I was reading an article this morning, which defended the Biblical basis for opposing same-sex marriage, claiming that Jesus specifically opposed gay and lesbian marriage in the 19th chapter of the Book of Matthew when he stated, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
Let’s put aside for the moment the near-certainty that, even if an historical Jesus did exist, he didn’t speak these precise words, or perhaps anything like them. Let’s pretend that Jesus had transcribers traveling with him, writing down his every word.
Well, doesn’t the statement above clearly say that human beings have been created male and female, to be in sexual union with each other as husband and wife, and that this bond shouldn’t be split up by anybody else? That does seem to be a straightforward, by Biblical standards, opposition to same-sex marriage…
…if you don’t read all of Chapter 19, which is a short little chapter, as chapters go. A little bit further on in Chapter 19 of the Book of Matthew, Jesus has this to add on the subject: “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
In this statement, Jesus is acknowledging that not all people are born strictly as male and female. He shows that there are some people born in a third gender, giving the example of eunuchs. Furthermore, Jesus accepts that some men choose to change their gender so that they aren’t male any more, and he regards them as holy people for doing so.
Jesus concludes his little debate about marriage with the Pharisees by saying that although he’s suggested that men and women ought to take their marriages seriously, and that he has some proposed rules about how that should work, his rules won’t work for everyone, because real life is more complicated than the idea that human beings can only exist in relationships of marriage, and that they only belong to two marriages. Jesus ends his argument by reminding his followers not to get uptight about these things, because not everybody is ready to accept his strict rules about marriage, and that’s okay. “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” Different strokes for different folks.