This week it was announced that there had been the discovery of an ancient fragment with text possibly mentioning a wife of Jesus. That text says, “Jesus said to them, ‘my wife…’”
This raises two questions: does this fragment support the argument that Jesus was married, and does it matter whether or not he was married? Let me address the first question. First of all, this fragment dates from roughly 400 years after the time of Christ, so it wasn’t from the first century. Something that far removed from Christ is suspect. Second, there is nothing in the New Testament that even hints at Jesus being married, and the New Testament was written a lot closer in time to Jesus than this fragment, which some believe could be a forgery.
Third, we don’t have the context of this partial sentence. For example, the whole sentence could have read, “Jesus said to them, ‘my wife is the church.’” Or it might have read, “Jesus said to them, ‘my wife is to do the will of God.’” We don’t know, so we can only speculate.
The second question, does it matter, is the more important one. I believe it doesn’t really matter whether or not Jesus was married. It doesn’t change anything as far as Christian beliefs are concerned, although it weakens the Roman Catholic Church’s argument for priestly celibacy. There are several strong arguments supporting the unmarried status of Jesus.
Jesus came to do God’s work, not to get married and raise a family.
A wife isn’t mentioned anywhere in the New Testament.
When family is mentioned, it is his mother and siblings.
When he went home, it was to his mother’s.
Christians believe Jesus was truly human and truly divine. Being truly human, he certainly could have been married, but I doubt that he was. He came to preach, teach, and ultimately die. I don’t think marriage was in God’s plan for him.