This post contains discussion of rape, so a trigger warning is in order.
With one simple move, sexual orientation, and the acceptance of people with lesbian, gay, or bisexual identifications wouldn’t matter at all.
That solution is arranged marriage.
I bring this up because it clarifies some more questions I’m often asked about the topic. See, in a society where marriage is arranged, attraction has no meaning at all. Young people are matched up to people they don’t know, and arranged marriage was successful for many cultures – if, by “successful,” we mean divorce was unthinkably rare despite vast age differences and likely abuse, personal choice was suppressed, and people were reproducing out of duty and necessity instead of love.
I don’t think arranged marriage is necessary. It made people unhappy, and denied them the joys of falling in love in response to attraction. Marriage by mutual attraction and affection is a more accurate depiction of the Christian analogy of Christ’s relationship to the church than a forced and inescapable marriage. The choice to reciprocate God’s affection out of endearment is comparable to the same feelings toward another person. Lifetime commitment to a person through rough times is reflective of God’s demonstration of love.
Without arranged marriage, though, attraction matters. This leaves all people opposed to same-sex marriage in a logical double bind: either set up a system where no attraction matters, or admit the same treatment to people with unusual preferences in attraction.
Some Christians say that legalizing same-sex marriage, much less accepting it in the church, is a slippery slope to atrocities such as acceptance of bestiality and pedophilia. Here’s a term I learned once I ventured outside the world of the purity movement, which made sex taboo: “consensual.”
It means two things: that a person has given their willing consent to have sex, and said person is eligible to give that consent. It is also being used to help raise awareness of rape. If a woman is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, she is incapable of giving consent, so a man who has sex with her has raped her. Rape doesn’t just happen to women, and important awareness campaigns have been launched to help reduce rape, using slogans like “no means no.”
This is crucial information for the discussion, because it provides a standard for ethical relationships. Animals and children are also considered ineligible for giving consent, so pedophilia and bestiality are ruled out.
It’s entirely possible for me to be an anarchist and to have such standards, because peaceful anarchy means treating everyone as if they, too, are free and responsible agents rather than controlling them. To oppose government, or the overpowering of another person, includes opposition to rape.
I remember the exact moment when I knew I completely supported same-sex marriage. I was watching one of my favorite actors receive an award. He and his gay partner used this phrase: “who you love matters.”
The phrase surprised me. It shook up most of what I’d learned about relationships. Though my parents may have alluded to it and wanted me to someday be attracted to the man I would marry, most of my relationship education was through books in the purity movement. I hadn’t come to expect falling in love with someone I had a crush on and who had mutual feelings for me. I thought I should discredit crushes. I expected finding someone who my parents approved of, and who would be a good pragmatic match.
Who you love matters.
This simple little phrase is why those in the world I grew up in cannot accept gay people. Though some progress has been made, much of what is known as “courtship” or “purity” or “waiting” is descended from arranged marriage. I’m not talking about the choice to save sex for marriage, because committed relationships are important to me. Unless it becomes acceptable for young people to, through mutual attraction and love, choose for themselves who to build a life with, same-sex marriage will be incomprehensible.
I chose then to believe that who I love matters, as a straight woman who hopes to someday build a life with a man who loves me back.
Christians in this old mindset have two choices: either go against their own straight attractions and use arranged marriage for everyone, or admit that romantic love is worthwhile. For myself, freedom and love and dedication to a lifelong partner seems like the better choice.
The story isn’t quite complete, though. I realized I couldn’t just be content to stick to a libertarian or anarchist view of government, and not answer these questions in my friendships and relationships. When I felt God telling me to love my friends who were struggling to reconcile with their sexual identities, it was odd to be told that my Christ-following instinct was at odds with the Bible. I went back to the Bible, and I checked it for the message of Christ, and realized I couldn’t oppose same-sex marriage from that standpoint, either.
It would have been easy enough to quietly carry on conversations about it with my circle of friends. When God started convicting me to speak up about my brothers and sisters who are cast out of the church, unloved and uninformed, I tried to compromise: maybe it would be enough to keep it within my own face-to-face discussions. When people told me it would be a risk, that I might be wrong, and to examine the arguments, I did all that. For the past several months, I’ve been talking about homosexuality to my friends, and having great conversations with Side B Christians.
I still knew I had to take it to my blog. I was reminded of Isaiah 58, in which God tells his prophet to tell his people that they have their religion all wrong: being the people of God wasn’t about looking good, it was about love. The message of love isn’t just in the New Testament. It’s all over the longings and laments from the prophets, and it’s yearned for behind every broken story in the book of Judges.
If it’s true that part of God’s plan for the Kingdom of Heaven includes gay couples taking in his precious orphans and raising them to know Him, and raising them to love other people and to stop feeling inadequate and wrong the way their parents did, I can’t be quiet about that. It’s wrong to hide that beautiful message, and I know it’s the gospel because the gospel has been about including the outcasts from the time it was foretold.
All I ask is for Christians reading this series to be consistent and to examine the teachings of our faith. Thank you for reading.
I will end this series with a video addressing questions and comments, so please leave your thoughts here on my blog, or on Twitter (@cynthiajeub) or Facebook (Insights on Epic Living).