Saturday, March 19, 2011

Voices of Faith Speak Out: Don't be wedded to every tradition

From The Rev. Douglas Long, of the United Church of Christ:

In truth the real shame is our ignorance. That we codify inequality is troubling enough but, as a Christian minister, there is a Biblical claim often made by my fundamentalist friends that must not go unchallenged. They claim the Bible teaches their view of "traditional marriage."

It does not.

As one who regularly officiates at weddings, I can assure you that one must choose carefully when citing scripture in this arena.....

The truth of the matter is that the Bible is not a good source supporting monogamous and mutual marriage that our society and culture has evolved to embrace.

More systematically than considering a favorite passage here and there, Vaughn Roste, the son of two Canadian Lutheran pastors with a seminary degree of his own, has undertaken a comprehensive study of passages in the Bible, researching more than 800 Biblical references that deal with marriage. He distilled from that study what he refers to as "The 12 Biblical Principles of Marriage." In summary, in the Bible:

  • Marriage consists of one man and one or more women.
  • Nothing prevents a man from taking on concubines in addition to the wife or wives he may already have.
  • The concept of a woman giving her consent to being married is foreign to the biblical mindset.
  • If a woman cannot be proven to be a virgin at the time of marriage, she shall be stoned
For those who claim these are all Old Testament laws and that the New Testament supersedes them, consider in the New Testament that:

  • Women are allowed to marry the man of their father's choosing ... because women are the property of their father until married and their husband afterwards.
  • Interfaith marriages are prohibited.
  • If a man dies childless, his brother must marry the widow
  • Divorce is forbidden, and finally ...
  • It's better, according to St. Paul, to not get married at all.

The point is this, anyone can pick and choose a verse or phrase from the Bible which, taken alone and literally, will appear to support their argument. While people of the Judaic-Christian tradition may disagree on the propriety of same-gender marriage, can we at least agree to not misuse the Bible in the process?

Those of us who consider ourselves progressive Christians value the Bible too. It is a huge part of the spiritual witness leading us to understand that all people are God's people, that every child is holy and that every person is part of the sacred family. We believe that God's love embraces all, and that to exclude any person would be contrary to the message of Jesus - and we joyfully welcome committed same-gender couples among us just as fully as we do committed couples composed of men and women.

1 comment:

Pomoprophet said...

great blog! added you to my blogroll!