web analytics

What Is ‘Biblical Marriage’?

I finally got married to my partner of 18 years last week and we are both very happy. The experience has got me thinking about same-sex marriage, in particular the view that ‘biblical marriage’ is between one man and one woman. You won’t be surprised to learn that I competely disagree with this assessment.

The Bible is a collection of books written thousands of years ago when the culture, and particularly how women were viewed, was very different than it is today. In the Bible we see lots of examples of marriage, most of them not very pretty and certainly not a shining example of what marriage should be today. Women had a very low status in Biblical times and this is reflected in the frankly awful way in which women are treated in Biblical marriage. The Bible allows rapists to marry their victim with her having no choice in the matter, it allows soldiers to take girls as spoils of war and when a woman was widowed without a son, she was passed to her brother in law to be impregnated. All permitted in the Bible, none of which would be acceptable today.

So where does ‘one man one woman’ come from? Well it seems that it comes from Jesus who in Mathew 19:5 said “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”. But Jesus didn’t say this is the definitive definition of marriage. Some people may want him to have said that but he didn’t, he was passing comment. I could easily argue that people who get married and stay in contact with their parents are breaking Jesus’ instructions as he clearly said ‘leave his father and mother’ but that’s not what Jesus meant. We need to be careful not to attribute words to Jesus that he simply did not use. I believe that he was probably setting a new standard for how women were to be seen – joined as one to their husband instead of being property or something to be discarded when the man became bored.

I wouldn’t expect Jesus to have mentioned gay marriage because that wasn’t on his radar at the time and to be fair, the people he was talking to wouldn’t have had a clue what he was talking about if he did. But that doesn’t make gay marriage wrong. Jesus didn’t mention homosexuality at all. People seem to assume that he would be against it because of Paul’s writings in Romans and Corinthians, but the word ‘homosexuality’ didn’t appear in those writings until the 1940s. Before this, Paul’s letters talked about temple prostitution and men keeping boys as sexual playthings to show their dominance. Abusive sex. This would have been familiar in New Testimant Biblical times, my loving non-abusive relationship with my partner wouldn’t have been.

My marriage was a civil ceremony but it was done in front of God and I have personally prayed that he will bless my marriage. I am convinced that he will. I believe that being gay is more than just affirmed by God, I believe that it is his gift and I am fortunate that he chose to give it to me. My marriage to the man I love with all my being is the fruit of that gift, and I thank God for it.

Be the first to comment on "What Is ‘Biblical Marriage’?"

Leave a comment