This is our truth, tell us yours
Yesterday I wrote about how Pride, and the whole campaign for marriage equality was leaving behind those who dont want tp be the pin ups for “look how much we can be just like nice respectable heterosexuals”. There is another aspect which has been troubling me, and that is the very concept that same-sex marriage means “love wins”
Historically of course marriage has very little to do with love. It was a property transfer, of a female from father to husband. Thats why we still talk of a father “giving the bride away”. Within marriage women had no rights, since they were simply a chattel of their husbands. Until the 1980s (in the UK) women did not even have a right over their own body, since it was deemed impossible to rape your spouse.
Those right-wing Christians insisting that same-sex marriage redefines marriage ignore that the new testament is pretty much opposed to marriage, at least in Paul, who is the go to apostle for homophobes and bigots. Paul I believe was most probably asexual. To quote him;
7Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. 8But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. 9But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
Its clear here Paul sees how he is as a way of being, as the other gifts are. His celibacy is not a fruit of the spirit,(such as speaking in tongues) but a gift of the spirit, gifts of the spirit are those innate talents and abilities we are born with which can be used for the furtherance of the church as a community.Paul “does not burn with passion” but he does not present this as a choice, rather as how he is, made clear by his wishing others were like him, not that they chose as he chose or behaved as he behaved. I should probably make clear that of course asexual people can of course chose to have sex, it is the lack of sexual desire Paul wishes others shared though)
Paul however was a realist, and thought that since people tend to shag, and like shagging, It would be better if they got married and just shagged one person. Being married was seen as worse than being unmarried, but better than being promiscuous. Unlike Augustine’s “lord give me chastity, just not yet” Paul was saying if you really must have sex, chose one person, do it with them, but remember its second best to not wanting to have sex.
In all of this, not one mention of love. Marriage is simply presented as a better option than wanking, sleeping around or visiting sex workers. Paul however knew a lot about love, and wrote some of the most beautiful verses on the subject ever, ones which ironically many people have read at their weddings.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7New International Version (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
No mention there of love being about marriage, or even limited to just two people. Love is presented as a selfless, unlimited emotion, something which cannot run out, which does not depend on chemical attraction or liking the same books and films. Our media is to a large degree responsible for the idea that love equals romance, and that the ultimate expression of love is spending thousands of pounds on a party held in a church you will never visit again. A rewrite of 1 Corinthians would probably have to include “Love lasts for 6 years and ends with the serving of divorce papers”.
Romance is not love, at the most I would accept it is a form of love. a rather weak, insubstantial form of love which often lasts as long as the object of your love is not fully known to you. For same-sex marriage to be presented as love winning means that all other forms of love have been dismissed as somehow less worthy, less meaningful, when in fact they are very often the forms of love which will last long after the fires of eros have been quenched.