If Jesus did not preach celibacy, there is no reason to suppose he practiced it. According to Judaic custom at the time it was not only customary, but almost mandatory, that a man be married. Except among certain Essenes in certain communities, celibacy was vigorously condemned! Were Jesus not married, this fact would have been glaringly conspicuous, drawing attention to him, and been used to characterize and identify him. It would have set him apart in some significant sense from his contemporaries.
This article is an interesting and thought-provoking read, although I disagree that Jesus’ celibacy isn’t ‘glaringly conspicuous.’ From His very first encounters with religious leaders they were aggressively prejudiced against Him…maybe His celibacy was part of the reason why?
I think what discomfits so many people about the idea of Jesus being married is
1. It challenges the synoptic gospels’ version of events and by extension the whole Bible.
2. His sexuality taints His altruism (a legacy of the RCC, ironically enough.)
3. It raises the question of descendants because if Jesus was married then He almost certainly had children.
On the one hand we have this scratch of papyrus referencing a wife (could it be a metaphor?) and the mountain of cultural norms at that time; and on the other we have what we know about Jesus as a firestarter of the unconventional, and the increasingly shady body of religious writings post-second century.
I don’t personally believe that Jesus was married, and if convincing evidence surfaced that he was, I’d have real trouble integrating that into my belief system. But on the flipside I think we underestimate the man Jesus in favour of the God Jesus. If it comes to it, His being married wouldn’t change His salvific work.
So what do you say? Would Jesus’ marital status significantly alter your faith or relationship with Him?