Is gay marriage scriptural?
by An interested reader
Yes, gay marriage falls within the range of what can reasonably be called scriptural. Here is our reasoning.
"But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father & mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. So they are no longer two but one. What there- fore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." Mark 10:6-9
(1) Although this answer of Jesus was made in the context of speaking about divorce, do you think that Jesus is giving the "definition" of marriage (as an unbreakable union between a man and his wife) in Mk 10:6-9?
(2) Would any Christian think of changing the words of Jesus from "a man shall leave... and be joined to his wife" to "a man shall leave... and be joined to his husband"?
(3) Is there any room to make such a change in wording and interpretation?
Rick Brentlinger Answers
"Do you think that Jesus is giving the "definition" of marriage (as an unbreakable union between a man and his wife) in Mk 10:6-9?"
No, Jesus is not giving a strict definition which limits marriage to one man with one woman for life. That is the standard interpretation but it reads into the text what Jesus does NOT
say and then hopes the rest of us will believe that what Jesus did not say is scriptural truth.
Some background on this interesting text is in order. Jesus has completed His ministry in Galilee and has begun the walk that will take Him to Jerusalem and the crucifixion. At the time of Mark 10, I believe Jesus is in Perea, which was ruled by Herod Antipas.
You will recall that Antipas had John the Baptist beheaded because John had reproved Herod for an incestuous relationship with his stepdaughter. The questions the Pharisees ask Jesus throughout His ministry are usually insincere, as is this question about divorce. They are seeking to catch Jesus in His words, hoping He will say something they can use to accuse Him.
It is likely they were hoping Jesus would say something about marriage which could be construed as attacking Antipas. Perhaps their plan was to relay Jesus' answer to Antipas so that Jesus would suffer the same fate as John.
In any case, Jesus answers their question in the context in which it was asked (a context which has nothing to do with gay marriage). Jesus tells the Pharisees they should NOT be divorcing their wives "for every cause."
Compare the companion passage in Matthew 19:3-12 for the "for every cause"
phrasing, which Mark omits.
This question was a hot topic during the time frame of Jesus' earthly ministry. There were two schools of thought on Deuteronomy 24:1, which were hotly debated by Jews in the first century. The point of the Pharisees question seems to be,
Is Rabbi Hillel right or
is Rabbi Shammai right
about divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1?
Hillel interpreted Deu 24:1 as teaching that Jewish men had wide latitude in divorce. Hillel taught that Jewish men were free to divorce their wife "for every cause."
Hillel's followers seem almost misogynistic to our modern minds, believing they could divorce a wife if she burned the soup or wasn't cheerful enough.
Shammai took a more restrictive view. He interpreted Deu 24:1 as teaching that a Jewish man's ability to divorce his wife was limited to divorce over moral issues.
Jesus Absolutely Shocks
Then Jesus goes beyond what the Rabbis taught when He instructs His disciples that a man can commit adultery against his wife, Mark 10:11-12, and in a situation like that, she is within her rights to put him away, to divorce him.
- He rejects the antinomian liberal view of Hillel and many of the Pharisees.
- He partially embraces the more conservative view of Shammai.
This must have been an incredible statement for Jewish men who viewed their wives as second class citizens. Jesus intentionally elevates the status of Jewish women by His answer.
"Would any Christian think of changing the words of Jesus from "a man shall leave... and be joined to his wife" to "a man shall leave... and be joined to his husband"? Is there any room to make such a change in wording and interpretation?
Moses wrote Genesis 2:24 under inspiration of God. In plainer words, he writes what God intended us to believe, without mentioning Complementarianism or gay marriage. He is writing some 2500 years after the marriage of Adam and Eve, looking back on the event and describing it in terse detail.
Of course, Moses does not have gay marriage in view when he writes. He is concerned with Jewish people obeying God's command to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth so that the seed of Abraham will be as
a. the stars of heaven
b. the dust of the earth and
c. the sand on the seashore.
That being said, even anti-gay scholars and authors like university professor Thomas Schmidt admit that when Moses wrote Genesis, "the human author of Genesis was not consciously prohibiting same-sex relations when he wrote the creation account."
The problem with the Complementarian interpretation of Genesis 2:24 is that it reads into scripture something scripture does not say and then teaches as scriptural truth, what the scripture does NOT say (a proscription of gay marriage based on Gen 2:24).
Similarly, to use the Mark passage as a proof text FOR gay marriage also goes far beyond what the passage says. I would not use Mark 10 to advocate for gay marriage.
Matthew 19:3-12 Provides Helpful Insight
Matthew 19:3-12 provides an interesting perspective into gay marriage as Jesus intended His disciples to understand it. Jesus' answer to the question about "divorce for any cause" is more fully recorded by Matthew than by Mark. In Matthew, Jesus lists three excep-tions to the Adam and Eve marriage paradigm ("all men cannot receive this saying").
1. born eunuchs
2. man-made eunuchs
3. metaphysical eunuchs
Jesus contrasts born eunuchs (whom even virulently anti-gay evangelicals like Dr. Robert Gagnon admit were probably homosexuals), who by virtue of being "born" eunuchs, had never made a decision to be eunuchs,
with metaphysical eunuchs, men who did make a decision not to marry so they could better serve the kingdom of God.
This contrast by Jesus seems to leave room for the understanding that born eunuchs were exempt from the Adam and Eve marriage paradigm (a man with a woman) yet born eunuchs were different from metaphysical eunuchs who make a personal decision not to marry.
At the very least, the implication is that born eunuchs are allowed to marry a same sex partner. That understanding seems clear from a careful reading of the Matthew 19 passage.
What say ye?