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Is Heterosexual Marriage and Homosexual Marriage the Same?

Three countries in the world have legalised homosexual marriage:  The Netherlands, Belgium and Cananda.  It is, however, clear that not all homosexuals want marriage and  some are opposed to marriage, at least to the extent that it is biblically and traditionally understood.

It is true that feminists argued for years that marriage is a troubling institution because it is a biblical patriarchal institution and needs to be redefined to suit the twenty-first century woman.  It comes as no surprise then that the homosexual movement is advised by the feminist movement to re-imagine love, sex and the family because love, sex and family are at the heart of the liberalist ideal.  Mitchel Raphael, the editor of fab, a Toronto (Canada) based gay magazine, said:

"I’d be for marriage if I thought gay people would challenge the change of the institution and not buy into the traditional meaning of "till death do us part and monogamy forever.""

According to Raphael, fear exists in the Gay community that marriage would be used as a means to clean up the homosexual overt, institutionalised sex culture,  a culture that lacks the so-called baggage of eternal monogamy.6

Paul Flynn, a homosexual writing in the British newspaper The Guardian, notes:
The thought of a priest pronouncing the couple in front of me husband and husband makes me feel icky. …I’ve been to a couple of parties celebrating gay love that were sweet and jolly in equal measure.  But neither dressed up the occasion as marriage.  Both seemed implicitly to understand that a gay partnership might be equal to a straight one but that doesn’t necessarily make it the same …  Marriage is about men and women.7

Norman Pittenger has argued that a non-monogamous, open relationship (marriage) should be considered a morally sanctioned form of Christian life-style.  It is often argued by proponents of gay theology that open relationships, that are essentially sexual non-exclusivity lifestyles, are actually a liberating experience8.  In fact Pittenger argues that in order to ensure a lasting relationship, both partners should be allowed the freedom to engage in occasional sexual contact with others:

"It may very well be the case that now and again a loyal partner in a gay union will engage in what I have styled an occasional contact – for fun, because of affection or liking, as manifesting friendship, or … simply because of plain lust or urgent and irrepressible sexual desire … But if this is understood, accepted, seen as part of life, there is little likelihood that the primary union will be broken up."

The closed character of marriage, being monogamous, faithful, heterosexual and lifelong, is seen by most expositors of homosexual theology as a negative aspect, detrimental to the homosexual union.  Some gay advocates argue that gay unions or relationships cannot be compared to and should not be patterned on heterosexual marriage covenants in terms of exclusivity or ethics.  Other homosexual theologians, again, do argue for the superiority of a monogamous relationship.

However, it is argued as well that the Bible relates examples of open marriages, so-called three-way or triangular relationships, and Abraham, Sarah and Hagar provide then the fitting example.  Macourt thinks that the model of heterosexual monogamous marriage should be strived for but should not be made the norm of homosexual unions, neither for sexual relationships in general.  Openshaw argues that homosexual marriage is the constitutional right of lesbians and gay men and the church has no other obligation than to affirm the basic right by marrying them9.  Mark Olsen summarises his view as follows10:

"… I have seen God blessing and using homosexual Christians who have united with each other in loving sexual relationships.  In faithful, committed relationships, gay and lesbian Christians find God at work.  We must not be so attached to a few verses of Scripture – or our own interpretations of them – that we miss this witness of God’s Spirit."

Pittenger, O’Neill and others conclude that the conventional heterosexual marriage should not be made to be the blueprint for homosexual marriages or unions11:

"Fidelity in the closed marriage is the measure of limited love, diminished growth and conditional trust.  Fidelity is then redefined …  It is loyalty and faithfulness to growth, to integrity of self and respect for the other;  not to a sexual and psychological bondage to each other …. New possibilities for  additional relationships exists, and open (as opposed to limited) love can expand to include others …. Beside[s] your mate."

Although Johnstone in his book Gays Under Grace proposes and pleads for a more conservative homosexual ethic he is but a lonely voice calling out for reform against a vast theological liberal homosexual majority.  Why then the drive by homosexuals to be married?  The campaign for marriage is not really about marriage.  It is rather about the simple fact that homosexuals have the deeply rooted desire for society (especially the religious society) to affirm that homosexuality, not only people, but homosex as such, is the full equivalent of heterosexuality in every way – morally, socially, sexually and legally.

This is confirmed by Mubarak Dahir, writing in the Washington Blade, a gay newspaper:

"This is about more than the little certified piece of paper, or even all the legal benefits it brings.  It’s about the recognition that our love is valid, just as real, just as much worth celebrating as anyone else’s."12

The implications of the homosexual attitude to marriage are well documented in numerous studies of gay relationships, including formal partnered relationships, covering a period of decades.  The bottom-line is simply that sex with multiple partners is tolerated and also envisaged for the so much desired marriage.  Rather than marriage – the heterosexual model thereof- changing the behaviour of homosexuals to match the relative sexual fidelity of heterosexuals, it seems most probable that the opposite would occur.

A most disturbing study was published in the journal Aids.  The results of this study revealed that homosexual men in formal partnered relationships had on average eight sexual partners per year outside of the primary relationship.13  This is an amazing contrast to the sexual behaviour of married heterosexuals, among whom 75 percent of the men and 85 percent of the women reported never having had extramarital sex.14

Marriage is the foundation of the family.  The family is the foundation of society.  The biblical heterosexual model of marriage is not the same as what gays envisage marriage to be.  Marriage cannot be anything we want it to be and especially not what gays want it to be.  To have homosexual marriage is to radically redefine a fundamental and historical human institution, and for Christians, a basic institution sanctioned by God.  To do so is to deconstruct the family and eventually humanity.  Marriage is something done between a man and woman.

Homosexual marriage is to be opposed and rejected in no uncertain terms by society and the church more specifically.  Affirming same-sex marriage would forever change the meaning of marriage and family for everyone.  No human society – not one – has ever embraced homosexual marriage.  It is only now that some societies have allowed it.  Gay marriages have never been taken to be morally equivalent to heterosexual marriage.  Marriage is always heterosexual, everywhere, at all times in history and it should remain the same.