When I had come out, my leanings were definitely to the “affirming” side to the gay marriage debate. I would call myself “Side A.” I understood that my sex drive was not mandated for celibacy, neither was most of the rest of the millions of gays and lesbians around the world, that I was naturally gay, and that I had always notions of being born “against tradition” (however conservative I was raised). I understood that being Side A would be ok, that I could find a super hot, Christian guy to walk with me in life. Yet, complementarianism still nagged me like the NeoCalvinist I was…. I could be gay, I felt and understood, but who would be the man of the house? It was ridiculous, but there was more understanding in the Bible for this mindset than against homosexuality at all. With the help of some friends, I got passed my fear and found a few (pretty conservative) resources.
(Gordon Fee, an Assemblies of God theologian)
Of the last few years in the closet, I was very disinterested in marriage. I wanted to go against society like a Christian hipster and in the future adopt an Asian child as a single dad. There was my lack of luck with women, and there was, of course, my lack of desire for women. “Maybe Taylor? No, she’s like my sister…. Maybe Lauren? No, she’s like my sister, too.” What was the point of marriage if the Bible states that we are not even married in heaven? It was a question I threw at my parents regularly. When I found the freedom to come out after a long process and found even the possibility for a gay marriage in my future, my thoughts immediately changed. I still wondered, though. What is the meaning of marriage? Is it just a haven for sex…..because sex is “definitely only for the marriage bed.” (I’m kidding about redundant Evangelical tag-lines such as this, but I still believe in pre-marital celibacy.) I knew and still know gay marriage is beautiful and ok, but what does it portray to God? What does any kind of marriage portray or should be portrayed to God?
My straight friend Blake, a former NeoCalvinist like myself, had converted to egalitarianism after years of being a complementarian. He described to me and a few of my friends that marriage should be like two dancers leading each other around the floor – beautiful and empowering. He described (from what I remember) this still as the analogy of Christ to the Church, but then I was confused again. If two are equal, yet God was involved – how does that not make an incomplete equation?
In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis heavily urges the reader to not look forward to the “earthly features before the afterlife for yet again” but to look forward to the Beloved of Heaven. Reading his piece gave me the conviction that I was not placing God in the right part of the marriage puzzle. The idea was an “overlooking God” rather than a “union with God,” yet God is involved with both. This is where the idea of a puzzle is thrown away, and the reality of God becomes amplified. God is the creator of the love story, the marriage and the whole of the marriage.
The “love of your life” becomes the Christ of the future. In the afterlife and/or Heaven, the love of all eternity is Christ – the Deliverer, the Rock, Best Friend, and Bridegroom. In this life, the highest of all loves in the physical and current life is your “deliverer,” “best friend,” “rock,” and “heart” as you are to them. Christ and the Church are in a spectrum of your monogamous marriage as One.
Throughout this past year, I have had some gay Christian guy friends and met some guys that excited me for the Gospel. They have excited me about Jesus. They inspired me to reach up to God, to talk to God, and to care for others. This is what we look for in the long-term. We look for encouragement, comfort, a cheerleader, and a source of nourishment as Christ has led you to the Father, encouraged you in your faith, sent His Holy Spirit for comfort, and given you nourishment through time. As I take another man to be my husband or as a man takes another man in marriage, so does Christ take the Church or the Church hold the hand of Christ to be whole and One. The roles of Christ and the Church are fluid in a monogamous marriage between two men, two women, or two people. Being both finite beings, there is one to raise one up, one to encourage another, one to cheer on, one to be the helpless Church at times and one to be the helpful Christ at times. This egalitarian fluidity in marriage keeps a humble mindset to both people involved.
Rachel Held Evans describes in her own marriage that after years of trying to find a “spiritual leader” she gave up and later found a “spiritual companion.” In marriage, the two involved are to keep each other encouraged, loved, and nourished in their journey for God. They excite each other and lead each other with great fluidity in their roles of being both like the Church and like Christ. Through this fluidity of roles, the idolatry of one partner over the other and oppressive nature of the situation is nonexistent. Because one is not always to be the role of Christ, there is great humility to the reality of it all. Yes, both enter roles like the Church and like Christ but not permanently. It is only fittingly. Both partners will then cultivate a needed permanent humility like the Church and a needed permanent confidence like Christ. As life comes closer and closer to an end, the two are fuels to their own flame in the dynamic ministry of the gospel in the world around them toward the afterlife of the ultimate Bridegroom and Love.
As for sex, one may “easily” see children as fruit of the euphoric union (sex) of Christ and the Church in a heterosexual marriage, but it is not the biological functions of either sex that is symbolic. As a man of God may be in union with Christ, so may a man be in marriage to another man. And as God is not restrained by gender, neither is the fluidity of gender. So as a woman of God may be in union with Christ, so may a woman be in marriage to another woman. Sex is then a marital function for both persons to symbolize the ecstatic and blissful union of both Christ and the Church. It is this high, glorious feeling in sex that we find in the joy of being in the body of Christ. In sex, we find the cultivation of love, better feelings, and better health for both persons just as Christ and the Church find this same cultivation in prayer and meditation. As for the idea of “fruit” of the union, are members of the LGBTQ+ community limited more than straight people in establishing children in their family? Of course not.
Sex is the symbolic, physical union of the marriage of two persons in joy and delight. The union is nourished, encouraged, and comforted by each partner as they are like the Church and like Christ. This paves the way for the welcome of the ultimate Bridegroom, who will later greet our own children.