Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

#HotJesus: Must He be sexy?

By Carol Costello
May 28, 2014 -- Updated 2101 GMT (0501 HKT)
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 new film "Son of God." There are still things to learn about the man from Nazareth that may surprise even devout Christians, says the Rev. James Martin. Diogo Morgado plays Jesus in the new film "Son of God." There are still things to learn about the man from Nazareth that may surprise even devout Christians, says the Rev. James Martin.
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
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1842 GMT (0242 HKT)
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1450 GMT (2250 HKT)
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1410 GMT (2210 HKT)
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT)
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 2203 GMT (0603 HKT)
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1727 GMT (0127 HKT)
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 2152 GMT (0552 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 2121 GMT (0521 HKT)
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1158 GMT (1958 HKT)
It's been ten days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man, writes Mel Robbins
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1242 GMT (2042 HKT)
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
ADVERTISEMENT