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.