40 Questions for Affirming Christians Part 3

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Image Source: Benson Kua, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rainbow_flag_breeze21.jpg

Let’s continue with the 40 Questions posed for affirming Christians.

14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?

There’s no reason to believe that the average two-mother or two-father family is any less loving than a mother-father family. Ok, there are some scenarios where the two fathers might have a bit harder time talking to their daughter about her first period. They can still do a great job by learning about it – just like we would learn about many other issues that we didn’t face personally, like easy access to pornography or cyberbullying – but yes, there is a small subset of biological issues that they can’t relate to directly. Good thing they’re completely welcomed in their churches where they can seek help if they really don’t know where to start.

This question makes me a little angry because it’s all fear-mongering and no substance.

15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?

Google it. There have been multiple studies that show no difference.

16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad?

Not applicable since I said no (mostly), but for a bit of clarity, here’s how I understand Church and state roles:

The Church’s fundamental job is to be outposts of the Kingdom of God on Earth. For some, they believe that means not performing same-sex marriages. For some, they think that includes not performing marriages of divorcees. There are still some churches who won’t perform interracial marriages. They have to operate on their own conscience and their understanding of the issues. However, we should be able to agree that love, grace, inclusion, and strong marriages are definitely markers of the Kingdom, no matter what our theology of marriage is.

The state’s fundamental job is to protect the rights of all of its citizens, including and perhaps especially minorities who could easily be pushed down by the majority.

17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?

I don’t know if I want to go quite as far as some of my other Christian brothers and sisters in calling marriage a sacrament (I don’t know if I’d call anything a sacrament), but it’s definitely something more than just emotional and sexual fulfillment. It is all of life together. It is commitment to another human being who is as flawed as you that you will continue to seek their well-being above your own. It is partnering together to help the world see a bit more of Jesus (at least for Christian marriages). It is absolute vulnerability, laying your entire life at the foot of another. It is eating dinner together and watching TV together. It is the times when you can’t imagine a second apart and the times you just need a vacation from each other. It is for richer or poorer, better or worse, healthy or sick, and so on and so on.

18. How would you define marriage?

At least in the religious context, marriage is the deep covenantal commitment between two people. I would like to include “permanent” but I do think divorce can be the best course of action in extreme situations like abuse.

19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?

In a lot of places, you already can marry as close as first cousin. I guess it depends on what the real question is here. Are we talking about a father to his daughter, like that guy north of the wall in Game of Thrones? If so, we need to talk about power differentials and whether it can truly be informed consent in that kind of scenario. Even siblings would often have those power imbalances. But if we’re talking about real informed consent which probably means at least first cousins – and informed would include knowledge of potential genetic issues of children – then I’m not sure I really see an ethical issue with it. My mind could probably be swayed, though, since I’ve never really had to think about it before now.

20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?

Legally, I think that it would probably be better for the state to limit to 2. There’s a lot of complexities with taxes and wills and so on and people could start “marrying” a lot of people just to get the breaks. Maybe the state would see a better way around that, though, and that’s their prerogative.

I have a hard imagining how somebody can say they are fully in a covenant commitment with more than one person. I just don’t have that much energy and time. Or what if two of them are fighting with each other, like Jacob’s wives? Are you able to negotiate that in the same mutually-submissive way you do between just two of you, or do you devolve into a vote with one having to pick a side? I can’t imagine being 100% committed to more than one person at the same time.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.