Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lecture Notes: Same Sex Marriage

Notes of a lecture I attended at Concordia University, titled "Blessing same-sex unions to save Christian marriage".

I have to say overall, that I want to double-check the claim about no marriage celebrations in early Christianity. Since I'm thinking of a very non-traditional model for Christian marriage, this could be helpful.
And in case you wonder, that model makes room only for man+woman... has anyone ever read Romans?

Dr. Mark Jordan, Emery University
Concordia University, H-110, Oct 12th, 2006
============ Introduction
narration of first gay marriages authorized in San Francisco.
Grim statistics show decline in marriage. Eagerness of same-sex couples sounds very good.
Why threatening? Many feel an attack religion.
Religion was involved in the SF experiment.
Real marriage experts are organizers, photographers. church is backdrop.
In the SF case, churches weren't backdrops.
Seriousness was frightening: churches support same-sex marriage, glimspe of religious-free democracy.
Churches supporting same-sex marriage: there is a fight between two positions in christianity. Speaker doesn't like that one side claims having it right.
issue of marriage show problems of matters of states vs religious responsability. Cannot easily split church and state.
Many want more of marriage than just the ceremony. Wants us to dwell IN the confusion.
Wants to persuade: we can scrutunize the confusion, understand the quarrels in Christianity.
Same-sex marriage stris up history of Christian marriage. Took centuries to establish, same-sex brings up the ugly history.
For the secular side, same-sex couples point out to ambivalences in our existing arrangements.
Instead of picturing christian marriage of a big banquet with exclusion, christian marriage should be seen as a big family quarrel.
============ Ambivalence on the religious side
Christian theology on marriage have weak Scriptural fundations. We do not see a detailed portrait of marriage in the NT.
Apostles: follow Jesus as single men, tell not to get married
Mary: "perpetual virginity"
Jesus dismisses familly for spiritual family.(Mt xyz, Lk: let the dead bury their own dead...)
They are family values, only when family is redefined. Church is abolition of family to a new definition. Where does marriage fit in there?
According to Paul, only Jesus' teaching on divorce was from him about marriage. Early christians debated on whether they should be married at all.
Gen 2 insufficient. In many case, multiple partners. By nature 1-1 contradicts Hebrew Bible. Laws set for polygamy in Israel... can't be against God's will. Problem to describe why its OK for patriach, but bad for christians to be polygamial.
Other thinkers: sex for procreation... but what about premarital, or sterile?
Same-sex pleasure is unjustified by reproduction arouses strains of christianity who is weary of pleasure.
Real issue: issue of pleasure in Christianity. Many acts OK today that was considered as sodomy before. The definition of "bad" shrunk to fit with homosexuals.
The supporters of same-sex marriage: deal with similar issues that Jesus (think Lepers). NT homoeroticism in Revelation.
Slow to develop theology and rites. Christians relied on other insitutions for marriage and welcomed the married. Assumed pluraristic society.
Ritual was at home only or government. Before 4th century, there was no christian wedding evidence in church. When it appears: jewish+roman+localisms. Wedding mass in 7th century. Church weddings were typically for virgins, others had to be wed outside.
Wedding theology emerges from civil+ethnic interactions
Priests deal as agents of the state too easily.
Requests for blessing from within the church, w/o legal gain. Opportunity to bring fully the redefinition of the family. Blessing of erotic desire. From compromise to counter-cultural.
=============== on the secular side
A big business. Time to arrage wedding overlasted the marriage in many cases. 15 B$ annual spending on marriages. In wedding shows, total subservience of church. Elements are culturally christian, recent eventions added to christian weddings, etc. Wedding planning treats christianity as a decorative in the master plan. God of wedding planning: God of romance that draws many worshippers.
Victory of true love over adversity. That's the creed. Queer wedding seen as more romantic than straight one. Evidence of power of religion to shape sex. Religion not just authorization/prohibition.
Can't resolve ambivalence in marriage, as it is inherent. Always was church/state hybrid. Protecting traditional marriage is protecting old political compromises.
We need to save christian marriage from itself by redefining it. What would the Savior want to bless? Christianity not erotic regulation but erotic inspiration.
All have a stake in asking churches to bless SSM. They will find that christian marriage will take a new life. In some churches design new rights to accomodate ssm, but first couple to show up is straight.

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