What is the purpose of marriage? Why do two people vow to spend their lives intertwined? We are communal people who desire to be around and with others. But is that the only reason we marry? Is it only in order to have a buddy to go through life with or only to feed our sexual desires?
These are some of the questions that I have been wrestling with recently. I have been wresting with the issue of gay marriage. Am I for it or against it? Is there really anything biblical against the idea? Why is the government involved in marriage anyway, if it is a religious structure? I still have a ton of questions.
What I do know is the purpose marriage has seen some changes over time. The goal for Abraham’s kin was to ‘be fruitful and multiply.’ Marriage was a place of procreation. When you are born to Jewish parents, you are considered a Jew. Having children, building a family, was and still is a way of building up a religious people and nation. That is not the case for Christians. Children born to Christian parents are not necessarily Christian. We promise, at infant baptism, to raise them up in a way pleasing to God, but eventually that child will have to make the decision him/herself. Being born into a Christian home doesn’t make you a Christian. Procreation within marriage is not an evangelical tool or building up a religion. What is the purpose of marriage now?
Marriage is a place where the love of Christ can be shared between two people in deeper and more intimate ways. It is a place of caring, joy, support and service to one another. It is a place where sacrificial love is practiced and perfected. Marriage is a place where when life happens there is someone there who will walk through it with you. It is having someone who will hold your hand when your parents die and also make sure to change the toilet paper when it runs out. Marriage is a place where tenderness is demonstrated with a kiss after being apart for a while and finding joy in doing nothing else but holding each other. Marriage is a place where deep conversations about what makes us, us happen with honesty and love.
Marriage is what happens in the bed room, the bath room, the living room, the kitchen and all the other places life happens. You cannot confine marriage to one room of the house. How you deal with dirty dishes day in and day out is as important as how you handle what happens in the martial bed. For marriage to succeed you look at all aspects of life and you promise to do everything you can for the other person.
If this is marriage, why does it have to be limited to only a man and a woman?
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24) But David has a great post on other verses in the Bible that talk about marriage, ones we ignore constantly. How do we deal with those? How do we deal with the pieces of scripture on issues we ignore or have come to understand differently because of our post-modern thinking; like slavery, the role of woman in the church, and many others.
Peter Storey once said, “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, but Steve showed up. Now what are you going to do?” He also said, “Homosexuals are the only people we demand be celibate.” We give them no way to deal with their sexual desires. A strait person could get marriage and have as much sex as s/he would like. We don’t even make that big of a deal anymore if they stray within their marriage and decide that they desire someone else instead. Yet we don’t allow two homosexuals to join in a monogamous relationship where commitment is demanded and expected.
I’m still on the fence. I see my gay friends and I feel their pain. I see them look at my wife and I and I feel sorry they cannot experience our type of relationship for themselves. Yet, I cannot ignore the current Biblical thinking as well. So here I sit, pondering on the fence.