I can’t believe it took me so long, but it occurred to me this morning that the Biblical standard of marriage could best be described like this: Marriage is between one man and whatever woman/women he wants to marry. I could be snarky and add that it’s strikingly similar to the marriage standard of a number of prominent conservative male talkers and thinkers. But I won’t.
Now that the issue of equal marriage is once again front and center, there’s a lot of handwringing among progressive/liberal friends of mine, across a broad spectrum of religious and non-religious affiliations, regarding how to engage people who cherry pick verses from the Bible to justify their opposition to marriage equality.
Here are my thoughts on this, heavily influenced by my gaymarriage (we like to say it as one word in our house) to PW. Let me tell you, being able to love and live in gaymarriage with a Bible scholar, who mines both the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Testament in their original languages, is like living in a research laboratory for religion. I find it thrilling, but then you probably already knew that I’m a big gaymarried weirdo.
Raise your hand if you’re tired of hearing people reduce scripture to prop up arguments that condemn people for love. As people are wont to say these days, “I know, right?!” This sort of scripture mumblety-peg seems to me to be an extremely unfaithful use of these ancient texts we have inherited. And, I would argue that even if you’re an atheist, you have inherited these texts, since they inform (for better or for worse) so much of the literature, art, music, language, laws, and architecture that surround us.
More and more I wonder, whatever happened to Jesus’ very simple teaching, “With God, all things are possible”? It seems to me that Christians who explain resurrection by citing this verse, but then suddenly exile it when the topic is queer people being able to be ordained or to marry each other, show an extraordinary lack of both faith and imagination. I would go so far as to suggest that the willful exclusion of one of the most expansive verses in the Christian testament demonstrates willful opposition to what the Bible relentlessly shows that God wants for all of God’s people: freedom, justice, and fullness of life. “With God, all things are possible” also happens to be the state motto of Ohio, a big swing state. I don’t know about you, but I find that to be a particularly delicious gaymarriage coincidence!
As I think I’ve said before here, I believe that the progress toward full inclusion of queer people in the Church and in society is God speaking to us, here and now, through a relentless urge of redeeming Love.
My suggestion to those of us who will find ourselves in these sorts of conversations–whether in real life or on the Internet–is: don’t get sucked into arguing with people who abuse scripture this way. Save your tootsies from scripture mumblety-peg. Stand tall, be out and proud (whether you’re family, ally, or queer), and represent all that is possible in Love. But if you’re tempted to to cite a Bible verse, feel free to lean on that expansive teaching from an ancient and still prominent unmarried, homeless, rebellious Jewish rabbi who, from the stories we have, never seemed interested in playing scripture mumblety-peg with anyone.
Thus ends my locker room pep talk. Now let’s get out there and win one in the name of Love!