With the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, where they followed the Constitution with its guarantees for Americans to have equality under the law, many who are opposed to equality for all often say that God’s law dictates what marriage is supposed to be about. By God, it’s safe to assume they mean the Israeli Tribal God Yahweh from the Holy Bible since most religious Americans are Christians and Yahweh is their God of choice. I thought it would be a worthwhile use of a few minutes to check the Word of God to get His Almighty thoughts on marriage, so that we may determine if those who choose to speak for God on this issue have their facts straight.
While some Christians like to ignore the Old Testament as being less relevant because Jesus, they do enjoy referencing it when it suits them, as in the case of Adam & Eve, Noah’s Ark, Sodom and Gomorrah and this admonition from the Lord their God to abstain from sexy time with people of the same gender, or with goats:
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion.”
The message is fairly clear, but it isn’t really specific to the marriage issue, and that’s what we need to address. If people are going to claim that God intended marriage to be a certain way, we should see what that is exactly. As it turns out, God has plenty to say about marriage and it varies quite a bit from case to case. For example, let’s take the case of the rapist. Rape is generally seen as a bad thing, and God has ways of dealing with the villain in this scenario, and it involves the sacred, spiritual bond of marriage:
“If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.”
I don’t mean to question the Lord here, but forcing the poor virgin girl to marry her rapist and stay married to him for the rest of her life doesn’t pull at the sentimental heartstrings like most love stories. Perhaps there are other occasions where God creates the rules for this magnificent union that some claim is the true nature of marriage:
“If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother… However, if a man does not want to marry his brother’s wife, she shall go to the elders at the town gate and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to carry on his brother’s name… He will not fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to me.” Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, “I do not want to marry her,” his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, “This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.” That man’s line shall be known as The Family of the Unsandaled.”
Well now, that’s interesting. I don’t think it’s particularly romantic forcing a man to marry his dead brother’s wife and having sex with her to try to create a male child. But at least God gives the guy an out if he doesn’t want to marry her, although he will pay a price for it and be spat upon and live without a sandal on one foot. This still can’t be the blessed, wonderful, spiritual union that the opponents of same-sex marriage are always going on about. Let’s keep looking.
The Apostle Paul, who authored Corinthians among other writings, has Teachings on Marriage and he occasionally claims to be specifically speaking for God, as well as offering his own thoughts. He suggests staying unmarried and celibate, but if you’re burning with passion, you’re better off getting married and having a lot of sex:
“Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
When Jesus was asked about marriage, he had some very specific thoughts as well, one of which was being very supportive of celibacy, particularly in castrated men, including those who castrate themselves for the sake of Heaven:
“Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry?”
Jesus replied: “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”
Well, I’m still struggling to find the blissful, spiritually uplifting, blessed and sacred bond of matrimony those opposed to marriage equality are referencing. Perhaps…..
“When you go to war against your enemies and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.”
Oh boy. I don’t think anyone is envisioning bouquets of flowers and registering at Macy’s with that marriage scenario.
“When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”
Nope. So when Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee makes this statement: “The Supreme Court has spoken with a very divided voice on something only the Supreme Being can do: redefine marriage. The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage than it can the law of gravity”, I wonder what specifically he is referring to. I doubt Mr. Huckabee would support forcing a rape victim to marry her rapist, or for our troops to take captive women they find attractive on the battlefield.
When LA Governor and would be Presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal says that his “faith teaches him that marriage is between a man and a woman,” I wonder whether it’s the command to marry a promiscuous woman, the widow of your brother or as Paul suggested, basically any woman to avoid having sex outside of marriage.
Russell Moore, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said following the Court’s ruling: “We need to be the people who know how to articulate a Christian vision of sexuality…” It appears from a reading of the New Testament that Paul, who got his ideas from a vision he had of Jesus, supports staying unmarried and celibate and Jesus himself was pretty supportive of eunuchs. Is that the “Christian vision of sexuality” he’s referring to?
Former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush also claims religion guides his take on marriage: “Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage…” but he also waffled a bit on it, perhaps acknowledging the Court’s ruling: “I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments.”
Ben Carson who is also running for the GOP’s nomination was specific about his position on marriage: “The government must never force Christians to violate their religious beliefs. I support same sex civil unions but to me, and millions like me, marriage is a religious service not a government form.” Again, I have to ask which religious beliefs regarding marriage he is referring to for as we’ve seen, they hardly represent what happens in American Christian culture today.
If any readers can point out the error of my ways, I’d be appreciative because from what I can tell, those who claim a Bible-based position on marriage are either ignorant of the Bible’s take on marriage, or are being entirely disingenuous for reasons unbeknownst to me.