In response to my recent blog series surrounding the question, would God honor a same-sex marriage?, a number of you have offered objections to my conclusion that yes, God would. Everyone has been really respectful and humble in how they posed their refutations. And I cannot tell you how nice it is to have such a kind response, even from dissenting voices.
Honestly, I do not currently have the time or energy to answer each and every person directly. But, I did notice a few recurring themes in why people disagreed. And since many of you were nice enough to offer your critiques, the least I could do is return the favor.
So, here it goes…
You only selected certain passages that would help your case, and didn’t take into consideration everything else the Bible has to say about God, sex, and marriage.
I will readily admit that this blog series does not have the detail and nuance that this topic really deserves. However, I have noticed over time that people don’t tend to stick with me all the way through a long series, or even long posts in a short series. So, I’ve decided that if I have to choose between people reading and engaging my writing and people hearing everything I have to say about a subject, I’ll go with the first option. I’m much more interested in getting people thinking and involved in the conversation than in spelling out exactly why they should think what I think.
Bearing this in mind, I simply could not bring every somewhat-relevant passage to bear on this blog series. For one thing, working on an exhaustive treatment would mean I’d never get any sleep and my family would never see me. For another thing, I don’t think that is a good approach to biblical theology anyhow. Often, when people say that my theology is unbiblical, what they mean is that I did not inundate them with a deluge of proof texts to support my point. And if you’ve spent much time reading religious YouTube comments, you’d think that the way to make a biblical argument was to prove that you have the most Bible verses on your side. I’ve actually heard people make arguments along the lines of “I have ten Bible verses in my favor, and you only have five. So I win!” That’s just bad biblical theology. Rather a truly biblical theology is one that is firmly grounded in the fundamental principles that Scripture teaches.
So, I don’t have to provide a laundry list of Bible verses to support the idea that God is love or that humans are made in His image. As scarce as such verses are, I think that they explicitly state a fundamental idea that the rest of Scripture assumes. Of course, people are certainly welcome to disagree with that or try to refute it. And I’d be happy to hear their rationale.
Even if God is willing to work with exceptions to His ideals for marriage, that doesn’t mean He will do so with all exceptions. Even with all the exceptions in the Old Testament God still condemned homosexuality, and there just aren’t any positive examples of gay marriage in Scripture.
While it is certainly true that there are no examples of same-sex marriages in the Bible that God blesses, I don’t think that this should be a reason to think God wouldn’t honor one. However, to be fair, what we’re dealing with here is an argument from silence. I think that we could reasonable take the larger principle that Scripture does teach, namely that we are built for covenant relationship, and draw it out to a practical conclusion for gay marriage, even in the absence of an explicit and positive example of gay marriage in the Bible. In fact, we already do this very thing for interracial marriages. To my knowledge (off the top of my head), there are no positive instances of an interracial marriage in the Bible, and there are even passages condemning such things (cf. Deut 7:3, et al.). However, as Christians today, we take the much larger principle of racial equality (1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:28; Col 3:11) to be normative, and so consider such prohibitions against interracial marriage to be culturally and temporally conditioned. What I am asking is that we be consistent and willing to do the same for the issue of LGB marriages as well.
Couldn’t you use this same argument to support pedophilic relationships?
Upfront, let’s be honest, this is a slippery-slope argument. However, while most gay affirming people might dismiss it offhand as fallacious and even offensive, I think it deserves addressing, especially because it was a concern that I wrestled with myself as I worked through this series, and if for no other reason than that it is such a common objection. I think we need to be fair about what it is we are afraid the slope is sliding toward. Odd, or even gross, as it may be for us to think of a 50 year old man marrying a 13 year old girl, this has actually been a perfectly acceptable form of marriage for most cultures throughout history. In fact, for all we know, this is exactly the sort of marriage that Joseph and Mary had (and what marriage is more blessed by God than that one?). So, as firm as that legal age of consent is for us and our culture, it really is only there because we’ve agreed as a culture to put it there (as opposed to a year before or after). So, marriage as a form of relationship (contra. marriage as an institution) is a much more blurry concept.
With this in mind, I think that we can safely agree that not all relationships are healthy. An older man taking advantage of a young girl is not healthy, which is why we have laws against pedophilic relationships in the first place. However, if both people are in a place to understand what it is that they are doing, I honestly cannot see any inherent reason why it would be wrong, even if culturally we continue to define it as such. Now, I know that last sentence probably makes me sound really creepy. But when you strip away all of the cultural conditioning, the “right” place to stop on that slippery slope is difficult to define anyway. Still, just to make sure we’re on the same page, I do think that pedophilic relationships will always run into the problem of inequality among the partners. Developmentally, children just cannot enter into a mature and mutually loving relationship with an adult. The number of years a person has been alive on this planet is not the determining factor, but the person’s ability to reciprocate romantic love in a healthy way.1 Inherent and unavoidable as this problem is for pedophilic relationships, this is simply a problem that homosexual marriages don’t necessarily have.
Once again, thank you all for being willing to wrestle through this with me! I really do appreciate your humble and loving critiques.
Keep thinking, and keep loving!
1: I do want to say that I think there is a very real difference between someone consenting to a romantic relationship, and someone being capable of a mutually loving and romantic relationship. Children can be brainwashed rather easily, and a five year old can consent to a very unhealthy thing at the coercion of an adult. Of course, adults are not immune from this ourselves. But we do possess certain developmental capacities to help prevent this which children don’t yet have.