Recognizing Same-Sex Marriage Equality: Not Only a Civil Right but a Spiritual Necessity

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals just reaffirmed the right of states to deny civil rights with regard to marriage to U.S. citizens in a ruling that applies to several states. The #IStandSunday campaign a few days earlier equated seeking federal protections for conservative evangelical Christians' "right" to discriminate against LGBTQIA people's civil rights with uniting to stand against Hitler and the Nazis. Even more moderate Christians (Southern Baptist Convention, Notre Dame conference, itself an outgrowth of the evangelical "spiritual friendship / side B" movement) have very recently reasserted their claims that "being" homosexual isn't wrong in itself -- as long as we stay celibate ("progress" for which these now-"tolerant" heterosexual brethren are pridefully self-congratulatory). No! It isn't just our homosexual "being" that God "tolerates" but our homosexual "doing" -- our romantic, erotic, loving relationships -- that God creates, ordains, and declares good in Hebrew and Christian scriptures.

The message that God wants everyone except cisgender heterosexuals to remain celibate (because "biblical marriage is only between a [cis] man and a [cis] woman") is unbiblical: Not only were Adam and Eve not married (there were no clergy, churches, witnesses, or liturgies), and not only were many of the people in the Bible polygamous, but, more importantly, the very first human -- "ha'adam" in Hebrew in Genesis 2 -- is intersex (hence the name I chose when I transitioned), and God explicitly proclaims that intersex person good but in need of a partner: "It is not good that ha'adam should be alone" (Genesis 2:18). God announces that ha'adam needs an empowering helper ("ezer cenegdo," usually a term used elsewhere in the Bible only for God as the One who gives strength to humans), one like "ha'adam" (also made of earth -- the meaning of "ha'adam" -- so, in other words, as is clear in context, not just the other animals but one of the same species). That is the point of the story, not binary gender or heterosexuality, about which God says nothing at all, either good or bad. Intersex humanity is proclaimed good, isolation and loneliness bad. That's all God says. Everything else is human commentary. Not only does Genesis 2 affirm rather than deny intersex existence, but it suggests that intersex gender transition is something God has introduced: ha'adam, one intersex human, basically transitions in two ways to being the male Adam and the female Eve. This passage also clearly and explicitly denies that God thinks celibacy is preferable to marriage: It is not good for a human (of any gender) to be alone, says God. The idea of celibacy as preferable to marriage (but even then only for those who don't "burn" with desire for a mate) derives from apostle Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 7, and he admits it's just his opinion based on his expectation of the end times and the Messiah's return in his lifetime: It was his self-admitted opinion, and he was wrong about the timing of Christ's return also in the same passage, so why would we proclaim this faulty opinion as a mandate for LGBTQIA Christians today? To do so cannot be justified as biblical but only with humility, as Paul did as personal opinion, in this case based on cultural prejudice.

Regardless of gender, the Christian Bible describes three kinds of love possible between two people: agape, an unconditional love that is a gift from God that, in marriage, takes the form of mutual submission and spiritual devotion to one another out of shared reverence for the God both love (Ephesians 5.21); philos, friendship so deep and enduring that the apostle Peter uses it twice to describe his love for Jesus (John 21); and eros, the romantic and sexual longing, desire and expression of love for one another, particularly in the sacramental covenant of faithful marriage. Between two partners, whatever their gender, when these three bonds of love -- for and from God, love as friends, and romantic love -- come together, they mutually reinforce and strengthen a couple's love for each other and for God: "A cord of many strands is not easily broken" (Ecclesiastes 4.12). The love that marriage equality affirms doesn't threaten Christian marriage; it reinforces it by building up the spiritual strength, faith, and humanity of each gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and/or intersex individual blessed by such a love. These three strands of love (agape, philos, and eros) intertwined together are stronger than the bond of Christian mutual servanthood and devotion (agape) or friendship (philos) alone. This lived reality of queer Godly love directly contradicts the heretical lies of many Christians that such love draws us away from God, inverts us to selfish narcissism, and undermines masculine friendships and brotherhood through lustful promiscuity. To attribute a love that is Godly and bears good spiritual fruit (Matthew 7.17) to Satan or sin is in fact the only sin Jesus calls unforgivable: It's blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12.31-32). Instead I give praise to the One who created me, genetically an intersex male who has had to transition from the female identity mistakenly assigned at birth (thus also transgender), and thanks as a Christian for the agape, philos, and eros of the gay love which blesses, enriches, nourishes, and strengthens me spiritually, bearing fruit in ministry and service to and with others.