Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gay artist says Jesus never married

“Jesus Never Married” by Dirk Vanden, 2009
Jesus supported love, but not marriage, according to a thought-provoking new poster by gay artist Dirk Vanden. Large white words against a rainbow background state, “FYI: Jesus never married, nor commanded nor advocated nor performed ‘marriage.’” At the bottom is a Biblical quote from Jesus, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Vanden says that he creates artworks such as “Jesus Never Married” to help gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people who are “seeking equality, legitimacy, legality -- acceptance -- of ourselves and our unions and families.” The poster is a welcome contribution to the current debate about same-sex marriage. Conservatives often use Christianity to justify denying lesbian and gay couples the right to marry. However, Jesus Christ himself was apparently not a big supporter of marriage. There are no records that he ever got married or performed a marriage. Christian tradition says that Jesus supported marriage because he did his first miracle at a wedding -- where he turned water into wine. As Vanden notes, “He went to weddings and got drunk, but he never performed one.” In the Bible Jesus spoke against divorce and adultery, but he said nothing at all about marriage (or about homosexuality). Since he didn’t advocate marriage for heterosexuals, it’s interesting to consider what Jesus would think of today’s movement for same-sex marriage. Vanden’s “Jesus Never Married” piece is also a bumper-sticker. He displays it proudly on the back of his van. “In my lifetime I have seen amazing changes,” Vanden says. “More are yet to come! I hope I have helped!” For more info on Vanden and his art, visit:


Trudie said...

Delightfully thought-provoking and very much to the point. Of course, religious traditionalists have taken Jesus' words about the unkindness of the Mosaic tradition permitting divorce as an indication that divorce is wrong and marriage is sacred...hopefully as we begin to look at those ideas in context, we'll get a bit more understanding.

+JN1034 said...

Actually, Jesus did speak to the point on marriage (Mt 19:4-6), and quite explicitly, though in the context of divorce and adultery which are always parts of the larger conversation about marriage in Judaic thought of the time. The quotations Jesus uses from the Torah (Gn 1:27, 2:24, 5:2) are essential citations in Judaism as advocacy references for marriage.

And certainly, Jesus could not have spoken on gay issues as we know them today since such concepts/lifestyles were not part of the religiocultural fabric of the 1st century CE. We do Jesus, history (past and present), and ourselves great injustice by using the same pick-and-choose, out-of-context Biblical hyperbole that the Christian Right et al. use against us. We needn't lower ourselves to that dark place, and surely, many of us gay Christians are above that sort of infantile bantering.

This poster seems more to stir some sort of idiopathological animosity of those against Christianity by presenting inconsequential, emotive catch-phrases about Jesus being unmarried or not performing marriages. Rather than making an educated, historically-accurate statement for gay rights, same-sex marriage, and a transformation of people's hearts in our churches, this poster fails us in many ways - ways making us use up valuable time undoing invalid suppositions about Jesus instead of expending proactive energy on forward thinking and doing.

Michael said...

Personally I don't believe in marriage and so I really like this piece. I'm particualrly opposed to same sex marriage as I don't beleive in heteronormatising same sex relationships. I beleive we should employ different models such as sworn friendships, adelphopoieia and the like. Marriage is too restrictive for the variety of forms of same-sex relationships.

I would add the early Christiainity was not a particualrly family friendly religion which was one of the reasons it drew the wrath of the authorities down upon itself. Just check out the Acts of Thecla

Anonymous said...

I can well understand your concern about "heteronormalizing" Michael.
To me, the movement here in the US had moved in very conservative malestream directions-- gay marriage, right to serve in the military... actually protesting to get into the recruitment centers, when in the 60s, gay men were protesting war in general.

I think gay life is becoming more dumbed down and more "suburban" for lack of a better word. It is a trend that served mediocrity, but remember, civil rights as opposed to freedom is what people settle for.

Anonymous said...

And then I always ask this central question: will lesbians prosper if this policy goes through? Or what is in it for lesbians? This bottom line approach really reveals what agenda is at play.

Kittredge Cherry said...

Thank you all for your comments and critiques. Certainly the "Jesus Never Married" poster is not the final, definitive statement about Christianity, homosexuality and marriage -- nor was it meant to be. I found it thought-provoking, and it has succeeded in sparking discussion here.

JN1034, thank you for contributing “educated, historically-accurate statements” to this discussion. Amen!

Michael, I share some of your doubts about same-sex marriage. That’s exactly why I liked this piece. My first impression was that it was a gay artist questioning the value of same-sex marriage because of what you call its “heteronormatising” effect. I thought he was saying, “Hey, Jesus never married, so we queers can do fine without it.” Later I contacted the artist and he gave a different explanation, quoted in the main post, about fighting back against the Religious Right’s monopoly on Jesus.

The poster and comments gave me a new insight: Jesus never did a funeral, either! In fact, his words could be interpreted as a condemnation of funeral ceremonies, too. “Leave the dead to bury their dead.” (Luke 9:60). It’s enlightening to consider what Jesus did and didn’t do.

Dirk Vanden said...

Dirk here: Please visit my website and check GAY JESUS. Several commentors will be infuriated; others will say "Well, of course!"
Check all of the books coming out now about Gospels other than those included in The Holy Christian Bible. Especially note The Secret Gospel of Mark. I believe that many or us are Gay because we followed The Jesus Path. I did. Whether or not he was or is the Christ, I believe i'm Gay because Jesus wanted me to be.

Dirk said...

PS:For anyone really interested in what Jesus said and didn’t say – did & didn’t do – please read MISQUOTING JESUS, by Bart D. Ehrman. Read all of Ehrman’s books, including THE LOST GOSPEL OF JUDAS ISCARIOT & PETER, PAUL & MARY MAGDALENE. LESBIANS, be sure to read the last verse in THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THOMAS, included in THE FIVE GOSPELS (What did Jesus Really Say?) THOMAS’ entire GOSPEL is enlightening. So are they all. More to come. We will be validated! Love, Dirk

Dirk Vanden said...

PPS: Please consider, if Jesus had ever really supported, or commanded, or performed a marraige, HE would have said so, outright and to the point - and THEY would have quoted him! Believe me! They would have made a very big deal of it. They had nothing to quote or they would have.

Dirk Vanden said...

It won't let me paste an image here, but my latest Rainbow Sign reads:
MARRIAGE IS LEGALIZED SIN. THAT'S WHY IT'S SO FUCKING POPULAR! We wamt them to leagalize OUR SIN,too, but they don't want to!
Love, Dirk

Kittredge Cherry said...

Thanks, Dirk, for providing more background material on your art and philosophy. I also recommend the alternate Gospels that you suggest.

Frank said...

When Jewish religious experts hoping to ensnare Jesus in the net of legalism challenged him to assess the legality of divorce (Matthew 19:4-12), he answered them according to their own reliance on scripture. "He who made them at the beginning made them male and female," he reminded them, that is to say, not male or female. (c.f. Galatians 3:28, "there is neither male nor female...") Jesus was making his case by citing Genesis 1:27, which he interpreted as saying that God created each person male and female, not one or the other.

His point was that government and religion had created a binary system of male-female polarization that viewed male as positive, female as negative, and each person as exclusively one or the other. By doing so, he argued, they had broken the mirror meant to reflect the balanced, unified image of God as genderless and gendered at the same time. Their view of God as exclusively male caused them to regard females as something less than human, for only males could reflect His image in human form. Women had to marry in order to parasitize their husband's saving masculinity. Men had to marry in order to be godlike by saving them. This did not sit well with Jesus' sense of justice. As he saw it, each person, married or not, was a unique expression of a blend of genders reflecting God's unity.

The law with its gender polarization, however, as much as declared each and every one of us half-human unless wed. "For this reason," Jesus observed with disapproval, tradition demanded that "a man shall leave his mother and father and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." The actual Greek words in our oldest manuscripts literally mean "the two will be glued into one." So what Jesus actually meant was, they will be stuck with each other. Had he wished to advocate heterosexual marriage, he would certainly have painted a more pleasant picture of it. Instead, his love of justice and choice of words reveal that he was in fact criticizing what the institution of marriage had become.

"But from the beginning it was not so," he continued, referring to paradise in the garden of Eden legend. Everyone knew that Adam and Eve could not marry or divorce any more than Adam and Yves could. Any vows they might have taken or any blessing God might have given would not be considered legal by Jewish or Christian standards in view of the fact that no judicial authority was present to perform a ritual ceremony or sign the papers. Not that any could have, since hi-tech legal supplies like paper and pens had yet to be invented. The only authority available to unite the couple was true love, the Spirit of God.

For Jesus, that was good enough. Spirit made no distinction between X and Y. In fact, had he known about chromosomes, he would have noted that X includes Y within its shape. Same-sex versus hetero did not matter. In each person's spiritual, mental, and genetic makeup, God had inextricably joined male and female. "So then," Jesus concluded, "what God has joined, let not man separate."

Sincere students of scripture will agree that Spirit above the law was always Jesus' style and his most recognizable signature. True love, not any human law or ceremony, was the only kind of marriage in which Jesus believed.

man with desire said...

Many syncretistic religions formed gnosticism. Gnosticism was rivaling against Christianity and gnosticism held itself better religion as Christianity was. Word gnosticism comes from Greek word gnosis, which means knowledge. Gnosticism was various effects, for instance, some Gnostics taught that divinity can be achieved through unity of the man and woman. This thought led some Gnostics to reach for divinity through sexual intercourse between the man and woman. There existed also some Gnostics, who abstained from sexual intercourse. When we know the fact that Gnostics held Christians as their enemies and that Gnostics held themselves better as Christians and that Gnostics wanted to show in every way that Gnosticism was better as Christianity, so Gnostics made so called gnostic gospels were they twisted, slandered and misrepresented the real gospels. Gnostics went so far in this misrepresent that they wrote "new gospels" by faking the real gospels. In these faked gospels Gnostics wrote that Jesus Christ was an ordinary man who has a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene.