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Debunking the Gnostic 'Parchment: Jesus Couldn't Have Had a Wife

By Dominic M. Pedulla, MD
September 23rd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Have we really regressed, after 4,000 years of Divine revelation, to seeing the Trinity the way the Greeks saw the gods, sneaking into human bedrooms disguised as humans, in order to impregnate human beings so as to created demi-gods, in the process committing adultery against their divine mates ?

EDMOND, OKLAHOMA (Catholic Online) - The discovery of a 4th century papyrus fragment allegedly referring to Jesus' "wife" notwithstanding, and no matter how authentic or inauthentic the document, the idea that Jesus could have carnally married an earthly woman during His earthly life is incompatible with our faith, and probably downright silly if it were not tending toward sacrilege. And this is for very important reasons that have to do with the theology of creation, of the Trinity, and of marriage as a human institution established by God for His own purposes.

Marriage is what John Paul II used to call the "primordial sacrament", in that it was inscribed in human nature from the very moment the Persons of the Trinity said the words "Let Us make man in Our image", "male and female He created them", and "the two shall become one body". But this creation story makes it perfectly clear that marriage is a created institution that is the unique privilege of created men and women, i.e., created human persons, and not at all that of uncreated Persons.

By definition, only created persons can be "made in the image of God". But Jesus, as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, is an uncreated Person as are the other Two Divine Persons of the Trinity. He is a Divine uncreated Person who became Incarnate. He assumed our humanity. Only created persons, and not uncreated Persons, can be said to be "made in Our image" as opposed to being "the same as Us".

The created man and woman find only in other created persons of opposite gender the possibility of making a complete, equal, and complementary self-gift of all that they are in their beings - their flesh, their souls, their PERSONS, and to do so requires by definition their equal and complementary dignity as created men and women.  That is because men and women by creation are co-naturally fit for each other, precisely for the marriage relationship.

For a Divine Person to establish a 'marriage" with a created person is ludicrous on its face -- as it would now mean the most unequal and unfit of all bonds, that of God Himself marrying a human being. It would not only be a kind of desecration of the Trinity, by virtue of making the sacred into the merely profane, but even a desecration of natural marriage, since as a farcical counterfeit it defaces the conjugal union, as with all false facsimiles of the true and beautiful.

Have we really regressed, after 4,000 years of Divine revelation, to seeing the Trinity the way the Greeks saw the gods, sneaking into human bedrooms disguised as humans, in order to impregnate human beings so as to created demi-gods, in the process committing adultery against their divine mates ?

But even this allusion to mythology is also somewhat helpful here. To use modern language, the Persons of the Trinity are "already spoken for" (the Greek idea of Divine adultery wasn't entirely far-fetched); i.e., they cannot participate this way with human created persons because they are already from all eternity making the complete self-gift of their Persons exclusively only to the other Divine Persons, who, because precisely of their co-equality One with Another, are fit and able to make that reciprocal gift.

Moreover, even the idea itself of human-Divine marriage reduces God to something other than God. Jesus is not a created human person, which would necessarily be required for Him to be able to make a complete self-gift of His Person with a woman. Giving him an earthly wife would theologically and necessarily reduce Him to only a human person, which hearkens back to the Christological heresies of old, interestingly enough those which precisely raged during this same period of time.  

Are we regressing back to the Gnostic heresies of old?

Mystical analogies

But if all this is so, what about the frequent New Testament terminology making Jesus the "Bridegroom"? Does this not show the Jesus can be married? Well yes and no. Married, not so much in the earthly flesh and blood way, but in the mystical analogical way. Jesus can be said to be the Bridegroom of His Mystical Bride the Church, BY ANALOGY, and not in any other way. This relationship extends to all the faithful, insofar as they are members of that body, but none of that can be said to be a natural, carnal, actual conjugal marriage. 

Until death do us part? And Resurrection reunites?

Consider something else. Even though we know Jesus could not carnally marry a woman, suppose for a moment that He could. Would His death have dissolved the union? What then of His Resurrection? Would His wife then have been free to re-marry immediately after His death on the cross? Whose wife would she then be on Easter Sunday?

Blasphemy?

It seems both sacrilegious and even blasphemous to seriously consider the possibility of Jesus having conjugal relations with a woman. For Jesus, His very Flesh would have had to be considered virginal from the moment of His conception, since in no way could His embodied sexuality ever be actualized in carnal relations with a woman and still remain a true expression of His Personal Self-gift.

So why then does a fully trained Jesuit (Father James Martin), writing an Op-Ed in the New York Times, not realize this? It seems beneath any priest-scholar worthy of the name to suggest, as the article does, that Jesus remained celibate only as a deliberate choice, even though neither our faith nor the theology of the Trinity, marriage, and creation -- according to his article -- would necessarily require it.

This seems to me just plain foolishness, or even worse. How does he get away with it? And as if this weren't enough, Father Martin goes on to say that if he were to discover that Jesus had a wife, he as a priest would nonetheless continue his life of "chastity" (better expressed "celibacy" though technically correct since chastity in the religious state requires celibacy ordinarily).

Doesn't he realize that if Jesus had an earthly wife -- implying carnal conjugal relations -- celibacy would be an utterly meaningless charade?

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Dominic M. Pedulla MD, FACC, CNFPMC, ABVM, ACPh, is the President of The Edith Stein Foundation, Social Science Researcher, Interventional Cardiologist

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