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There are a lot of claims that famous figures in history were gay. Peter Tatchell speculates that Jesus could have been. His claim, however, is based on a dubious manuscript.

Have any well-established, credible scholars (historians, psychologists, etc.) claimed in a scholarly setting that, based on the contents of widely accepted historical documents, there is some indication, beyond that of mere speculation, that Jesus engaged in homosexual behavior?

If not, please explain why similar claims are not generally accepted in scholarly settings.

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Would you be willing to accept completely incredible, arguments, completely fabricated, contrary to every known account about the nature of Jesus, thrown out there to support some political agenda? Because if you're looking for those arguments, that's all you're going to get. –  David Stratton Mar 31 '13 at 2:13
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It's like saying "what is the argument that Jesus may have been atheist or may have been toying an idea of becoming an atheist". This is in spite of knowing well that Jesus taught extensively about God and about morality in married life. –  Seek forgiveness Mar 31 '13 at 4:14
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This is a new type of question. I do not know what to make if it? 'What are the most recent blasphemies that people say about X.' Good mor meta discussion. –  Mike Mar 31 '13 at 5:32
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@Alypius This is a valid question. These arguments are made from time to time; it's important to know what source they are derived from, and how reliable the source is. –  Bruce Alderman Apr 1 '13 at 17:13
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I, personally, want to keep this question around. It is a nonsense argument, but its more widely "out there" than most people would probably expect. This site is about understanding all sorts of wackiness, including this. –  Affable Geek Apr 1 '13 at 17:29
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The main argument is based not just on a dubious manuscript, but on a dubious interpretation of that manuscript.

The Mar Saba Letter

In 1958, Morton Smith—a history professor at Columbia University—was looking through documents in the monastery of Mar Saba when he found (he claims) a letter written by second century theologian Clement of Alexandria to someone named Theodore. (Smith's translation of this letter can be found here. The original document has since been lost, although photographs survive.)

Secret Mark

In the Mar Saba letter, Clement claims that after the death of Peter in Rome, Mark traveled to Alexandria where he composed a secret, "more spiritual" version of his gospel, with additional teaching "for the use of those who were being perfected."

Clement quotes two passages from Secret Mark, both of which he claims were added to what is now the 10th chapter of Mark. The first is a rather lengthy passage that resembles the resurrection of Lazarus in the Gospel of John.

And they come into Bethany. And a certain woman whose brother had died was there. And, coming, she prostrated herself before Jesus and says to him, 'Son of David, have mercy on me.' But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus, being angered, went off with her into the garden where the tomb was, and straightway a great cry was heard from the tomb. And going near Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb. And straightway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what to do and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan.

The second passage is short, and contrasts Jesus' teaching of this man with Jesus' actions toward the man's sister and other women who were present.

And the sister of the youth whom Jesus loved and his mother and Salome were there, and Jesus did not receive them.

The Carpocratians

Theodore had written to Clement, concerned about a gnostic sect known as the Carpocratians, who had obtained a copy of the secret gospel and were claiming that it promoted their libertine view of sexuality. Clement assures Theodore that nowhere does the secret gospel contain the phrase "naked man with naked man".

Analysis

The discovery of the Mar Saba letter has raised a number of questions.

  • Is this an authentic letter from Clement of Alexandria, a forgery, or a hoax?
  • If it is authentic, is "Secret Mark" an authentic expansion of Mark's gospel, or a forgery?
  • If Secret Mark is authentic, does it promote sexual libertinism?

On the first question, scholars are divided even after more than 50 years of study. Handwriting analysis has led different scholars to opposite conclusions.

Many who consider it a modern fake have noted that the phrasing seems to have been deliberately chosen to sound ambiguous to the modern layperson.

Of those who believe the letter is authentic, most doubt the authenticity of Secret Mark, primarily because secrecy was a hallmark of gnostics and therefore was shunned by mainstream Christianity. A few scholars, however, believe the additions Clement quotes may have been authentic and possibly were based on an oral tradition of the Lazarus story. A small minority have suggested that Secret Mark was actually an earlier version of the gospel than the one which appears in the New Testament.

Of the scholars who accept the authenticity of both the Mar Saba letter and Secret Mark, most agree that the phrase "taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God" refers to the rite of baptism, based on the use of that phrase in other ancient Christian writings. However, one scholar, Scott Brown of the University of Toronto—the first person to do his PhD dissertation on Secret Mark—claims this refers literally to teaching.

Conclusion

The Mar Saba letter says nothing about Jesus' sexuality, and no scholar who has looked at it thinks it even implies that Jesus might have been gay. Some modern laypeople, however, have picked up on the unique phrasing of the letter to advance the idea that Jesus might have been gay.

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Are you sure this is answering the question? The question doesn't seem to be asking about the Mar Saba letter/Secret Gospel ("revealed more possible evidence of forgery, leading scholars such as Craig A. Evans and Emanuel Tov to conclude the work is a hoax, with Smith being the most likely perpetrator"), is looking for other sources, and wants "to hear the arguments for this claim". –  Alypius Apr 1 '13 at 17:21
    
@Alypius From my reading of the question, I think the OP is simply looking for the source(s) of this claim. I've seen this claim a number of times and they all come back to this one document. –  Bruce Alderman Apr 1 '13 at 17:36
    
Very Good +1. @Alypius Yes, I am looking for other arguments, but it seems that none may exist. Still not a reason to close. –  fredsbend Apr 1 '13 at 18:19
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From canonical Scripture alone, I don't think that argument could be made.

The mosaic law clearly forbids homosexuality in Leviticus 18:22, making it a sin in God's eyes. If Jeus came, and fulfilled the law, which he said he did, in Matthew 5:17-18, then that would have to mean that he followed the entirety of the law to the letter, including the commandments forbidding homosexuality.

If New Testament writings are to be taken as truth then, for Jesus to have been perfect (Hebrews 4:15) and thus the only acceptable sacrifice for sin (1 Peter 1:19), he could not have been gay.

If Jesus was gay, then according to Scripture, the entirety of the Gospel would cave in on itself. Jesus would have been guilty of transgressing the mosaic law, and therefore, owing death as the penalty for his own sin. (Romans 6:23). If he was gay, then, the death he died would have been bearing the weight of his own sin, and the entirety of the Christian worldview would come crashing to the ground.

In short, Christianity depends on Jesus not being gay.

That said, there's nothing that would have prevented the temptation to sin, indeed, Scripture says he was tempted, but he could not have followed through with it and simultaneously maintain the innocence he would have needed to endure the cross, carrying the sins of the world on his back.

Gay Jesus, then, by definition, cannot coexist with Christianity.

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Thank you for the answer, however, I am looking to hear the arguments for this claim. –  fredsbend Mar 30 '13 at 22:30
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This has been going on for centuries now and there has been perennially no end for such speculations on Jesus. People know that stuff sells and they stand to get publicity about anything sensational concerning Jesus and we need not take every silly claim seriously. Jesus has been dissected, researched, studied and what not. No other person in history of this world has been" investigated" like Him. –  Seek forgiveness Mar 31 '13 at 4:31
    
@jayyeshu Indeed. I figure there will be no credible sources for this claim, however, the question still exists, apparently. –  fredsbend Mar 31 '13 at 18:33
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@David This is a good answer if we assume Jesus is the Son of God and incapable of sin. But, it's not an entirely valid answer in a history class -- which I sense is important to the question: a historically sound answer. –  svidgen Apr 1 '13 at 20:11
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In my opinion, your answer does explore a great avenue in answering the question though. Jesus embarking into homosexual territory is very unlikely in the context of Jewish law and the Gospel He preached. Not to mention, it's unlikely He could have been actively gay without being outed at some point. And likelihood seems to be far more evidence than hypotheses to the contrary can claim. –  svidgen Apr 1 '13 at 20:14
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You could make a Biblical argument for Jesus being asexual and showing affection (but not sexual desire) to both genders. John 13:25 Luke 7:44

It's not possible to make a Biblical argument for him expressing either heterosexuality or homosexuality. It would have been perfectly acceptable for Jesus to be married and have children under Jewish and Christian doctrine but it is not recorded that He did. 1Ti 3:2

Some groups believe that Jesus was born a eunuch, as he mentions two categories of eunuchs in the word. Mat 19:12

We do know that he was tempted in every way which must have included sexually, but the Bible is very clear He did not give in and sin. Mat 5:28 Hebrews 4:15 Hebrews 2:18

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@Alypius I dont think you understand what being a eunuch or asexual entails. You can be born a eunuch and still be circumcised. According to wikipedia Asexuality... is low or absent interest in sexual activity Jesus wasn't recorded to have interest in sexual activity which would qualify Him to be asexual Joh 5:19 If you chose to be celibate still having a frequent amount of thoughts about sex your not asexual but if you can and do love celibacy as Jesus preached Mat 5:28 then you are asexual. in short your mistaking attraction with sexuality –  caseyr547 Apr 1 '13 at 3:06
    
@Alypius Also the Bible doesn't say he was like us in all things it says he was tempted on every point. Heb 4:15 Heb 2:18 –  caseyr547 Apr 1 '13 at 3:24
    
Thank you for the out-of-the-box answer. +1 –  fredsbend Apr 1 '13 at 3:33
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@fredsbend Where does it say that? The lines you quoted in the comment above, in particular, say nothing of the sort. What I mean to say, of course, is that Paul says that if one cannot control himself, then it is better to marry. There are three options here: control yourself; marry; live unmarried with burning desires. Your quote identifies the third of these as undesirable. While I'd agree that Jesus was probably the first of these, I'd be hesitant to equate a strong control of one's desires with asexuality. –  Patrick87 Apr 1 '13 at 18:46
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in his actions, but there may have been an actual real preference - even desire, if controlled - one way or the other (and almost certainly one specific way); it's much harder to say that Jesus was asexual in that he didn't have a preference or feel any desire or temptation. Is it a sin to look at a woman and feel sexual attraction? I don't think anybody would claim that. Rather, it becomes a sin when it turns into lust, and the scripture is pretty unequivocal about Jesus not having lust. Perhaps that's what's meant by "burning passion"? Or is all sexual attraction "lust"? Beats me. –  Patrick87 Apr 1 '13 at 20:55
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