I used to get really mad, hurt even, when people – okay, it was only guys – made fun of Jesus, making more or less educated guesses about his penis, its size, its purpose and all the conspiracy theory that comes with it. It seemed to me the ultimate sacrilege to talk about my God in sexual terms, or rather biological terms actually. I remember I almost cried one time when a guy, recognizing how delightfully upset I got by his jokes, just went on and on, getting crasser and crasser. My mind couldn't fathom Jesus as a sexual being. Thinking about it now, there seems to be quite a paradox in the Christian moral convictions on the topic.
On the one hand, we say that God became human, a 100%, he knew EVERY and ALL TYPE of human emotions, temptation, and trouble. It is nothing less than the basis of our whole faith, the premise for the exclusive status of our personable, human God. If Jesus wasn't fully, completely human, the whole salvation thing wouldn't really work, right?
But on the other hand, if someone talked about a sexual Jesus, as in a hu-man, it totally creeps me out. The only explanation I have is that, a) deep down, I don't think of Jesus as a real human and he was actually more holy than human. Or b) I think that his sexuality makes him a second-class human. Hm... does that also mean that I think the powerful presence of sexuality in my own life makes me a second-class human, too?
I am very interested in the reasons why the conservative Christian community has come to be convinced that sexual thoughts, behaviors or even attributes are so separate from the spiritual practice. If I assumed that Jesus was indeed fully human, wouldn't that mean that he also had wet dreams, erections, that he felt desire and attraction? To an outsider of the evangelical or Catholic subculture this probably seems like a very peculiar matter to get so worked up about. For a conservative insider, however, the fact that Jesus was a sexual being somehow means that Jesus was also sexually, i.e. morally, sinful. Why? The development of Jesus' sexual organ (!) would have been a very normal process in his transformation from a boy to a man. Is it possible to be a fully grown man without ever feeling attracted to or desiring another man or woman? I think even the more conservative among us can be honest enough to agree that our sexual organ, just like any other organ, plays a vital part in keeping us alive and healthy. They are crucial, not just a nice little extra like an arm that we could totally do without, if we had to. When confronted with a tendency to avoid or suppress certain topics, a systemic therapist would probably ask something like, “What advantage do you have by avoiding or suppressing these things?” Because we humans never do even the most irrational or even destructive things without having some kind of benefit from it. So, the answer might be, “Sexuality scares me, because it's very powerful, and by stigmatizing it, I have a reason to keep it at bay.” Or, “Sexual feelings are confusing and messy and sometimes hurtful and I need a very clear black-and-white definition to help me manage it better.” Now THAT is interesting stuff, wouldn't you say?
If you look closely, of course, there is romantic, even sexual language everywhere in Christian culture, in worship songs and prayer. It's all about embraces and sloppy wet kisses and being touched for the very first time. It's so clear that the desire and yearning for these kinds of experiences is increasingly more present in current pop-culture Christianity. But there is something almost absurd about offering these romantic feelings to a God whose (supposed) doctrines also seem responsible for creating such a sexually frustrating environment. Something's just not quite right with that picture.
It's true, Jesus' sexuality doesn't play a big role in the bible. It doesn't seem to have caused him any drama, like illegitimate kids or a bad marriage ('cos I'm positive his opponents would have made sure that those stories were passed on just as safely as all the other accounts about his life). Some scholars say that Jesus might well have had a wife because, back then, in the very family-centric Hebrew society, it was totally unthinkable for any respected rabbi not to be married. So, it wasn't even mentioned, it was just taken for granted. I know I'm trodding down a dangerous path towards all sorts of conspiracy theories. Breathe! – I'm utterly uninvested in DaVinci Codes, or bloody relics, or biological descendants of God.
As always, I don't really have a lot of answers, just a lot of puzzling questions. And all I know right now is that I don't feel nourished by a faith that limits and shames the life-giving power of my sexuality and only elevates the life-giving power of an asexual spirituality that uses sex merely in symbols and metaphors. And as always I ask myself what Christian culture would look like if our sexuality was more lovingly included into spiritual thought, practice and conversation.