God is a big fan of marriage diversity.
He created marriage to be inherently diverse. He didn't have to create two genders. He could have enabled the species to reproduce on its own. But for human reproduction, nature has always demanded that there be two people involved and those two can't be the same - they must be diverse: they must be male and female.
Only an age like ours would - in the name of diversity - attempt to remove the one condition that makes marriage a truly diverse relationship.
Why did God create marriage to be diverse? According to Genesis chapter one, he created male and female to reflect his image. God, is one. But, he is also plural and diverse. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct and different. Yet, they live from all eternity in perfect unity as one being. God is, all by himself, a community. Theologians refer to it as ‘The Trinity’. The distinctions which exist between the three, do not make him less one. In fact, those distinctions are what enable him to be one. The same is true for human marriage. The distinctions are what enable the man and the woman to engage in oneness.
Marriage must be diverse. If it’s not diverse, it’s not marriage. It’s a mirage.
Now, a popular referendum may vote by 62% that a mirage is now marriage. But that doesn’t make it any more real. We may as well hold a vote to determine if water should be wet. Nature will not be impressed.
Christians should have the backbone to call a mirage what it is, but that's not enough. We also need the humility to apologise for helping to create this whole mess. There are a number of apologies I could, with sincerity, offer the Gay and Lesbian (LGBT) community. The first of which be apologising that we Christians have made so little of intimate friendship.
The mantra ‘If you oppose gay marriage you oppose love’ has been repeated in countless ways ad nauseam. Any debate on the subject of gay mirage inevitably involves some line like, ‘Why can’t two people who love each other be together?’ That is the sound bite. But it’s a sound bite Christians helped to create.
People who are attracted to each other can be together. They should. And they can be together in a way that’s not a mirage. Marriage is gender diversified. Spiritual friendship doesn’t have to be.
Here I would like to commend Wesley Hill’s book Spiritual Friendship. Hill identifies himself as a gay celibate. (I would refer to him as a man with SSA, but, hey, he didn’t ask me). He has always had a sexual attraction towards other men, but he does not pursue either mirage or the sex-act with other men. Instead, he pursues deep friendship.
We as Christians need to own up. If you identify as part of the LGBT community, I am genuinely sorry. We Christians have said two things:
- Ultimate love and intimacy are found only in marital love, and
- You can’t, by definition marry the same-gender person you long to be intimate with.
That sounds cruel. It would be. The good news is that the first point is simply wrong. It’s was spoken by family-values zealots who are desperately trying to protect the nuclear unit. God’s word makes much of friendship, but our society - Christians included - have made far too little of it.
Christians, it is damaging of you to tell people that the answer to their loneliness is marriage. At times, that may be a part of it - but not always. I know lonely married people. I know happy celibate people. Paul, the greatest of Christ’s apostles, was celibate and he was thankful for it. He had intimate friendships. Between those and his relationship with God, he knew great joy.
For those Christians in our own midst who have SSA (same-sex attraction), we have often simply prayed for you. Prayer is powerful, but we have only prayed that your desires will change so that you can marry. God is kind and in some instances that has genuinely worked. For many of you, it has not. If intimacy and deep relationship can only happen in marriage, then it sucks to be single, celibate and above all, someone with SSA whose desires just don’t seem to be changing anytime soon.
The New Testament articulates the possibilities of spiritual friendship using terms to describe our relationship with each other such as ‘one body’ and ‘drinking from the same cup’. In the Old Testament, we have examples like Jonathan and David who declare the love of their friendship to be richer than that of their marriages. Can marriage be a rich source of intimacy? Yes. But it is not the only one. We, as Christians, have been so focused on being pro-family, that we have often neglected the great friendships which God can provide as well. Those with SSA (and other singles) are inevitably feeling left out.
We have condemned homo-sexuality without advocating homo-sociality.
Contrary to the majority, Christians cannot affirm same-sex relationship as marriage. Not because the two people don't love each other, but because we believe marriage must contain the diversity of two genders to fulfill the purpose for which it was created. Anything less is a mirage. We must, however, show the world around us that true love and intimacy can be found in chaste friendship outside of marriage.
Humans can live without sex. We can’t live without intimacy. Throughout the 20th century, we Christians have failed to teach and live this out.
For that, I am truly sorry. God did design you for deep relationship. He does have a way of providing it. I invite you to come, be forgiven and give it a try.