When growing up in a sexually uptight Protestant culture, children are typically told that sex is for when you are married to your spouse of the opposite sex and to have sex before marriage is wrong. The idea of saving it for that special someone is romanticized and if you don’t do that you are going to really miss out on something special. The white dress on the wedding day can actually mean what it has traditionally meant. This sort of thing was told to me as a kid and I remember really clinging to it into my late teens. I can clearly remember one of my mom’s early sex talks with me basically just as “wait till you’re married”, and I think it was mostly out of fear of teen pregnancy she of course did not want to deal with.
I am very conflicted when it comes to my thoughts on Jesus. There was a point in my life where I did think he was a great man who spread a message of peace and love, that was thanks to his portrayal in popular media and being brought up in a Lutheran church. I wanted to believe he was the son of God because people around me believed that, and I think at some points I did believe it. The image of the fair skinned blue eyed Jesus has been burned into my brain since staring at it in my grandparents’ house and other Midwestern houses when I was a kid. Of course as I got older I realized how silly that image was. There aren’t any first hand accounts of what Jesus said, so how would people have any idea of what he looked like? And the bible doesn’t give a physical description. It should also go without saying but I feel like I have to say it to many Christians, based on the region he was supposed to have been from he sure as hell would have not been of the Aryan race.
Christians of various sects give me different non-answers when the question of what Jesus exactly was comes up. It generally seems to go back and fourth when referring to him as God or as separate from God. I never understand how many Christians who say Jesus is God can also gush about how loving and kind he is. If he was literally the God we know from the Old Testament, then pretty sure that would make him a genocidal war-god. Christians that are on the fence or embarrassed to admit they believe in something as silly as the virgin birth tend to say they at least really like many of the messages he was spreading. But how do we know that what the bible says he said is accurate at all? If you haven’t seen it, I highly suggest watching Life of Brian and you’ll understand what I mean. The movie also illustrates that there were many street preachers/miracle workers at the time. Based on that I think it’s very plausible that the Jesus we know today could have been based on multiple men. There are varying theories about Jesus because the only sources we have are what early followers said about Jesus, no records from the time of his supposed life. There was also the concept of a Christ or messiah in many pagan cults before Christianity arose, so the concept was not unique like many Christians today like to believe.
One of the best ways to describe the way I see Jesus is he’s pretty much like Batman or Sherlock Holmes. There have been different variations of them and many people conjure different images when those names are brought up. There are some repeating central themes throughout the iterations but there’s not exactly a clear answer of who they are. Some versions of Jesus are very admirable, but I think if people like the positive fluffy aspects of Jesus, they can also find those characteristics in many real life people today, contemporary historical figures, and many fantastic fictional characters. Rejecting Jesus as a god or the son of god or even as a historical person doesn’t mean you have to reject the positive peaceful messages associated with Jesus. I don’t literally believe in Batman but what he stands for has been a source of inspiration for me.