This was partially inspired by the yesterday evening discussion of the Jesus Freaks house group that’s praised in the previous blog post.
Jesus and sexuality
When believing that Jesus was both fully man and fully God, what do we believe about if he suffered temptations to sexual sin as we do? As Jesus was fully man, one could think that he did, as sexuality and its hormone-induced control mechanisms belong to the body and to being human. And as Jesus was fully God, one could think that he did not suffer sexual temptations, as he would have been filled with agapē for all so that there was no room for other feelings towards women.
The latter case is an image of Jesus that is seemingly hardened by a naive interpretation of the Gospel accounts, as we don’t read there that Jesus was involved in human everyday activities like sitting around and kidding with his disciples. And, it’s an image of Jesus that lets him help in spiritual problems alone, without being our example for coping with human stuff like partnership problems, sexuality and romantic love.
How about a third way. First, we need to see that sinful desire (like when a man looks at a woman with lust for her, Mt 5:28 ISV) does not arise from nothing. These habits are more like the result of life-long false programming and false thinking. It started with the first egoistic thought in our lifes, and grew from that. Just like all sin grew from Eve’s little doubt regarding God’s kindness. Then second, we need to see that Jesus did never give in even to one egoistic thought: such stuff simply found no room in him, as may be seen from his simple, doubtless answers when tempted by the devil in the desert.
Now we see that Jesus may have found women to be attractive, and may have had sexual feelings, but pure ones. Yes, sexuality was created by God and it’s inherently pure and holy. So I cannot see any problem why Jesus might not have thought once and again: “Wow, this woman has a mild and cheerful mind, she’s faithful and beautiful … quite attractive. Father, thanks for the great idea of creating humans as both man and woman. I’m now myself down here on earth, and can feel the grandeur of the marriage partnership idea. This image of eternal love really represents our character in humans. And even though this world has seen so much sin since its creation, the man/woman partnership idea is that great that it radiates through all the dirt.”
Well then, you may ask, if Jesus thought that positive about marriage, why didn’t he marry himself? We can speculate that this had several practical reasons:
- Jesus knew that he was living in this world to die as a sacrifice, and then leave the world. If he had married, he would have left a woman and perhaps children behind. Therefore, it was just responsible for him not to marry. See the counsel not to marry in troubled times (I Cor 7:26 ISV), where troubled times might include leaving behind the dear ones.
- God knows what people are up to, and even for us it’s easy to see that the worst heresy of church history would’ve arisen if there would’ve been people who could claim to be descendants of Jesus, that is, God.
- It was not Jesus’ job, vision or purpose of life to marry and enjoy life. He entered the world with the specific purpose and desire to save the world.
Special aspects of female believers’ relationship to Jesus
Overall, it seems easier for women than for men to have a love relationship to Jesus. There are examples where men express difficulty to say they love Jesus, as it is uncommon for men to express love for other men. From a female believer to a male Jesus this is far more natural, even though no flirty or romantic feelings are implied in this love relationship.
Jesus and his bride
When it comes to Jesus and women, there’s always the question, what can we learn for partnership, marriage and for dealing with the opposite sex in general. This is somewhat difficult to answer, as Jesus was not married. But there’s beautiful imagery in the Bible, according to which Jesus is engaged currently and will soon marry his bride:
- Here’s where the Bible compares Jesus mission to leave his father in heaven to found a church of saved people to a man who leaves his father and adheres to his future bride: ” “That is why a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great secret, but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (Eph 5:31-32 ISV). (Remark: Paul uses this verse to give reason for why he said in the verse before that the church members are members of the body of Christ (Eph 5:30 ISV); so whenever the NT speaks about the church as the body of Christ, it implies the image of being the bride of Christ.)
- Here’s where the Bible compares our current relationship to Jesus as that of an engaged woman to her future husband: “I am jealous of you with God’s own jealousy, because I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” (2 Cor 11:2 ISV).
- Here’s where the Bible compares the start of our time in heaven, when we’ll meet Jesus face to face, to a marriage: ” Then I heard what sounded like the voice of a large crowd, like the sound of raging waters, and like the sound of powerful thunderclaps, saying, “Hallelujah! The Lord our God, the Almighty, is reigning. Let us rejoice, be glad, and give him glory, because the marriage of the lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready.” (Re 19:6-7 ISV). (Where “lamb” is a byname given to Jesus.)
This image helps a good way, in my experience, to recognize the intended relationship ideal that God had in mind when creating man and woman. Because, Jesus realizes this ideal in his relationship to his bride, and we may learn from it. The idea to use Jesus’ relationship to his church as an example to learn for partnerships was originally Paul’s (see Eph 5:21-33 ISV). I’m re-using his idea and add some more aspects. So let’s observe how he behaves towards his bride:
- Jesus treats his bride as part of himself (Eph 5:31-32 ISV).
- Jesus does everything to make his bride perfect (Eph 5:25-27 ISV). He has the courage to correct his bride. He has the courage to use words where necessary, but where a look is enough, it’s a look. He wants his bride to use and develop her gifts to their fullest extent. When she needs it, he’ll show his bride how to serve others, by serving her.
- He has the patience to bear all the accusations, when is bride is mad and wants to struggle, saying, “Where have you been when I needed you.”, “Why didn’t you fulfill me that wish, don’t you think I’m worth of some presents.” etc..
- Jesus death for his bride is the greatest proof of love. Hey, guys, Jesus died for you!
- Jesus as bearing the church, in spite of all her problems and sins.
- Yes, he is also the head in the relationship to his bride, he wants her respect and obedience (Eph 5:23-24 ISV). But he also deserves it, as he’s loving his bride the most unselfish way. Beloved bride of Jesus, do you feel suppressed by Jesus, your Lord and future husband? No? Then you’ve got the model to realize in your human partnerships.
- He never claims his right to be respected and obeyed by his bride … instead, he serves her to deserve so. For example, he, as the master, washed the feet of his disciples, giving them an example what it means to serve, and to be a master. Here’s what he says about being the master of his bride, the church: “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called benefactors. But you are not to do so. On the contrary, the greatest among you should become like the youngest, and the one who leads should become like the one who serves. But you are not to do so. On the contrary, the greatest among you should become like the youngest, and the one who leads should become like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who sits at the table, or the one who serves? It is the one at the table, isn’t it? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Lk 22:24-27 ISV)
- Jesus as being faithful, even when the church is unfaithful. (See e.g. Ez 16:1-63 ISV).