Gay marriage is as good as traditional marriage

Written by Susan Mannella on .

Matthew J. Franck ("It's Not About Hating Gays," Dec. 28 Perspectives) complains that gay marriage advocates are "chasing traditional religious arguments on marriage and morality underground." To the contrary, we benefit by unearthing religious arguments that were buried long ago -- especially those that recognize diverse expressions of sexuality within marriage.

Like Mr. Franck, the fourth-century bishop St. Augustine believed that marriage is intended to produce children. However, he also acknowledged that sexual mores change over time. A careful reader of the Bible, Augustine observed that David "took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him" (2 Samuel 5:13) while Paul later reasoned that marriage (of two people) is better than promiscuity but abstinence is better than marriage (1 Corinthians 7:8-9).

Augustine reconciled these conflicting views with the conclusion that "making a clear distinction between the different circumstances of the times has such an effect on whether it is right or wrong to do something" that polygamous Hebrews and celibate Christians were equally justified. It's worth asking ourselves how 21st-century circumstances might have altered Augustine's views on homosexuality as well.

Like Mr. Franck, I was once the sort of earnest Christian whose judgment against sexual difference was formed according to what I thought were orthodox ideas about the Bible and Christian tradition. But I now believe -- along with many fellow Christians -- that gay marriage is as good as "traditional" marriage for families and society. Those who oppose it are not a persecuted majority, as Mr. Franck would have us believe, but a misguided one.

South Side Flats

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