Marriage and the Complementary Interdependence of Humanity

Friday, June 26, 2015 is a date that will be remembered.  Not for events like massive attacks by a terrorist army in Syria, or a bloody killing spree in Tunisia, or dozens dying at the hand of a suicide bomber in Kuwait.  It will be remembered as the date that the government effectively “liberated” a minority of the American population by declaring same-sex marriage to be a constitutionally protected right.

In no way do I hope to offend anyone with my opinion on this matter.  I have known many homosexual men and women throughout my life, and I do not wish to offend any of them.  Likewise, I do not wish to offend any of my conservative Christian friends or family.  In fact, it is never my intention to offend anyone.

That said, I respectfully disagree with the decision of the Supreme Court as passed down on Friday.  I do so not out of spite for any person, but out of respect for an institution that predates constitutional governments.  It is within the government’s purview to grant rights to citizens, and as such they may establish civil unions for any two parties of any sex (including heterosexuals) that wish to contractually form a legally binding “domestic partnership.”

But as others have pointed out, the government did not define marriage, and therefore has no right to redefine it.  Yes, I approach this issue from a Christian perspective because I am a Christian, based on principles found in Biblical texts that predate current governments.

My own view is based largely on the reading of the creation story in Genesis, which forms the basis of Judeo-Christian understanding of marriage.  Genesis 2.18 is pivotal in my assessment and understanding of marriage: “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

This defines in my mind and heart the reason for marriage.  Because being alone is not good, man needs a helper suitable for him.  This proposes the concept of complementarity, that man needs a counter-balance to remain upright.  The divine solution is not just camaraderie or companionship.  It means much more.

I believe that man, alone, is incomplete.  While the biological and anatomical differences between male and female are obvious, the psychological differences are of great importance.  Men and women think differently.  They have different approaches to problem solving.  They are tuned-in to different aspects of their environments.  Since these things are evident, males and females complement each other in far more ways than just reproductive parts.

God’s answer to aloneness was to provide a helper suitable to the lone man.  This defines the complementary nature of the relationship.  The intimacy of that relationship is defined by more than sex.  The depth of that complementarity is seen in Genesis 2.24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”  The shifting from the subordinate role of child in a family to the completeness of a pair bonded partnership is emphasized.   I do not believe two people of the same sex can experience that same kind of deeply complementary relationship, more than physical, deeper than emotional, right down to the very essence of being.

This concept of the interdependence of male and female appears to be broadly understood across many cultures, and appears to be deeply ingrained in our collective human psyche.  For example, in Taoist philosophy, the yin and yang evoke the complementary nature of male and female, with these interdependent forces needed to engender the five elements that constitute reality, according to the Tao.

I am offended and saddened by memes and internet videos that belittle and make fun of Biblical references to marriage.  Because something is mentioned in scripture does not mean that it was the original intent and merely indicates that a person is capable of reading, but not critically assessing a text.  As for the memes and videos that describe at least eight forms of Biblical marriage, from monogamy, to polygamy, to levirate marriage, and so on, they miss the point that Jesus makes in Matthew 19.8, in his discussion of divorce.  He was asked about whether or not it is permissible for a man to divorce his wife for any cause.  He replied, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”  This then points back to his comment in verses 4 through 6 of the same chapter, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,  and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Some people limit this concept of “one flesh” to be only sexual in nature.  But I would ask, if a person seeks a sexual experience with someone besides his wedded partner, is he sharing the completeness of that “one flesh” experience with her?  He has broken the bond of complementarity and has driven a wedge between himself and the one he had pledged faithfulness to.  He has broken trust, broken faith, broken a vow of loyalty.  He has consciously made himself incomplete by breaking the bond of physical intimacy, and in so doing, he has forced his wife to be incomplete as well.  The “one flesh” has been sundered, and the wound shakes the foundation of humanity for both parties in the broken relationship.

I believe that the purest, deepest, most complementary connection can only be experienced by those interdependent elemental forces of male and female.  This view of marriage, then, is more than a contract.  It is acknowledging the fundamental fulfillment of human potential.  And for this reason, I respectfully disagree with the majority decision of the highest court in the nation.

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