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I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Honey, did you remember to turn off the lights?

Read an interesting article about infidelity and marriage the other day (see this link) which was not written by a theologian in title, although in this case, we may want to grant her a temporary permit. She wrote "Monogamy is not a sexual dilemma, but a dilemma of integrity." Exactly.

After a couple hundred years of scientific testing, it's pretty clear that humans, like most primates, are not wired for monogamy. Sexual desires come and go over the years, over the days even, and the "one to one" ideal is not biologically sustainable. But--and this is key--relationships are not only about biology. Marriage is more than just making children, that's why there is a commandment against adultery. Marriage is a question of who, and also, whose you are.

So when Gen. Petraeus exchanges his monogamous relationship with his wife for a sexual relationship with another woman, we learn more about his integrity than we do about biology. We learn more about what he values and believes as a person of prestige and power than sexual attraction of certain types of men to certain types of women. When someone stays faithful in a monogamous relationship we see them as trying to be more than their biological parts...this person is striving to fulfill some kind of need or desire to be more than the sum of his or her parts. And those for whom monogamy does not mean much, well, that is who they are. A man who dates a married woman only to find she is having sex with yet another man? You didn't see that coming? Really?

For this reason (marriage is about integrity, not sex) I am in full support of gay marriage. If you are gay, what better way to express your integrity to be more than your sexuality, than to show yourself as a faithful marriage partner over the years? It's like the old joke: "Do you believe in same sex marriage?" And the other answers, "Of course I do, I've been having the same sex for 25 years of marriage" The power of the joke resides not in the sex, but in the 25 years. To deny somebody that 25 year opportunity is to force them to live a lie; or, worse, to live without being able to experience the joy of integrity that marriage can bring.

In a weird way, to deny gays and lesbians the opportunity to marry because your abhor their sexuality only forces them to have the sexuality you abhor. In essence, you are actually creating the very thing you say you do not like. For me, gay marriage is not about "religious liberty," "sanctity," or pro-creation. Gay marriage is about freeing people to live with integrity. To strive to be "just a little lower than angels," as the Psalmist says all of humans are and do.

Because humanity is more than biology (that's the basic premise of all theology), if these words were to be read 200 years from now, people might wonder why I wasted a morning writing about something so obvious. (Go back and read John Locke and see how obvious he seems at times. It's not that he isn't still brilliant, it's just that stuff has moved on in the last 300 years, and we take much for what he fought for granted.) I think it's safe to say, that if marriage is only about biology, we should probably not be too surprised at infidelity; but if it is about anything else, like integrity, we might try giving everyone a chance at attaining its benefits.

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.

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