The recent discovery of an ancient Coptic papyrus by Harvard church historian Karen L. King that mentions Jesus’ wife has some questioning its authenticity. But Jesuit Father James Martin wrote in a recent op-ed for The New York Times that even if it is found to be authentic, “Will this fascinating new discovery make this Jesuit priest want to rush out and get married? No.”
In his article titled “Mr. and Mrs. Jesus Christ?”, Fr. Martin wrote that it is more likely that Jesus was celibate since the papyrus is said to date from the fourth century — roughly 350 years after Jesus’ life and death.
Fr. Martin said there are several reasons Jesus might have remained unmarried: “Jesus, who knew the fate of other prophets, may have intuited that his public life would prove dangerous and end violently, a burden for a wife. He may have foreseen the difficulty of caring for a family while being an itinerant preacher. Or perhaps he was trying to demonstrate a kind of single-hearted commitment to God.”
Fr. Martin wrote that even if evidence of a married Jesus is found from an earlier date, he won’t stop believing in Jesus or abandon his vow of chastity.
It wouldn’t upset me if it turned out that Jesus was married. His life, death and, most important, resurrection would still be valid. Nor would I abandon my life of chastity, which is the way I’ve found to love many people freely and deeply. If I make it to heaven and Jesus introduces me to his wife, I’ll be happy for him (and her). But then I’ll track down Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, who wrote so soon after the time of Jesus, and ask them why they left out something so important.