I've never read The Da Vinci Code. But today, the biology professor I have come to greatly admire handed me an article from TIME titled "Did Jesus have a Wife? A new fragment may provide fresh clues" (Meacham, 2012). [Note: The full text is not officially available online without a subscription, but you can read the beginning here, and the full text can be found by using Google. I actually read a photocopy of the original.]
While I consider myself moderately conservative (religiously, not politically), I try to keep an open mind about Christianity, the Bible, and science. I read the article with skeptical curiosity, but in the middle of the article I remembered something I'd read in an ethics textbook yesterday:
Dogmatists tend to disagree about the actual issues--which would be amusing if it were not so common, since the whole point is supposed to be that the Truth is so simple and obvious that it needs only mentioning to be instantly decisive. Dogmatists do agree, though, that careful and open-ended thinking about moral issues is not necessary. After all, if you already know the answer, there is no need to actually think about it, is there? If you need to argue for your position, you admit that it needs defending, which is to say that people can legitimately have doubts. But that cannot be true; you already know that your position is the only right one. Therefore, any reasoned argument for your position is unnecessary. And any reasoned argument against your position is obviously absurd. So why listen? (Weston, 2011, p. 7-8)
I really don't want to be a dogmatist. That's just not on the list of future aspirations or even current desires. So I stopped reading and tried to look at it from another point of view. I asked myself, "Even if Jesus had been married, how would that change my beliefs, my faith?" Maybe it's something I'll have to process, but when the Bio professor and I discussed it, my first instinct is that it wouldn't change anything at all about my faith. Even if the Bible doesn't mention Jesus' wife, does that necessarily mean he didn't have one? Would Jesus not be just as fully God and fully man if he were married? In some ways, wouldn't that make him perhaps more able to sympathize with us as humans?
Let me clarify. I am not saying I believe Jesus was married. I haven't studied the topic enough and have not read enough evidence to support the theory. But when I think of how adamant conservative Christians are that he was absolutely not married, I have to wonder why? What about that theory is so infuriating? So disturbing? So sacrilegious?
I'll be honest. I'm glad I don't live in a day and age in which heresy means being burned at the stake or otherwise executed. When I think of other religions that are not so tolerant (or our own a few hundred years ago) of professed believers expressing different ideas or doubts, I breathe a sigh of relief. Literally. It's nice to live in a time and place in which we can bounce ideas around and discuss them openly.
So was Jesus married or not? I have no idea. Does it matter? Something to chew on.
Meacham, J. (2012, October 1). Did Jesus have a wife? A new fragment may provide fresh clues. TIME.
Weston, A. (2011). A practical companion to ethics (4th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.