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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rules Getting in the Way

Was not the Sabbath made for man, rather than man for the Sabbath? Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath? Did David not eat the bread of the Presence while on the run from Saul? Did Job not question and accuse God, yet God called him alone righteous among his friends? Didn't Jesus break the rules to follow the two greatest commands of God?

These questions run through my head as I consider the possibilities for the future of our world. As I find myself more and more invested in the presence and thoughts of same-sex relationships, these are the questions which plague me. I remember the first time I heard someone speak of a Christian argument in favor of same-sex marriage, and I thought it was ludicrous. A year later I married my wife, and that concept didn't really seem to matter much. Almost a month after my marriage began I got a job, and several of my coworkers were gay. This past December, I wrote a post on the topic. And seven months after that post, I find myself taken aback by Chick-fil-A's new campaign against homosexual relationships, saying that they are taking a stand for traditional marriage, for the kind of marriage created by God. So a few more thoughts come to mind now.

First of all, did God create marriage? For those who hold a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11, the obvious answer is yes. But I'm not one of those people. Even if those eleven chapters are ignored in terms of historical validity, it seems a common thought that marriage is a big deal in the Bible. But what do we mean when we say "traditional marriage"? The assumption is one man and one woman, but how is that the tradition? Abraham's wife was his half-sister, and also took his wife's servant to give him a son; Jacob had two wives and two maidservants mother his children; Samson couldn't stay with one woman long enough for it to have mattered much to him; David had multiple wives and concubines, but counted his love for Jonathan as greater than any of those (though this is not explicitly a romantic type of love as far as I am aware); Solomon, the wisest man ever according to God, had multiple wives as well (and any man with a single wife knows that's crazy!); Hosea's wife was a prostitute who kept leaving him for other men; Jesus is not described as having had attraction for one gender or the other, and as far as we know, was always single.

The only people for whom the current vision of "traditional marriage" seems to have mattered were elders/presbyters and deacons/ministers/servants of the Christian congregations (1 Timothy 3, esp. vv. 1-13). Even then it does not seem that every single criterion in the list of elder and deacon qualifications could possibly be fulfilled simultaneously, so should we think that all of them apply every single time? Maybe, maybe not.

A thought to be considered, which I first read from James McGrath's post and I suggest reading, is whether it is good for people of different sexualities to be alone. The people who are fighting hardest for marriage are not heterosexual couples. When Christian divorce rates are likely as high as the secular, are we really fighting for traditional marriage? Are we fighting for anything?

And so I ask: when it comes to certain topics like same-sex marriage, could it be that we are enforcing rules over and above the basic command to love each other? I once read that anti-LBGT Christians whose children come out of the closet have a choice: to hate their children or to alter their theology. Once I had friends who were Christian and gay, I had a choice to make, and I chose the latter. I also once heard that the love of God is the most powerful thing in the universe. If this is our driving force, will we break rules like Jesus did?

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