Jesus Christ was a victim of sexual abuse when he was stripped for crucifixion, a leading Sheffield University academic has claimed.
Dr Katie Edwards says the son of God was 'a victim of sexual violence' in an essay headed #HimToo - a reference to the #MeToo movement among Hollywood stars who have been victims of sexual abuse.
Writing on website The Conversation, Dr Edwards, director of the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield, says the crucifixion was a "powerful display of humiliation and gender-based violence."
She wrote: "This is not just a matter of correcting the historical record.
"If Jesus is named as a victim of sexual abuse it could make a huge difference to how the churches engage with movements like #MeToo, and how they promote change in wider society."
Writing with Professor David Tombs at the University of Otago, she said the MeToo movement had exposed a common tendency to deny and dismiss sexual assault, harassment and abuse.
The article continues: "With this in mind, during this present Lenten period, it seems especially appropriate to recall the stripping of Jesus and to name it for what it was intended to be: a powerful display of humiliation and gender-based violence, which should be acknowledged as an act of sexual violence and abuse."
"The idea that Jesus himself experienced sexual abuse may seem strange or shocking at first, but crucifixion was a “supreme punishment” and the stripping and exposure of victims was not an accidental or incidental element. It was a deliberate action that the Romans used to humiliate and degrade those they wished to punish. It meant that the crucifixion was more than just physical, it was also a devastating emotional and psychological punishment."
Stripping was a deliberate action used by the Romans to humiliate and degrade those they wished to punish, although historical depictions of the crucifixion tend to show Jesus wearing a loincloth.
The article adds: "The sexual abuse of Jesus is a missing part of Passion and Easter story retellings. It's appropriate to recognise Jesus as a victim of sexual violence to address the continuing stigma for those who've experienced sexual abuse, especially men."
"The scene highlights the vulnerability of the naked prisoner who is stripped and exposed in front of the assembled ranks of hostile Roman soldiers. The power and control of Roman power is contrasted with the vulnerability and forced submission of the prisoner. The scene also hints at the possibility of even greater sexualised violence which might be in store.
"Some present day Christians are still reluctant to accept that Jesus was a victim of sexual violence and seem to consider sexual abuse as an exclusively female experience."