I just ran into a right-wing pastor ranting about the differences between Republicans and Democrats. It’s the usual hate-filled screed about how God hates abortion, gay marriage, and the usual suspects. But in his diatribe was a really odd term: natural marriage.
Huh? What’s that? I had to look it up.
Apparently, centuries ago the Roman Catholic Church came up with some regulations for Church-sanctioned marriages it then enshrined in Canon Law: To have a “sacramental marriage,” you both needed to be baptized in the Mother Church. Two Protestants baptized in their own faith and married in their own church could have a “natural marriage” but never a “sacramental marriage.”
But that’s not how the term is being used here. It’s the new term for “one man, one woman.” Wait – wouldn’t any right-wing Elmer Gantry worth his salt use “Biblical marriage”? After all, as Bible-believing Christians, wouldn’t you go to the Good Book, source of all wisdom?
Ahem – so, there’s a problem with that.
You see, for most of the Bible, marriage isn’t between one man and one woman. It can be a marriage amongst one man, two sisters and their two slaves (Genesis 29:16 through Genesis 30:29) or a marriage between two half-siblings (Genesis 20:12). In addition to marrying his sister, Abraham also picks up his wife’s Egyptian slave – at his wife’s suggestion (Genesis 16:1–3). Jacob’s brother Esau had two wives he married when he turned 40 (Genesis 26:34), although the Bible is silent on whether it was a double wedding. King David had many wives concurrently, although only eight are named. Of course, he was a piker compared to his son Solomon, who had 700 wives (1 Kings 11:3). Indeed, polygamy amongst Jews was pretty prevalent for centuries and was still practiced, if sporadically, into the Middle Ages.
So, yeah, the Bible is basically one long season of Big Love.
Thus, in trying to damn gay marriage as unbiblical, the Christian crusaders ran into the dilemma that the Bible, for the most part, doesn’t preach one man and one woman. What to do?
The usual for the Christian Right: turn their back on what the Bible actually says.
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