I just finished rewatching The Da Vinci Code. It’s good entertainment, no doubt about it. The emotional ending in which Tom Hanks finally decodes the story’s historical riddle and locates the burial place of the Holy Grail, Mary Magdalene herself, well, it just always gives me goosebumps.
Is the plot absurd? Yes.
Does it matter? No.
We can all agree that The Da Vinci Code is an imaginative work of fiction. And since this novel has sold more copies than any book since the Bible, and everyone knows it, I feel safe in revealing how it ends.
The movie is basically just an intellectual scavenger hunt. It’s a quest story. The scenario that The Da Vinci Code presents us, that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, that he fathered a child with her, that Leonardo Da Vinci revealed this hidden information through codes in his paintings, and that the church has suppressed this evidence for 1700 years because it would destroy the foundations of Christianity, is familiar to just about everyone.
One of the fascinations of the Catholic Church is that it is the oldest continuously surviving organization in the world, and that’s why movies like The Da Vinci Code are more fascinating than thrillers about religions founded, for example, by a science-fiction author in the 1950s. By the depth of its own history, the church is assumed to have dark secrets.
That’s why so many stories use the church as forums for thrillers. The aura of mystery is already embedded in it.
Many Christians are appalled by this movie because they perceive it as an attack on their faith, but millions enjoyed the story as a roller-coaster ride of suspense and intrigue. Personally, I mainly just enjoy the historical puzzles, the art subplots, and the European settings.
Not once have I ever been appalled by it.
One could conclude from conjecture that Jesus married and had children. Jewish men of his era were expected to do this as a matter of normal culture, especially for a Rabbi. For Jesus not to marry and sire children would have been considered at best strange, at worse suspicious. There is nothing in any of the Gospels that would argue against him having been married. The four Biblical Gospels are absolutely silent about the life of Jesus between the ages of twelve and about thirty.
The Da Vinci Code has even made some of its shrewder critics rich. An entire industry of rebuttals has been created with books and documentaries that have picked apart the scenario presented in the book and the movie. It has started endless conversations and arguments about the nature of Jesus and of religious faith.
To my thinking, that’s how it should be. Rather than rejecting the story’s success, believers of the faith should perhaps embrace it. Anything that provokes a discussion of religion in this secular age ought to be considered good.
Evangelists should use the story to delve deeper into spiritual things. The immediate goal shouldn’t be to lead them to Jesus, but to get them walking in their journeys toward faith.
I know the mindset here. Anyone that thinks Jesus was married and fathered children is attempting to “humanize” him, to make him more ordinary, more like the rest of us. Claiming that he engaged in sexual acts with his wife strips him of his Divinity because he would no longer be sinless. It is a common mindset that such beliefs are blasphemy.
But Christianity teaches us that Jesus was both fully God and fully human. Being both at once is the central mystery of the faith. We can’t comprehend or explain this mystery, but faith in the unique nature of Jesus doesn’t demand that he was single.
Being fully human, he would have possessed all the weakness of man and been subject to God’s most troublesome gift, free will.
He could have chosen to marry.
After all, we are taught that marriage and having sexual relations inside marriage are not sinful. So in that context, Jesus could have fathered children and still been the sinless Lamb of God and Savior of the world. He would have maintained his sinless, human-divine nature.
The New Testament does not indicate that Jesus was not married. That being said, however, we have absolutely no evidence to suggest that he was. The Bible is silent on this matter. The Da Vinci Code uses obscure references in the Gnostic Gospels that hint at a relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, but those were written 300 years after the Crucifixion and can’t be considered reliable. They make for entertaining fiction, but they aren’t the stuff of genuine faith.
I think people shouldn’t get their theology from movies or popular novels. I also think Jesus could have married and still been the Messiah. There just wasn’t any reason for him to have done so. Having biological children is not why God sent him to us.
It would have been incompatible with his destiny.
Anyway, all this controversy is misplaced. In the Father’s house are many mansions, and there is more than one way to consider the story of Christ. Why else are there four Gospels?
This is the point being missed at the end of The Da Vinci Code. For two hours we’ve watched puzzles and car chases concerning the true nature of the Holy Grail, and now at the film‘s ending, when all the pieces fall into place for Tom Hanks’ character, a sort of intellectual Indiana Jones, and he finally tracks down the secret resting place of Mary Magdalene, it ultimately doesn‘t matter if her womb contained the seed of Jesus Christ or not. That‘s not why Tom Hanks prays and not where the power of the scene comes from. Its not why I get goosebumps.
It‘s because the awe and wonder of this woman is that she was held in the highest regard by God himself. She was given the exceptional privilege of knowing the actual Jesus and the honor of being witness of his sacrifice on The Cross.
Mary Magdalene was chosen by God to be the first to witness his Resurrection.