A couple years ago at my college, a student group put on an event to educate students about pornography and the sex industry. I paced through it, thinking I had already seen all this before. The exhibit opened with scientific facts about the chemical effects of pornography on the brain, showing how it rewires our mental pathways to crave porn.
Heard them before.
Then there was a room of testimonies, people shared how porn had damaged their lives and relationships. As sincere and moving as these stories were, I had heard them before too. I mean, these addiction stories were basically my own.
But then we moved to the last room.
On the wall was a painting. Eye level. About 4×3 feet. At first glance, it seemed like a typical crucifix painting. There hung Jesus on the cross, bleeding and ashamed.
But then you looked a little lower.
And then you realized that he was not wearing any garment to politely cover the Savior’s genitalia. There was no loincloth to protect the Lord from disgrace.
It was jarring to realize I was looking at Jesus’ penis.
In many ways, the fact that artists have typically covered Jesus up while hanging on the cross has done a disservice to our perception of His scope of atonement. We are used to seeing Him, battered and bloody, yes, but at least with a shred of decency left and a towel wrapped around his midsection.
One of my theology professors would always say we postmodern people do theology like this: And then he would crouch and cover up his crotch, like an embarrassed child who had jumped out of the bath and been caught by the babysitter. We will talk about God in relation to anything but our genitals.
We try to ‘clean up’ the crucifixion.
Today I got curious and checked for myself. Sure enough, all four gospels tell the same story:
Matthew 27:35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.