I know that many Christians still have their undies in a twist over the fact that our Supreme Court finally got around to acknowledging that same-sex marriage is legitimate and a constitutional right, but I thought I’d heard the last of the few Christians who showed up here to try and challenge me on the issue.
But I was wrong. Well, sort of. Justin Aichele just couldn’t seem to leave well enough alone, and he started cyber stalking me this last Wednesday (August 4th, 2021) on Twitter over his continuing and misguided quest to force people to live according to his beliefs rather than their own. I first discussed the issue with Justin almost 10 years ago on this blog post, but he butt-in on a Twitter thread I was engaged in to claim that the hateful “Christian” baker in Colorado who refused to make a cake for a gay couple was vindicated because “the Christian should never be forced to participate in immoral or objectionable activities.” I’ve heard Justin pontificate on this before. It’s nothing new, but I still wanted to address it. Read on.
Umm, that is not how the Supreme Court’s ruling played out. They never said anything close to Justin’s claim. More importantly, if making wedding cakes is “being forced to participate in immoral activities,” (as Justin claims) then maybe the wedding cake maker shouldn’t be a wedding cake maker. I mean, and this is hilarious, he wasn’t asked to do anything other than make a wedding cake, which is THE ONE JOB his business existed for. That’s stupid enough on its own, but the hashtag “#MarriageIsHeterosexual” is simply more than I can laugh at. Everything Justin said in this tweet was wrong.
Which of course garnered an “Actually” from Justin.
Justin can only see the issue through his religious dogma. Forget everyone else’s definitions and legal expressions of marriage, Justin’s not cool with it, so they must be wrong. He’s told me before that everyone should be subjected to his religious beliefs. No really, he actually thinks that.
Okay, whatever. Nothing exceptionally unique about this from religious fundamentalists, but then Justin really steps in it by saying that same-sex marriage ignores the Bible, history and creation. I’ve dealt with his “Bible” argument here, and in my tweet (below), but the “history and creation” thing represents a new front in Justin’s already-lost war.
Same-sex expression in committed relationships is found in history, from yesterday to ancient times. No, it’s not as prevalent as heterosexual arrangements, but that is a meaningless data point. Believing that quantity is akin to normality steps in a logical fallacy. Nevertheless, if you’re like Justin, who categorically refuses to acknowledge same-sex marriage as “marriage,” then of course you’re never going to find it in history. Either way, his “history” claim is a fail. Strike 1.
The “creation” is an even bigger fail, for while the vast majority of sexual species on the planet are heterosexual, they are not the only observed actors or evidence. Same-sex coupling is found among many species, including birds, invertebrates, amphibians, and of course, primates. And here’s the kicker, even if it were only found in the primates called “humans,” that would not, in and of itself, require that we view it as an aberration or abnormal. It’s a minority of the population, but so what? In either case, Justin is just flat out wrong about same-sex partnerships (we don’t call it “marriage” with other animals anyway). We see it frequently enough in “creation” to accept that it is indeed a natural part of the order of life on Earth.
Justin’s quixotic quest to bring ALL of creation to bear witness about marriage is equally problematic. I have to point out again that “marriage” is simply not what we’d call pairings or matings in the rest of the animal kingdom. Yes, a few species mate for life, but even then, there is a problem: it ain’t “marriage.”
There are even some species of amphibians who can actually change sexes in certain situations. And before anyone tries to argue that these animals only did this to procreate, they should know that not all of the transgender frogs I have in mind did that. Producing offspring has never been the mark of what sex a person (or other animal) is or isn’t.
I digress, but the problems don’t stop there. There are many species that produce asexually, and even among the sexual organisms that reproduce, the VAST majority are not monogamous. I wonder if Justin wants that fact to inform his “creation” argument too. Oops.
Furthermore, many species’ “pairing” behaviors are violent, rape-like events that are anything but consensual. This is especially true among insect species, and don’t even get me started on things like the Praying Mantis or Black Widow, which eat their mates after they sex it up. If we want to create some norms for “marriage,” it just doesn’t help to turn to any part of the natural order beyond humanity itself. That’s another fail for Justin. Strike 2.
So back to my response to Justin and the Bible:
Spoiler alert: The Bible never endorses a singular way for sexual creatures (like humans) to live as sexual creatures. Let’s see… In the Old Testament we have polygamy and incest. But wait, there’s more! In Judges (and multiple other places) we also have “holy” men of God murdering rival husbands and absconding with their newly widowed wives in chattel (slave) marriages. And in the New Testament we have both traditional marriages and perpetual singleness (celibacy) highlighted as worthy options. One would indeed be right to point out that there are no models of same-sex marriage in the Bible, but this misses the point that marriage, by biblical standards themselves, has NEVER been only about monogamous, consenting adults of “legal” age or of sound mind. Which is to say that definitions and parameters of marriage absolutely change from time to time, both in and outside the Bible.
So what is Justin to do? Oh, I know! Let’s act like pointing out what the Bible says is “reading it wrong” (if it doesn’t reinforce my unbiblical beliefs)!
At this point, I have to admit that people can indeed misinterpret biblical texts. It happens all the time. We might rightly even accuse Justin of doing the same thing here and there. But here’s the problem: It’s not just Justin’s belief that I’m doing it wrong, it’s also his complete dodge of the issue I am raising, which is that the definition of “biblical marriage” has never been a static thing. It changes. Full stop.
But Justin can’t bring himself to acknowledge any of that. All he can do is fixate on one verse in the Hebrew Scriptures (Genesis 2.24) which reads in the New International Version (NIV) as, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Justin tacks on what he believes Jesus thinks about marriage in his tweet, but this doesn’t cut it by a mile.
The Genesis verse itself requires readers to look at the larger context. I mean verse 24 starts with “THAT is why such and such… .” Wait, WHAT is why such and such?
Here’s what comes before the verse Justin alluded to:
20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man. 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
Well that clears things right up, doesn’t it? Naming animals: cows, birds, Tasmanian Devils… but no servant for the Bro, so let’s gin up a different kind of creature for the pony show. Woman. Awesome. Yay!
Would you like a side of misogyny with that patriarchal creation myth? Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself there. Ok, got it out of my system (for the moment). Let’s move on.
On a more serious note, we’re going to set aside all the textual criticism issues and provenance problems related to this Genesis text (most likely written during the Babylonian captivity -6th century B.C.-), as well as its obvious allegorical intent and explanatory power for a bronze-age worldview. All of those are fun topics and further reduce Justin’s argument, but we don’t even need to go there to get it done.
Based on this verse Justin claims that marriage is “clearly defined” as heterosexual. There’s a huge problem with that assertion because this passage is descriptive, not “definitive.” It literally serves as a descriptive story about how the first woman allegedly came into being and how the local male seemed to like her. Then the narrator (whomever that was) chimes in with, “This is why a man leaves his parents and sexes it up with his wife” (slightly paraphrased). A fundamentalist will likely protest that it is Adam himself who says this, but that simply cannot be the case since Adam isn’t supposed to have any parents. Somebody later on, likely much later on, wrote up this story and stuck it into the Hebrew Scriptures. But like I said, we have to let those issues go unexplored here.
Genesis 2 is nevertheless describing many things, a human relationship among them. Never does it say that this is the definitive way things must work, nor that this is the one and only way things can work to be holy. It is Justin who is reading both of those into the text, but even then he does so inconsistently. It creates many ridiculous problems if we stick with his insistence that this passage is definitive.
For example, if this is the only way things can work (or be holy), then all women must be taken from a man’s rib in every instance. Oops. Similarly, it must also be the case that no man can leave his parents’ house for any other reason than marriage and sex. That’s the only option if this passage is definitive. I wonder if that’s why Justin first left his parents. Maybe he will tell us. Also, what of certain circumstances where a son gets married but cannot “leave” his parents’ house? Is this out of bounds too? It must be if the passage is definitive.
And what about women? What are the definitive options they have as the passive objects of this text? Can they not leave their parents’ home until a Bro claims them? And what of a person who only has one parent, or none? Are they exempt? Are they outside the “definitive” biblical model? If so, that rules out Adam himself! Oops again.
No, Justin, making this passage definitive is simply the wrong interpretation. It does not work. Try as you might, this passage simply does not define all marriages for all people everywhere. It is but one example. One description.
If I know Justin, he will surely be tempted to move the goalposts and say that I’m reading it all wrong again because this passage is “clearly” only definitive when it speaks about wives (and husbands). This is a highly dubious, “just-so” type of defense to make, and we would be right to ask Justin, “What is it in this text that leads you to such a conclusion?” I’ll leave answering that up to Justin, but I feel pretty confident issuing a spoiler alert: Justin’s interpretation has nothing to do with this text, and everything to do with his personal feelings and fears about same-sex marriage.
His other option, which undoubtedly he will not resist, is to simply ignore his gaff with Genesis 2 and start verse bombing me with other Bible passages he thinks will prove his case. I’ve been down that road many times as well. It doesn’t work. Nowhere does the Bible prohibit same-sex marriages. Nowhere. And if he argues that we can only do things the Bible specifically permits… well, that’s not going to go the way he wants it to either.
But back to Genesis. The passage Justin quoted for us simply is not definitive. At all. It mentions one model (among diverse possibilities) for: a woman’s existence, leaving home, getting married, sexing it up. Never does it ever imply this is the only way things must or can happen. Strike 3.
Of course Justin is free to continue believing that the definition of marriage has never changed, but he simply does not know what he is talking about. Appealing to history won’t help him. Creation does not help him. And the Bible itself proves him wrong. Fail. Fail. And fail.
Sorry, Justin, the definition of marriage does change. Maybe you should stop being so concerned about other folks’ marriages and focus on your own.