|Where are the women?|
With new theological and anthropological discoveries, as the picture of Jesus's life comes into greater focus, it appears that he was a homosexual man
By Terence Weldon
All Christians, and most other Westerners, are familiar with the story of the miracle at Cana, where water was turned into wine. There is seldom any discussion though, of who it is that was getting married. Have you ever considered the possibility that it may have been, you know, a gay wedding? The Catholic theologian argues that it was, in the introduction to his book, “Queer Theology."
Loughlin reflects on the story of the Wedding Feast at Cana, (John 2: 1 – 11) which we usually think of in terms of the famous miracle. He asks the question, ”Who is it that was married?”.
He begins with an familiar theme from theology and biblical scholarship, that symbolically the wedding was of Christ marrying his disciples, and more broadly all Christians. The disciples were mostly male, and “the church” certainly includes men, so at the symbolic level this is (also) a gay wedding. But it is at the more literal level that it becomes really fascinating. Apparently, there was an ancient tradition in the early church, right up to the Reformation, that the wedding was Christ’s own wedding – to John, the “beloved disciple”. (Recall that famously, at the Last Supper, John laid his head on Jesus’ breast – or even in his lap. Several scholars accept that there was an intimate relationship between the two men, notably Theodore Jennings.)
Loughlin describes how this idea was articulated in the apocryphal Acts of John, in which it is said that John broke off his betrothals to a woman to “bind himself” to Jesus. This was apparently a common strand in some German medieval thinking, right up until the Reformation, and is visually illustrated in some surviving art. In a “Libellus for John the Evangelist”, a painting of the wedding feast is said to feature a bearded Christ seated next to a beardless, androgynous John – whom, says Loughlin, he appears about to kiss. In the “Admont Codex” illustrated manuscript of St Anselm’s “Prayers and Meditations”, an illustration in two parts shows John’s story. In one, John is seen leaving his female betrothed. In the companion piece, he is lying on the ground with this head on Jesus’s breast, while Jesus himself is tenderly caressing his chin.
Is this tradition “true”? We cannot know. Like so much much else in Scripture, it is impossible to get through the mists produced by unfamiliar language, a different literary tradition, and remote historical /cultural context to get close to the literal “truth” behind the text. No matter. Even without accepting this idea literally, it is enough for me to know that it was once widely accepted in the mystical tradition, and to incorporate it into my reader response.
It is when Loughlin moves beyond the “meaning” of the text to its multiple ironies that the fun starts. This where, I found myself quite literally laughing with Scripture. For if it is true that the consecration of Eucharistic wine into Christ’s bloods is prefigured in the Cana transformation of water into wine, then we can see that in every Mass we are commemorating Christ’s own wedding with His (male) disciples. Every Mass can be seen as a mystical gay wedding. That Mass is celebrated by a priest who has committed himself to celibacy, and so forswears procreation himself, but is expected to preach against gay marriage or others – because homosexual intercourse, being unable to procreate, is “intrinsically disordered“. The priesthood in turn, is run by a a similarly celibate coterie in the Vatican which reproduces itself by recruitment not biological reproduction – and castigates the homosexual community for its own social, not biological reproduction.
The threat posed by gays and lesbians to family and society is often proclaimed by men – named “fathers”- who have vowed never to to beget children. The pope lives in a household of such men – a veritable palace of “eunuchs”for Christ - that reproduces itself by persuading others not to procreate. Why us the refusal of fecundity – the celibate lifestyle – not also a threat to family and society?
~Loughlin, Introduction to Queer Theology.Gerard Loughlin BA MA (Wales) PhD (Cambridge) is Professor of Theology and Religion at the University of Durham, England.