Fact, Fiction, and Faith
part 5

Check out Chris' DaVinci Code blog.

This is the height of the wedding season. Such a popular time for couples to get married. The festivity of a wedding is always a great occasion. We are fascinated by grand style weddings. The royal wedding of Charles and Diana was televised in America in 1981. Just a few years ago, the rather unceremonious civil wedding of Charles and Camilla was televised.

Weddings are big events, they are big news and they are big business. The Fairchild Bridal Group conducted a survey in 2006 and found that the average cost of a wedding was over $26,000. (Source: Perhaps this is why the Royal Wedding of Jesus of Nazareth and Mary Magdalene has been big news and big business. (The DaVinci Code novel in its first year had nearly 7 million copies in print and Sony pictures paid $6 million for the rights to make the movie. Source: Christian Science Monitor March 19, 2004) With that sort of money, of course there are those who want to be a part of planning Jesus’ wedding ...

Jesus’ Wedding Planners [View of The DaVinci Code, et al] - Where does this notion even come from? Part of is the thought that a married Jesus is somehow more down to earth. Part of it is actually a reaction to what some view as an oppressive church – i.e. Roman Catholic Church mainly without any serious distinction between RCC and other groups. The wedding planners include Dan Brown building on the earlier work of the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail – who took their cue from Pierre Plantard’s Priory of Sion Hoax in 1956. They claim that it makes better sense to have a married Jesus because ...
1. It would have been unnatural and against social decorum for Jesus, a Jewish man, to remain unmarried.
2. Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and the wedding was in Cana (John 2).

So the logic goes like this: A lot of people in Jesus’ day got married. Jesus went to a wedding, so he must have been married. And now that everyone is talking about Jesus being married, well it must be true. This is how urban legends get started - if it is consensus, then it is truth.

John 2:1 - - On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.
What sort of wedding is it when someone has to invite the groom and worse yet the groom’s mother? Jesus and his disciples are guests. Jesus is unconcerned with the lack of wine for the banquet. Jesus leaves with his family and disciples – and not his wife!

The Wedding Crashers [Invalid responses to above] – I mentioned that one of the reasons some of these people even “planned” a wedding for Jesus is part of a reaction against the the perception of a dominant church doctrine regarding the marriage of Jesus. This is the scandal and cover-up that is a big part of the plot of DaVinci Code - “A child of Jesus would undermine the critical notion of Christ’s divinity and therefore the Christian Church, which declared itself the sole vessel through which humanity could access the divine and gain entrance to the kingdom of heaven.” – The DaVinci Code, p. 254

So, there are some who want to defend the traditional position of an unmarried Jesus. They want to “crash” the idea of a wedding by pointing out that ...
1. Jesus is divine so he cannot be married with children
2. Jesus is high preist of the church and priests cannot be married
3. Jesus ordained celibacy.
On both sides of this issue are those who feel that a married Jesus with children would somehow undermine the divinity of Christ and the church. The arguments given above are not valid arguments. That is not to say that we must concede that Jesus was married, rather there are some assumptions of the wedding crashers about human relationships and marriage and ministry that are just as distorted as the view of the wedding planners. I propose a different view altogether and we need to be aware of how this whole scandal is a red herring . . .

Red Herring Alert [There is no scandal!] A red herring refers to an irrelevant arguments that distracts you from the main point. The term apparently comes from fox hunting when a smoked red herring was dragged across the trail the hounds were on. The scent was misleading.

  1. It is not a fundamental doctrine of the church that Jesus was unmarried. This is not a critical tenet for establishing the divinity of Jesus or the existence of the church. Jesus is divine because he is born of the holy spirit, he is divine because the Holy Spirit descended on him at his baptism and the voice of God said “This is my son!” He is divine and Peter, James, and John saw his divine glory on the mountain of transfiguration. He is not divine because he never married. Furthermore, the church is because Christ gave his life for the church, the church is because God is gathering those who have been baptized into Christ into his church.
  2. Jesus would not have sinned if he had been married and raised children. Now here’s a real problem. The view of the scandalizers and the scandalized both assume that being married involves sin because of human procreation. This is also attached to the mistaken concept of original sin. Let’s imagine for a moment that Jesus had been married and had fathered children. If that were the case – there would be no sin. It would not change gospel, it would not change the nature of the church. Jesus lived out human life without sin. He lived out human life the way God always meant for us to. If he had taken wife and fathered children he would have done that God’s way. And there is a godly way to do that. Within the boundaries of marriage there is nothing sinful about procreation and the marriage relationship. However ...
  3. There is no evidence Jesus was married. The view of the wedding planners is an argument from silence. The NT writers did not go out of their way to establish the fact that Jesus was married, but there is much in what they do say that suggests that they simply understood that Jesus was unmarried. 1 Corinthians 9:5 – 1) Paul mentions nothing about Jesus being married. If Jesus had been married wouldn’t that have made his point? 2) Celibacy is not required for church leaders or for proclaimers of the gospel. Peter is married and Paul affirms this.

Jesus was unmarried, but in his teaching and in his life he has this to say about marriage ... What Jesus Taught and Lived [Read Matthew 19:1-15]

  1. Jesus affirmed marriage. He referred back to Genesis 2 to show his support of marriage. He declared that it was good for a man and a woman to be married. He appeals to God’s intent.
  2. Jesus affirmed remaining single. Jesus did not always conform to the expectations of culture – he challenged culture with kingdom values. Jesus acknowledged that the call to the kingdom was so serious that he said things like . . . “Let the dead bury the dead.” Don’t look back but follow me. If your right eye offends you pluck it out. He held staying married in higher regard than justifying a divorce. He did not ordain celibacy, but he said that if someone remained single for the sake of the kingdom, that that was also blessed by God. (Matthew 19:10-12)
  3. Jesus calls for devotion to the kingdom of heaven rather than social expectations.

The point is devotion and dedication to God. If married – devote it to God. There are too many marriages that are dedicated just to meeting individual needs. If single – devote to God. Too many of us view being single as being broken or incomplete. It isn’t marriage that makes a person complete – God does. And God makes a marriage complete.

What the world and the church need today are disciples who are so devoted to Christ and the Kingdom of God that we are willing to challenge the expectations of culture as Jesus did. Maybe not with marriage (although that is a possibility) but what about the way we use our time and money? What if we bought a $20,000 car instead of a $30,000 car and gave the difference to the poor or to the church? What if we decided to use our own time to help children do better in school? What if we decided to visit a lonely person in the nursing home instead of going to a movie – or what we rented a movie and invited friends to watch it with us? Not doing things so that we can suffer for Jesus ... but truly changing our outlook on life and the world and seeing it the way Jesus does.

What about the way we live our lives. Are we conformists? Or are we Christians? Not just being different and peculiar for that sake of not being like others, but taking to heart the call of discipleship that Jesus utters.

In conclusion, there is no evidence that Jesus was married. But Christ does have a bride. He is engaged to his bride to be – the church. And the wedding day is always one day closer. You are invited to the wedding.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 11 June 2006

 Link to next sermon

 Link to other sermons of Chris Benjamin