Imagine a song with only one note, A rainbow with only one hue;
A world where people all look the same, and everyone sounds alike too.
Then look at the colors around you, thank God for each various shade;
Tune in to the beautiful voices, all part of the world that God made.
Imagine ignoring the touch of a breeze, refreshing and different and new;
Keeping our distance from any idea that challenges our point of view.
Then open your heart to the riches, that each child of God has to give;
The One Loving Spirit has shown us, we need one another to live.
The life you lead is different from mine, we each sing our own special song;
It’s not always easy to understand, but differences can make us strong.
So open your hear to the riches, that each child of God has to give;
The One Loving Spirit has shown us, we need one another to live
“Imagine,” Words and Music by Ruth Sandberg
The above hymn is among my all time favorites, and is frequently sung at the church I belong to. Perhaps a few of you have heard it, as it is in many hymnal books. It is not really not done full justice without hearing it with the music that accompanies it, and a church full of people singing the words like they mean them, and knowing inside that they are sincere. But for the purposes of what I have to say in this article, they will suffice.
As a bisexual in a non-traditional relationship, living a radically different lifestyle from many in the LGBT Community who are also Christian, I often feel misunderstood and a little like one of the ones mentioned in the hymn that is “not always easy to understand;” I often feel as if I and my partners are, in singing our own “special song” that many in the community feel as if we are discordant and singing too off key for the rest of the choir. However, there have been such moments of feeling unconditionally loved by God and by others who we encounter despite the differences of lives, opinions and ideas we share with others that they far outweigh any feelings of not belonging. Singing this hymn with a group of people who have made different choices than us is one of those times when we feel we can harmonize with anyone beautifully, despite whatever differences we may have.
It does not matter that others may or may not agree with the way we understand God and the Bible, life and relationships, covenants and commitments. All that matters is that we are all children of God, and all of us have a purpose in the world. And that, in my opinion, is how it always should be, and always would be, in a perfect world; if each and every one of us were to put our undivided trust in God to handle the intricate workings of the Universe, and trust God to take care of the details and the issues we ourselves may not be able to understand on an individual basis, rather than trying to dictate how we ourselves wish it could be run.
It is a shame to me, and probably to Jesus as well, that there are so many among the millions who have chosen to follow His teachings that there are still so many bitter disputes over things which we allow to divide us. One issue that still creates a rift, even now more so than ever due to the current climate in mainstream culture among Evangelical Christianity, is the topic of same-gender relationships, same-gender intimacy and sexuality, and especially same-gender marriage.
I guess I should start of by saying that I comfortably reside in the denominator that I have heard many gay and lesbian people, as well as “hardcore heterosexuals” (as I have come to call those who are unnecessarily homophobic to the point of announcing in nearly every conversation how “straight” they are) berate when it comes to the topic of same-gender marriage. I am a polyfidelitous bisexual with two partners, a bisexual woman and another bisexual man. I have heard those opposed to same-gender marriage use people like me as “the reason why same-gender marriages should not be condoned or accepted,” using the argument that “if we allow two gay or lesbian people to get married, then a bisexual will want to marry a partner of both genders” (as if that would be a bad thing; I say to myself, “And? What would be wrong with that?” – but more on that later) and those in the gay and lesbian community who say, “Bisexuals who are not monogamous and who do not marry one partner of one or the other gender are a ‘threat’ to the acceptance of same gender marriage, they’re going to fight for multiple partner marriages and ruin it for the rest of us.” If you find yourself in either one of those camps, you may not wish to hear all I have to say, but then again, perhaps some of the things I may say will be surprising to the assumptions you may have, and may even foster more of an understanding.
I guess I should say first of all that despite the fact that my idea of marriage does not fit the standard “mold” of what marriage has come to be defined to be in this day and age, I am 101 percent supportive of the right of anyone to share in a covenant of marriage. That includes both opposite-gender and same-gender marriages, unconditionally. But before I delve too deeply into that, perhaps I should define what the concept of “marriage” means to me. I honestly think that many people brought up in the oppressiveness of how a great portion of Christianity has allowed itself to be defined choose to marry for the wrong reasons instead of the right ones.
Much of the Christian definition of marriage has, in my opinion over time, become less of what I truly feel in my heart that it is supposed to be about, which is a lifelong commitment to another person and a bonding of souls on a spiritual level, a partnership that stands the test of time and the sometimes turbulent and stormy and sometimes pleasant weather of life, and a decision to make a personal commitment to another child of God before God and more of a contract of ownership of another persons will, thoughts and decisions or a legally binding demand for sexual exclusivity. While for many people these two factors, more the latter than the former may be necessary to their definition of what a marriage should be, I think that the focus on these above all other factors a commitment to another, made publicly before God and in God’s Presence, to stand by one another through the good times and the bad times, the trials and the blessings, through the sometimes distressing but always wondrous adventure known as the human experience. I feel that there is one reason, and only one reason why a same or opposite gender couple or anyone should marry, and that reason is love.
Love Casts out Fear
I see a great many gay and lesbian couples as well as male and female couples who want to get married for all of what I feel are the right reasons. They have found a kindred soul and a God-given bond with one another, and they make a conscious choice to make a commitment to each other in the Presence of God, and others, to publicly proclaim their devotion to each other for life. They do it for the right reason: Love. As I have said before, I feel that Love is the root of all that is good, where as fear can be the root of bad.
Unfortunately, there are other couples I have seen (more opposite-gender than same-gender couples) who have grown up steeped in Biblical literalism and repressive, archaic beliefs about the body and sexuality, and I see them get married out of fear. They are told, quite inaccurately, that celebration of one’s sexuality and sexual expression, be that by oneself or with a partner, outside of a church sanctioned heterosexual, monogamous marriage is wrong and “offensive to God,” and that the only way God will accept their sexuality is if they are married. They want it to be “okay” for them to be sharing love and intimacy. In some cases, teenage youth are asked by pastors to make a pledge not only to remain sexually inactive prior to marriage, but also to refrain from any type of self pleasure, which I feel is a recipe for dysfunction later on, or at the very least unwanted pregnancies and possible transmission of STDs for failing to educate them about the consequences of unprotected sex. Many couples, both opposite and same gender, end up in marriages that they were not fully emotionally prepared for due to this fact. These marriages often come to a tragic end later and can create trauma and emotional scars, as well as a potential separation of both birth parents during the childhood of their offspring.
Many of these fears stem from the misrepresentation modern Conservative Evangelical Christianity offers of the Bible and sexuality. As the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and the generally ignored book of Leviticus, ignored save for the verses that some use to justify homophobia while discarding the rest-are used to condemn same gender sexuality, relationships or acts, the commandment against adultery is often reinterpreted to extrapolate a commandment against sexual activity before marriage, or for those who choose, consensually outside of marriage after marriage. The Biblical injunctions against adultery actually offer some surprising facts upon closer study, just as the other verses in Leviticus do (most of those people who condemn two males engaging in sexual intimacy and cite Leviticus as their support in doing so regularly violate other laws in that book, such as eating shellfish or pork products). In Old Testament times, when a husband took a bride, she was considered property, and for a man to engage in intimate conduct with another man’s wife was considered a violation of his property. It was not the fact that there was intimate conduct taking place, but rather the idea that another man’s property was being violated. Adultery, to me, has never been in reference to physical intimacy outside of marriage or prior to marriage, but rather about betrayal of a trust.
There are also issues with those who marry before they truly know themselves, who they are, and this can often lead to problems later in a marriage, when a husband or wife comes to the realization that they are bisexual or homosexual and has pledged monogamy and fidelity to one person of the opposite gender. Rather than work through the issues with a qualified and understanding pastor and/or counselor, and discuss the possibilities of expanding their definition of their vows to allow one to live this part of their being, all too often the result is one partner engaging in a secret betrayal of the other. Although I was blessed in knowing and accepting myself as bisexual and needing both opposite and same gender intimacy prior to a marriage, I talk to a great many bisexual men and women who were not, and rather than confronting the issue and dealing with it in a manner which is loving and respectful of their spouse or partner opt to live a double life of betrayal, secrecy and shame. How can there be the kind of trust and intimacy which a marriage requires when one lives in fear that they must hide a part of their being, of who God created them to be from one who they are committed to?
I feel that fear is never a good motivator for anything; just as some marry out of fear that their sexuality is sinful and not condoned outside of marriage, it is akin to those who come to God out of fear of hell and damnation rather than a desire for meaning, purpose, and a Oneness with God’s Love. Just as I feel that God is about Love and not Law, so do I feel on the issue of marriage; people, in my opinion, should not marry out of fear of Divine retribution nor out of fear of “losing” another. I have seen people who view marriage with the purpose of “capturing” another in some sort of contract, making it a security measure and a symptom of co-dependency than a celebration of love for each other. Marriage should not be to say, “this woman/man is my sole property” (or in our case, were we to marry, “these persons are my sole property”). To me, marriage for any other reason than a public declaration, demonstration, and celebration of love and a commitment is for the wrong reason.
Although the majority of same-gender couples I know who desire marriage or have entered into marriage are doing so or have done so out of love and commitment, I have seen some who desire to marry out of fear. Not fear of non-acceptance by God, but fear of non-acceptance by society. Marriage becomes as it does for many heterosexual Christians a way of “justifying” or “sanctioning” intimacy, but I have also seen it a way to placate the anti-LGBT crowd by emulating the no intimacy before marriage rules and assimilating into a similar mindset out of fear and a need to conform rather than following their heart or their true feelings. Before I go any further though, let me state that I feel that those who choose to save intimacy for one special person, and then remain with that person always as their sole partner is a very honorable aim and I have the utmost respect for that. But only if it is done out of a choice, a desire to do so and not out of fear and repressive teachings.
Marriage in my opinion should not be “so we can have sexual relations and it will not be seen as sin,” or to get government benefits such as tax cuts or legal benefits, but rather as a celebration of love and commitment made with God’s Blessing and proclaimed with confidence for all to know, not hidden. It should never be an obligation entered into out of fear or to bow down to dogmatic thinking, but rather a conscious choice and decision. It should be not to justify a relationship, but because both want to create a deeper meaning to an already solid relationship. It should not be to placate one’s parents or family, but rather to pledge a promise to another; not to save face in the event of an unplanned pregnancy but to plan for a life together. It should not be to cater to a societal expectation, but to rejoice in catering to each other; not to sanctify, legitimize, or justify sexuality but to affirm a bond as sacred. It should only be to satisfy a longing for one four letter word: L-O-V-E.
Although society has made great leaps and bounds towards the greater acceptance of the LGBT Community, it seems to me to be suffering from a level of discrimination against the LGBT individual more so than in recent years, and non-acceptance and persecution has become even more of an issue in recent years with the issue of same-gender marriage being one of the most prevalent issues. A look at a recent message board on a popular online service discussing the same-gender marriage debate which I saw after voting in the poll in favor of same-gender marriage was quite honestly a little frightening, with young people, some as young as 14 or 15, speaking hatefully against not only same-gender marriage but the LGBT Community in general right alongside the adults, whose churches are zealously teaching that said hatred is vital to the Christian doctrine and that such a view of LGBT individuals as inferior, sick and flawed is necessary to be a “true” Christian, and in some cases a “true” patriotic American.
Despite the victory in Canada and more recently in Massachusetts for same-gender marriages, and the recent congratulatory letter from the President to the Metropolitan Community Church for maintaining a manifestation of and safe haven for Christian faith in the LGBT Community (although this was followed shortly thereafter by a public statement that he would support a Constitutional Amendment to ban same gender marriage-and to think people call bisexuals confused), there seems to me to be a level of hostility and resistance to the idea of same gender marriages more than ever before. Several days ago, I was devastated by reading a poll stating that the majority of Americans are adamantly opposed to the idea of same gender marriages, and not merely content to state their opinion, are going so far as supporting an Amendment to the Constitution to ensure that marriage is defined as “between a man and a woman,” thusly nullifying same gender marriages and rendering them “unconstitutional” and “un-American.” This utterly sickens me. Is this life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Is this “Freedom?” Definitely not to me.
The audacity of the term “defense of marriage” personally repulses me. Defense from whom? Regardless of whether or not such a (in my opinion) fascist “amendment” was ever passed, it might “nullify” existing same-gender marriages in the eyes of the government, but I feel that it never will in the eyes of God. It is one thing for a particular church or denomination to decide they are not going to participate in same gender marriages, but it is another altogether for the government to seek to create a ban to exclude specific people. Being Mr. Inclusive, I cannot stand for that kind of thing, no matter whom it is being done to, and especially not to LGBT brothers and sisters.
The reason most often given for the need to “defend the sanctity” of marriage is generally the same as the reason given by those who perpetuate the persecution of the LGBT Community in general: “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.” To me, it is a tragic case of human beings refusing to evolve spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally, and move away from the apprehensions that were held by those who lived in the age when the Bible was written. They have difficulty comprehending that although those times have long since past, the message of Jesus and God’s Love is truly timeless. To discard the societal beliefs regarding human sexuality and sexual orientation of those living prior to the understanding God has gifted us with today does not in any way, shape or form negate the reality of God, the Wisdom of Jesus, nor the spiritual teachings pointed to by Scripture.
A common argument against same-gender marriage is, “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!” (Which leads me to wonder, just who the heck is Steve, anyway?!?) If one chooses to accept the Bible as a literal account of how the world came into being, one could easily assume that this is the case. One argument given against same-gender marriage (or same-gender anything, for that matter) is that it is “against nature as God created it” as same gender couples cannot naturally procreate. But an inability to procreate does not equal an inability to love deeply or to commit, or to want to share a life with another person. By the same logic that a Biblical literalist would use to deny same-gender partners the right to marry because they cannot procreate, or the argument that sexual sharing is strictly for procreative purposes, the right to marry could be denied to couples who are infertile. One might argue that these are the couples that should adopt, while simultaneously denying the right of a same gender couple to adopt a child. I have seen children who were adopted by same-gender couples, who have received an equal amount of love as they would from a traditional opposite-gender set of parents.
Another argument used opposing same gender marriage is that same gender marriage or relations are “unnatural.” However, it is said that the only thing human beings can do which is unnatural is something that is impossible. To me, both same-gender and opposite-gender sexual and emotional relations have always seemed equally very psychologically and physiologically natural and a part of Creation, despite what the opposing views would say. For the record, I do not think that sexual orientation or needs are a choice but the way we are Created, and even if they were a choice I feel that it is the choice of the individual to make and not to be left to the judgments or opinions of others.
I feel that there was a victory in the Supreme Court decision (that I feel was the result of many answered prayers) earlier this year which deemed archaic “sodomy laws” (which were unfounded as being based on Biblical concepts in the first place, considering that the real sins of Sodom had nothing to do with any type of sexual expression between consenting adults, but rather inhospitality) as un-Constitutional. On one hand, I feel that decision was a major step towards a greater acceptance of the LGBT Community as it stated that the government has no business dictating the sexual choices of consenting adults. However, I know many people who wholeheartedly supported that decision who are adamantly opposed to the idea of same gender marriage.
What I hear them saying is that “You can do whatever you wish in private so long as it is among consenting adults-but keep it behind closed doors and don’t flaunt your ‘lifestyle’ in front of me.” (Please take note: I agree that any type of physical sexual intimacy should only be in private, regardless of the genders involved. I am speaking of the right of same gender couples to show affection in the same way which is commonplace for that opposite gender couples; the freedom for a same gender couple to be able to hug, kiss or hold hands in public other than at a Pride event or Gay Day at Disney or Six Flags without fear of harassment.)
But doesn’t that defeat what marriage is intended to be, a public commitment of people to each other in the presence of God and others? Absolutely. It still, tragically, excludes same-gender couples who want to celebrate their love publicly and let their devotion be known and not hidden away in a closet due to the accusation that society must somehow be “protected” from same gender couples sharing love and affection. I’m tired of hearing that the LGBT Community seeks “special rights.” No one is seeking special rights, only equal rights; the right to medical coverage, to visit a partner in the hospital, the right to receive the same respect as those who are heterosexual, and the rights all married couples have.
And finally, sometimes the entire argument used by opponents of same-gender marriage ends up returning to the same archaic and repressive attitudes and fear of diversity in human sexuality, gender identity, and sexual orientation and the same party line of attempting to stop any type of same gender intimacy through blocking same gender marriage and then deeming anything outside of opposite gender marriage to be a “sin.” Unfortunately, given how much knowledge the human race has obtained, many remain in the Dark Ages in thought about sexuality and relationships and refuse to evolve in love and to cease creating barriers to love based on differences in thought as Jesus urged us to do. Sexuality can be sacred regardless of whether the result is procreation or merely sharing love. I have also witnessed those in the LGBT Community who have internalized some of this rhetoric subconsciously and have developed a love/hate relationship with sexuality. Some are forced into repression that can lead to self-destructive behavior. I have witnessed a few who have bought into the fundamentalist party line and, like many of the opposite gender couples who marry strictly to feel at peace about being in a sexual relationship rather than out of a true desire to commit, are marry in order to feel more “acceptable” to God or to make the relationship “okay” or to have a greater sense of peace. Again, I feel this is for the wrong reasons.
Growing in Knowledge
In the historical times when the Bible was written, same gender-marriage was certainly not commonplace. Although there are Biblical stories to suggest same-gender relationships (such as the bisexual relationship alluded to between David and Jonathan or the relationship between Ruth and Naomi) there are no specific accounts. It helps to remember that humanity, as we know it today, was young. We had not yet evolved in our knowledge of such complex subjects as complex psychology or the intricacies of human sexuality and sexual orientation. Not possessing the knowledge available to us today through communication of the existence of other people, other societies and cultures with their own understandings of God, culture and life, many may have been concerned that same-gender marriages in some way posed a threat to the propagation of the species. As mature beings we now understand that this is not the case and was a primitive understanding of the world. The Old Testament is rich with rules that were temporal and while they applied to that age, are no longer relevant to life as we know it today; as the Bible unfolds, a spiritual evolution has already begun by the ending. The problem I see today is that too many seem to be content with closing the Book and not allowing anything more to be written to reflect all the knowledge God has gifted us with since then, the way God continues to work in the world, and how the Loving Spirit of Jesus lives on in all the hearts of those who trust in Him, still, today, eternally.
Just as with many other issues, while the Bible may be rather clear in certain spiritual principles, on others it is most definitely not exact, and this is due to the fact that the complexities of humanity, life and psychology were as of yet unknown to those who wrote the original texts. It is in cases such as the issue of same-gender marriage that the Bible can only point the way to a greater Truth and understanding of as we seek to understand God as those who wrote the Bible once did. In many ways, I feel humanity is still ever growing and evolving closer to a deep understanding of God and God’s Love. But one need only look as far as Jesus Himself to point the way. His message of Love and acceptance is timeless, regardless of how much we learn as a society, and as spiritual beings having a human experience.
I feel that nearly all of the homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, as well as the phobia of alternative expressions of human sexuality, erotophobia, and any type of marriage or relationship not concurrent with opposite-gender monogamous marriage in today’s society can be traced not to God, not to evil, but to Biblical literalism. Biblical literalism is one of those “isms” like racism, heterosexism and sexism (the “ism” that I feel breeds homophobia, but more on that another time) that I can live without and that I feel society would be better off and closer to the Kingdom of Heaven Jesus spoke of without. The primary difficulty a world view grounded in Biblical literalism is that the Bible is not exact, or hard and fast on a great many issues besides just same gender marriage and sexuality, as well as numerous other topics such as science, psychology and parts of history. After a while, a rigid insistence on this type of literalism and the Bible in and of itself seems in many people to take higher precedence than the teachings of Jesus, God’s Love, or even God and it is the book itself which becomes the focus of worship. Yet, in doing so one can lose focus of Jesus, Who points the way as we seek to understand the nature of God, which is ultimately one of Love, Life, and Growth and the evolution of spiritual and emotional knowledge.
If one looks deeper, past the imperative to cling to Biblical rules and cultural mores which I feel were intended for a culture far primitive to the one humanity exists in today, and instead allows the message of Jesus and what He taught about God and the best way to live then the very idea of preventing same-gender couples from marrying is revealed as the antithesis of the Message Jesus gave in His life, death, and conquering death. I think Jesus’ concern is about love for our neighbor, not how we define marriage (be it between members of the same or opposite gender, or in some cases both), so long as that definition is one that is mutual and based on love.
In areas where the Bible is not clear or contradictory, it helps to gauge our compass based on what we know of Jesus and His nature, His teachings. When He spoke that “a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh,” he was not, in my opinion, insinuating that marriage was solely to be defined as being between one woman and one man, but rather responding to the cultural and societal mores of His days living in a human body, carrying out His journey here. However, His Commandment to Love God above all and to show that by Loving our neighbor as ourselves is something which cuts across all of time, through all cultures, and in my opinion, even all spiritual paths.
Remember that old plaque that used to be in (and may still be in) many offices and workplaces across the country? It said simply, “Rule #1: The boss is always right. Rule #2: If the boss is wrong, refer to Rule #1.” I would like to propose a different one: “Rule #1: Jesus said to Love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself. Rule #2: In the event that the Bible seems to contradict this rule, refer to Rule #1.” This is a very simple equation that I think that would solve a great many conflicts in the world. Joking aside, the point I am attempting to reach here is that Jesus simplified the complex religious laws and rules of His time and the conflicts which arose from discrepancies in different belief systems by gifting us with a radical, new way of seeing God within our hearts and in one another as opposed to an external lawgiver and judge demonstrating the worst possible qualities of humanity – dominion, control, wrath, jealousy and self-absorption. Unfortunately, it would seem that a great deal of humanity has chosen to re-create God in that image rather than in the image of Jesus, hence the persecution some of us still find ourselves up against.
Yet, I feel that there is hope. More and more, I see and hear of more people who are in favor of same-gender marriage. I have had the pleasure of attending several same gender marriages in a church that gives same gender couples the same Holy Ceremony they would perform for an opposite gender couple. And although there is a struggle at this time, I feel that ultimately, same-gender marriage will be fully recognized, at least that is my prayer and what I have faith in. At one time, the concept of interracial marriage or the integration of races as equal (at least where I am from) was thought of as something that would never be accepted. Until it is, I feel assured that all same-gender couples who share love with one another are bonded and their bonds are Holy, Blessed and Sacred in God’s eyes. Someday, the rest of the world will catch up.
Bisexuality and Marriage
When the topic of same gender marriage is brought up in the context of bisexuality, some different issues arise. As people who are Christian and LGBT are redefining the traditional idea of what marriage can and cannot be, I cannot understand why it is that so many are so apprehensive of the idea of a bisexual person in a relationship with two partners, provided such a relationship is entered into consensually and with the full agreement of all involved, and given as much reverence and meaning by all involved as a monogamous commitment between two members of the same or the opposite gender would be.
We are polyfidelitous, meaning “faithful to more than one.” (As of yet, there is no term created for “faithful to two” but I still like the term “bi-nogamy.”) We do not try to “pretend” to be a heterosexual couple. We are “out.” People know that the girl they see her with or the guy they see me with are not just “close friends,” and there is no “heterosexual privilege” for out bisexuals. Bisexual polyfidelity for us does not mean we indiscriminately sleep with people. It is not that way for us. We truly are committed to each other as well as our same gender partners. We feel a deep spiritual, emotional and physical connection with each other yet feel the same type of connection with our same-gender partners. Although we know other bisexual couples who engage intimately with a number of people of both the same and opposite gender (and hold no judgments about that, provided they are doing so honestly and with respect for the physical and emotional health of all parties concerned) for us it is a dual form of commitment. For us, commitment and fidelity run far deeper than sexual exclusivity, although I do understand fully respect the need many have to equate the two.
It doesn’t go beyond us. The only relationships where there is any type of physical/sexual intimacy are the ones between her and I, he and I, and her and her partner. We do not go from “person to person” over and over, it is a closed commitment between three people and for us to go outside of that for either physical or emotional needs being met, we would be breaking that vow and hold it as sacred as an opposite gender or a same-gender monogamous couple hold their commitment. Those commitments, however unorthodox, are between all of us and God, just as marriage is between a same or opposite gender couple and God.
We are not yet married. It would be great if she and I could be publicly married to both each other and to our same-gender partners, but I do not feel that society is ready for that at this time, and, most importantly, it is not a requirement to us to make our relationships any more of a reality or legitimate. I suppose in an ideal world, all of us could be. Some may say that is quite an outrageous and radical proposition, but many people are saying the proposition that two women or two men wanting to get married is an outrageous and radical one as well. To that I would respond, in Jesus day, many saw His teachings as outrageous and radical, not seeing the God in Him as they were seeking God out there somewhere, and those opposed to Him chose the letter of the Law over what they felt to be the seemingly irrational nature of Love.
I know many monogamous bisexuals who are or who would love to be married to same-gender partners. I have also met and know other unorthodox Christian families where two bisexual men and a woman are married, and where two bisexual women and a man are married. The couples like this I know do not have their marriages recognized by the government, nor do they have “special benefits” or tax shelters. They don’t need to have society specifically recognize it. It is sacred to them, and to God, although they wish someday that they could go somewhere as an extended family without the same gender partners receiving condemnation. They choose this type of commitment as symbolic of their commitment to the others before God, and are not seeking to do so for any other reason than a celebration of this commitment. God has blessed them with very unique and special relationships and families. Some have kids and they are healthy and well-adjusted kids. Having an extra parent seems to be a non-issue, creating more love, attention and guidance rather than any type of confusion.
It does not matter to me, whether it ever is “officially legal” for two bisexual men and a woman to marry, or two bisexual women and a man to marry. Even if bisexuals cannot have three or four person marriages, I still maintain we can have different vows, which we would and many of us do. My beliefs are that the marriage vows between a couple entering into a sacred commitment are ultimately between the individuals making the vow, and God. If those vows are to include the freedom for us as bisexuals to have a simultaneous relationship with a same sex partner as well as each other, it is my feeling that this should be addressed when the vows are made. Specific marriage vows other than the fact that people have made a commitment before God to stand by one another no matter what are between the people entering into them and God, not the neighbors, the congregation down the way, the homophobic and narrow-minded, nor anyone else.
When my girlfriend and I do become husband and wife, we will include and honor in our vows the meaningful relationships we have with our same-gender partners as well. Part of our love for each other is the complete love and acceptance of each other’s need for a physically and emotionally intimate relationship with our same-gender partners. Our love for them does not in any way alter the commitment we have for each other, and vice versa. To attempt to ask one another to choose between one or the other is not possible. The fact that we commit to each other and a same gender partner doesn’t render our loyalty to, commitment to, or love for each other any less sincere or real. We want our vows, commitment and agreement before God to be as our relationship has been; based on honesty, trust, and total acceptance of every part of one another, not betrayal, closets, or hiding.
Even if a marriage beyond the traditional two person marriage is not ever “formally” recognized by society, the government or by the church, I think that marriage for same-gender couples ought to be legal, affirmed, practiced, condoned and commonplace, and I feel it shouldn’t be about anything beyond celebrating commitment to and love for each other before God, entered into out of a sincere, honest desire rather than conforming to a societal standard of conduct; entered into out of a sincere desire rather than an obligation to procreate, assimilate, or anything beyond the purpose of celebrating commitment.
I may be a bisexual in a non-traditional, non-monogamous relationship, but I am one who is extremely supportive of those who choose more traditional, monogamous relationships and marriages, be they between people of the same or opposite gender. For those whom would consider people in agreements such as mine to be in any way a threat to same-gender marriage, I urge you not to. My heart, where God has always spoken to me the loudest and the clearest, tells me that same-gender marriages should be as affirmed and celebrated as opposite-gender marriages are whether a marriage such as the one I would desire ever is or not.
At some future date, it would be wonderful if bisexual marriages between both a same and opposite gender partner would be affirmed as well, but what is of more importance to me at this time is that same-gender couples have the same rights as opposite-gender partners to marry and share their commitment to each other before God openly with others. That is why when the local bisexual community has had campaigns to raise awareness of the need to fight for the right for same-gender marriage I have been there, when my denomination sends out call to action notices and petitions I return them, when the LGBT organizations I support ask for donations to support the fight I try to help. When I hear someone randomly talking about how they think same gender marriage should be banned I speak up and tell them why I think it shouldn’t, and why I offer support in whatever way I can. At the present time, it is nearly as difficult for a same-gender married couple to find acceptance as it is for a bisexual triad to find acceptance. But I imagine something more.
Think of it. Imagine it. A world where opposite-gender, and same-gender marriage were not seen as incompatible and rather as equals; a world where no one judged one another or created division based on anything but rather focused on loving one another unconditionally as God Has loved us; attempting to understand one another and accepting and loving one another in spite of not being able to when it was not possible to comprehend our differences. A world where gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and heterosexual all lived together in harmony. Where bisexuals, who chose monogamy or polyfidelity, were both seen as those making an equally ethical and moral choice. Where no longer did human beings allow themselves to be divided by differences in race, gender, spiritual beliefs, sexuality, sexual orientation nor any other factor but rather focused on loving one another and learning from one another.
It certainly sounds like Heaven to me. And I feel the way to create Heaven on Earth is by following Jesus’ admonition that the Kingdom of Heaven is within and that it is by connecting with that knowledge within each of us and living it externally that we can create that reality on Earth. To me truly following Jesus means to be able to boldly step forward, even if it is with fear and trembling at times, and it means breaking out of the mold; if part of that is expanding our societal understanding of what a marriage is, then I feel it is necessary.
Many of us in the LGBT Community sing our own unique song, those of us who choose a monogamous marriage or desire a multiple partner marriage. Everyone is unique, with different needs and identities and just as one sexual orientation or mold does not fit all, one type of commitment or definition of marriage does not fit all. Despite whatever differences we have, we are all valued by God and can see transparently through differences to see the Christ in one another. Although we are not always singing the same exact song (besides the fact that we point to Jesus as our Savior, embrace His ethic of Love, and share a mutual love for God), we can find those areas where we can harmonize, and through love convince those who feel we are far out of key that we can join in song with them as well.
In the midst of all of the current debate over the topic of same gender marriage, and the negativity in society against some of us, please remember take the time to rejoice this season as we celebrate God’s Gift of Jesus, and what a gift He gave us: His elping us to know of the truly boundless and unconditional Love of God for all of us. For I feel it is only through embracing, taking to heart and practicing His way and His timeless Message of God’s unconditional love and acceptance that we can create a world where we need not merely imagine Heaven on Earth, but live in it forever.
John Campbell is a native of Alabama.