Friday, June 28, 2013

Gay Marriage and the Christ/Church Analogy

Disclaimer: if you are a complementarian, you will not agree with my argument, so it's no use reading this or debating. It only really works if you believe that men and women are equal and do not have assigned life roles based on gender.


Perhaps you have heard (or even used yourself) the argument against gay marriage that goes something like this:

Marriage, between a man and a woman, is a symbol/sign/sacrament that reflects the relationship between God/Christ and the church, and gay marriage does not do this.

I'm going to make a few assumptions about this argument which will inform the rest of my post:

  1. In the analogy, the man is God/Christ and the woman is the church (a la Ephesians 5)
  2. A same-sex relationship cannot carry the analogy
  3. The analogy is a necessary part of the marriage relationship

So the analogy necessitates the two pieces--God and church.There is a significant qualitative difference between these two entities. Most people would probably contend that God is transcendent, or holy, or perfect, while the church, which is made of humans, is not. Interesting that the man, then, gets to be "God" in the analogy, while the woman gets to be the church which is dependent upon God. This analogy is clear that God > humanity, and therefore man > woman.

Obviously this is problematic.

If we believe that men are not inherently more holy or better equipped for leading than women, then we can swap the gender roles in the analogy.

So let's do some gender bending!

What if the woman could be God/Christ in the analogy? Could Ephesians 5 read, "Wives, love your husbands, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, wives ought to love their husbands as their own bodies. She who loves her husband loves herself" ? or "Husbands, submit yourselves to your own wives as you do to the Lord" ? (The previous verse does say "submit to one another," after all.)

Why not? Still seems like a marriage to me. Taken out of context, one might not even notice the roles have been flipped.
And if we can swap them, if women can be both Christ and the church, then why not two women in one relationship being both Christ and the church?

Why can't all loving, mutually submissive relationships (even deep friendships) be a symbol of God's great love for God's people, and the church's love and respect for God?

Furthermore, the original analogy, with the necessity of both a man and a woman, implies that men and women are qualitatively different and somehow incomplete--that they need each other. This really can't be true. Men are created fully in the image of God, AND women are created fully in the image of God. We are not two halves of a whole. To say that we are is to diminish the imago dei in each of us, and what's more, it devalues the lives of our single and celibate brothers and sisters. Are they somehow unable to display the love of God because they are missing the other half of their "analogy"? Of course not. (And this reminds me, we need to dispense with the whole Platonic soulmate thing too.)

So what do you think? If this Christ/church analogy is such an integral part of marriage, and it can still be achieved in a same-sex marriage, can we be done with this argument?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nice, Cozy Echo Chambers

After the SCOTUS overturn of DOMA and Prop 8 today, and the epic filibuster over SB-5 in Texas last night, social media was ablaze. It was all I could do to keep up with my Twitter and Facebook feeds (especially since I still don't have internet at home!).

And something came up a couple of times--echo chambers. The idea that if your feeds were a reflection of your own views and responses, then you are living in an environment without challenge to those views, without having to engage with the "other." It's usually painted as a bad thing, implying that if you only listen to people who agree with you, you'll never grow, nor will you make a difference among those who believe otherwise.

However, I don't know that it's such a bad thing.

There have been times in my life when I was definitely not living in an echo chamber. Or maybe I was, but it was more like being held hostage in the other side's echo chamber. Either way, I've been in situations where I am literally forced to reckon with people who don't see eye to eye with me every single day.

And that's exhausting.

I absolutely believe in dialectic, in dialogue and the necessity of opposing forces and ideas. I love having my ideas challenged and trying new things on. But I don't love being forced to, and certainly not constantly.

Right now, I'm enjoying a season of life where I am being embraced by likeminded friends. It's refreshing to not have to defend myself at every word. It's nice to not be subject to the hatred being spewed all over the internet. It's my Facebook feed after all, why should it feel like punishment to read?

There's something to be said about hospitality, and venturing out to meet the other, but I don't think that being hospitable precludes a safe space where you can be yourself among your people.

For more on why echo chambers might not be all bad, check out this piece by David Weinberger.