On Nov. 6, Minnesotans will go to the polls to vote on two constitutional amendments, among other issues. One of these amendments seeks to define marriage as “only a union of one man and one woman.”
I am writing to share why, as a retired Lutheran pastor, I will be voting “No” on this amendment. If those voting no prevail, same gender unions will still be illegal in Minnesota and conversation on this issue can continue.
This amendment would single out certain Minnesotans and exclude them from marriage simply because of the gender of the one they love.
Well-meaning supporters have lined up on both sides of this issue. Often those against the amendment have appealed to the “biblical model of marriage.” As a pastor I can assure you that there is no such thing as a clear-cut, one woman-one man model of marriage held up in the scriptures.
For the most part, in both Testaments, marriage was less about individuals than it was about households and less about emotions than it was about economics. Marriage was more about the union of two families than a matter between two individuals.
The Hebrew of the Old Testament doesn’t include the noun “marry” nor the verb “to marry.” The Greek of the New Testament has words for “marriage” and “marrying,” but the models for marriage are diverse.
In the Old Testament we have Jacob, the “father” of the 12 tribes of Israel, who had two primary wives and two slave wives—one man, four wives. There were also Levirate relationships in which the brother of a man who died childless was required to co-habit with the widow. These forms— polygamy and Levirate continued well into the New Testament era. So to appeal to the scriptures as the rationale for marriage being only between one woman and one man is flawed.
Serious attention to the scripture demands that we shift the conversation from peripheral issues to its real center— the good news of God’s incredible and all-inclusive love.
Then this becomes a justice issue and the only sensible vote on this amendment is a no.