Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Hypocrisy of Traditional Marriage...and Divorce


...just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Ephesians 5:25

Over at Salon.com, Glenn Greenwald raises some compelling questions about the hypocrisy of those who deny gays and lesbians the right to marry because it conflicts with 'traditional marriage'...and then go out and get divorced...which does not comply with 'traditional marriage.' Karl Rove is the latest victim of this infected logic, his second divorce, this time cashing in on Texas' no-fault divorce law to walk away from his 24-year marriage...to a woman. Texas' law reads:

(1) the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that has destroyed the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation; or this no-fault ground (2) living separate and apart without cohabitation for 3 years.

We do not mean to be insensitive to the intense pain and confusion of divorce. Marriage is a life-long covenant that is entered by two willing adults who often find that it is a commitment too difficult to keep, wracked by the complexity of each spouse, the relationship and larger societal dynamics. Relationship is always hard and the call to forgive, love and serve another human being is one of the toughest challenges that anyone takes up.

However, like Greenwald, we find that current laws, in all but a few states, are unjust because they limit who can enter into these challenging covenants while allowing spouses currently married to exit them at will. To use biblical arguments condemning same-sex marriage while allowing for liberal divorce laws is hypocritical. In fact, these Bible-beating warriors for 'the sanctity of marriage' should be making it as difficult as possible to get divorced, should they not?

EasyYolk is compelled that the Story of God and humanity contained in the Bible scripts us to care about 'the sanctity of marriage:' the challenge of loving, serving and forgiving one other person for the rest of our lives reflects the love, service and forgiveness extended to humanity in Jesus of Nazareth. To be sanctified is to live (albeit imperfectly) this marriage vision.

EasyYolk is also compelled that this vision should be freely extended to our gay brothers and lesbian sisters in a democratic state like the United States where the concept of marriage is clearly a contested concept. If conservative Christians are going to create marriage policy by a simplistic proof-texting of the Bible, they must take divorce very, very seriously. The only leniency that Jesus gives to couples seeking divorce is the porneia clause of Matthew's Gospel (Matthew 5:32). The Greek word porneia is where we get the English word 'pornography' and is usually interpreted as sexual infidelity by one of the marriage partners. This is a far cry from 'no-fault.' We do not advocate this form of simplistic Bible quoting to legislate morality, but conservatives do, especially with gay marriage and abortion. Why, then, would they not hold heterosexuals (98% of the population) to the same standard as homosexuals (the marginalized 2%) in a country with a sacred Constitution with a vital principle of 'majority rules while honoring the rights of the minority?'

In addition, we read the half dozen 'homosexuality' passages in the Bible as a condemnation of specific forms of nonconsensual, homosexual behavior common in the ancient world: pagan temple prostitution (religious), military gang rapes (political) and pederastry (social--when a wealthy male would buy a young boy to be his sex slave). These cut against covenantal love-forgiveness-service. We would add that 'traditional marriages' (one man-one woman) tend to be one-up-one-down relationships in our patriarchal world: one spouse (usually female) is the marginalized, voiceless one as the other (usually male) dominates. This cannot possibly reflect the reign of God inaugurated in Jesus who transcended all of our identity-markers: Jew and Greek, male and female, slave and free.

Karl Rove is perhaps best known for his strategy in 2004 to galvanize conservative voters by adding anti-same-sex-marriage propositions to the the ballot in as many states as possible. He knew that these voters would come out in droves to vote against same-sex marriages (with a simple quoting of the Bible by their fundamentalist pastors along with catch-phrases about 'sanctity' and 'traditional') and for George W. Bush. It worked, unfortunately. What's worse: the massive effects of 8 years of Bush or the heinous strategy that gave him this power in the first place?

It's way past time that the American Body of Christ reverses course on this vital issue.

--Theological Autopilot

1 comment:

  1. My EasYolk friends,
    I appreciate your thoughts and observations on the matter of same sex marriage. I also would like to see our conservative Christian friends put more energy into the real martial issue facing the church - divorce.

    I find myself increasingly compelled to support same-sex marriage, even though I would argue from a biblical perspective (hopefully not by "proof texting") that homosexuality is one of many products of fallen and broken humanity. Even though I have this theological perspective on the matter, I still think Christians should drop the same-sex marriage issue. Its coming off more hateful than it is loving.

    Also, what if marriage (as a covenantal relationship) was decided in the context of the church. While, the civil understanding of marriage (as a legally binding relationship) was decided in the context of the state?

    Any thoughts?

    ReplyDelete