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Jesus as Single: An Actual Argument!

So far I have pointed out that it is flat-out wrong to say that every Jewish man in the first century was married and was expected to be married. It is not only demographically impossible (there were not enough women to go around) but we know of Jewish men from the time of Jesus who were not married and were proud of it. Strikingly, they, like him, were apocalyptically minded Jews – such as the Essenes and the apostle Paul. I have also argued that whatever Mary Magdalene was to Jesus, she was not his lover and spouse, to the great disappointment of us all…..

But is there an actual argument that Jesus was not married other than the silences? I think there is. And this is what it is.

A good deal of Jesus’ teaching, of course, was ethical in nature, about how people ought to live and conduct themselves. Many people think of Jesus as one of the great moral teachers of all time, and I have no quarrel with that. But I do think it is important (of utmost importance) to place Jesus’ ethical teachings into the context of his overall proclamation, his apocalyptic message that God was soon to intervene in the course of this evil world to destroy all those powers aligned against him – along with the people who sided with them – and bring in a good kingdom on earth. Jesus’ ethics were directly related to this view of the coming kingdom. They were, in fact, a kingdom ethics.

Many ethicists today are interested in teaching people how to behave so that we can make society a better, stronger place, more beneficial to all of us for the long term.   Jesus, on the other hand, was not teaching people how to behave so that we can all get along in the long haul.  For Jesus there was not going to be a long haul.  The end was coming soon, and …

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    AstaKask  February 8, 2020

    So there will be no sex in Heaven. Is this what”s said in Matthew 19:12? (For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others–and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.)

    • Bart
      Bart  February 9, 2020

      I don’t think that verse says there won’t be sex in heaven, no.

      • Avatar
        AstaKask  February 9, 2020

        What do you think the verse is about, then?

        • Bart
          Bart  February 10, 2020

          Are you talking about “marriage and giving in marriage”? It’s talking about marriage, not sex. Not the same thing. As I’m sure some blog members can testify….

          • Avatar
            AstaKask  February 12, 2020

            Do you think Matthew 19:12 says there will be no sex in Heaven and therefore we shouldn’t have sex down here either?

          • Bart
            Bart  February 12, 2020

            I think I’ve said this three times now! The verse isn’t talking about sex. It’s talking about marriage.

          • Avatar
            AstaKask  February 14, 2020

            Ok, sorry. The reason for my confusion is that I associate being a eunuch with inability to have sex rather than the inability to marry (although I suppose a eunuch couldn’t consummate the marriage).

          • Bart
            Bart  February 16, 2020

            Eunuchs were not unable to marry. But I thought we were talking about the passage in the NT where the Sadducees talk to Jesus about marraige in the resurrection. There is no discussion of eunuchs there. Maybe we aer talking about different passages, or maybe I’ve just lost the thread. Whcih happens!

  2. Avatar
    Matt2239  February 8, 2020

    Regardless of the reasoning, the absence of a royal bloodline has allowed Christianity to thrive separately from governments, including monarchies, theocratic monarchies, democracies, theocratic democracies, and many other government types. In fact, there are few societal settings where Christianity cannot adapt and survive. Even in Communist countries that prohibit religions, Christianity can survive without an earthly leader to execute or imprison.

  3. Avatar
    Baligomingo  February 8, 2020

    This basically also echoes Paul’s teaching on marriage – do it if the alternative for you is fornication, but otherwise, avoid it if possible as the end is coming.

    I find the strong desire to have Jesus married itself an interesting phenomenon. Its like being the 30 year old bachelor at the wedding and everyone is keeps asking, so when you are gonna find someone? Or a friend gets married and now everyone ought to get married. So much pressure. I suppose there are a lot of guys who would have loved to be able to say “Hey the End is coming like NEXT WEEK, so enjoy you’re “wedding”, I’m good.”

  4. Avatar
    thebookguy  February 8, 2020

    As a child of post-modernity, growing up below the bible belt, I was bombarded and bullied by the provocative, ecumenical smut Jesus taught. Preaching it, not teaching it, the religious forced and coerced their spurious, maniacal religious beliefs upon me, unceasingly. After ten years of Christian fundamentalism in America, I’ve left and returned to the state of nature in which today I observe and operate in accordance with today, relinquishing subservience to the church was my first step towards freedom and only the educated are free.

  5. Avatar
    thoai2  February 8, 2020

    Bart,
    Longtime fan here. I have read most of your trade books. But I don’t think I run into any of your writing about biblical prophecies. May be you consider a post or even better a debate topic on biblical prophecies. Many Fundamental Christian who believe the Bible inerrancy claim that it fulfills all of the Old Testament prophecies (Isaiah, Micah, Zechariah, Psalm, Isaiah) with 100% accuracy to a degree of 10 to the 18th power!

    In some of your debates, you have touch a few such as a story of Jesus enters into the Temple on a donkey and a colt that Matthew misunderstood Zechariah. Would love to hear an argument from you.

    thank you

    • Bart
      Bart  February 9, 2020

      Yeah, it’s a pretty silly argument. But it can be shown to be silly in different ways, depending on whether you mean prophecies about jesus or prophecies about what is happening in our day.

      • Avatar
        thoai2  February 9, 2020

        I meant the prophecies about Jesus in the books in Old Testament (Isaiah, Micah, Zechariah, Psalm, Isaiah).

        • Bart
          Bart  February 10, 2020

          Ah, yeah, I’m afraid the argument is bogus. Maybe I’ll post on it. The reality is that the passages that were written describing the future ruler of Israel were not descriptive of Jesus, and most of the the passages later Chrsitaisn claimed were “fulfilled” were not written about the future messiah.

  6. Paul94d
    Paul94d  February 8, 2020

    Professor, so as far as I know, Jesus had no problem with sexuality? I saw that on a documentary, or I heard it somewhere? Not sure. The apostles had the problem with it, but they were probably married but we don’t know about it? What are your thoughts about it?
    Thanks

    • Bart
      Bart  February 9, 2020

      We have no way of providing a psychological evaluation of either Jesus or the apostles, unfortunately; so there’s no way to know what they had a problem with, when it came to sexuality. those who say we can know aer hoping to get a lot of viewers for their documentary! Sensationalism sells!

  7. tompicard
    tompicard  February 8, 2020

    I am always trying to figure out why you say

    In the kingdom there will be no war, and so Jesus’ followers should be peace makers now. In the kingdom there will be no oppression, and so Jesus’ followers should fight injustice now. In the kingdom there will be no hatred, and so Jesus’ followers should love everyone – even their enemies – now. In the kingdom there will be no sickness, so Jesus’ followers should heal the sick now. In the kingdom there will be no more demons, so Jesus’ followers should cast out demons now. In the kingdom there will be no suffering, so Jesus’ followers should work to alleviate suffering now. And on and on.

    rather than

    Jesus’ followers should be peace makers now, so In the kingdom there will be no war. Jesus’ followers should fight injustice now, so In the kingdom there will be no oppression. Jesus’ followers should love everyone – even their enemies – now, so In the kingdom there will be no hatred, Jesus’ followers should heal the sick now, so In the kingdom there will be no sickness. Jesus’ followers should cast out demons now, so In the kingdom there will be no more demons. Jesus’ followers should work to alleviate suffering now, so In the kingdom there will be no suffering. And on and on.

    they are kind of equivalent but little difference in emphasis

    and wonder which of the above would be the more likely for Jesus to ascribe too. I think the latter

    [I dont believe that there is evidence Jesus taught there will be no sickness or suffering in the Kingdom, but that is a different issue]

    • Bart
      Bart  February 9, 2020

      Because Jewish apocalypticist did not believe we could bring in the kingdom of God by our good behavior, but that God would bring it in with a cataclysmic show of power, leading to a remaking of the world and society to become a perfect place.

      • tompicard
        tompicard  February 10, 2020

        Does
        “God bringing it in with a cataclysmic show of power, leading to a remaking of the world and society to become a perfect place” mean that “the Kingdom is not brought by good behavior”?

        really? would Jewish apocalypticis have seen a logical contradiction?

        I don’t think so

        • Bart
          Bart  February 11, 2020

          Not only would they not, but I don’t.

          • tompicard
            tompicard  February 11, 2020

            agree, Jesus likely saw no no contradiction between
            1) Kingdom is brought about by good behavior, and
            2) Kingdom is brought about by God with a cataclysmic show of power
            resulting in a world and society becoming a ‘perfect’ place

  8. tompicard
    tompicard  February 8, 2020

    Jesus said divorce is NOT allowed. John Meier thinks this is one of the more undoubtedly authentic of the historical Jesus’ sayings.

    This does not cohere with your analogous comments regarding
    a) healing now / no sickness in Kingdom
    b) loving enemies now / no hatred in Kingdom
    for in that case we would then expect
    c) divorce now / no marriage in Kingdom

    Nor does it really make sense that Jesus absolutely denied divorce.
    Otherwise he would have explicitly said “No divorce now, however the moment the Kingdom arrives you will be required to divorce”

    additionally see the reason Jesus taught no divorce
    Because “God made them male and female and for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and they become one flesh” – Note this is a discussion of how God created humans even before the story of the Fall of Man, ie before the introduction of evil into the world

    • Avatar
      Chad Stuart  February 10, 2020

      How does that reconcile with Luke 14:26, which appears to support leaving one’s wife?

      “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.

      • tompicard
        tompicard  February 11, 2020

        Chad,

        if you are asking me, please post the question to the members forum page
        create topic like “any contradiction between Mark 10:2-9 and Luke 14:26”
        or however you want to put it, explain why you may think it is contradiction if that is your position, or however you see fit to ask . . .

        I will be happy to weigh in on it there, plus we may learn form other interested blog members, plus we won’t need to wait on Bart approving and reviiewing what we think/write

  9. Avatar
    Stephen  February 8, 2020

    Interesting tie-in to yesterday’s post in reference to the Enochian mythology where the Watchers had sex with human women who gave birth to giants and demons. The literature that sprang up form this mythology appears to have affected apocalypticism and been known by at least some of the NT writers.

    But here we have Jesus saying that the angels don’t have sex and that it will disappear in the kingdom, a view Paul seems to have shared. This would seem to be a discrepancy in views. Was this a subject of speculation in any of the post-NT writings? Origen perhaps?

    Thanks

    • Bart
      Bart  February 9, 2020

      I’m not sure what you’re seeing as the discrepancy? Jesus probably didn’t know the legends/myths about teh Watchers, or if he did, he didn’t think that it reflected what happens now in heaven. The Watchers are not there. They’re being tormented down in hell.

      • Avatar
        Stephen  February 10, 2020

        Sorry I wasn’t really referring to textual discrepancies. I just meant that in in one tradition divine figures/angels etc can have sex with humans and in another they are sexless. I just wondered if this engendered any speculation among post-NT writers.

        thanks

        • Bart
          Bart  February 11, 2020

          Being able to have sex doesn’t mean that a person does have sex. And being married doesn’t mean that a person has sex. Jesus is saying that angels in heaven don’t marry. The tradition of the watchers says that divine beings came down from heaven to earth and had sex. Those are not incommensurate views.

  10. Avatar
    Chad Stuart  February 10, 2020

    God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?

    27 “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken.”

    Is it just me or is this not a satisfactory answer by Jesus?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 11, 2020

      Well, it’s persuaded millions of people over the years! Satisfcation is imaybe in the eye of the beholder!

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