Da Vinci Code: Let's Talk About Sex
I haven't seen the Da Vinci Code yet and, despite reviews, it seemed millions throughout the world flocked to see it anyway. I still think I should read the book first so I will probably dig my copy out and wait for the movie to come on DVD (gotta get some use out of my Netflix account). I saw some protesters outside the theater near my house during the opening weekend. I'm still not sure what the aversion is to this "work of fiction." Even if it were true, so what if Jesus was married? So what if he was married to Mary Magdalene? So what if he had children? Why is it so important for him to have been single and, allegedly, celibate? Clearly he was sent to earth as a man. Why would he not live as a man who, because he is the son of God, lives to set an example? Why would that example not include being married? I'll tell you why. Conflict over sex is at the base of the three Abrahamic religions. There is an obsession with it.
It's all about the sex.
But mostly, it's the sex.
"A central theme of the book is a question about whether Jesus was indeed sexual and whether there was indeed the possibility that Jesus had a relationship with Mary Magdalene and fathered a child," Haffner said.
"Certainly in Jesus' humanity we can expect that Jesus was a sexual person," because all humans are sexual beings, she said. "That doesn't mean that we necessarily express our sexuality with different people."
The idea of Jesus being sexual -- having sexual thoughts, feelings, urges, or (God forbid!) actually having sex with his wife -- really freaks a lot of people out.
If we are to believe, as most Christians do, that Jesus was both fully divine and fully human, then by definition it means that Jesus also was fully sexual.
So why the collective flip out?
"In the Christian tradition, we have a religion that's based on a virgin birth that has followed an immaculate conception with a celibate hero God," Haffner said.
Well, there's that.
"There is built into the story an erotophobic emphasis. But that came later," she said. "For example, the immaculate conception idea is [from the] third century. It's not in the original story and it's not scriptural. ... We only tell part of the story. What's happened is that because of people's own fears of talking about sexuality, that erotophobia gets carried forward."
If Jesus could feel all that humans do -- joy, love, sorrow, anger, fear, pain -- why would he not also feel sexual? That isn't sinful.
It's just human.
And it doesn't mean that he had to have sex to be sexual.
But what if Jesus did?
How, exactly, would that threaten the very foundations of the Christian faith? A faith that is, if I'm not mistaken, based on the fact that Jesus came to Earth and sacrificed his sinless human life on the cross to redeem the rest of humanity, so that by faith, through grace, we all could be saved.
A faith that is not, unless I'm overlooking something, based on the idea that Jesus was a celibate man who neither married nor fathered children.[...]
I am a menacing little thing when I get into conversations about religion with friends and acquaintances. My key question, even before The Davinci Code, is always: what if you learned tomorrow that there was no trinity and that Jesus was just a man? What if he was a man, albeit an enlightened man like Buddha and Mohammad, who'd found a perfect and peaceful way of living who was able to show people a better and compassionate way? Do you stop trying to be a good person? Do you stop trying to follow the example of both the biblical and historical Jesus?
Naturally I cannot remember where I heard someone say that religion was basically people's way of coping with the prospect/fear of death. Indeed, most of the thumpingest people I've met are far more fixated on the afterlife than they are on living in the present. You've got suicide bombers in Islam martyring themselves with the hope of getting multiple virgins in heaven (btw, what do female suicide bombers get?). But what about behavior here on earth? Too many fundamentalists, of many faiths and denominations, do not seem to address that at all and their narrow interpretation of religious texts seems to promote and incite behavior that is to the contrary of what their lead prophets taught.
I don't have a problem with the prospect of Jesus being "just a man." One of my college theology teachers, a Jesuit priest, told our dumbstruck class that since Jesus was a man, he had erections. Now, that is totally something I'd never thought about but I will say that hearing a professor say it so matter of factly has been one of the reasons why I haven't been so attached to the "magic" of the bible. I have no problem viewing Jesus as a man because he was a great man. Whether he is seated at the right hand of the father really doesn't matter to me as his mission, I thought, was to teach us how to live here on earth. I cannot say that I fear dying and not being accepted into whatever heaven is. I cannot say that I fear going to "hell" because I don't believe in literal interpretations of the bible or that the only way to salvation is through having narrow, fundamentalist Christian views.
This movie has brought out the worst in some of those who profess to be the best Christian soldiers. I am amazed at how angry and afraid it seems to have made people. I would hope that it would be a challenge to all to study not only the biblical Jesus but the historical, walked on this earth, Jesus. Perhaps some of the things documented in the bible might seem less plausible but it should give people pause to think about what being a Christian really means and how they can live their lives, as mere men and women, the way Jesus would have.
(hat tip Paul W.)