Wednesday, November 07, 2012

To be like angels
Aspects of marriage, gay, straight and other

I want to start a sequence of posts - it might eventually become a book! - talking about some elements (not all) of the marriage debate. I believe that some very central things are being missed, and I want to challenge some of the assumptions that seem to underlie the argument, especially with respect to gay marriage. Part of my thinking was hinted at in this previous post but at that point my thinking had not properly coalesced. It has now - or, perhaps more accurately, it has now got to the point that some public thinking and writing on the topic would help me to firm up my views. The Hobo's comment here has made me realise that the time is ripe (I should also add that the Courier article linked was one that had been asked for by the editor.)

I expect to argue for the following:
- that marriage is an earthly arrangement, and not a heavenly one, and what this means
- that the church has the power to decide what constitutes marriage
- that the church has an obligation to explain and justify its understanding of marriage
- that an essential element of marriage is procreative, ie the presence of children (not the potential presence of children, so not the Roman Catholic view)
- that non-procreative unions (civil partnerships, whether gay or straight) can also be bearers of the holy, but differently to the procreative
- that the key hallmark of the 'biblical view of marriage' is not the Adam/Eve companionship element, but the 'one flesh' prohibition of divorce
- that our present arrangements are radically unjust, especially to children and to men
- that our cultural understandings, especially with regard to 'romantic love' and self-fulfilment, are idolatrous
- that if the justice issues are addressed, there is no necessary incompatibility between Christian faith and alternative marriage arrangements (eg gay relationships, polygamy and so on).

I expect this will take some time to explore, but the above is the direction and sequence that I plan to follow.

~~~

Index of posts:
1. The first foundational teaching of Jesus - resurrection, and supplemental post
2. The second foundational teaching of Jesus
3. The third foundational teaching of Jesus
4. The question of truth
5. Radical non-judgement
6. Pecca Fortiter
7. Choices in a broken world.

Additional posts:
It's not just about 'choice'
Gay marriage as a spandrel The separation of sex from the procreation of children (link to an Andrew Brown article)

One very important question hovering behind the sequence.

4 comments:

  1. Sounds thought-provoking, as always: looking forward to this one!

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  2. I'm looking forward to this too!
    Your first point seems to me to be frequently overlooked by church people! Clearly marriage existed before Christianity or Judaism.
    So I am unsure of your second point. Surely society at large has to decide what constitutes marriage, and may delegate the authority to administer it to a church or other organisation?

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  3. You should turn your reasonable atheism series into a book. That would sell to a mass market.

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  4. Roger - the second point is about the church defining marriage for itself, ie it has room to make its own mind up, rather than importing something already formed either from Scripture or from society.
    Observer - one day I shall do exactly that, it's something that I have had a lot of requests for. It's going to be called 'Dead Branch: the rise and fall of Protestant Atheism' :)

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