Amusingly ironic it is to see Jesus championed as the role model for modern "traditional" family values. After all, Jesus' family life was anything but traditional. For example, in the earliest version of the Gospel according to Mark, Mary and Jesus' four brothers chased Jesus through the streets of Nazareth. They thought he had gone mad and wanted to put him away as a lunatic. The Gospel of John says that not even his own brothers believed in Jesus.
Such a lack of familial faith and support perhaps explains why Jesus said a prophet is not even recognized among his own family. It also might help explain why Jesus wouldn't go outside a banquet to meet his mother and brothers. Instead, Jesus rhetorically asked "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?...Look!, these are my mother and brothers(pointing at his disciples) . . . " Prima facie, Jesus appeared to have violated the commandment of honoring one's parents.
Indeed, regarding the sanctity of family bonds Jesus said:
"I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man's worst enemies will be right in his own home! If you love your father and mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine."
People must have talked about the question of Jesus' birth. As some of his opponents said to Jesus during a debate recorded in the Gospel of John, "We were not born of fornication." More than a hundred years past his death, Origen, an early Christian writer and theologian, wrote that the enemies of Jesus said that his father had been a Roman soldier who had been with Mary. Even Mark inadvertently referenced the rumors when he referred to the grown Jesus as Mary's son. The standard reference would have been to refer to him as Joseph's son, especially given the rather Taliban-like male chauvinist climate of the times. For Mark to refer to Jesus' as Mary's son would have been almost like a dead give away at the time that there was something questionable.
Matthew got into the act when he traced Jesus' genealogy back to David. Whereas most of the Bible traces a male's heritage back through males, the Gospel of Matthew lists four females. What four interesting wayward women were Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bath-sheba. Tamar is found all the way back in Genesis 38. You might recall that she was the wife that Judah got his firstborn son, Er. According to Genesis, Er was wicked and God did him in. Judah then ordered his other son Onan to "Go in unto thy brother's wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother unto her, and raise up seed to thy brother." But Onan withdrew and ejaculated onto the ground and God got mad and slew him also. Then Judah told Tamar his daughter-in-law to stay a widow at her own father's tent until another of Judah's sons grew old enough to take her.
While she was there, Tamar found out that Judah's wife had died and that Judah was going up the country to shear his sheep. So Tamar took off her widow's clothes and dressed up like a veiled prostitute and sat at a prominent gate. There she saw Judah's other son and decided that she didn't want him. At the same time, Judah saw her but didn't know who she was because her face was covered. He told her that he wanted her services and she said "What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?" Judah promised a kid goat from one of the flocks but she wanted a security deposit. She got his signet and cord as well as the staff he was using. "And he gave them to her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him."
A few months later, somebody told Judah that Tamar had been fooling around and got pregnant. Judah said, "Bring her forth, and let her be burnt." But when they brought her forth to be burnt, she produced the security deposit that Judah had given her whereupon Judah basically said, oops, and forgot about killing her.
The second of the foremothers of Jesus was Rahab. According to Joshua 2:1, Joshua sent two spies to survey Jericho. While there, they went into "the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lay there." When Jericho was destroyed, only Rahab and the inhabitants of her house were spared because she had collaborated with Joshua's spies.
After one woman posing as a harlot to seduce her father-in-law and one madame, we come to the relatively tame Ruth. She merely solicited her husband, an audacious action in her times.
The fourth female Bath-sheba was the married ebony beauty that king David used to love to spy on from the rooftops while she took her bath. Yes, king David was a peeping-tom. David had her husband, the general Uriah, sent to the front, to the hottest part of the battle in order that he would be killed and David could take his wife.
What is it that Matthew is trying to get at by saying that Jesus came from such a lineage of females?
Moreover, look at Jesus himself. The overwhelming majority of conservative Christians believe Jesus never married. Putting aside the evidence of his marriage to Mary Magdalene, his not being married would have been a violation of God's first commandment, which was to go forth and multiply. In other words, Jesus would have been violating Jewish law by being celibate and not having children.
Then there is the matter of Joseph and his failure to literally follow the word of God. When Joseph found out that Mary was with child, he was obligated under the laws of the Levites to turn her over to the village elders so that they may have her stoned to death for her sexual misconduct. When Jesus saved the one woman from being stoned to death for having had sex with a Roman soldier, it was the situation which his mother would have faced if Joseph had followed the inerrant word of God. All of this lends insight into why Mary named her little baby in Aramaic, Yeshua, which means "God saves." Yes, indeed, God had saved her from being stoned and Jesus from never being born. So thank heavens for a liberal like Joseph who went beyond mere legalism and worship of sacred scripture and who actually trusted his conscience to listen to the living God.
So excuse me if I seem a little amused whenever champions of so-called traditional family values use Jesus as an example of what a family man should be. The irony is that I agree. Jesus should be a poster boy of inspiration for every poor child born of shady circumstances. After all, no one ever proved any better what even a poor, looked-down-upon boy can do when he's willing to put his faith into action and not listen to a bunch of sanctimonious, pseudo-religious, demagogic hypocrites telling him what traditional values he should be following.
Tags: Liberal Christians, Progressive Christianity, Family Values, Traditional Values, Religious Right, Religious Left, Fundamentalism
from Jesus was a Liberal