After much reflection and with certainly no wish to shock, I felt I was left with no option but to suggest, for the first time in half a century of my Anglican priesthood, that Jesus may well have been homosexual. 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.
Whether Jesus was gay or straight in no way affects who he was and what he means for the world today. Spiritually it is immaterial. What matters in this context is that there are many gay and lesbian followers of Jesus – ordained and lay – who, despite the church, remarkably and humbly remain its faithful members. Would the Christian churches in their many guises more openly accept, embrace and love them, there would be many more disciples. (Paul Oestreicher, THE GUARDIAN)


THIS IS MY BELOVED — 30 Comments

  1. :O

    I’m not entirely sure what to make of this idea.

    I suppose my first response is “Jesus never struck me as gay in all my years growing up Methodist.” Jesus’ sexuality simply wouldn’t have occurred to me at all, or if I ever did think about it, I assumed he was celibate for a reason that I didn’t know but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a reason.

    But most of the time it just wasn’t even on my radar.

    My next thought is this: perhaps folks should be a bit wary of interpreting historical people and events through the lens of our modern times. It may not provide the most accurate vision. I think it’s possible to fall into a type of hubris that says “oh, we here in the 21st century have learned everything and we’re so enlightened now, so we can judge everything according to our 21st century standards.” Um, maybe and maybe not.

  2. Immaterial. Agreed. I’ve never given it any thought, and likely won’t burn too man brain cells on the matter now. However, what I can say is that even as a kid, it was John that i “got”. I never identified with what we know about the other apostles, but John being right next to Mary at the crucifixion – That I got completely!

  3. I know more than a few people who, regardless of sexual orientation, are simply happier single and choose to remain so.

  4. Jonathan, thank you for getting this out there.
    For me, the noise and bluster folks make about the gender of our Lord says a lot more about their fears and insecurities about themselves than the unknowable about Christ.
    Reminds me of exchanges i had some time ago with a priest who had always thought of himself as celibate gay, finding himself ‘thoroughly charmed and falling in love with a female colleague.’ Said priest is still celibate, and living in a lot larger reality now beyond objectifying either men or women. To quote his email to be last Christmas ‘I’m more vitally alive and happier than I’ve ever been.’
    Thanks Jonathan.

  5. I love the idea that Jesus may have been gay or he may have been sleeping with Mary Mag or whatever. It somehow makes him far more human than if he was definitely and deliberately celibate. And, you know, I hope he did get a bit of a cuddle, a bit more than a cuddle, off someone every now and then. His life was short, hard and it ended nastily. That, on top of all that, he never got to feel somebody else’s naked body next to his would have been so unfair. In fact, it would have been tragic.

  6. I am reminded (for some strange reason) of the play: No Sex Please We’re British

    The fact that Jesus’ sex life (or anyone’s for that matter) seems to concern people says, I think, more about us than it is about him.

    When it comes to behavior that does no damage to one’s self or others my watchword is “Mind your own business.”

  7. Well, this is not a particularly new suggestion. Is there something about Fr Oestreicher or his position that makes this more significant than usual?

  8. HI MP – good thought provoking post. I got a bit silly tho becase of the old, old joke, when Jesus is on the cross and he keeps calling John up because he has to tell him something, and the guards keep beating John but he finally makes it to the cross and he says “What is it my Lord?”, and Jesus answers, “John, I can see your house from up here”!! 🙂

    And as far as Jesus being gay or whatever, Doesn’t matter much to me but I do think he was straight and that his love with Mary Magdelan was the greatest love of all time. Just my thoughts.
    Love to you always and high regard

  9. Well, the “Son of God” is a bit of a stretch in itself. The “Grandson of God” would, I think, be too much to swallow—Da Vinci code notwithstanding.

  10. Well, he’s a nice old boy, Ellie. Everybody loves him. He was the Anglican agitator against nuclear weapons and into peace and love back in the day. But you’re right. It’s nothing new. I remember Hugh Montefiore getting into trouble for suggesting Jesus might have been gay, and that was years ago.

  11. I can’t know; I don’t care. But I agree that Jesus without sexual desires, whether or not he chose to act on them, would be less than perfectly human (I know there are asexual people, but we’re considering perfection here).

  12. @Fr. Jonathan, some of them are in love with other men, and some are not. Some are celibate, some are not. Some have long distance relationships, and some live separately for other reasons. They’re my friends, and I love them all, whatever their lifestyle. Some are even named “John.” : )
    But we’re talking about Jesus here. Was he, or wasn’t he? In the ancient world it was not unusual for men to have close relationships, sexual or not, with other men, since it was mostly the men who were educated and could relate to one another on an intellectual level as well as an emotional one.
    As for the Beloved Disciple, the last I heard, that person has never been positively identified. John? Mary Magdalene? This leaves a lot to the imagination, doesn’t it? To speculate whom Jesus loved, and how this may expand our love for him and others, is a good thing. Thanks, Fr. Jonathan and Fr. Oestreicher, for giving us something to think and pray about.

  13. Jesus’ mother is now retired and living in Forest Hills, Queens with Jesus’ old boyfriend John. “A very nice young man,” she says, “though I don’t quite see what my son saw in him. My son could have married a doctor, but he settled for a fisherman’s son. ‘But I’m a carpenter, not an ivy league grad. Ma, we’re blue collar’ he said and I told him not to talk back to his mother.”

  14. [LOL, Doug]

    That’s why I’m going for the bisexual, transgender Christ 🙂

    MP FTW!

  15. A passage which relates directly to this and may provide fuel for the fire is John 19:25-57. Verse 25 only mentions the BVM, Jesus’ aunt and Mary Mag. In verse 26, it uses that wonderfully cryptic moniker ‘the disciple whom He loved’ and then He links Himself, the BVM and aforementioned disciple (“behold your son” and then to the disciple “behold your mother”).

    Where things get dicey is the greek used for disciple here is the masculine form of the word (μαθητής) and the NT never uses the feminine singular form of the word.

    Historical-critical analysis that I’ve read doesn’t help split the hair, either. In the end, I think there is about equally valid (and ambiguous) evidence to say that either Mary’s boy had a thing for a fisherman’s son OR for teh Magz.

    Either way, it is a strong reminder of the ‘fully human’ part of ‘God made flesh’ which seems to be so easily forgotten.

  16. Nail on the head, Tim! The fact that Jesus is fully human and fully divine is at the heart of the faith of those who believe that Christ achieved what he did for us because he was fully human and fully divine. Any lessening of Christ’s humanity lessens Christ’s effectiveness and, although I neither know or care if Father Paul is right, his speculation in itself is enough to remind me of the sheer bloody brilliance of the incarnation.

  17. Hugh Montefiore ran this one out aeons ago as you said MP. Just shows the gap between the theological speculation of the cognoscenti and the rest of the world really.

  18. Ah, more people are coming to welcome the possibility of a queer Christ, which will enable them to see the Christ within us queers. Thank you for sharing this — and for your prayers on my behalf at St. Laika’s!

  19. I rather hope Jesus had a lover — gender unimportant. Besides Fr. Jonathon’s reasons, it will help him understand some of the rest of us when we need him to be understanding!


  20. And atheists would be attracted to religion in general and christianity in particular because of this-why?