This past weekend I played for the wedding of a friend of mine. It was pretty conventional, albeit a tad too casual for me. The bride, my friend, looked lovely. Brides usually do. The guys, on the other hand, looked like they just sort of rolled out of bed, threw on quasi-matching polo shirts, and showed up. The bridesmaids, of course, were lovely. Women usually manage to look smashing, regardless. There are some exceptions, of course (the Jerry Springer Show comes to mind), but girls typically look so put-together. Guys today instead generally come out looking like teenage boys who still need mom to take care of them.
The straight ones anyway.
But the twist came when the pastor commented on how the groom should really be the best man at his wedding, because Christ is the only perfect husband who will love perfectly, never fail, and gave himself sacrificially for both the bride and the Bride. She should grow to love Him more every day, just as the husband too should be loving Christ more, and that bringing them closer and together in their mutual love for each other and for G-d.
Of all the weddings I’ve done, that was a first. My sister’s wedding was fairly Christ-centred, and the wedding of another friend of mine blew me away theologically and emotionally.
It made me think though. Traditional marriages are supposed to point us to the relationship between Christ and the Church, and are even to be living parables of that divine marriage. They aren’t perfect, by any means, and that’s the point. G-d doesn’t expect perfection. He expects us to be open-handed with him, acknowledging our creaturely need for him, and to admit that don’t have it all together. Even the ladies who look like they do, and especially the guys who don’t.
But marriage, especially the Biblical model, is supposed to be an example of women displaying the submissiveness to their husbands that the Church is to show to Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33). Men fail miserably here, in not being the shining examples of masculinity that a woman would want to submit to. And amidst the resurgence of goddess worship our culture encourages women to assert their feminine dominance, usually over men, taking back the power that for so many centuries was denied them by the patriarchal status quo.
However, if we look at the Biblical model, that is not what is even marginally hinted at:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. (Ephesians 5:25-29, ESV)
Guys have it much harder in marriage if they are to follow this model. They are to follow Christ’s example of living sacrificially, even if that calling leads to death. This isn’t Fiddler on the Roof, where the man claps his hands and his wife falls into line. He is to look out for her needs first.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24, ESV)
A woman then, in response to this sacrificial lifestyle that her husband is presumably displaying, acknowledges his leadership through submission. So what happens is hopefully this mutual submission, where each partner is putting the other first in the relationship and each is likewise submitting to the ultimate authority of Christ.
How does that look in a homosexual relationship, where it’s two men or two women who are partnered and are equals (egalitarian versus gender-structured pairing)? Because this is not the same relationship that Paul was talking about in Ephesians; and regardless of what you may think of the Apostle (e.g., that he was a chauvinistic misogynist), he drew some marvellous paralells between earthly and divine marriage.
Men were not designed physically, psychologically or emotionally to submit in the same way to other men that a woman was designed for a man, and likewise women for other women. However, as Virginia Mollenkott said on Speaking of Faith in 2006, “Apparently the Creator likes diversity a lot more than we human beings do.” So I believe the relationship can still thrive and that it can teach us something about G-d and about faith.
So what can we learn from same-sex relationships from a Biblical or theological perspective?
The floor is open.
Shalom to you.