Question of the week: Was Jesus married?
- It would have been very unusual in those days for a Jewish man not to be married.The New Testament is actually silent on the matter of whether Jesus was married or not. But that does not mean we should assume the latter. The New Testament is silent on a lot of historical facets of the life of Jesus. In two interesting examples, the gospel of Mark never mentions Jesus’ father, and the gospel of John never mentions his mother by name. The New Testament does not say anything directly about wives for any of the 12 disciples either. Although there is a reference to Peter’s mother-in-law, whom Jesus healed in Mark 1:30. And Paul acknowledges that wives (all nameless) accompanied the disciples on their missions.
- Paul’s silence may be proof. Interestingly, Paul may have come the closest to confirming that Jesus was married. Paul was all about celibacy, because he thought the end of times was near and it was better to be prepared for tough times ahead by being celibate (we thought Paul was a good marketer when he abolished the circumcision requirement, but this one baffles). You’d think that if Jesus himself were celibate, Paul would have used Jesus as his prime argument for why celibacy was a good thing. But he doesn’t. He actually admits in 1 Corinthians 7:25 that “I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.”
- Why do we assume Jesus was unmarried? The reason most Christians in 2020 think of Jesus as being celibate largely comes from the negative attitudes against women and sex that were developed by the early Christian church leaders. Some of the writings from Augustine, Jerome, and other Christian leaders are almost scary in how they address women. For example, how about this from Tertullian, the “father of Latin Christianity” in talking about Eve (and by inference all women in the human race):
- You are the gateway of the devil; you are the one who unseals the curse of that tree, and you are the first one to turn your back on the divine law; you are the one who persuaded him whom the devil was not capable of corrupting; you easily destroyed the image of God, Adam. Because of what you deserve, that is, death, even the Son of God had to die.