The Jesus of my childhood was the man! He was a tall, white guy in a bright, white robe with long, flowing brunette locks. He gave food to hungry people, performed several magic tricks with his all-male cohort and then peaced-out back to heaven to wait for everyone else to join him. Essentially, he was a gay magician.
The Jesus of my middle school years was hot. Chalk it up to repressed sexual feelings or the oversexualization of American culture, but my Jesus had a clearly defined six pack and buns of steel. Essentially, I had a major crush on Jesus. To be fair, he was portrayed as a toned, compassionate, loving, toned and generous individual – I challenge you to not get a little hot and bothered.
The Jesus of my high school years was an asshole. Reinforcing the ideals of modern Christians seeking to strip rights away from people, this was a Jesus who didn’t care. He led the charge toward defining who did and did not get into heaven, seeming to set his criteria at an ungodly high level – pun intended. He somehow made it okay for his followers to persecute and ignore the legitimacy of people like me. Essentially, Jesus was a bigot.
As I’ve progressed through my collegiate career, I have learned about a whole new Jesus who is difficult to define. My recognition of privilege taught me that Jesus certainly was not white, and his practices and teachings were as diverse as I am. Jesus got mad sometimes, he got sad sometimes and he got even sometimes. The discussion about Jesus was very different throughout the four Gospels, creating an even more ambiguous and intriguing man. I feel as though the more I learn about Jesus, the more questions I have.
Depending on the time in my life, Jesus was a very different person. Outside of his proven historical context, it is difficult to define Jesus as a man because little is known about him, and what is known all rests within a religious concept. Thus, Jesus inherently gets wrapped up in modern day politics, social issues and moral questions that he would never have addressed. So, in order to reconcile my variety of collectable Jesus,’ I want to go on a date with him.
If I wanted romance, I would bring him to Johnny Carino’s and would order for him if he got overwhelmed with the choices. In return, he would turn my complimentary water into a complementary HUGE glass of wine. We would engage in pleasant small talk before I politely drove him home… which I guess is somewhere in Fargo/Moorhead now. However, this is non-ideal because I’m hella awkward on dates. My inherent nerves, excessive sweating and reliance on small talk would not allow for a depth of conversation and may require me to tell the Son of God that I’ll call him sometime even if I don’t mean it. I don’t want a romantic date with Jesus.
If I wanted a bromance, I would just invite him to my house to watch a movie. Just in case he thought I was putting the moves on, I would greet him with an impersonal handshake and sit on a separate couch so that Jesus and I could just be a couple of dudes hanging out. We would laugh at the narrow scope of the movies on my shelf – they’re all chick flicks – and awkwardly fly through the discussion topics we have in common. Being male? Check. Occasional parental frustrations? Check. Love of wine? Check. This also creates a lack of depth that would keep me from genuinely engaging with Jesus about his life. Plus, I can only feign brohood for so long, and trying to sound masculine really hurts my voice. I don’t want a bro-mantic date with Jesus, either.
I want to go on a coffee date with Jesus. I want it to be one of those coffee dates that I am nervous about because I don’t know the other person really well. I want to meet Jesus at Moxie Java and offhandedly start some arbitrary topic of conversation. Within a matter of minutes, however, I would find myself tapping the deepest reservoirs of my character, spilling my content for this stranger to see. I would confide in Jesus, but he also would confide in me. He would tell me how it really felt to die on the cross and answer the biblical secrets I had been dying to know. He would never be gossipy, but he would tell me how he felt about people using his words to persecute instead of love. He would get really passionate and fired up about the rights of the marginalized, and our bond would strengthen. It would be the kind of coffee date where you suddenly realize several hours had gone by, and you didn’t even notice. This date would end in a deeper, richer and more full context of self. How could I not want that?
While I still do not consider myself religious and do not think regular Sunday church attendance is necessary for me, I think Jesus was the kind of man that I would have liked to know. Stories have been told, and interpretations have been drawn from them, but I like to think that behind all that was one humble man who had a soft spot for the outcasts. Among the lepers, prostitutes and criminals he found his refuge. He could easily have found refuge with me.
While I do not get to go on a coffee date with Jesus, I know I don’t need to. I know that he is interesting, dynamic and complex… but what human isn’t? Allowing Jesus a genuine complexity keeps us from getting stuck on what he would have believed and allows us to revel in the fact that we will never actually know. Embracing this ambiguity allows us to define what we believe for ourselves and allows Jesus to be a friend who helps us along either way.
My name is Colin Sullivan and I am currently a senior at Concordia College majoring in Psychology, Sociology, and Spanish. Along with my classes, I am the co-President of the Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA) and also participate in Student Government Association (SGA), Cobber Forensics (Speech and Debate), and Choir.
My passions reside within issues of social justice and critically analyzing the ways in which Concordia and society on the whole supports diversity initiatives. I long for an environment within which one’s minority status does not pre-determine their likelihood for success.
Some other random facts about me: I am a Pisces with an inability to digest gluten. I have a debilitating fear of clowns and public restrooms and refuse to ride bicycles. I am 100% Irish, a recovering scarf addict, and my speaking voice is as loud as the average yell.
Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @csulliva09 if you want to chat. I’d love to answer any questions you may have 🙂