Letter: Hull-Nye’s “Marriage” is Off The Mark

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I would like to address an article written by one of my friends and classmates, Dylan Hull-Nye. While Dylan and I have our disagreements, Dylan is and has been a very kind-hearted individual. However, I’m not entirely convinced his article on marriage reflects a genuine understanding of what marriage is.

Marriage has always been variously applied to individuals of different faiths, cultures and economic backgrounds and its origins are up for debate even amongst Christians. Dylan cites a passage from Genesis to further his point that God institutes marriage (Genesis 2:23-24). He does not mention the discrepancies within Genesis that suggest that man and woman may have been created simultaneously (Genesis 1:27). Instead, Dylan asserts that marriage is only possible between couples who are capable of creating children, and that this would exclude same-sex couples. Finally, he concludes that it was God’s intention to create the union of marriage exclusively for Man and Woman.

The debate over what constitutes marriage, especially at a Jesuit university, comes down to what approach a person uses when reading scripture. I lean more towards a historical-critical approach. My impression is that Dylan chooses to read these passages at his own discretion. This type of approach is can be detrimental when applying it to real world situations. For example, by Dylan’s interpretation, an infertile couple could arguably meet God’s disapproval, and Christians can refuse to recognize such a couple as married. I think Dylan and I would both agree this is not the case.

If my sacred scripture class has taught me anything, it is that moral disapproval of certain types of marriages through the use of biblical passages can incite prejudice and discrimination. For example, in 1975 Bob Jones University implemented a policy prohibiting its students from interracial dating, marriage or being a part of a group that advocates for such causes. The justification behind this was based on a biblical interpretation of Genesis, specifically God’s intention to separate man into three races based on Noah’s descendants, Ham, Shem and Japheth (where, for example, the sons of Ham included “Orientals and Negroes”). The Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision, found enough reason to disapprove of BJU’s policies and uphold the IRS’s removal of its tax-exempt status.

What is marriage? It would certainly depend on any given society. For ours we put an emphasis on love, but for others a dowry system or arranged marriages are perfectly acceptable. These historical and cultural differences are proof that marriage has different meaning to different people. To my friend Dylan, I would just remind him that gay students are no different than us heterosexual students, and perhaps that is why some Christians “unquestioningly accept” those within the LGBTQ community. I am proud to attend a university that accepts people of all faiths, orientations, ethnic backgrounds, and political ideologies because I know acceptance is something difficult to come by in a judgmental world.

1 COMMENT

  1. Though it is good, as you say at the end, to accept people of all faiths and creeds, that does not mean we should accept all faiths and creeds. Obviously, if you try and accept all faiths and creeds, you will get stuck in a big contradictory quagmire.

    One of the biggest fallacies that I’ve noticed a lot of gay marriage proponents commit is the failure to distinguish the belief from the believe or the idea from the person.

    Let me be clear- I have no problem personally with anyone who is gay or lesbian, and I would not treat anyone differently based on sexual orientation. It is not only presumptuous but it also fallacious to accuse someone who believes marriage is between only a man and woman to be homophobic, judgmental, or un-accepting of gay people. It takes away from the argument itself.

    Another important distinction is that, in my article, I am writing in the perspective of Christianity. I am not writing about whether it should be legal or not- I’m only trying to understand what God has created and what He wants. So my article is directed to Christians, and I know Stephen is responding in that perspective as well- as I see when he mentions the “historical-critical” method.

    Regarding interpretation: I did not interpret at my own discretion- rather I actually listened what the Church fathers and doctors of the Church have believed about Scripture, including Genesis. Since I am Catholic, I obey the Church on teachings of faith and morals- Matrimony is included in this, and John Paul II makes it clear that man was created for woman and woman for man- that they compliment each other.

    As for infertile couples- procreation is still possible, as Abraham’s wife, Sarah, gave birth to Isaac well beyond her child-bearing age.

    In addition to what the Bible says and theologians interpret, I think it’s important to mention two very easily known realities:

    1. No one would come into this world had there not been both males and females. It takes both a male and female to create anybody. We should realize how important heterosexual sex is, even if it’s not the only type.

    2. Every time people prepare for and engages in sex, their bodies are always preparing for procreation. Clearly not all love-making results in a child, but we should gain some intuition about God’s design in nature since the body naturally always wants to procreate, whether we intend it or not.

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