Jesus giving communion at a shop in Pettah.
Recently, a scrap of ancient parchment was found where Jesus is quoted as saying ‘my wife’. You can read the research page at Harvard and some analysis at Andrew Sullivan. There were many gospels of Jesus and only a few fit into the canonical Bible. This adds to that diversity and, in itself doesn’t prove or disprove anything historical. It does, however, highlight some of the greater injustices of Christianity (mainly Catholicism) and religion in general. Namely, the exclusion of women and prescription of celibacy.
In the Catholic church, women can’t be priests (the full ones), definitely not Pope. In Islam men and women can’t even worship together, and women are even more barred from the priesthood. Even in Buddhism, there are some people who say that a woman must be reborn as a man to attain Nibbana. These human practices are all, IMHO, all wrong. Saying that 50% of humanity has a limited access to spirituality or salvation is just incorrect.
Also, many religions insist on a celibate priesthood. This also doesn’t really work, or at least it doesn’t scale. While celibacy is a state that can lead to spiritual awareness, the idea that it’s a social circumscribed role misses the point. It has to be chosen by the individual and perhaps only for certain times for it to work on their individual awareness. When people have to be celibate to join a certain social strata (often one with benefits), they inevitably lie and the whole thing gets corrupted. The Catholic Church is the worst current example where a whole bunch of supposedly celibate priests became pedophiles with access and protection. The Buddhist clergy, however, is also rife with sexual abuse, just not really documented or talked about.
Many current religions have lay priests and even Buddhism has and had lay, married custodians of the faith. This is not to say that celibacy doesn’t have its place in religious practice, but it need not be the default. I mean, it isn’t. If you make it the default then you just get corruption.
In all of these cases the codified religion seems to have flowed out of the lives and teachings of its founders. With Christianity, Islam and Buddhism, the leaders of the faith were usually open to men and women, though they differed in terms of celibacy. The Buddha was celibate and Christ, according to current teachings, also was. This has largely determined the behavior of later priests.
Hence it’s so interest that this different picture of Jesus is emerging. Marriage is central to the American Christian faith, which is striking since Jesus Christ is not believed to have married. The celibacy emphasis was more from the Roman Catholic faith, mixed with a fair amount of other religions, and it’s not clear that it has such a central place in the teachings of Jesus Christ.