On a previous thread on this site, there was a discussion about the Biblical model for marriage. While the question of Biblical marriage models may not be strictly ex-gay in nature, the ex-gay movement is heavily involved in the opposition to marriage equality and the argument over the mutability of orientation was integral to the decision of at least one state supreme court.

Although much of the legal argument against equal access to marriage rights for gay people is based on the notion that opposite-sex marriages are better for society, the emotional and political argument is that God ordained a plan for marriage and that plan consisted of “one man and one woman”. And though many people are not particularly religious, most Americans believe in God and a claim of His blessing still carries weight.

Conservative evangelical Christians have been the leaders in the calls to constitutionally prohibit gay people from appealing to courts for equal access. But the anti-gay marriage rhetoric runs counter to form. Having been raised in this faith structure, I can attest that many teachings on daily life and faith are supported by an appeal to the example of Biblical heroes. Yet in this debate there has been a marked absence of appeal to God’s favorites. A quick glance at the marriages of these chosen vessels of God shows why.

I realize that many examples in the Bible are for what NOT to do. And that is particularly true in the examples of marriage and relationships. Nonetheless, I am amazed at how few Biblical giants had relationships that could be considered acceptable by today’s conservative evangelical Christians. Although there are undoubtedly more, the single example I could think of was Isaac.

Please do not use the examples I’m listing below as some God-ordained model for marriage. Some of these choices resulted in horrible results. But with that caveat, I present:


From Adam we learn that there is not need for a marriage.

From Seth we learn that procreation with your sisters is OK.

From Abraham we learn that a man can marry his sister – and lie about it. We also learn that if your wife is barren, she can give you her maid to impregnate.

From Lot’s daughters we learn that if you don’t have a man and you want a child, you can always just get your father drunk and have sex with him.

From Jacob we learn that a wife can be purchased by seven years of labor. We also learn that it is acceptable to deceive a groom into marrying the wrong woman and the marriage is valid. We also learn that having two sisters as wives is a blessing.

From Onan we learn that a man is obligated to impregnate his brother’s widow. We also learn that when having sex with your sister-in-law, you are not supposed to pull out before ejaculating (it’s wicked in God’s sight).

From Salmon we learn that your son born of a prostitute will bring recognition and honor to your name for millennia and your descendant will be the Messiah.

From Ruth we learn that a woman belongs to her husband’s family even after his death. We also learn that premarital seduction is honorable.

From David we learn that marriage (to one of your several wives) is for establishing connection into the royal family. We also find that if you kill a man to take his wife, she’ll provide you an heir who will be both wise and wealthy.

From Solomon we learn that a man can have as many wives as he can afford – along with twice as many concubines.

Paul tells us some very interesting things about marriage: It’s better never to marry (unless you can’t control your passions). And if do have a spouse and they are not a believer, then if s/he leaves you, let them go.

Even Jesus had some opinions about marriage: be sure to have enough wine at the ceremony and second marriages are adultery (even if the ex-spouse is a non-believer).

Yes, there is so much we can learn about marriage from Scripture. But one thing is clear: The idea of “one man, one woman” marriage may indeed be “traditional” but it certainly isn’t Biblical.

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