Apparently the BBC have landed themselves in some hot water after they aired a documentary called The Mystery of Mary Magdalene. The doc went out on Friday, which as all Christians will know was Good Friday, which is one of the biggest days in the Christian calendar, marking the day Jesus was crucified.
The show (which I haven’t seen) focused on Jesus and his relationship with Mary Magdalene, who was one of his followers, and suggested that they may have been more than just good friends, and may have had a sexual relationship and even been married. It’s all based on something called the Gnostic Gospels apparently, and if you’re familiar with Dan Brown’s work isn’t a new theory.
Various Christian groups have kicked up a fuss about it, saying it’s terrible that the Beeb would air this doc, especially on that day, with Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of Christian Concern saying:
At midday on Good Friday people across the country will be remembering the crucifixion of Jesus Christ who died to bring forgiveness and reconciliation with God. It is a key marker in the Christian calendar.
I get her point, but at the same time, at what point of the year could they have aired it and not got grief over it? The thing is, this theory isn’t going to be popular with Christians, and Williams were calling on the BBC to do a second documentary to “set the record straight”. Hmm. Now, this idea is getting aired, but the opposing view has been peddled by Christians for almost 2000 years- that JC was pure of heart and body, so really the only people who buy into this theory are the guys who’ve read the Gnostic Gospels, or that translation of it, and those numpties who believed that The Da Vinci Code was grounded in reality.
I doubt this got massive viewing figures, and any Christians watching either would have dismissed it as hogwash or would hardly have had a crisis of faith over it.
Before I give my opinion on this I figure I should be upfront about stuff- I’m no Biblical scholar, most of what I know comes from my religious family, the Religious Studies I did in school (B at GCSE, E at A Level) and what I can remember from Sunday School and regular church until I stopped going at around the age of 14. I’m not an expert and this is just my feeling on the subject, if you disagree that’s fair enough and there’s a chance to comment at the end, but please, let’s all keep it polite.
Personally, I’m not sure whether or not JC had a relationship with Mary Magdalene that was anything beyond her being one of his followers. None of us will be 100% sure while we’re still alive. Unless an angel or the man himself drops by for a chat, and I’m guessing if he did you’re going to have more pressing questions than whether or not he ever got laid.
Is it possible? Sure.
And here’s the thing. Not only is it a possibility, I kind of want it to have happened that way.
Here’s the thing, the whole point of Jesus in the Bible is that he is God in human form. He came down, lived among us and then sacrificed himself on the cross to save our souls. Now, if he was sent down to live as a human I’m sure he had the same human instincts- he had to eat, he got angry (see the money lenders in the temple) and he got scared (I can’t quote chapter and verse, but I’m sure at some point he has fears regarding his sacrifice). So if he has all that, and he’s all about love for other people why is it so wrong to think he might have experienced romantic love. Or at least some stirrings?
If anything, if he did it would make him more human and easier to relate too. I’ve always liked to imagine that if Jesus was real that he’d be a human being first, and the Almighty second. He had friends, he went to weddings and helped others. I like to think that comes from a human place and that it went further- that after he turned the water into wine he drank with everyone else and got up on the floor like a regular guy does at a wedding. That him and the disciples would joke and mock each other, in the way male friends do. That he’d get fed up and mope sometimes.
In fact, if I was a Christian I’d want him to be like that. I’d want him to have foibles and human characteristics. That he was ordinary in lots of way.
There’s a Christmas carol, I forget which one, which talks about how Jesus gets woken up but “no crying he makes” (or something) and all the children should try and be like him. It irked me as a kid and it still does. Talk about setting us Sunday Schoolers to fail, I had no control over whether I cried or not as a baby, I had no rational thought back then and couldn’t very well express what was the matter in a less wailing fashion (“Oh, excuse me, Mother, I hate to impose, but well, I seem to have had an accident and require changing because, well, it’s rather uncomfortable and I’m sure it can’t be hygienic to sit in my own filth like this”).
I’m not saying I want the alleged Messiah to have gone around riddled with insecurities and flaws, I mean, the dude clearly had a goal from early on and knew what he was, but I don’t want him to be some perfect, flawless person like Data or something.
I want him to have got things wrong, and struggled with things. So that he could truly understand what it is to be human. And that his sacrifice would mean more- because he’d have the same fears as the rest of us. That he wouldn’t want to die but went ahead with it because it was for the best makes the sacrifice more noble and heroic.
So, yeah, I want him to have been a regular guy. And that includes having an eye for the ladies. Or the gentlemen. Or both. Whatever.
He’d have experienced the issues sexual attraction throws up, and might’ve gone back upstairs and maybe got his dad to relax some of the rules. (“Seriously, pops, this no masturbation thing- we gotta take that out of there. I mean, you try to resist but y’know it gets set off all the time, especially when you’re younger….And if it’s so bad why’d you have to make it so fun to do?”)
Some weird asexual Jesus isn’t a truly human form of God walking the world, he’d be lacking a major part of the human experience. So, yeah, I hope him and Mary Magdalene were a couple, and that they were happy during their time together. Because if he’d experienced genuine love, his willingness to sacrifice would be even more inspiring, because he’d be losing more. If God wanted to walk among us he’d have to have taken the whole package, including our so called baser instincts.
I know some of this post might seem disrespectful, but I was just trying to keep it light and meant no offence. It’s just I’d have been more willing to stick with the Christian faith if Jesus was shown to be this cool relaxed guy, and not some distant ideal figure. He might have been our saviour, but couldn’t he have been our buddy too?
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.