Same Sex Marriage in the Image of God?

Yesterday I was asked to participate in a Chapel Conversation on campus. This particular Chapel Conversation is called "Jesus is Crackers" and it takes on controversial topics. The speaker is to address a hot-button topic by presenting both sides of the issue.

There are two microphones, one on each side of the stage. You are to start on one side of the stage and argue one side of the case. You then walk to the other microphone and disagree with yourself. And then the chapel ends on that open-ended note.

My assigned topic was same sex marriage. Specifically, can same sex marriages be considered holy and sanctified? Phrased another way, are same sex marriages reflections of the image of God?

This was my argument for the position that, no, same sex marriages are not reflective of the image of God:

Same sex marriages are not in the image of God because when God created humanity in God's image Genesis 1.27 says "male and female he created them." Thus, the model for marriage is Adam and Eve. The basis of marriage is biological complementarity. This understanding is supported in Romans 1 where Paul describes same sex relations as "unnatural." In light of this, the command God gives to marriage, as a reflection of God's image, is reproduction ("be fruitful and multiply"). Obviously, same sex marriages are not based on biological complementarity and cannot procreate. Thus, same sex marriages cannot reflect the image of God. The theology informing this understanding is creation theology.
This was my argument for the position that, yes, same sex marriages are reflective of the image of God:
Same sex marriages are in the image of God because the model for marriage is Yahweh and Israel rather than Adam and Eve. Thus, the basis of marriage is grace and election, God choosing Israel from among the nations. The primacy of election/grace over biology is supported in Romans 11 where God is found "unnaturally" grafting the Gentiles into the covenant with Israel. In light of this, the command God gives to marriage to reflect God's image is covenant faithfulness. Obviously, same sex marriages display the grace of election and can model covenant faithfulness. Thus, same sex marriages can reflect the image of God. The theology informing this understanding is salvation history.

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67 thoughts on “Same Sex Marriage in the Image of God?”

  1. Adding to this, the model of marriage based upon election ("choosing you") and covenant faithfulness as the reflection of God's image also supports the idea that childless heterosexual marriages and celibate marriages to God/Kingdom are also considered image-bearing marriages of the Imago Dei.

  2. Would a person have to affirm the idea the idea of salvation by election, then?  Or could a more universal approach to salvation be cohesive with this argument?  Or do you think these things have nothing to do with each other?

  3. I'm beginning to wonder that for human life, a question more important than "what's the nature of the god who created us?" is the question, "what's the nature of the God we are creating?"

    Your willingness to think beyond well trodden paths creates a different sense of god for us to feel: out of this big pile of features pertaining to god's nature--a pile that's accessible for any one to grab from--you chose the ones you did based on the nature you hoped to see. Someone with a different hope wouldn't have grabbed the features you did..... 

  4. I appreciate this perspective. I don't necessarily agree with either 100%, but I've known for a while now that there is more than one side to the argument (which I've become tired of hearing).

  5. Very well reasoned and thought-out debate.  However, my feeling is most couples, same-sex or otherwise, do not have these thoughts racing through their minds as they stand at the alter.  Somewhere at the conclusion of this discussion a judgment must be made. (Feel free to label me as "intolerant"). 

    Where in all the discussions over the past few years about same-sex marriage is the concern for children?  Aside from any religous or moral objection, the children who grow up in same-sex unions are routinely ignored in these conversations. I think this is because same-sex marriages are not about children, but only the desires of the couple. 

    Every child deserves both a mother and a father.  It is a bad thing, not a good thing, to grow up without both. Imagine what it must feel like to go through your entire life not knowing who your biological father (or mother) is? Due to the desires of others, never to have the most basic bond one human being can have with another? In this regard, same-sex marriages are very selfish, and weaken rather than strengthen the very foundation of human society.  This fact alone seems to trump any theological rationale affirming the value of these unions.

  6. That is a great summary of both groups.  Its the best theological language I've ever seen for the pro-SSM understanding.

    Two questions: 1) How would the fact of the now and not yet nature of salvation work here?  Creation is easily seen to all (though we may deny aspects of it).  If you are basing something on salvation history I think it might only be seen by the eyes of faith and hence really isn't the basis for things in this existence.  2) At least the Catholic church would teach that the real model for marriage is Christ and the church.  Yahweh and Israel being shadows of the fulfillment.  And the church has always been a "she" - the bride and the bridegroom.  Would basing SSM on salvation history cause ripples into that understanding?

  7. There are particular and universal aspects to election. Yahweh chooses Israel from among the nations in a particular act of election. But God does this to bless all the nations (electing all of humanity, eventually, in Christ).

  8. No perception of "intolerant" at all, Sam. However, the starting point of same-sex marriage is not procreative, merely state-sanctioned affirmation of a committed relationship between two people of the same sex. Children sometimes are brought into same-sex unions from earlier heterosexual marriages or created within them using aids available to people of both sexual orientations. My guess would be that a majority of same-sex unions do not involve children. When they do, however, preliminary studies (and this is a fairly new area of studay) suggest same-sex couples are neither better nor worse parents than opposite-sex couples.

  9. Sam, the research on the issue of children is mixed in this area and it seems that both sides can marshal support for their point of view.  The argument that a child needs both parents has some intuitive appeal, but I don't think it is appropriate to assume that two men or two women can't bring both fatherly and motherly attributes into a parenting situation.  I have a niece who is being raised by two women and some would say she needs a father, but it may be that she just needs at least one of her parents to be more firm with her.  There are plenty of opposite-gender parenting relationships that have this problem.

    Perhaps more to the point, though: your argument would seem to preclude any type of adoption ("not knowing who your biological father/mother is").  I would argue that any kind of adoption (opposite-gender, same-gender, single parent) would be better than having a parent who doesn't want you.  And, depending on what research you believe, far from being a "lesser of two evils" situation, the children raised in a same-gender household may be doing as well as those in opposite-gender households.

  10. I cannot help but respond to the "tired of hearing" comment:  I'm tired of it, too. All I want is to be recognized in all the legal aspects of my same-sex relationship as those in heterosexual relationships are recognized, with all the tax incentives, all the medical and legal rights, and everything else that is withheld from me in my relationship with my beloved. I'm tired of being ineligible of the health care provided my "single" partner.   I'm tired of living like my life and who I love and sacrifice for doesn't count.  I tired of being treated like a single person without any of the legal rights as the married person that I am.  And I'm tired of families with children in my congregation who struggle to provide health care for their kids (partner not included, of course) because they are not even recognized as a family.  So, noted. If you want to end the argument, do the justice we are commanded to do.  Give us our legal rights and leave the morality questions out of it.

  11. Yes, my argument is "intuitive" and not based on any research.  It is based on personal experience. 

    I do not see the issue of adoption as germane here.  Those children already exist.  Same-sex marriage is an affirmation of the attitude that children, whether here already or however they may later arrive, are much like jewelry, e.i., accessories after-the-fact.  At best they are another form of self-affirmation.  At worst they are bling.

    Fatherhood goes way beyond "being more firm".  It is the very act of creation itself, and as such the most profound and basic of all activities which define us as human beings.  It is our closest connection to the Infinite.  (Did we not agree on this matter the other day, in terms of creativity?)

    I think it is dishonest to say that any child could be just as whole as a human being without both their mother and their father.  People make all kinds of errors and create children who later go wanting.  But to purposefully enter a union where any subsequent children have, by definition, little hope of ever knowing both their real parents and genetic siblings seems self-centered and egotistical.

    These are my thoughts.  I could be wrong.

  12. When speaking of the legislation concerning same-sex marriages, I'm with you 100%, Jill. Regardless of a Christianity's stance on the issue, we do NOT live in a country that should be dictated in any way by religious preferences. And for those who believe that religion should inform politics, I hold fiercely to the notion that we cannot legislate morality: the temperance movement is a prime example of why it doesn't help anyone.
    I think more are with you than you know, Jill. =)

  13.  Sam, you're absolutely right. We should be thinking about the children. Which is why we should try to have all children raised by lesbian couples since the best research done in the field has shown that children growing up with lesbian parents are extremely well adjusted and experience physical and sexual abuse at an astounding rate of 0%. This compares with a 26% rate in other households. These are national studies of the highest calibre now in their 25th years and ongoing.

    If we were to follow your arbitrary logic that a child needs one parent with a penis and one with a vagina then we'd exclude the millions of single mothers, multiple family households, children being raised by grandparents, foster parents, adopted children etc... There is no one best way to build a family (except maybe a lesbian family - research shows), and even if there were it would be unthinkable to attempt to restrict all families to that model. Life is to complex for that.

  14. The second argument uses "rather than" instead of "along with."  Why the false dichotomy?  If the model under consideration is "Yahweh and Israel," then why is not the entire book of Hosea given a place at the table, or at least a fleeting reference, given that Hosea actually bears witness to BOTH models?  

    Does it not seem to you that the structure of the debate essentially maps nuance onto false dichotomy, thereby reducing the level of understanding rather than adding to it?

  15. In fact, perhaps qb should state it more strongly:  the prophecy attributed to Hosea actually uses one of your two models as the lens through which, in a sustained, metaphorical, and analogical way, it explores the other of your two models.

  16. Finally, is it not eminently arguable that the procreative mandate established in Genesis constitutes a thematic thread extending from cover to cover (e. g., disciples making disciples as an extension of the covenant with Abraham) that, in order to be fully faithful to the scriptural witness REQUIRES the correlating emphasis of the redemptive-history theme?  How is it possible to separate these two dimensions without doing violence to the fuller, deeper picture?

  17. Are not both of the above ways of doing theology problematic?  After all, neither begin with Jesus Christ.  The theology of the New Testament at its core is neither creational nor salvation history but rather is apocalyptic -- "In the beginning was the Word" -- and hence shouldn't this whole conversation over these matters be different?

  18. To clarify, the arguments above aren't being presented as a logical either/or. Thus, there is no false dichotomy in play.

  19. Yes. I could have proceeded this way. Given that the image of God is best captured in Christ we could ask the following: Can a same sex marriage be Christ-like (i.e., cruciform, servant-oriented, sacrificial, loving, kenosic)?

  20.  "I think this is because [child-free] marriages are not about children, but only the desires of the couple."

    Darn right mine is!

  21.  Sam, I was adopted at age two weeks.  I never new my biological parents, though I know a few "non-identifying" facts about them.  I can truthfully say with my whole heart, the (imperfect) love and acceptance of my *real* parents, the ones who actually raised me, was more than sufficient to allay any questions I had about my identity wrt the biological parents.  The problems I had to sort through wrt family of origin issues - and *everybody* has these - had nothing to do with my biological parents.  So I have gone through my entire life as you describe, and I have yet, at age 56, to feel any kind of desire to seek them out.  Sorry if I sound a little arch; unfortunately, the opinion you express is an unsupported generalization held by many.  I assure you, children raised by non-biological parents are not automatically deprived of an identity.  Blood is NOT thicker than water.


  22. As someone who had a father who did a good job ruining my self esteem due to my improper femaleness, I'd love to have lesbian parents.

  23.  Sam, see my reply to you above.  Adoption is entirely germane; it is the term the New Testament uses to describe our relationship to God.  Only Jesus was "begotten, not made" (and the theological use of this term bears no resemblance to what human males do).  All the rest of us were made and adopted.  Did you know that when a Roman citizen adopted someone, the adopted child could never be disowned?


  24. Richard, both your arguments are good.

    Here's how I would understand this in an Orthodox framework:

    The model for marriage is Christ and the church.  The basis of marriage is the union of like and unlike.  The command that reflects the image of God is to "love one another the way I have loved you" - self-giving love in humility unto death (all kinds).  The theology informing this understanding is the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinitarian Godhead. (Genderedness does not have to do with being made "in God's image" because God is incorporeal; Jesus was incarnated as a gendered male not because maleness is somehow a part of the Godhead, or better than femaleness, but in order to accomplish what he had to do, and saying and doing what he did as a woman would have just gotten him ignored and banished, not necessarily crucified.  His entrance bodily into history was in "the fullness of time", and that can't be ignored.)

    I would never deny that two people of the same sex can love one another with Christlike love unto death; they can and do.  And you don't have to be married or have genital sexual relations for that to happen.  GSR, or even the capacity for GSR or for production offspring, is not the ground for defining someone as "human": Jesus was the most fully human being there ever was, and he did not have GSR and did not produce offspring.  The current theological discussion about this, even raising it to the level you have expressed, Richard, is still truncated for several reasons, one of which being that there's no place generally in our theology for struggle, so of course we don't have much to say about celibacy, and we perpetuate the notion that marriage is all romance all the time and is the highest relational good.

    I don't believe two people of the same sex can be "married" because I
    believe what the Church has taught about marriage for 2000 years: we pursue becoming fully human with, among other things,
    limiting GSR to the relationship of marriage defined as between one man
    and one woman. 
    However, the "institution of marriage" developed over time.  I believe
    that we should do "marriage" like they do in Europe; any one person can
    be a domestic partner with any other person, and everyone who wants to
    couple up has to register with the state, for social service and
    statistical purposes; that state registration is their "official marriage".  If a two people want religious sanctioning for their coupling, then they seek that on their own, and religious bodies have
    the right to affirm or deny it according to their teachings.  This
    solves a lot of problems.  It gives everyone, such as Rev. Jill, their civil rights, and it allows everyone to live within the dictates of their consciences.


  25. The answer to the question you pose is "Yes, of course!"  
    But are we not fast-forwarding to get to the marriage question?   In what way are we able to know if the marriage, theologically speaking, exists?

  26. Here's a well-thought out response to the issue of children raised by a gay couple:

    I hope this can further productive conversation.

  27. Yes, I really like that seemingly all-inclusive aspect. I too have never heard or thought of the "pro" argument before though, very thought provoking!

    Along other lines of thought, when I usually think about this issue it seems like the "against" side tends to think in terms of ideals and deviance from those ideals. They would typically see the union between man and wife as "ideal," and subsequently view that particular union as the best and highest union man can achieve. With this in mind, it is easy to understand any sort of homosexuality as deviant from this ideal in the sense that it contorts the created good purpose of that ideal union. 

    If homosexuality is viewed as a deviation from this ideal (making them male and female for the sake of union and procreation) then isn't celibacy just as much a deviation? Don't we think of not doing good just as much a sin as doing evil? If so, then abstaining from procreation (think celibacy) would be just as sinful as the corresponding evil, homosexuality. We are assuming, here in, that procreation is the only or at least ultimate reason for sexual intercourse. 

    I should also say that the issue is obviously far more complex than this one line of thought.

  28. What irony!  You explain how the house is flaming and burning down, yet you believe more gasoline on the fire is the solution.  I suggest you read the poem on the home page of, if you dare.

  29. This is, at best, an argument against sperm and egg donation (for straight or gay people.) But, as has been repeated ad nauseum throughout this debate, gay couples cannot naturally produce children.  How will allowing two men or two women to marry affect any child's ability to know his or her parents?  It's not like children will just magically appear as soon as two people of the same sex get married.  

  30. I'm still amazed you haven't been thrown in jail or run out of town like I was.  Good for you, sir!  Keep up the faith!

  31. I do not consider my parents—who adopted me at three days old, providing me a loving, supportive home and a stable upbringing where my biological mother and father could not—to be a symptom of a house on fire.
    Your mileage might vary, obviously.

  32. I don't think anyone is claiming that homosexuality is the solution to heterosexual marriages. But I do think statistics like these, which do in fact seem to be quite numerous, point to the reality that these heterosexual marriages are failing to provide loving, supportive, and safe environments to grow. And if we must be anti-homosexuality, it will continue to be to the Christian's disadvantage to have such glaring statistics suggest to many who may not know any different that homosexuals seem to make better parents (statistically speaking). Christians, collectively, are shooting themselves in the foot while homosexuals (apologies for the false dichotomy) are proving their mettle as responsible and effective parents.  

    What's more, I think we need to be careful with ways of thinking which marginalize singleness, celibacy, people who are victims of rape or abuse, and heterosexual couples that cannot have children. 

  33. Here's my question (and it's just a question): Why marriage at all? The grace/ election mix is presented under the metaphor of marriage, but also under the metaphor of parenting, and other metaphors. I have no problem with the government "recognizing," or the church honoring, people who are living in committed covenant with one another. But why must sex be involved? Couldn't these people be brothers and sisters, parents and their adult children, triplets instead of couples, etc., etc.? And couldn't they model the Yhwh-Israel, grace-and-election, Christ-and-the-church dynamic just as well?

    It seems to me that if we are to define marriage, legally or theologically (and maybe we don't need to do so), we must define it as a subset of the grace-election, committed-relationship paradigm. The primary model for all human relationship will remain Yhwh and Israel, Christ and the church, salvation history, covenant faithfulness. But that does not answer the question of what marriage (as distinguished from sibling and other relations) brings to the theological or political table.

    One answer has to do with biological fruitfulness. I tend to think that this issue is more important than most (heterosexual) couples realize--that their marriage is MORE about bearing children than anyone tells them when they say "I do." Another answer has to do with significant bio-social diversity, brought together in a mutually attracting, mutually repelling relationship. Again, most (heterosexual) couples I know are significantly surprised, in their first year of marriage and in their tenth, how doggone HARD it is to live with a member of the opposite gender--and how the sexual attraction to someone biologically DIFFERENT from them is both a metaphor for, and an instantiation of, the need/ desire/ attraction for that which is utterly foreign/ alien/ off-putting.

    Now, to backpedal: I am completely open to the possibility that any gay couple would "get this right" far better than any given heterosexual couple. They might well be more committed in covenant faithfulness (the general standard for ALL relationships, marriage or otherwise). They might well be more intentional about fruitfulness and child-rearing. They might well be more invested in appreciating (rather than squelching) biosocial difference. So none of this is necessarily an argument against same-sex marriage. But it is a cautionary suggestion that we not define marriage in such generic terms that people start saying, "If marriage is just about Christ's committed love for the church, or Yhwh's for Israel, why shouldn't I marry all my friends at once?"

  34. "
    It is based on personal experience."

    Care to elaborate on the extent to which you've experienced a same-sex adoption or surrogate birth personally?

  35. I have a close friend (a woman) who was artificially inseminated and gave birth to a girl.  They now live by themselves in the backwoods of a New England state.  The child is being home-schooled, and the mother is living off the state for her support.  I see them as rather alone and isolated, but the mother, at least, seems content.

  36. I'm reminded of Jeff Walling's remarks at Tulsa few years ago regarding why he hates it when people quote studies in favor of the orthodox Christian model.  It was because anyone can find a study that says whatever their view is, and in the end they're all irrelevant in light of the revelation of Christ.

  37. Is there anyone here today who thinks that this culture and this society is more solvent, more secure, more stable, better educated, and more prosperous than it was just 40 years ago?  Really?  My intent is not to marginalize anyone.  My intent is to speak up for the bedrock of civilized society.  What's strange is that I am a "non-Christian" on this  "Christian" blog, yet several here have twisted my words to suit their own purposes.  That speaks volumes about the credibility of their assertions.

    I see first-hand every day the results of 45 years of dependency on the state as it has systemically replaced the father as the person responsible for the care of families.  Trillions of dollars have been poured into failing schools and homes, and today we have more poverty, abuse (drugs, sexual, physical, emotional), teachers having sex with their students, school shootings, home invasions, utter trash and garbage parading as entertainment, and the list is endless.  Gangs of unsupervised children roam freely in almost every town, city, and hamlet.

    Having children out of wedlock is a primary cause of poverty in the USA -- and thus the litany of woes listed above -- NOT people advocating for traditional marriage.  Perhaps we all need to revisit the Moynihan Report of 1966.  I would never defend bad parents of ANY persuasion, because I had them.  I learned how to be a proper father through negative example.  ANY two people who can provide a child with love and stability is a blessing.  I just think that comes most naturally and easily through a committed and devoted man and woman.  I see, however, that my opinion on this is seen here as quite backward, and I do find that somewhat disorienting.

  38.  Saying "anyone can find a study that says whatever their view is" is the same as saying "anyone can find a passage of scripture that says whatever their view is." In either case we're left unable to say anything persuasive about anything. We have to deal with facts and information. It is true that cherry-picking and bias are problems in any debate, but without some openness to evidence there is no point in talking at all.

    There is a difference between good studies and bad ones - it's determined by methodology and peer review. There is such a thing as a preponderance of evidence.

  39. Irony is responding to two long-running peer-reviewed studies with a poem.

    I said nothing about the house being on fire. All evidence points to the contrary.

  40.  Yes. Humanity is more solvent, more secure, more stable, better educated and more prosperous than we were 40 years ago. It isn't a matter of opinion. There are many ways this is measured and we still have a long way to go, but life is far better now for the majority of humankind than ever in history.

  41. IWell, say a man and woman are on a deserted island, and want to be married before God. So, they sit down in the sand to pray, and they vow to each other and before God to be together until death do them part. How do you know, theologically speaking, that that marriage exists?

    I find the question weird, because it seems to assume that there is some way we can tell that yes, in Heaven, God put his scepter across their shoulders and said "I dub thee married." But we don't have a way to know, for sure, that any two people who say they got married before God are, theologically speaking, married before God. Put another way, the question sounds to me like asking "Yes, but theologically, do we really know if this person is saved?" As with marriage, at a certain point we simply throw up our hands and say "I don't know, they seem to have done everything right as far as I could tell. I have to assume at this point that God said yes."
    So if a woman and a woman sit in the sand and vow before each other and God to be together until death do them part, then theologically speaking... do we have any reason to think a marriage didn't happen?

  42. Actually, as Richard pointed out in another post, the ideal IS celibacy - because it offers the greatest freedom to serve God without other responsibilities and concerns. So if they were to be consistent based on the idea of following an ideal, then people who get married would be culturally seen as deviants against God's perfect arrangement.

  43. This format is astonishing to a person familiar with the history of ACU. This isn't your grandfather's Christian college! And I believe this is a wonderful development! If there is anywhere such controversial issues should be discussed, it is a Christian University! I salute the powers that be for allowing this public airing of a volatile issue. May the discussion flourish! Batten down the hatches!

  44. 40 years ago the USA was not financially bankrupt.  Today it is.  And I guarantee that when the topic suits you, you will bemoan poverty in America in the future.

  45. Agree. Another thoughtful example of how the Bible can support our own agendas. I do appreciate Richards open minded exegesis and will continue to learn from him.

  46. Here, here. I refer all those who are looking to add research to this argument to investigate for yourselves.

  47. My apologies. I did not mean to misinterpret your words or intent, but it seems I have. It is just not typical, for me, to hear your perspective coming from a non-Christian, that was assumptive of me. That may be why your experience has been somewhat disorienting, a lot of your comments were indicative of a certain fundamentalist Christian camp that preaches a similar thing but for very different reasons. So for many who have encountered that time and again, your comments seemed to head in that direction, and I for one was quite surprised when you explained yourself differently. Although it cleared things up, I am sorry that the full explanation was necessary.

    Thanks for taking the time to explain. It makes perfect sense and I do share your concerns.

  48. 'biological fruitfulness',,, many heterosexual couples have failed miserably with this premise, then. Especially if we are told we are not biologically able to have children and know this before we say 'I do' but go ahead and get married anyway. Or if we get married after the child-bearing age. Or we are told we are too old, do not make the right salary and are not the right ethnic mix to adopt children? OOPS! Adopted children don't count because they are not biological. Or if we marry someone else who had the kids, so that means we have to wait to enjoy grandchildren who are not biological either. 

    I wonder how Job mourned when all the biological fruitfulness he had through the love of his wife and the lives of their children was squelched out with God's permission when they all died in front of Job? How do parents -- heterosexual or other -- get through the rest of life when they did appreciate their marriage was more about bearing children when they said 'I do' but that child dies before they do? 

  49. All good points. Perhaps I wasn't clear. I meant to say that biological fruitfulness is an issue for heterosexual couples--it is front and center on the table, by virtue of their getting married. This may in fact be just as true for homosexual couples; but it isn't what I see in the rhetoric of support for homosexual marriage. Nobody is saying that marriage is only about bearing children, or that exceptions cannot be exceptions.

    My point is that these couples you describe--the ones who are sterile, or older, or have mixed families, or (like Job) have their children die--experience, far more than they expect when they get married, the fact that they are atypical. Some of them (more than you might think) are surprised with biological children after thinking they are too old, or sterile, or in a situation not to want any. Others (more than you might think) are surprised to find that the lack of biological children becomes a deep and lasting grief in their marriage (certainly this is true for people like Job!). I am not saying that biological fruitfulness is THE purpose of marriage and that we should make them feel worse than they already do. I am saying that biological fruitfulness may be (may be) part of the special nature of marriage--and that if this is so they will, no matter how tactful everyone is about it, grieve the less-than-ideal facts about their circumstances.

    I think my argument is akin to the argument that "sex is part of marriage." You can cite me example after example of wonderful, loving husbands who are impotent, paraplegics, etc., etc. You can remind me that many of us, for various health reasons, must forego sex with our spouses for very long periods of time. Yet I do not think any of these marriages are simply content to be sexless. They rightly expect, by virtue of being marriage, that the issue of "sexual relationship" would be firmly on the table. They rightly grieve, and strain, and sometimes lovingly accept, something that is rightly perceived as an issue for their marriage. None of this is explained by simply describing marriage as "an example of covenant faithfulness." That is true--but it cannot be the whole truth.

    In short, the lack of biological fruitfulness is not invalidating for marriage--any more than the lack of sex (of any kind) is invalidating for marriage. But it is just possible that a marriage that is, from the outset, uninterested in biological fruitfulness is as anomalous and (perhaps) naively flawed as a marriage that is, from the outset, uninterested in sex. I realize that covenant faithfulness is more important than "all this stuff." But I wonder why covenant faithfulness is not being pursued in a different sort of relationship--why marriage at all? Or, put differently, is THIS sort of marriage really the same as what I call marriage--or is it (even if a wonderful example of God's love) so different to be a mere homonym, an experience that shares none of the characteristics of what we have meant by marriage for centuries, and (even if good in itself) misunderstanding most of the world in insisting that it's the same thing as what we've been doing all along?

  50. No problem, Stephen!  I very much appreciate you graciousness and kind understanding. 

    I did grow up in a Christian fundamentalist (Baptist Calvinism) family/church, and am familiar with the assumptions.  While I jettisoned the ideology many years ago, I remain on my quest for greater understanding and hope.  I think this is a wonderful forum, and I have made some new friends.

    I have been here for about six months now, and I tend not to pick up on certain ques as quickly as I should, but this slight misunderstanding between us explains, as you say, why I sometimes feel somewhat disoriented and puzzled.

  51. As I read through all the discussion, (which is great btw) I feel like inserting a few points of my own. First, according to Paul the God(Father)-Israel relationship is the same as the Jesus-church relationship. As an in-grafted branch, I am just as much a child of Abraham as Peter. Second, I am a christian so I am called to lay down my life for humanity (much like Jesus loved the church. What separates marriage is I have somebody else who is 'mine' so to speak. Lastly on the issue of child bearing as a point of marriage I would like to direct the readers to a great blog I follow. Link:

  52. Hi Mynta.  The question I ask is one that is related to theological method, which is the issue that Dr. Beck raises in the posting.  In the two different methods that Dr. Beck speaks of, there are two different   conclusions regarding the reality of same sex marriage.  My initial posting did not question the conclusions but the methods (creation theology and salvation-history) utilized to reach them.  Thus I suggested another method, that of apocalyptic.  Dr. Beck responded with what he understood as proceeding along apocalyptic lines when he asked "Can same sex marriage be Christ-like?"  My response back to him was to point out that the question that needs to be addressed first is "Does same sex marriage exist?"  I am not arguing for or against it.  I'm merely hoping that the church can have an honest, humble conversation with appropriate theological method over what makes a marriage real.  Is marriage a sacrament?  Is it a discipline?  Who establishes marriage?  If God speaks on the matter, how does God speak on the matter?  What makes for human identity?  What makes for theological human identity?  I hope this clarifies for you the nature of my question.  Blessings.

  53. Just to throw something in the mix: there was a case in Australia where a man and his adult daughter petitioned the court to allow them to marry. They promised never to have sex, but they intended to live together forever and act in all other ways like a married couple, and wanted the legal benefits. I don't even then think it was tax breaks, but inheritance and ownership issues. Also, I think I recall that they wanted public recognition of a particular commitment to one another, based on love but not romantic/erotic love. So the thing is, there is already a move towards adopting marriage as an institution for non-sexual non-reproductive covenant relationships. This situation does not call for a particular moral interpretation, but it's worth pointing out that it has happened, at least on the fringes, if we're going to discuss the relationship between marriage and covenants.

  54. Richard,

    Here is where theology, biology, philology, and anthropology intersect (collide?).  God made human in God's image. . . . hmmm.  God revealed in human making God in human's image?  Male and female?  "Now we see darkly as through a glass, then face to face . . ."  "Our battle is not against flesh and blood. . . ."  It seems to me that when we dance on the edge of metaphorical cliffs with blurred eyesight we grow dizzy.    There is much at stake for those of us who wish to make our views the desire of God--i.e. idolatry.  One thing is for certain.  Given our flawed and willful and weak humanity, a Federal law legalizing same-sex marriage should be titled "The Full Employment Act for Divorce Lawyers."


  55. Hey Sam, is life more solvent now or during the Great Depression?  Is it more solvent how or during segregation? I could go on....

  56. The union of a man and a woman is a union that was established before the darkness of the fall. Same sex intimacy is a distortion of reality of this union and as an alternative is scripturally indefensible. Even the example of Yaweh and Israel is a weak one because the two parties in the covenant are not the "same", one being God and the other humanity. God chose one who is different from Himself. In marriage the two parties are also different, being male and female. If a society wants to justify and sanction same sex marriage that is one thing, but lets not imagine such sanctity can be found in Scripture.

  57. Hello friends,

    Nice blog! Same-sex marriages are also recognized in many countries. Under a proposed same-sex
    marriage law in the state, most gay and lesbian couples now registered
    as domestic partners would have two years to convert the relationship
    to marriage. Please provide more information about it. Thank you...

    Same Sex Ceremony

  58. "Same sex marriages are in the image of God because the model for marriage is Yahweh and Israel rather than Adam and Eve"- Ahhh....but who "represents" God in the same sex marriage? In the marriage between Adam and Eve, both are creations. In the marriage between Yahweh and Israel, only ONE is the creation, the other the Creator. So who represents the Creator in the same sex union?

  59. this is not a very well informed reply and even in your own first paragraph you clean judgement which clearly puts the plank in your own eye before you begin.

    in your second paragraph you make additional ridiculous claims.. according to the testimony from the expert the "yes on 8" people used in the trial against marriage equality , studies show the children are actually more balanced in same gender families then and heterosexual . also there is a disproportionate number of children with handicaps that homosexuals are willing to adopt then heterosexuals .

    last time I checked every child has a father in a mother , to have to live with a father and a mother might be optimal in your view , the reality is our churches, religious institutions, and society seem to find more and more single parent homes, and surprisingly some states have no problem with adopting children out to single parents rather than adopting them out to same sex relationships.

  60. Well said..I am exactly looking for the same post that I have got at your blog, I am not sure if someone can let me know, is 

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