A “blogette” on Re-defining Marriage
I really want to write more on the topic of same-sex marriage. I have been formulating many thoughts on the issue and keep thinking a blog post would be way too long! I posted this comment on my facebook wall today. It seemed almost long enough to post as a short blog. Maybe it’s more of a “blogette”. Anyway, it starts the ball rolling and hopefully before the year is out I’ll write something more substantial.
The issue of same-sex marriage is really about definition. It’s not about equality or prejudice or homophobia or human rights. It’s about how you define and understand marriage.
I would say, many people define and understand “marriage” as simply a public declaration of love. With that definition, I totally understand why it seems silly or cruel to not allow ANY two people who love each other to do it. Though, if that’s all marriage is, I am curious as to why polyamorous love, or love between siblings, or love between an adult and a minor, or even love between species is looked on with such distaste and prejudice. Love is love, isn’t it? Isn’t it up to the individual to define it, if that’s all that marriage is about.
The reason why Christians who believe in the Bible find it very difficult to condone or support gay marriage is simply because we have a different definition of what marriage is about. For us, marriage is a covenant. A spiritually significant, re-defining bond that God created, honours and holds us to, even if we are not Christians. It is a big deal for God, reflecting in the spiritual and sexual union of a husband and a wife the union of the Godhead itself and the unique relationship between Christ and the Church. It is a sacred, serious, joyous and powerful covenant that is supposed to create the safe environment for new life to occur and be nurtured in. It’s not simply about love, as if “love is all you need” and then when you fall out of love you just divorce. Marriage is meant to be life-long. It is the place where the “two become one”, spiritually, relationally and sexually, until “death do us part”. This is found in the teachings of Jesus, and throughout the Old and the New Testaments.
If this is true, then if I am asked whether or not I think the definition of marriage should be changed to fit one that I believe is against God’s definition, how could I? As a Christian, I am not a free agent. I am a follower of Jesus and therefore and subject to his Word. I can understand, from a different worldview, why you would want me to change my definition, and I will not try to stop you from arguing your case and fighting for the change you want, but I can not join you.
In Australia, we most likely will one day have a legal reality in which same-sex couples express their love for each other with a term called “marriage”. It will not be a big deal if that comes to pass in my opinion. In the minds of most people, the definition of marriage has long since been about something different to God’s original intention.
But for a Christian (at least one who submits to Christ’s lordship and the authority of Scripture), marriage is and will always be something created by God, designed by God and consequently defined by God.
Marriage is meant to be life-long. It is the place where the â€œtwo become oneâ€, spiritually, relationally and sexually, until â€œdeath do us partâ€.
Which I think nobody is disputing by same sex marriage. In fact I would wager that the only same sex couples prepared to marry are interested in this kind of commitment. It’s straight couples marrying because of the pressure of their churches and families you should be concerned about.
Ultimately I think this seems to be a post more about divorce.
The only connection you’ve made to marriage in your definitons which precludes homosexual marriage is that it is “supposed to create the safe environment for new life to occur and be nurtured in.” which is a completely non-biblical idea of marriage you have added. I mean you can argue for that idea – that providing an environment for new life is the purpose of marriage – but you can’t actually claim its Gods standard in my opinion. I don’t see where.
Furthermore how does gay people getting married impact on the capacity for any one elses marriage to “create the safe environment for new life to occur and be nurtured in”. Just because a purpose doesn’t apply to one group of people (say infertile couples) doesn’t mean it can’t apply to others.
I hope you can open your heart to just seeing other peoples relationships and being there for them as a witness to their courage in making a comittment. I’ve done it for you.
Oh and in case my comment are taken to suggest that same-sex relationships don’t nurture children as parents and foster parents I didn’t mean that. Just that they wont obviously be having any surprise conceptions.
Tony, I agree that two people of the same gender could mimic something that indeed looks likes marriage as I have described. There are many same-sex couples that are committed to life-long monogamous fidelity and see their relationship as a deep spiritual and sexual union. They may also aim to have a healthy relationship that is a positive environment for raising children. They may even use the word “covenant” and some may even see their relationship as a reflection of God’s love and unity with his people. I don’t think those aspects of marriage are what excludes same-sex couples from marriage. Those are what marriage is about, but they are not “marriage”. For example, I could personally have all those aspects in my relationship with a chair, but that would not make me married. The definition of marriage comes, not from our expression of it, or our imitation of it, but from the creator of it.
This is something I know we deeply disagree on, but the link in the bible between the concept of “one flesh” sexual union and “one flesh” relational union is undeniable. The definition of marriage is to become “one flesh” both physically and spiritually. This is not an act that we perform, but even Jesus explicitly said, it is a reality that God performs (Mark 10:7-9). This is only a heterosexual reality, and the universal condemnation in Scripture of same-sex sexual activity supports this. Marriage, by the biblical definition, is not something that can be experienced by same-sex couples. That is not a statement of cruelty or homophobia. It is not something I get to tamper with or redefine or “evolve” to understand differently. I don’t own marriage and so I don’t have that right.
As I said, I understand others thinking differently and I don’t think they are horrible to do so. I understand their desire to see marriage legally defined according to their worldview. I do not believe Christians have the right to overrule their attempts to have it changed through coercion or bullying.
We each simply have the right to argue for our own understanding for how marriage should be defined and let the chips fall where they may.
I do have an open heart Tony to seeing other people’s relationships. I do see that any couple that commits for life is making a courageous move. I acknowledge that courage and wish it was shown in more heterosexual couples. It just doesn’t, for me, define “marriage”.
“I really want to write more on the topic of same-sex marriage. I have been formulating many thoughts on the issue and keep thinking a blog post would be way too long! ”
I just noticed this statement and I felt compelled to say that given your claim to be driven by and submissive to biblical values do you really think this is what the bible would consider a big ethical concern of our time. The only reference of Jesus to marriage is in a context of answering questions about divorce and that (as you know I believe) is in the context of responding to a matter of injustice in his time. Where is the justice issue with the issue of gay marriage?
If you are truly driven by biblical values would you consider writing on militarism and non-violence, or wealth and poverty. I’m still day dreaming of a response from you to Tolstoys Law of Love, Law of Violence.
Maybe you could even write about the actual christian notion of mimicry which is to perform the forms of worship without the genuine spirit of love rather than the almost opposite way you have used it. A mimicry of marriage (in the proper christian understanding ) would be two people together for proprieties sake with no real love for each other.
I urge you most of all to write about the environment which is being ravaged by the lifestyles we life. The effects of this are largely being borne by the poor. What message do you really believe your church needs to hear? I suspect a critique of gay marriage is not a new piece of media for them. But I also suspect that the cars they drive and the tvs they own and all the rest don’t reflect any love for the poor anymore than the average non-christians.
I’m not saying you should never write on gay marriage or any topic but I don’t think it warrants a lot of attention from someone happily married and surrounded by heterosexuals or from someone who is trying to set their priorities by the bible.
Tony, you are hilarious!
You blog about everything and anything that comes into your mind, and you are often distracted by thoughts on issues you acknowledge are not central.
If you go through my blog history you will clearly see that 90% of my posts focus on trying to promote and explain the central truths of the gospel.
I agree that the issue of whether same-sex is legalised is a fairly small issue. It occupies my thoughts mainly because it is an issue being discussed in the media and it is a big stumbling block to many people who otherwise might consider Christianity.
One of the key issues that turn people off Christianity and the message of the bible is the biblical stance on homosexuality. I think in this climate, it is VITALLY important for Christians to think about what the bible says on this issue and to be able to articulate their position with clarity and compassion.
To say I should focus on other topics shows a disregard for what I usually write on and an ignorance to the importance of addressing this issue, if only for the reputation of the gospel in our culture.
Lastly, I do think the issue of sex, sexuality and marriage are not “non issues” from the bible’s perspective. Sure Jesus didn’t speak on it too much (though he does more than you acknowledge) but Jesus’ Jewish audience generally agreed with Jesus on issues like sex and homosexual practise. It is the issue of divorce and remarriage that they disagreed on and that is why Jesus addresses those issues so rigorously.
Paul and the other NT writers on the other hand, were writing to a mixed cultural audience where Jewish cultural norms were not always present. These writing are much more helpful for our contemporary audience and the issue of sex and sexuality are therefore more commonly addressed.
Also, as someone who works with people struggling with sexual addictions (mainly pornography and masturbation) the issue of sexuality is one I have a particular interest in.
Hope that clears things up!
For one thing Simon, its not super easy to find your old blogs on this site. I wish you had an index page with all the links on it somewhere.
Secondly of course I am hilarious. And honest. The “big stumbling block to many people who otherwise might consider Christianity” isn’t so much its dominant opinion about homosexuality, though I agree that matters. Its that to many people Christianity doesn’t seem to actually have anything to say to the JUSTICE issues of today.
When I write about gay marriage you can be sure that I am trying to respond to the justice issue as best I perceive it.
Non-christians often feel more christian than Christians and many Christians feel that the path of following Jesus is found outside of their church with non-christian people.. How do you think that has happened? How has feminism come to provide better healing for people around their military involvement that Christianity – in this one singular and admittedly not representative example? http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/on-feminism-rehumanization-of-soldier.html
I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever write on gay marriage. Write on. But find the justice issue. I firmly believe that there and ONLY THERE is the Christ you are looking for. Some very important justice issues around sexuality come up with any discussion on porn, (In fact I think my last blog post on the topic should’ve emphasised them more) so I congratulate your focus there.
Hence my encouragement of you to look at violence or wealth is that I believe they occupy a greater part of the gospel because of their justice issue. If you follow the gospel it should drag you there.
Note: You are copping here, the consequence of my own processing of my next blog post which asks amongst other things; Is feminism a better fulfillment of the Christian promise than Christianity? So long as a modern Christianity’s voice on sexuality is ” my holy book says do this” while feminism embodies the oppressed perspective, I would say yes.