I’ll have to say the comment on the last post far exceeded my expectations; thanks for playing, everybody! I’m pretty sure I could get at least one blog post out of each comment, and that may end up being, more or less, what happens. I’m starting to be even more convinced that there’s a book here somewhere, although I feel a little overwhelmed and unsure quite where to jump in next. In the meantime, let’s just keep playing with ideas. I appreciate the help.
It seems that we got a little hung up at the beginning on the fact that Jesus wouldn’t date. You can just go read the comments on the last post if you really want to get into it, but here’s a rehash of my thoughts. The title question of this post isn’t really a question–I mean, it has a question mark and everything, but obviously Jesus wouldn’t date, because He didn’t. He lived in a time and culture where there wasn’t really any such thing as dating, and anyway, He wasn’t going to get married. I mean, this was Jesus, right? The one whom Christians claim is God. The idea of His taking a particular interest in one woman and wooing her, while a popular idea in novels like The DaVinci Code and among those who would like to cast aspersions on the Biblical canon and authority (as well as being a tenet of Islamic theology: Jesus is supposed to come back and marry Mary and Martha of Bethany and Mary Magdalene), is pretty much anathema to most orthodox Christians. It makes us feel squirmy.
I think there might be multiple reasons why we feel squirmy about this, but that might be a topic for another post. For now, I’d just like to suggest that Jesus came here on purpose to date, to woo, to court . . . I realise people make distinctions between those verbs, but I don’t think that’s necessary for this post. The point is, in the Old Testament, a primary metaphor for God’s relationship with Israel is marriage, and in the New Testament that metaphor shifts to Christ’s relationship with the Church.
Although I think it most likely that Jesus would have felt attracted to specific, individual human women (yet without . . . lust? a concept I believe was possible for Him but still seems like a stretch), I don’t believe the novelists (or gnostic gospel writers) who would have us believe that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a thing going on. Part of why I don’t believe them (apart from the fact that the Bible’s pretty good about announcing sordid or graphic details if they’re relevant, and I think if Jesus had been having “relations” with someone, it would have been noted), is that outside the Gospels, the entire New Testament has, as one of its underlying themes, this idea that Jesus came to get a wife, and that she is the Church.
I think, in the comments on the previous post, Jeff is very right when he says the the key to the question of how Jesus would date, were He going to, is in how He treats the Church. We see how He treats individual people, and that’s one thing, but we also get Paul’s extrapolations that come out in crazy injunctions like, “Wives, submit to your own husbands as you do to the Lord,” and “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” It’s true. Jesus Himself submitted to the Lord His Father, and He did also love the Church and give Himself up for her. Completely. I don’t think anybody’s exempt from the goal of Christlikeness in relationship here.
But I also think (although I’m not a big fan of making a division between the physical and spiritual–I think it’s a false dichotomy), that it might do us good to remember that on one level, anyway, God’s incarnation through Jesus Christ was all about romance–He has had His eyes set on this “Bride” of His since before we knew Him. It kind of validates the human search for partnership, I think, even if and though the reasons are different. And it does, I think, make the original question (“How would Jesus date?”) relevant.