WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — A New Zealand Anglican priest claims that Jesus was “probably” gay.

Paul Oestreicher, a chaplain at the University of Sussex, wrote in an op-ed piece for The Guardian about the Good Friday sermon at St. Matthews during which he discussed “very strong” evidence that Jesus was a homosexual due to his relationship with John the Apostle.

“John clearly had a unique place in the affection of Jesus,” Oestreicher said in the article. “In all classic depictions of the Last Supper, a favorite subject of Christian art, John is next to Jesus, very often his head resting on Jesus’s breast. Dying, Jesus asks John to look after his mother and asks his mother to accept John as her son. John takes Mary home. John becomes unmistakably part of Jesus’s family.”

Oestreicher said he spoke about this issue because of the deep divide between the church and gay and lesbian people.

“I saw it as an act of penitence for the suffering and persecution of homosexual people that still persists in many parts of the church,” Oestreicher said in The Guardian. “The essential question for me is: what does love demand? For my critics it is more often: what does scripture say? In this case, both point in the same direction.”

Oestreicher concluded it doesn’t matter if Jesus was gay or not.

“Whether Jesus was gay or straight in no way affects who he was and what he means for the world today,” Oestreicher wrote in The Guardian. “Spiritually it is immaterial. What matters in this context is that there are many gay and lesbian followers of Jesus – ordained and lay – who, despite the church, remarkably and humbly remain its faithful members.”

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