Authority, Sexuality and Friendship
In Martin Scorsese’s interpretation of Kazantzakis’ The Last Temptation of Christ, the dying Christ experiences his last temptation in the form of a hallucination in which he takes Mary Magdalene as his wife, enjoys sexual intercourse with her and together they procreate. In his dying moments, Jesus is enticed to become just the sort of man the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and most of the modern Church would regard as a good Christian disciple. The film, by summoning up the temptation and drawing attention to the necessity of its rejection, exposes and questions modern Christianity’s easy identification of domesticity, marriage, the family and discipleship. In what follows I want to press the question further by suggesting that the crisis over ecclesial authority and sexuality (particularly homosexuality with which I shall be mainly concerned) is largely due to an inadequate handling of what is authoritative in the Church, namely its scripture and tradition, the thick richness of which has been diluted to a thin soup incapable of nourishing anyone.