Site Section Links
Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean,
The Sterilized Jesus
The above complaint by Swinburne was made because he felt that in his society Christendom had taken much of the romance, color, passion, eroticism, pathos, carnality and drama out of his world. In the context of the artificial and suffocating effect that the Mariology, Puritanism, pietism, sacrificial attitude, church going and Holy day suppression of normal free time activities, along with the arbitrarily proscribed erotic activity, and the encouraged "missionary position" sexual behavior, etc., we can sympathize.
However, let's also take a look at the sterilized concept of Jesus that most—probably all—Christians have. Right from his birth there is a tendency to think that he didn't have the normal aspects and experiences of human male beings. We don't like to think that he went through a diaper stage, and we don't like to think that he developed rashes, and we don't like to think that he fussed if he was uncomfortable or hungry or thirsty. What? He never caught a cold? Never had a runny nose? Never wet the bed? Never spit out food that he didn't like?
Of course he never cried when being teased or hurt by his older siblings, never got possessive about his toys or belongings. He miraculously never tore his clothes, never lost a sandal, never skinned his knees or elbows, never burned his fingers nor even stubbed his toes. When cutting vegetables or carving wood, the knife never slipped. I would guess that we can visualize him getting stung by a bee, but did he then swat it and crush it?
As a child, we can't have him ever being petulant, ever disobeying his parents, ever whining about taking a bath or being put to bed while others were staying up and having fun. He never even dropped a cup or broke a dish through carelessness or accident, never lost a spoon or fork. Of course he never spilled his drink or slopped his food on the tablecloth.
Our more delicate sensibilities can really get traumatized when we consider Jesus and sexual development and activity. As a pre-pubescent, did he ever get a "stiffy" and fondle himself? When a precocious little girl wanted to "explore", did he always decline? As a teenager, did he have erotic wet dreams, maybe even masturbate? Did he ever look lustfully at a sensuous girl or woman? Did he ever try to sneak a peek at the female anatomy? Did he ever listen to an off-color joke and snicker? Maybe even retell it in the right circumstances?
As a young man, was J ever crude or vulgar? When working in construction did he ever smash his finger, hop around in pain and exclaim, "Damn, and double damn!" Was he ever defeated and discouraged, disparaging life and saying that it sucks?
Did he ever get irritable or short with people. Did he ever get angry? Well, we know he did the latter, even after his baptism, but that is considered to be justified. He didn't begin his public ministry until he was about the age of 35 years. Maybe it took him that long to not only understand his mission but to mature to a point where he could adequately represent the ideal person and uncontaminated character.
But one obvious point is that by sterilizing Jesus to whatever degree, Christendom has made him unreal and that much harder to understand, relate to and believe in.