The biblical foundations for same-sex marriage

Creation

Everything was created for goodness and there is the need for all of us to live into that goodness.

All are created in God’s image regardless of gender, gender orientation, or any other condition on which anyone might chose to diminish or judge another’s humanity. The sanctity and infinite value of every human being is what matters.

By sheer virtue of being human, so Genesis proclaims, we are loved by God – and this is no less true of LGB&T people than any other people.

In Genesis 2.18, for the very first time in the Bible, God declares that something is “not good.” Having created the first human being and placed the human in the garden, God declares, “It is not good for the human being to be alone.” God looks, sees, and announces that human beings are created not for isolation but for companionship and community. This is why for lesbian and gay people equal marriage is not simply important but essential, and essential as a Christian value.

Adam and Eve and gender complementarity

Seeing Eve, Adam exclaims, “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken” (Gen. 2:23). Some claim that Adam’s joy arises from having found his sexual “other,” and from this claim it is reasoned that only opposite-sex relationships are sanctioned by God. What the text actually says points the other way. There is no emphasis here on “difference” or “complementarity” at all – quite the reverse. When Adam sees Eve he does not celebrate her otherness but her sameness. What strikes him is that he is “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.”

The best way for a gay or lesbian person to find a “help suitable,” and “appropriate partner,” is in a committed union with a person of the same gender. Nothing in Genesis prohibits this and much supports it.

Covenantal love

The reason why covenantal love is blessed by Christians is to give thanks for God’s faithfulness and to lift up the hope that this same faithfulness will be reflected in human covenant relationships.

If love must be consecrated to be considered holy, then finding a consecrated context for the love of gays and lesbians should become an urgent moral imperative for the Church of England.

Does the exclusive commitment of a gay or lesbian couple give evidence of “the fruit of the spirit” (Gal. 5:16-26) or does it more closely resemble the kinds of vices that Paul calls “the works of the flesh”? The answer is clear – today, gays and lesbians are committing themselves to one another “for better for worse, in sickness and in health.”

In both Ruth and Naomi and David and Jonathan we have examples of covenant belonging that brings benefits to others. The bonds of family and the obligations of covenant extend beyond sexuality. They are rooted in faithfulness to the other and serve as tangible signs of God’s faithfulness to us. It is belonging, not biology, that is important for the family of God.

When two men or two women find each other and make this one-flesh commitment to one another, there is just as much reason to rejoice as when Adam first beheld Eve. When anyone finds a suitable life partner it is appropriate for the community to give them its blessing. They have become one bone, one flesh – united in the same family of God.

Marriage

The desire for intimate companionship that all human beings feel deeply, gay or straight, is an essential part of our humanity. The nurturing and ordering of this desire is what marriage seeks to accomplish.

Opponents of gay marriage who object that it will change the institution of marriage are reflecting their own anxieties about changes that are already taking place. Marriage is moving from being a patriarchal institution with clearly-defined gender roles to an egalitarian institution in which the partners themselves negotiate the terms of the civil and religious contract. Reform’s attachment to headship is not shared by the great majority of members of the Church of England.

The “two thousand years of history” argument and the idea that I have heard repeated several times over the weekend that marriage is an institution ordained by God that existed before the earliest human civilisations (oh yes, I heard it, my friends) both fail because they are based on a revisionist notion of history in the first case, and utter ignorance in the second case.

Not only has marriage changed dramatically through the centuries, but marriage has meant things in the pas that we would definitely not want it to mean today.

Families

Unlike contemporary “family values” teaching that almost makes an idol out of marriage, Jesus teaches that marriage and family are not ends in themselves but exist for the sake of something much bigger. Jesus tells his disciples that when they leave their traditional families for the sake of God’s family they will receive an abundant reward (Mark 10:29-30). One’s sense of family loyalties is changed because now, one’s family extends in every direction. What is valued is not biological procreation but godly association. Being Jesus’ follower has little to do with whether one’s family follows conventional patterns of family ties, and everything to do with what and who one is living for.

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