The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Jesus and Marriage

First, though, why do people not stop at red lights? This happened at our corner yesterday.
No serious injuries, but a really p-o'ed young man and a shook up woman (who ran the light in the white pick up).

Pay attention when you are driving. I don't know why the woman didn't stop, but don't text or read emails when driving. In fact, don't use your phone. Watch the road, and pay attention to the traffic lights. Don't screw up your holidays with a wreck.

Jesus and Marriage

In response to Kristi's comment yesterday in which she wrote "Marriage, and the guide for marriage is laid out in the Bible. And clearly it is for a man and a woman. There is no question about that. So let's recognize the true unity of marriage, which is two people of opposite sex."

(Anonymous...this is not an attack on Kristi. I respect her and her right to have her beliefs. I just disagree.)

Like Dianne said, Christians did not invent marriage. But Jesus did speak about marriage. In response to Kristi’s comment yesterday, let’s consider what Jesus had to say about it. I will turn to a good resource, which I have quoted from before: The Children Are Free by Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley.

Beginning on page 44:

Some Christians confidently assert that God did not create homosexual people “that way.” This is important because they realize that if God did create gays “that way,” rejecting them would be tantamount to rejecting God’s work in creation. In pressing their “creation order” argument, some Christians are fond of saying, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!” To bolster their position, they often cite Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:4-5, where he responds to a question about whether divorce is permissible:

“Jesus answered, “have you not read that the One who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh”? Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.’”

From these words, some Christians draw the conclusion that heterosexuality is the creation norm and, thus, heterosexual marriage is the only legitimate way for people to form romantic relationships. Ironically, Jesus’ own words in this very same passage refute these conclusions.

As the dialogue continues, Jesus’ disciples are disturbed by his strict teaching on divorce. The disciples say that if a divorce is not a ready option, perhaps it would be best for a man not to marry a woman. Jesus responds:

“Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are enough eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (Matthew 19:11)

Here Jesus identifies three classes of men who should not marry woman. Taking his categories in reverse order, first, there are those who have made themselves “eunuchs” for the kingdom of heaven, i.e., those who forswear marriage to better serve God. Second, he mentions those who have been “made eunuchs by others,” an apparent reference to castrated males. But Jesus mentions a third category – eunuchs who were born that way. Some might argue that Jesus was referring to males born without testicles, but this would be extremely rare. Moreover, this interpretation ignores how the term “born eunuchs” was used in other literature of the time.

As we have already seen(there is an interesting discussion on this in the book), in the ancient world, including ancient Jewish culture (as reflected in the Talmud), “natural” or “born” eunuchs were not associated with missing testicles. Rather, they were associated with stereotypically effeminate characteristics and behavior (just like modern gay men, and were thought by Rabbi Eliezer to be subject to “cure” (just like modern gays). Moreover, as we have also seen, eunuchs were commonly associated with homosexual desire. As a reasonable informed person of his time, Jesus would have been aware of this common view of eunuchs. Yet he very matter-of-factly asserts that some people are simply born that way. The implication of his statement is profound – God created gay people the way they are! Jesus says so.

Unlike Rabbi Eliezer, Jesus feels no need to “cure” these born eunuchs. He speaks no words of condemnation. Rather he lists people born gay alongside another honored class (eunuchs for the kingdom), and accepts them as a natural part of God’s creation order.

Thus, when Matthew 19 is read as a whole, we see Jesus teaches that most people are created for heterosexual marriage. (We too accept this as God’s predominant creation paradigm.) But, unlike some modern Christians, Jesus does not see this as the only honorable way to live. He acknowledges that some human beings have been created by God to follow a less common, but equally legitimate path. There are some who have been eunuchs from birth – made that way by God.

But we’re not quite done. In fact, we’ve saved the best for last.

From here to book continues with the story of Jesus and the Gay Centurion, which I have previously posted and recently referred to. (I hope I don't end up publishing their whole book here).

Of course this does not say gays should marry gays. But when you factor in the centurion's story, David and Jonathon, Ruth and Naomi (Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people; and your God my God.) Ruth's words of love and devotion for another woman are used in countless straight marriages (and gay ones) and their love is further exemplified when the passages that follow focus on their relationship, and not the convenience marriage of Ruth to a man.

David expressed his love for Jonathon in a song after Jonathon's death, "Greatly beloved you were to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women." This is not "male bonding" with a beer and a football game.

So, same sex relationships are legitimate according to the Old and New Testaments. But while same sex marriage is not specifically drawn out in the Bible, what does the Bible have to do with civil marriage anyway? I mean, marriage as a sacrament, by the church, certainly should be decided on by that church. But marriage as a contract, recognized by the government, should be based on our constitution, including the equal protection clause. The constitution is the "sacred" document of our country, not the Bible.

Here's a little video of Mikey and Jaz's wedding (music, No One by Alicia Keys). This dispels the rumor that there are no black gays, and that all blacks are against same sex marriage.

8 comments:

Jeff said...

Joe, am I anonymous? You did an excellent job with this. The video at the end was the bomb. Thanks.

Joe Openshaw said...

Jeff,
No, anonymous was a commentor who said he was posting anonymous so he wouldn't get attacked.

I know many Jeffs. I appreciate your comments, and wonder each time which Jeff you are. Maybe a "new" Jeff to me. It doesn't matter, I still appreciate you.

I love Alicia Keys and was so glad to find that Mikey and Jaz used her song for their wedding video.

lane holcombe said...

Your argument is very well made, and if all religion was Christian, (and all Christians were as honest about their faith as many would have us believe), then this would be a very powerful argument, indeed.

But there are many other religions out there - both pre-dating and ante-dating the life of Christ. So such an approach would have to focus on the traditions of each of those religions in order to gain acceptace - *if* religion held the answer to the question of "marriage."

I agree with the anonymous poster that "marriage" is essentially a religious tradition. However, I feel that in the hallowed halls of our Justice system, religion should only inform our choices as a nation - not dictate them.

The question of "marriage," regardless the name, is about equal treatment and equal protection under the law. Given that our nation has from its inception recognized the unique nature of two "joined" individuals, it seems a perfectly legitimate progression for us to recognize that the we currently do *not* protect and provide for our citizens equally if we require any segment to submit to what amounts to arbitrary religious tests. And from that recognition we should either get government out of the business of marriage, or we should extend equal protection to all of our citizens.

Not being "the marrying kind," I'd prefer we got out of the business altogether. But short of that my vote is to let "the gays" marry one another.

lane (one of "the gays," of course)

Joe Openshaw said...

Lane,
Maybe you are not "the marrying kind" now but someday you and another may want the 1100 or so protections that civil marriage grants.

Thanks for your comment, you bring up some good points. I focused on Christianity because of what Kristi said in her comment. But you are right about the need to consider other religious traditions. Or, ignore them all, when considering marriage.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe. I always enjoy your blog. I'd like to see marriage available to anyone, as a civic matter, and let couples decide what religious slant they want to incorporate in their own marriage.
-SallyMac

john in hoover said...

It is amazing how gays spin the word of God to justify their sinful lifestyle. But the Bible says that will happen in the last days, so go figure.

Rev. (and I use that term loosely) Jeff Miner is GAY. He has a gay partner. The entire staff of his church is gay. Of course he is going to write that "same sex relationships are legitimate according to the Old and New Testament." But that entire argument has SO MANY HOLES that there is no way to legitimize it.

Stick to the scripture. Jesus NEVER EVER EVER said "Some people are just born Gay".... Turning a Eunuch into a modern day gay man is the biggest stretch I have EVER seen in my life. This is FUNNY.

Joe Openshaw said...

John,
There are a lot of things Jesus never said. Among them was any condemnation of homosexuals. In fact Jesus never said he was straight!

But when you study the ancient language and culture of the time and use it to interpret, much can be learned.

So, where are the "holes" in that argument? I think the words you quote are mine, not Rev. Miner's. blue italics are quotes from him. Black print is mine.

Trey said...

I've read this before, and find it to be the strongest Scriptural evidence that we are indeed born this way. Although I do not believe Jonathan and David's nor Ruth and Naomi's relationships were in any way sexual, there is nothing in the Bible, when interpreted in context, would condemn monogamous, loving, same-sex marriages.