Same Sex Marriage, the Supreme Court, and Three Reasons Christians Should Not Marry
The Supreme Court’s decision last week on same sex marriage has created a firestorm in Christian circles. Some protested while others thankfully praised the decision. But, whether a Christian is LGBTQ or not, I’d like to point out 3 reasons why Christians should not get married. And, since I am married and my dear Wife whom-I-love-so-much-and-would-do-anything-for (I love you baba!) will likely read this, I will offer one reason why Christians should marry.
Three Reasons Christians Should Not Marry
1. Jesus said very little that was positive about marriage. Despite everything you’ve heard from Dan Brown, Jesus never married. This, in and of itself, should cause Christians to question marriage. Now, I’m not going to say that Jesus was anti-marriage, but he did criticize the institution. For example, see Luke 20: 34-35:
Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age (the age to come) and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.
2. Paul, arguably our most important interpreter of the Christian life, actually encouraged people to not marry. According to Paul, marriage is a concession for those followers of Christ who are too weak to control themselves. (Yikes!) In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul wrote:
To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passions … But if you do marry, you do not sin … Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life and I would spare you that … from now on, let even those who have wives be as thought they had none … For the present form of this world is passing away.
3. The institution of marriage creates an exclusive club of “us” and “them.” René Girard has argued that the way humans form identity is by creating differences to show who is in and who is out. For many Christians, marriage has become one of those key differences. Despite what Jesus and Paul said, if you are in your mid 30s and not married, many Christians will assume that there’s something “wrong” with you, because for these Christians marriage and family have become an inseparable part of Christian identity. Clearly, for Jesus and Paul, that was not the case, but here’s the point: if Christians use marriage as an identity marker that separates “us” from “them,” then marriage has become a source of conflict dividing the community of believers into “us” and “them” and perhaps the most Christian thing to do is to not get married. This is incredibly important when it comes to last week’s Supreme Court decision, because this is not just about who is married and who isn’t married; it’s about who can married and who can’t. Christians who seek to exclude the LGBTQ community from marriage must ask if they are participating in a sacrificial worldview of inclusion and exclusion. When Paul said that the present form of this world is passing away, he meant that the sacrificial tendency to form identity by excluding the “other” is passing away. After all, in Galatians 3:28 he claimed that the major identity markers of his day that excluded people from full participation in the community no longer applied. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” When Christians use marriage to create another category of difference to determine who is included and who is excluded, we undermine the oneness of Christ Jesus who breaks down the barriers separating “us” from “them.”
One Reason Christians Should Marry
Okay. That being said, there is at least one reason that Christians should get married.
1. God is making all things new, including the institution of marriage. When God makes all things new the present form of this world that is based on the sacrificial formula of inclusion and exclusion passes away. What do we have left? The Kingdom of God, where everyone is invited to participate in relationships that are based on giving and receiving in God’s Holy Spirit of nonviolent love. Marriage, at its best, is a sign of God’s love for the world and so who are we to exclude people from participating in it? The Holy Spirit worked through the Supreme Court last week by inviting everyone to participate in this institution.
To my LGBTQ friends: What Paul said is true, “those who marry will experience distress,” but those who marry will also experience great joy. Christian marriage is about two people reflecting the unconditional love of God to the world. We need more people doing that. The Supreme Court’s decision last week was a sign that God is making this institution new. And I say thanks be to God.