By now everybody’s heard about the startling discovery of an ancient scrap of papyrus manuscript that contains a passage suggesting rather strongly that Jesus was a married man. I first got the news from a buddy of mine who survived two savage divorces that left him bloodied, destitute and a tad embittered. He forwarded the story to me along with a rather cynical comment: “No wonder He was so willing to die.”
Naturally, the news has sent theologians into a rare tizzy because, if confirmed, it would have such a dramatic impact on Christian doctrine. Would nuns who are wedded to Christ be married to a married man, thus making him the most prolific polygamist in history? If Jesus consummated a marriage, wouldn’t the church have to come up with another reason for enforcing celibacy on priests? Might be a tough sell:
“Why? Um, well, because God never had sex.”
“He impregnated Mary.”
“Okay, but that’s different. He sent an angel.”
“So the Savior of the World was the result of a ménage a trois?”
You see the problem.
The woman who married Jesus had to be pretty darned special, because, face it, the only-begotten Son of God would be quite a catch:
“A money-changer? Well, that’s nice, but guess who MY daughter’s dating? Here’s a hint: remember that night when the party kind of lagged until somebody turned the water into wine? Yeah. Definitely Son-of-God-in-Law material.”
And you can be sure the bridesmaids would interrogate her after the wedding night:
“Okay, let’s have it. How perfect is He, really?”
Of course, the pressure on the bride would be almost biblical. I mean, relationships with in-laws are always fraught, but if your husband’s Mother is a saint and His Father is God, what chance do you have of measuring up among all those initial caps? And what kind of privacy could she expect with an omniscient father-in-law? (“Say, Pop? It’s been awhile, and the little woman’s a mite cranky. How about aiming the All-Seeing Eye toward Damascus for an hour tonight?”). Supposing they got enough privacy to do some begetting, their grandfather could spoil the kids to celestial heights, and PTA meetings would be a scream.
I think most Christians accept the notion that Jesus was the world’s only perfect man, but convincing them that a perfect husband ever existed might test their faith. Wives have a way of spotting imperfections that even a deity might overlook, because, verily, in His infinite wisdom, God arranged for them to endure a regular cycle of peevishness. “So you can feed 5,000 with a couple of loaves and fishes but you can’t remember to pick up milk on the way home? And now that you’re done raising Lazarus from the dead, maybe Miracle Man could raise a few of these tools off the floor before somebody breaks their neck. And this firewood’s not going to chop itself, Mr. Light of the World, so don’t even think about sneaking off with a disciple to go fishing before it’s done ...”
It’s a sobering thought, but if enough compelling evidence is unearthed, scholars might have to consider rewriting the gospels to include Mrs. Christ. And when Hollywood decides to make the movie, the infighting to land the title role will be downright ungodly.