Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

#HotJesus: Must He be sexy?

By Carol Costello
updated 5:01 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A film starring Diogo Morgado as Jesus opens this week
  • Carol Costello says he inspired the hashtag "HotJesus"
  • Costello: Is physical attractiveness necessary for a religious figure in today's culture?

Editor's note: Carol Costello anchors the 9 to 11 a.m. ET edition of CNN's "Newsroom" each weekday.

(CNN) -- Clearly Jesus was sexy.

After all, He is the Son of God.

I don't mean to be disrespectful, but as I watched the trailer for the new movie, "Son of God," I found myself gawking at the actor portraying Jesus.

Carol Costello
Carol Costello

Diogo Morgado is one hot dude. His Jesus looks more like Brad Pitt than that nice man with the beard in all those paintings.

I'm not the only one gawking at Morgodo's Jesus. He inspired the hashtag, "#HotJesus". It went viral on Twitter. The actor told The New York Times he doesn't want his looks to distract from the movie, but, "If the message of Jesus was love, hope and compassion, and I can bring that to more people by being a more appealing Jesus, I am happy with that."

'Sexy' Jesus heats up new film

Clearly we have a new trend. A "more appealing" Jesus is not just a better prophet, he's ... sexy.

We actually don't know what Jesus looked like. We do know he was a carpenter, so perhaps Jesus was buff.

But, I don't think when the Biblical Nathaniel asked, "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" and Phillip answered, "Come and see," they were talking about Jesus' beautiful face or chiseled abs.

Yes, Jesus, as portrayed in countless paintings, has a six-pack. As comedian and author, Greg Behrendt joked, "I'd like to get ripped ... ripped like Jesus. Jesus was ripped. You've seen the pictures, right? He's ripped! Ripped. He's the son of God. He's not going to be walking around saying I've got back fat today, I'm so puffy."

Diogo Morgado plays Jesus in the film "Son of God." Some of Jesus' most famous teachings are often misunderstood, says Amy-Jill Levine. Diogo Morgado plays Jesus in the film "Son of God." Some of Jesus' most famous teachings are often misunderstood, says Amy-Jill Levine.
The faces of Jesus
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
The faces of Jesus The faces of Jesus

All joking aside, why must Jesus be sexy? Or ripped? Or even handsome?

The Rev. Robert B. Lawton, SJ, a Jesuit priest and former president of Loyola Marymount University, says, "There is absolutely no indication that Jesus was good-looking and sexy. In fact there is a passage in the prophet Isaiah that is taken as referring to Jesus. It says this:

"He had no form or majesty that we should look at him/nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account." (Isaiah 53. 2-3.)

While this might not be conclusive evidence, it's quite possible that Jesus was no Jewish Brad Pitt from Palestine.

On the other hand, why wouldn't God create a perfect Son?

"Anything that is sexy is going to attract people. People who might not go to the movie might want to check it out, particularly non-Christians," says the Rev. Lisa Jenkins, senior pastor of St. Matthew's Baptist Church in Harlem. "I don't see a problem with Jesus being attractive given our cultural context," she says. "I don't recall a Jesus who was not appealing to the eye. That's Hollywood." Jenkins is more concerned about what she considers an inaccurate portrayal of Jesus' ethnicity.

The Rev. James Martin, SJ, editor-at-large for America Magazine, and author of the coming book, "Jesus: A Pilgrimage," agrees. "God did not choose to incarnate himself in Laguna Beach," he says. "He chose to incarnate Himself at a certain place, at a certain time in a certain person." And that person was a Palestinian Jew.

"Many people have a hard time with the humanity of Jesus ... the closer He is to human physical perfection, the easier it is for some to accept Him."

But, Martin says, there is a danger in that too. A physically perfect Jesus makes Him into a God pretending to be man. When Jesus was both human and divine.

"He was like us in all things, except sin, as the theology goes," Martin says. "That means, He had a body, He got sick, He got tired, He may have sprained an ankle or two. There are passages in the Gospel showing Him falling asleep because He was tired. We tend to airbrush the physical imperfections away."

Those traits make Jesus so much more accessible. So much more ... human.

I tried to come up with a living person to compare to Jesus. That, of course, is impossible. The closest I can come, as a Catholic, is Pope Francis. I've grown to revere him.

Is it because he's sexy?

In a word: No.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Carol Costello.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:27 PM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
updated 6:09 PM EDT, Sat September 27, 2014
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
updated 2:02 PM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
updated 10:19 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
updated 4:57 PM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
updated 1:41 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
updated 12:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
updated 3:00 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
John Sutter says the right is often stereotyped on climate change. But with 97% of climate scientists say humans are causing global warming, we all have to get together on this.
updated 8:57 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
Andrew Liepman and Philip Mudd: When we declare that we will defeat ISIS, what do we exactly mean?
updated 4:40 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Thailand sex trafficking
Human trafficking is a multibillion dollar global industry. To beat it, we need to change mindsets, Cindy McCain says.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
The leaders of the GOP conferences say a Republican-led Senate could help solve America's problems.
updated 10:01 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
Nicholas Syrett says Wesleyan University's decision to make fraternities admit women will help curb rape culture.
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
Mike Downey says New Yorkers may be overdoing it, but baseball will really miss Derek Jeter
updated 8:32 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Quick: Which U.S. president has authorized wars of various kinds in seven Muslim countries?
updated 2:17 PM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Women's issues should be considered front and center when assessing a society's path, says Zainab Salbi
updated 2:05 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
A catastrophe not making headlines like Ebola and ISIS: the astounding rate of child poverty in the world's richest country.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT