Jesus Christ Had a Homosexual Relationship? August 23, 2008

Jesus Christ Had a Homosexual Relationship?

Why do Christians get so offended when atheists point out shocking things written in the Bible? Or when we point out shocking things that were cut from the the final version?

At Lorain County Community College in Ohio, the Campus Activists for Atheism group is causing a stir because a poster for the club makes reference to a passage cut from the Bible.

“Cut from the Bible”?


[Group secretary and treasurer Christopher] Burns said most Christians have never heard of the Secret Gospel of Mark, which was found inscribed in a letter by Greek historian Clement of Alexandria. The letter has been disputed for decades and is now lost, with only photographs of the passages remaining for study.

One text from the letter hints that the Bible’s account of Mark’s gospel originally told the tale of Jesus raising a man from the dead and then having an intimate relationship with him, said Aaron Weaver, a senior at LCCC and president of the college atheist club.

“The purpose of the poster is to get students to see something they haven’t seen before,” he said. “The chances are it challenges them to challenge something they thought they knew.”

The poster they put up around campus looked like this:

Personally, I’m not sure what the reactionary Christians were more offended by: the image of a sexual Jesus or the image of a gay Jesus.

The reaction was what you would expect:

Students stopped to gawk, then grew angry and very vocal about the statement made by the poster.

Campus security guards said offended undergrads voiced complaints for about three straight hours, but the sign remained up because it didn’t present a security issue.

Don’t think the group is just picking on Christians, though:

On Wednesday, [Weaver] put up a picture of the prophet Mohammed — an act strictly forbidden in the Islamic faith.

He said that about 2:20 p.m. Wednesday, he received a death threat in response to the picture, which read, “With love and missiles.” He took the picture down, turned over the note to campus security officers and went home.

“I put myself at risk, but I do so freely. I don’t let fear or the threat of death stop me from speaking my mind freely,” he said.

It’s all designed to make people question the beliefs they’ve grown up with. No atheist on campus is physically attacking anyone — just raising questions. And doing that should hardly be considered offensive — maybe in church, you wouldn’t be able to raise this subject, but at a university? It should be fair game.

Christians on campus are making a big mistake by saying this poster should be taken down. The smarter thing to do would be to point out why the Secret Gospel is false and should not be taken seriously (if that’s the case). Use that Bible knowledge, let the atheists know you’re not afraid of any Christianity-related questions or challenges, and confront the atheists at their own game. Use this poster to your advantage, instead of reacting like a whiny child.

But no one in any article I’ve read about this story is doing that. All we hear are remarks about how offended everybody is:

Student aide Jessica Hodge said she felt the poster would “pollute the minds” of her children, ages 2 and 5, if they saw it.

“It looks like soft-core pornography,” she said. “I don’t think they’re making a statement at all. They just want to shock everyone.”

“You can’t portray Jesus like that. He believes in matrimony, that relationships like that should be done inside matrimony,” sophomore Brianna Holland said.

Freshman Markita Montague says “I feel sorry for them because they don’t know all that Jesus Christ has done for us.”

Some christian students suggest the atheist group simply craves attention and the best approach is to ignore their rhetoric.

Ignoring their rhetoric would be a completely missed opportunity for the Christians.

And while it’s definitely at the certain of attention now, Campus Activists for Atheist had a rough time starting their group last year:

“We had an unnecessary rough time getting started as a club. It took us a half an hour just to get 10 signatures from students on campus to just get the process started. The closed-mindedness that we encountered was disturbing; it truly brought shame to this college campus,” said Weaver.

Since Weaver and other members had so much trouble getting this club amended, Weaver was asked whether or not atheists are well represented in the community.

“Of course not. Closed-minded people tend to view atheists as having horns and carrying tridents. It is ludicrous, yes, but many people care not to educate themselves on the thoughts and views of other people. We are here to change that; it’s time people learned to grow up,” said Weaver.

With the attention they’re getting from this poster, and with the (hopefully) increased attendance at their next meeting, I hope they’ll do something that invites a much more positive dialogue between people of other faiths and no faith.

Show everyone that, while a poster may be “controversial,” the discussion about religion and beliefs is nothing to shy away from.

(Thanks to Shane for the link!)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Pseudonym

    If the poster had said: “Are vaccines causing autism?”, what would we think of it? Same? Different?

  • I am an in-your-face kind of Atheist but I do not approve of this poster. It was designed to inflame, not to provoke thought. A better poster would have said something like ” The lost books of the Bible, an analysis. If Jesus really existed, was he gay as stated in the secret gospel of Mark? A thought provoking discussion scheduled for *date*”

    That would have gotten the controversial idea out there without looking like it was purposely designed to piss people off. It has the same affect, making the Christians uncomfortable and making them curious about books that were left out of their bible. To make them more angry than they normally are, you ensure that they close their minds even more. Bad tactic.

  • Jim RL

    This is in my home town. My older brother actually attends distance ed. classes there. It’s not an uber-religious area, but I’m somewhat surprised there is an atheist group on campus.

    I think posters like this are meant to purposefully inflame, but in a sane world they wouldn’t. It’s like the PZ cracker thing. In a sane world people would just say “What an ass.” and move on. In the real world there was outrage and death threats, and exposing religious craziness was his and their objective. I say keep it up, and if Christians and Muslims want to fight back they can try to keep it in the realm of rational dialogue.

  • Ah, that “atheism” word again. I can’t stand the use of that word! Everything else is absolutely fine, but why the word “atheism”?

    If being atheist assumed some kind of belief structure similar to religion, I could see that being proper… but damnit, I’m an atheist, and I don’t believe in atheism!

    I wish atheists and atheist groups would think about the words they use before they use them. They might as well have said on the poster “Do you believe in evolution?”

    I’m going to stop now.

  • monique

    I like how people always want to put words in Jesus’s mouth, and ideas in his head. All the Christians know about Christ is what a counsel decided to give them. How was his relationship with his parents? What was he doing between the ages of 12 and 30? Who did he hang with before he met the disciples? What did they talk about? Where did the disciples live? Did they all live with Jesus in a one room .. oh nonono.. best stop there. It might make Christ look like a homosexual or something.

    They don’t ask, they don’t wonder. They don’t demand to know more about their so called saviour. They’re content to a few gospels that are both suspiciously similar ridiculously contradictory to the rest and never step back to ask, “What’s missing from this story? Where’s the rest of it?”

  • Batty007

    I’m searching for a better word to call myself. Do I prefer “non-theist” to “atheist”? Do I prefer “same- sex oriented” to “gay”? Go ahead and call me a god- damnned heathen faggot, if you must. Just please don’t call me a christian.

  • llewelly

    “You can’t portray Jesus like that. He believes in matrimony, that relationships like that should be done inside matrimony,” sophomore Brianna Holland said.

    Jesus supported gay marriage?

  • I had the same first thought as llewelly: Jesus was OK with gay marriage? How progressive of him.

    Ultimately though, I don’t think it will promote discourse or the group being taken seriously by most students or staff. It seems more likely to offend than to promote rational discourse.

  • This reminds me of a skit from The Onion’s Not For Broadcast CD. It involves someone confessing to the sin of loving Jesus.

    A lot.

  • Everett Marx

    “The Secret Gospel of Mark” is a hoax concocted by Morton Smith, a serious scholar but also something of a scamp.

    He didn’t *find* this text; he *wrote* it.

    Exposes of the sham are well known in scholarly circles.

    “The Secret Gospel of Mark” is an intellectual embarrassment atheists should avoid like Bigfoot sightings.

  • Chas

    “It’s all designed to make people question the beliefs they’ve grown up with. No atheist on campus is physically attacking anyone — just raising questions. And doing that should hardly be considered offensive ”

    I’m sorry, but no. It was designed to be offensive. It is only rationalized as making people question their beliefs. It takes a provocative passage that is not even in their bible and throw it up at them?

    That was a simple minded tactic. What did they do with the attention they got? Whined about how “closed-minded” everyone else is.

    Maybe Burns and Weaver didn’t get 10 signatures in 30 minutes because they’re jerks.

  • Shane

    The thing that kind of irritates me about the whole thing is that is probably was designed to inflame people, but WHY should it?

    Why is being gay so horrible? There is a real possibility that Jesus really WAS gay–single guy in his thirties traveling with a group of men. Why does that change things so much?

    Kind of reminds me of the reaction to those pictures of Jesus reconstructed from the typical face of a first century Jewish man (O MY GOD Jesus did not look like a terrorist–he was obviously a blue-eyed, blond-haired northern European). Irritating bigots.

    I do kind of agree with the poster though. I think sometimes you do have to poke the beast a little. Not all the time, but I think controversial things like these have their place especially on a place like a college campus.

  • Timothy

    To me this seems blatantly ignorant on the part of the group that did this. Sure, I’m a “Christian” but I am not really offended by this as much as disappointed. I should expect misunderstandings to arise (even on my own part).

    But trying to make people upset is ridiculous. Why would anyone put their lives or the lives of others in danger like that? Or worst…why would they do acts that make religious folk not want to have communication with them.

    How many religious people will want to open their minds now to logic and rational thought when what they believe is being attacked? Be friendly, and they’ll be more open. Offend them, and their thoughts are going so wildly into rage that they can’t even think for half a second about the reality of things.

  • Ubi Dubium

    I think the poster went too far. Not with what it said, just the picture. I think a good goal is to prod people out of their comfort zone just enough to get their attention, and maybe get them to think a little. Push it too far and they just dismiss you as a arrogant jerk. We already have too many christians thinking all atheists are arrogant jerks, we really don’t need to reinforce that opinion with offensive posters.

  • When I try to plan club events, we focus on the message. If our message is solid but it may offend some people, so be it. If it takes a little shock to get them thinking, that’s what we have to do.

    However, this just seems to be doing the opposite. It seems like they tried to think of what would shock students, and then hastily attached a “message” to it. I don’t condone this at all. All it does is create enemies and make your group look a bunch of immature kids trying to get attention.

    Though unrelated, I’m amazed someone had the balls to stand next to those posters on campus. At Purdue you would probably get lynched. Just by standing next to our poster that said “Atheist?” on it at freshmen orientation, I had people giving me the stink eye, running away in fear and shock (not exaggerating here…), and creating a big bubble around us so they wouldn’t even get near our booth. Heck, they wouldn’t even take our candy. So to stand next to something like this? No thank you, I kind of enjoy living.

  • Polly

    I would have liked them to quote a relevant passage from Mark with the citation. The caption should have read something along the lines of “What about the other Gospels?”

    And then you can keep the picture. They didn’t present the REASON they were putting up a gay Jesus.

  • Juan

    “…The smarter thing to do would be to point out why the Secret Gospel is false and should not be taken seriously (if that’s the case).But no one in any article I’ve read about this story is doing that.”

    This proves that putting that poster up is pointless. It is not achieving its purpose. Rather, it’s creating hate toward atheists; I believe it should be taken down. I believe that’s just atheists saciating and indulging on our need to express our views (yes, it feels good to hear them complain), without caring about the consecuences. Not smart.

  • brad

    Are the LCCC Campus Activists for Atheism pedophiles? Do they rape little kids?

    No offense. Just raising questions.

  • Are the LCCC Campus Activists for Atheism pedophiles? Do they rape little kids?

    No offense. Just raising questions.

    Huge difference in the questions, though.

    Pedophiles and rapists are bad.

    Homosexuals are not.

  • brad

    All the more reason to raise the question, don’t you think? If they are doing something bad, the truth should come out.

  • Siamang

    Jesus Christ was on the cover of a romance novel?

    College is a fun time. All the power of an adult, none of the maturity.

    But it’s what makes college such a stimulating time.

    My thoughts? It works on a college campus. It’s nowhere near the most offensive or false or extreme poster I ever saw posted on my college campus, and that was 20 years ago.

  • sean

    Oh look, the Christians are offended…again

    I think they went too far, but nobody died and the reaction is all too predictable.

  • Gabriel

    Is brad a hateful bigot who asks leading questions that he doesn’t care about the answers to? I’m just asking a question. I don’t me to be offensive.

  • Gabriel

    Of course they are offended. It is part of being a christian. That’s why I can’t drive across town without seeing churchs on every corner. This is a small town. We only have 150,000 people but we have hundreds of churches maybe a thousand. Some are tiny little store front churches with less than 20 people. Christians have made an entire culture out of being offended. Kind of like atheists and our various groups and brittle feelings. I’m an atheist and I approve this message.

  • Siamang

    When I was in college there was often a guy at “speaker’s corner” yelling at all of us “fornicators” who Jesus was sending to hell.

    I’d think that would be far more offensive a claim than this.

    “Jesus sent your Hindu grandmother to hell, where she’s enduring eternal torture” to me is a much, much, much more offensive claim than “Jesus once might have kissed a dude.”

    Perspective, people.

  • Why doesn’t the LCCC Campus Activists for Atheism group get a listing along with other LCCC Student Clubs and Organizations?.

  • brad

    Gabriel, thank you for helping me make my point.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    “The smarter thing to do would be to point out why the Secret Gospel is false and should not be taken seriously (if that’s the case).”

    I’m surprised that the reaction wasn’t along the lines of this:

    As far as I’ve seen, the Secret Gospel of Mark was a hoax from Morton Smith.

  • sean

    A little bit of perspective from the poor, repressed Christians would be nice. They believe that those of us who don’t share their delusions are going to endure an eternity of torment and torture, involving fire and lots of pointy-things. Just how offensive is that, and yet i feel no desire to reach for my pitch-fork when they feel the need to share God’s-love.

  • bif

    your all thinking too much about this, the only thing this poster was ment to do was offend. it was meant to offend in order to show how censorship is still happening on college campuses. the poster was taken down by a student, given to security officers, and never put back up. but the college is saying that their freedom of speech was not violated.

  • Tao Jones

    That poster is all sizzle and no steak.

    No reference at all was given to the “Secret Gospel of Mark” so why would critics even know to attempt to discredit the “Secret Gospel?”

    This poster isn’t going to make anyone think. If that truly was the goal of the poster, the execution was horrible. If the intent was merely to shock, mission accomplished.

    Even if I was a student on that campus, I wouldn’t be inclined to join their group. They have an extremely poor communications strategy and I very highly doubt that my goals of advocating atheism would match theirs.

  • SarahH

    I don’t think that people have a right to be protected from things they find offensive, and I don’t think that sane people would commit crimes over posters of this nature.

    As already expressed here though, it’s a really stupid poster. I mean, nice picture, but between the complete lack of coherent point and the well-known (if these college students had simply done their homework or asked a religious studies prof…) hoax, it just makes their group look asinine.

    I do think the idea of Jesus as a sexual person (like almost all humans) is interesting and oddly taboo. He wasn’t a product of sex, he didn’t have any sex, he was a proponent of a religious dogma that has tons of rules about sex… “Sex and Jesus” could have been an interesting discussion title, and homosexuality could certainly be brought up.

    The poster, though, really blows.

  • Jen

    I dislike the poster because it is appealing to homophobia more than anything.

  • Dean

    If I, as a 54-year-old gay man, were to count how many times I have not only “felt”, but deliberately BEEN offended by dumb-ass, heterosexist, religious folk, I’d still be counting…
    This, by the way, was MEANT to be offensive to all those heterosexual supremacists (no less asshole jerks than white supremacists) out there who think they’re superior (by “virtue” of where they happen to place their dick or mouth and which political and ecclesiastic organizations that conduct happens to please) to gay or lesbian people.

  • Dean

    P.S. As an atheist AND a gay man, why should I have to be “friendly” (read: toady to people who refuse to think or empathize with others, are deliberately offensive and/or who are actively working for my downfall, see e.g. Prop. 8 and DOMA) when I am rightly pissed off at the injustice we as gay men and lesbians still face in this day and age? My few Euro-cents worth.

  • Dean

    P.P.S. As an American living overseas (in Berlin) these past 35 years, I can’t help but notice how vilified atheists still are in the U.S., whereas in Western Europe, religious beliefs AND one’s sexuality are usually treated at one’s workplace as a strictly private matter and no one’s business but one’s own (until one oneself decides to make it an issue, that is). When is America going to finally follow Europe’s lead, grow up and learn to embrace diversity (reality)? My few extra Euro cents worth.

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