout their marriage about how she had ended up with a loser (think Liz Taylor as Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf). Again, wishful thinking on the part of folks who look for his descendents. Also, that further history would not preclude him having been gay all the while.

g) Jesus would not have thought in terms of gay vs straight. That kind of labeling is a more recent - and I hope temporary - phenomenon. I suspect he was more like the contemporary Italian man who has sex with his childhood male friends, gets married to a woman, has some kids, and then goes back to having sex with the guys, with maybe a mistress on the side. Those Italian men do not consider themselves gay and are puzzled about the strident American insistence that one needs to buy into and proclaim an exclusive and clear cut membership in one camp or another. Even the label bi constitutes a needless hobbling for them. Fluid and carefree might be the best adjectives to describe the sexual preference of Jesus.

h) Do we have any reason to suspect that Jesus was celibate? No. Nor do we have any reason to suspect that he was sexually active. It is extremely frustrating for all of us to have to admit that there is simply no indication one way or the other. The best we can do is say that the resounding silence on the matter seems to support one side or the other. Personally, I can't imagine that Jesus never had an erection. Never rubbed one out. Never looked at a man or a woman with some sexual appreciation. Never had a wild and crazy night with someone.

i) Is there anything in the bible to indicate that being anointed for a messianic role, or having a destiny as a king of the Jews, or being a prophet meant that a man had to have no wife and no sex? No. Quite the contrary, the Old Testament is full of kings and prophets who were married and remarried. If Jesus chose to be unmarried and to hang with the guys, it's not because the job of savior demanded it.

The biggest indication we have that Jesus might have been gay is the overall impression we get of a single man, living unconventionally with other men (fishermen, as in sailors), breaking rules, challenging the establishment and spending his nights in the company of disreputable types. It's just all very undeniably gay. But if it's proof you want, forget it.

And, ewe, if all that doesn't answer your question, perhaps this will:

Funny: Gay Jesus will survive
Uploaded by pmppm. - Full seasons and entire episodes online.

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Thank you for your thoughts. It is not so much that i care about the sexual orientation of someone who passed away so long ago but more to do with getting the word out. He very well might have been homosexual. The amount of information about him leads every person to identify with him as their own should they choose to or not. MY primary reason for asking you about this subject is to force fundamentalists to question their own gullible ideology which will not be done unless it is put out there into the general consciousness. No matter what the sexual orientation of this Jesus may have been, it is extremely important we put a stop to those that use him against us. I highly doubt that was his purpose. The video did not work for me. Thanks again.

As a neutral party, not being Christian of any flavor I find the arguing about this among Christians to be a little surreal.
My own faith has no stipulations against any sexualities which is cool. Some of our mythic material also seems to indicate a strong possibility for characters who went both ways. Even the surviving bits of ancient Irish law have no stipulations against it and the only mention of it is as grounds for a divorce and that only if the man refuses to have sex with his wife. So if he is bi she can't use that as grounds for a divorce he would have to be strictly homosexual in behavior.
Some of the older pre-universal religions are so much better on the issues of tolerance.

LOVE the video!

Father Tony, it'd be great to have you write in more depth about why you hope the 'straight vs. gay' dichotomy has gone stale. What kind of potentialities do you imagine? Grounding 'fluidity' in some practical, lived way is always of interest.

Chitown Kev | June 11, 2009 1:29 PM

It's the old anthropomorphic thing that I learned in classics; people tend to project their lives and the society around them onto their god(s).

Or even project onto "newer" gods characteristics of "older" gods. Dionysous (an androgyne) was projected onto Christ as was the Isis/Horus myth (hence the Madonna/Baby Jesus iconography, a triumph of marketing, if you ask me).

That's the funny thing about the right-wingnuts. Their faith and interperetation of Jesus says more about them than anything in the Bible or (insert holy book).

This all seems like debating how many angels can buttfuck on the head of a pin.

Outside of the Bible, there's no concrete evidence that Jesus even existed. There are no historical accounts of his life written during his supposed lifetime. I know the idea of the non-historicity of Jesus is controversial, but it's important to note that many stories of the Bible have no historical or archeological basis outside the Bible either (e.g. Exodus, Sodom and Gomorrah, etc.).

A. J. Lopp | June 11, 2009 2:58 PM
Outside of the Bible, there's no concrete evidence that Jesus even existed.

You are correct ... almost. The Jewish historian Josephus, who was not a follower of Jesus and later in life was made a Roman citizen and was given the Roman name Titus Flavius Josephus, mentions Jesus in two passages of one of his principal works, The Antiquities of the Jews. This is considered to be the only secular indication that Jesus was an actual historical figure, and the Roman Catholics refer to it as the Testimonium Flavianum. However, this passage is modernly believed to have been an addition to the original manuscript by Christian scribes that lived later.

However, in the other passage, Josephus refers to Jesus only as a brother of James the Just, and this passage is believed to be genuine.

Wikipedia has separate articles on Josephus and Testamonium Flavianum.

Chitown Kev | June 11, 2009 3:41 PM

OK, I didn't want to wade into this...

I think Josepheus wrote that account after Jesus was dead.

Both Tacitus (Imperial historian) and maybe even Suetonius (Imperial biographer) mention Jesus Christ. While both were Imperial historians (of a sort) during the period of the Flavian Emperors (Trajan, Hadrian, etc.), they also had access to the Imperial records and sources, some of which may have contained contemporary information (e.g. Suetonius hints that tensions in the Jewish community over a "Cherestus" may have led the Emperor Claudius to crackdown on the Jews in Rome).

You're correct that Josephus wrote Testimonium Flavianum after Jesus' supposed death, but he, Tacitus and Suetonius were also all born well after his supposed death. By the time they learned to write, the legend of Jesus would have had plenty of time spread around.

This was well before the age of modern journalism and fact checking, and a lot of scholarship at that time was based on hearsay, assumption, biased interpretation or outright fabrication. It was also common for legends of fictional or semi-fictional characters to develop around historical events. I remember seeing on "Penn & Teller's Bullshit" episode about the Bible that at the time of Jesus, there were actually several guys in Israel all claiming to be the Messiah.

A. J. Lopp | June 12, 2009 3:25 PM

You are both correct in that Flavius Josephus was almost certainly not an eye witness to Jesus himself. Wikipedia claims that Josephus was born in 37 AD, which we would guess to be about 4 to 7 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. Furthermore, the source(s) of his information about Jesus are unknown.

"Outside of the Bible, there's no concrete evidence that Jesus even existed."

Did that stop us with Dumbledore?

What I want to know is, who was married at Cana?

Regardless of whether he himself was gay, Jesus did have two dads!

Yes, Dana, and one of them was absolutely divine!

"Jesus would not have thought in terms of gay vs straight. That kind of labeling is a more recent - and I hope temporary - phenomenon."

Nonsense. The only reason these "labels" are so recent is that meaningful studies of human sexuality in general did not begin until the late 19th century. Sexual orientation describes a very real biological phenomenon that was dreadfully poorly understood in Jesus' time.

You are basically saying you want to go back to a time when human sexuality was even more poorly understood than it is now, and when society did not provide outlets for people who were exclusively attracted to the same sex.

"but we can buy that story only if we assume that he and his disciples staged the crucifixion and that he blew town after the hoax was done"

Why would you assume it happened? Considering that no historical records outside of Christian mythology cooberate this story, it is perfectly reasonable to believe that the entire thing is a hoax. Or, at best, a well-intentioned myth.

beachcomberT | June 12, 2009 8:14 AM

If you accept the dominant Christian doctrine of Jesus being both "fully divine and fully human," then he must have had some personal experience or understanding of all forms of sexual desire. Whether he regarded such desire as sinful or a blessing from his divine father, who knows? Gospels are very brief on what his preparatory sojourn in the desert was all about. We do have gospel accounts of disciples arguing about who was Jesus' favorite -- that certainly sounds like a gay scene. Also, who was the naked youth who flits thru the Garden of Gethsemane? The one report that "Jesus wept" was over the death of Lazarus, certainly a close pal. If Jesus and Joseph did construction work on imperial projects, as seems likely, they probably saw or heard about Roman-style male/male sexual bonding. I agree with Father Tony it may all amount to wishful thinking, but I think the fragmentary bits in the Gospels support a gay or bi Jesus just as much as they do a hetero-but-celibate one.

Good post but before determining Jesus' sexual orientation, I think it first needs to be answered whether Jesus was in fact a prophet of God or not first!

SteveDenver | June 13, 2009 3:30 AM

Hell, in those days "prophets" were on every corner. Depression-era America wasn't much different--except for prophets screeching from radios non-stop.

The big push among bible scholars is that Jesus was able to attract a bigger crowd than the rest of the "prophets."

Rick Elliott | June 14, 2009 12:52 AM

Father Tony, go back to Theology 101 concerning the nature of Jesus. He was divine, yes, that's where the fundies would like to leave him. But also he was fully human. Might that not mean that he took on the humanity of all people? If so, this would make specious the debate over whether or not Jesus was gay.

On another topic the denominations battling over the ordination of gay folks in a covenantal relationship--the debate is about the wrong question. All would have to admit that they practice selective literalism. I believe the debate should be about the theological rationale one uses in the decision what to take literally and what not to take literally.

The women friends of Jesus certainly do seem to contain the classic elements of fag hags, if you'll pardon a designation that many find offensive. Neither Martha nor Mary who were the sisters of Lazarus seem to have been romantically attached to him.

So a woman can be two things to a man: his sexual partner or his fag hag? It is misogynist of you to dismiss their discipleship in this way. One of the revolutionary things about Jesus, as Marcus Borg wrote so eloquently, is how he broke the taboos surrounding male-female relationships in his time. Women were previously not considered worthy to be friends or comrades with men. The women around Jesus were his followers and his FRIENDS. How on earth is Mary choosing to sit at Jesus' feet listening instead of joining Martha in the kitchen indicative of a "classic fag hag"?

What offends me is how trite and hackneyed your thought is. It is obviously still deeply influenced by the moribund, woman-hating (and yes, homophobic) church you were a part of for so long. Thank God I left it years ago.

Mary the mother of Jesus seems to have been exactly the sort of Jocasta/Jewish mother to produce a gay son.

WTF? You drag out the hoary, homophobic and anti-Semitic cliche of an overbearing Jewish mother "making" her son gay! So if a man is gay, it is his mother's fault? What year is this? Maybe you're trying to be funny. In any event, Mary's appearances in the gospels are too sparse to suggest what you say here.

As far as his sexual orientation goes, there are four words: we just don't know. There are some who believe the real "beloved disciple" was Mary Magdalene and that the gospels were changed to disguise this, but like the gay question, it's all conjecture.

WTF? You drag out the hoary, homophobic and anti-Semitic cliche of an overbearing Jewish mother "making" her son gay! So if a man is gay, it is his mother's fault.....

Thank you Rosa for this comment. Upon reading it, my hair stood on end. As a Jewish mother of a gay son, when I learned my son was gay, I worried that I might have potentially "caused" his sexual orientation. Over the years I realized that this IS a cliche and a pretty bad one at that. We need to be careful about dragging out ALL stereotypes. It doesn't do "our side" much good.