Monday, July 12, 2004

Why FMA?

The Great Uniter of our nation said this past February that "The union of a man and a woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith." This week the Senate is debating the Federal Marriage Amendment to see if marriage can "be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society," as the President believes it cannot. This debate is being carried out for the sole purpose of forcing a vote during an election year. This is a tactic of the proponents of the amendment.

The President, an expert on historical and international affairs further commented earlier this year that, "After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization," Definitely the expert on confusion, our President further stated that "their actions have created confusion on an issue that requires clarity."

I agree this is an issue of much confusion. Let me provide a little clarity. Since many of the proponents of the FMA point to the emphasis the Bible puts on family and traditional marriage, and argue that gay marriage would certainly undermine these great institutions, I thought I would investigate what the Bible has to say about this great institution.

Now, mind you, the following is a strict literalist interpretation of the Bible, which is just as most evangelicals would have it. No need to be throwing confusing details like historical context or linguistic nuances in there.

We start off with a very cheerful passage in Hebrews 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure... Although perhaps if we should all honor marriage, then we should let gay people marry. I know, I know, I'm being silly.

But other passages paint a very different view of the great institution of marriage.
Paul the Apostle, who causes most Baptists to just salivate with Pavlovian glee upon mention of his name, isn't so keen on the idea of marriage.

I Corinthians 7:1 It is good for a man not to marry
7:8-9 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. / But if they cannot control themseles, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Sure, Paul ends up saying, "go ahead and marry," but it's just so you won't have sex outside of wedlock. That's a fairy-tale wedding come true. Get married so you can get knocked up.

That house with a dog, and a kid, and a white picket fence? Forget it. Paul makes it clear later on, (v. 28) But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

Why is Paul so down on marriage? Verse 33-34 explains it, a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world - how he can please his wife - /and his interests are divided [between this and God]. Paul just wants us to live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. (v 35)

And apparently Paul isn't so far out on a limb here. Jesus said it first in Matthew 19:9-11 [Jesus replied,] "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." / The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry." / Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given."

Romans 7:3 also emphasizes that if you divorce while your spouse is still alive, and you re-marry, you are commiting adultery. Why aren't we passing an Adultery Marriage Amendment?

Ultimately, though, I guess marriage isn't all that important to God. Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 22:30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage. The ties that bind apparently are truly until death do you part. God doesn't do windows nor weddings.

Oh, and for all of you with mail-order brides or wives from another country, repent sinners: You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel's guilt. ...Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and your foreign wives.Ezra 10:10

So, why bother with the FMA? If these Bible passages are to be believed, God doesn't seem to be all gung-ho over marriage. I guess if we're saying we value it now, then the institution has changed over millenia. Or maybe Dubya is calling God a liar.

Come to think of it, if wedding is about all of this, why don't we let them pass it?

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