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Religious Tolerance logo

Yeshua of Nazareth/Jesus Christ

Part 3 of 3:
Was Yeshua of Nazareth straight, bisexual or gay?

This topic is a continuation of the previous essay.

Indications that Jesus may not have had a heterosexual orientation. That is, he was gay or bisexual (Cont'd):

  • Aelred of Rievaulx (1110 - 1167) was an English writer, the abbot of Rievaulx, and a saint. According to author Louis Crompton:

    "... in his work Spiritual Friendship, [Aelred] referred to the relationship of Jesus and John as a 'marriage' and held it out as an example sanctioning friendships between clerics." 1

  • On Good Friday of 2012, Paul Oestreicher, an Anglican priest from Wellington in New Zealand, preached a sermon which discussed Jesus' sexual orientation. Although the author of the Gospel of Mark said that there were many women present at Jesus' execution, the author(s) of the Gospel of John lists only three: They were Jesus' mother, his aunt, and Mary Magdalene -- all named Mary. Also present was the disciple John, who was described as the "disciple that Jesus loved."

    Oestreicher notes that Jesus said to his mother:

    " 'Woman behold your son!' Then he said to the disciple. 'Behold your mother!' And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. That disciple was John whom Jesus, the gospels affirm, loved in a special way. All the other disciples had fled in fear. Three women but only one man had the courage to go with Jesus to his execution. That man clearly had a unique place in the affection of Jesus. In all classic depictions of the Last Supper, a favorite subject of Christian art, John is next to Jesus, very often his head resting on Jesus' breast. Dying, Jesus asks John to look after his mother and asks his mother to accept John as her son. John takes Mary home. John becomes unmistakably part of Jesus's family.

    He suggests that there is no convincing evidence that Jesus had a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene, but the evidence that Jesus:

    "... may have been what we today call gay is very strong. ... Had he been devoid of sexuality, he would not have been truly human. To believe that would be heretical. Heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual: Jesus could have been any of these. There can be no certainty which. The homosexual option simply seems the most likely. The intimate relationship with the beloved disciple points in that direction. It would be so interpreted in any person today. Although there is no rabbinic tradition of celibacy, Jesus could well have chosen to refrain from sexual activity, whether he was gay or not. Many Christians will wish to assume it, but I see no theological need to. The physical expression of faithful love is godly. To suggest otherwise is to buy into a kind of puritanism that has long tainted the churches.

    His article in The Guardian received 792 comments from readers over three days, when comments were closed. 2

  • Peter Tatchell, writing in his web site Petertatchell.net said:

    "The truth is that we simply don't know whether Jesus was straight, gay, bisexual or celibate. There is certainly no evidence for the Church's unspoken presumption that he was either heterosexual or devoid of carnal desires. Since nothing in the Bible points to Christ having erotic feelings for women, or relationships with the female sex, the possibility of him being gay cannot be discounted.

    In the absence of any evidence - let alone proof - that Jesus was heterosexual, the theological basis of Church homophobia is all the more shaky and indefensible. How can established religion dare denounce homosexuality when the founder of its faith was himself a man of mysterious, unknown sexuality who could, for all we know, have been homosexual?

    The Bible tells us that Jesus was born a man and therefore presumably had male sexual feelings. It would have been more or less impossible, biologically, for him not to have an element of erotic arousal - even if only having the normal male response of waking with an erection." 3

  • Bishop Gene Robinson, who is the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church (USA), discussed discussed Jesus' sexual orientation with host Jon Stewart on the TV "Daily Show." Robinson commented:

    "Here’s a guy who -- in a culture that virtually demanded marriage -- was a single guy, spent most of his time with twelve men, singled out three of them for leadership and one of them is known in the Bible as ‘the one whom Jesus loved. ... Now I’m not saying Jesus was gay, but let’s be careful to rope this guy in for a husband, wife and 2.2 children model for family. He knew about families of choice, and so do LGBT people." 4

  • Ronnie Hafmerg, writing in the Thought Catalog, listed seven reasons why he felt that Jesus was gay. Only two were serious suggestions:
    • Jesus had

      "...the power to surround himself with hundreds of women, but chose 12 men to hang out with. 12 MALE apostles."

    • "He was 30 and not married and in those days people probably got married at 15." 5

Public reactions to the suggestion that Jesus was gay:

 Some indications of the anger displayed by Americans on this topic include:

  • Bomb threats and a promise to "burn the place to the ground" sent to the Manhattan Theatre Club if they included the Terrance McNally play Corpus Christi (The Body of Christ) in its 1998 schedule. It portrayed Jesus and his disciples as a group of gays. The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) and the Family Research Council organized a demonstration of over 3,000 Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians to protest the play being shown in New York City. 6 The theatre first cancelled the play, then reinstated it. In 1999-AUG, after being staged in New York City, it completed a run at the Edinburgh Festival. Florida legislators threatened to cut off funding for the Florida Atlantic University if this same play was shown there.

  • Sheik Omar Bakri Muhammad, judge of the Shari'ah Court of the UK -- an Islamic group -- issued a death fatwa against Terrence McNally. The fatwa is not enforceable in the UK. However,

    "If he travels to an Islamic state, then he would risk arrest and execution." 7

  • The protests continued. A Roman Catholic group, America Needs Fatima -- a subgroup of TFP -- has distributed hundreds of signed, preprinted postcards which protested the proposed 2004-MAR production of "Corpus Christi," in Madison, WI. The group had previously been successful in having the play canceled at a community college in Grand Rapids, MI. 7

  • Over a million people wrote protest letters from 1984 to the end of 1985 against a non existent gay Jesus film. It was believed to have portrayed Jesus as a bisexual who had an affair with Mary Magdalene. By late 1984, the office of the Attorney general of Illinois was receiving about 1,000 protest letters a week. The movie was a hoax -- a Christian urban legend. No trace of it was ever found. 9

  • On the other hand, a survey conducted by Talk Radio in London, UK, on 1997-DEC-14 found that:
    • 51% said that revelations of Jesus being a homosexual would not affect their religious belief.
    • 49% said it would. 10

If the survey was repeated today, the percentage who would not have their religious belief affected would certainly increase greatly, because of the rapid rise in acceptance of homosexuality in the intervening years.

Books about this topic:

bullet Rollan McCleary, "A Special Illumination: Authority, Inspiration and Heresy in Gay Spirituality," David Brown Book Co., (2004). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

bullet Rollan McCleary, "Signs for a Messiah." Hazard Press, (2003). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

bullet Theodore W. Jennings, Jr., "The Man Jesus Loved: Homoerotic Narratives from the New Testament," The Pilgrim Press, (2003-MAY). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

bullet Morton Smith, "The Secret Gospel: The Discovery and Interpretation of the Secret Gospel according to Mark," Harper & Row, (1973). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

 

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Louis Crompton, Homosexuality and Civilization, Belknap Press (2003), P. 180. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
  2. Paul Oestreicher, "Was Jesus gay? Probably," The Guardian, 2012-APR-20. at: http://www.theguardian.com/
  3. Peter Tatchell, "Was Jesus Gay?," undated, at: http://www.petertatchell.net/
  4. Cavan Sieczkowski, "Was Jesus Gay...?," Huffington Post, 2013-APR-04, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  5. Ronnie Hafmerb, "7 Reasons Jesus Was Gay," Thought Catalog, 2012-JAN-16, at: http://thoughtcatalog.com/
  6. Bruce Sullivan, "3,000 Protest Gay Jesus Play," Conservative News Service, 1998-SEP-29, at: http://www.conservativenews.org/
  7. "UK Fatwa for 'gay Jesus' writer," BBC News, 1999-OCT-29, at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/
  8. Jacob Stockinger, "Group protests gay Jesus play," The Capital Times, Madison, WI, 2003-SEP-23, at: http://www.madison.com/
  9. "Jesus will be portrayed as a homosexual in an upcoming film: False," http://www.snopes.com/
  10. "Was Jesus gay?, Missing Fragments from St. Mark's Gospel," OutRage!, 1998-FEB-27, at: http://outrage.nabumedia.com/

 

Copyright © 2003 to 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-SEP-24
Latest update: 2015-APR-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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