We’ve all seen paintings of Jesus, right? We all know he’s a white guy with dark-ish hair, often holding one or two fingers up like it’s supposed to mean something. OK, that’s probably not exactly how Jesus looked. We got the image of a guy who lived 2000 years ago wrong — big surprise. However, it’s been brought to my attention that we’ve been depicting Jesus incorrectly in another way as well. According to Family Research Council (FRC) executive vice president Jerry Boykin, Jesus has been feminized.
Oooooooooooh, the humanity! There’s nothing worse than a man being feminized. It’s basically the most heinous thing you can do. Someone fetch me my smelling salts.
According to Raw Story, Boykin says that Jesus wasn’t the wussy boy we know and love:
“Do you think he looked like the effeminate picture that we always see of him?” Boykin asked. “He didn’t look like that. He had big ole calluses over his hands, right? I imagine he probably lost a nail or two, he probably hit it with a hammer or something.”
Fair enough, I guess. It’s probably safe to assume that Jesus didn’t spend his entire life just walking around the Middle East, preaching to the masses. He got down and dirty with the working man.
But Boykin goes on:
“You think his biceps weren’t big bulging biceps, big ole veins popping out of his arms, thin waist, strong shoulders from lifting?” [Boykin] continued. “He smelled bad! Why? Because he sweated, he worked. You think I’m sacrilegious because I said Jesus smelled bad? No, he was a man! He was a man’s man.”
“He was a tough guy, and that’s the Jesus I want to be like,” he insisted. “But we feminize Jesus in the church and men can’t identify with him anymore, not the kind of men I want to hang out with. They can’t identify with this effeminate Jesus that we’ve tried to portray.”
To be fair to Jesus, this was like 30 B.C.E. I’m pretty sure that by today’s standards everyone smelled pretty bad. Central air was probably not a thing they had back then.
Is this a fair representation of how carpenters looked at the dawn of the millennium? I have no idea whatsoever. Maybe, but who cares? The point is that Jesus was a tough guy who we’ve made into a stupid hipster, and it’s ruining everything.
It is true that women tend to be more religious than men, but religious affiliation for men is still pretty high. According to a poll from 2007, the ratio was 86 percent to 79 percent. (Not that religions don’t have anything to worry about. Atheism has been on the rise.)
I’ve come to expect a hearty helping of misogyny and homophobia whenever someone from the Family Research Council opens their mouth. If women are low on the totem, gay men are lower. They are the gender traitors. Everything even remotely associated with femininity is automatically bad.
But, like I said, been there, done that. What is actually so concerning about Boykin’s comments is how little credit he gives men. It’s the same non-credit that the entertainment industry gives men. It’s conventional wisdom that men just can’t understand women and they can’t become invested in a woman’s story. Malarky. And it’s malarky that men can’t identify with Jesus because he’s not manly enough. That is, frankly, letting men off the hook. Surely the story of Jesus, which is as old as time itself, is one people can identify with. He was an outcast, going against the grain, persecuted for his beliefs; it’s a great story, which is probably why it caught on to begin with.
It’s not that I don’t think we should strive for accuracy. To the extent that’s possible it would be really interesting. But in the end, what Jesus physically looked like should be the least of what matters about him.