Marriage Equality and the Bible: Busting the Myths

Public Discourse 12 May 2014
While there are good secular/rational/natural arguments against same-sex marriage, people of faith also make arguments based on their religious beliefs, and especially on what the Bible says.  As a result, proponents of same-sex marriage sometimes resort to the Bible as well. One particular aspect of the Bible that proponents often cite in support of their position is the variety of marital forms found in the Old Testament.

For example, in 2001, Bruce Robinson published an article on the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance website entitled “Marriages & family forms: opposite and same-sex, in ancient times and now.” The article identifies and discusses the eight different marital arrangements found in the Old Testament and presents them in the following handy chart:

Robinson argues that, given the diversity of marital arrangements in the Old Testament, and the fact that “there do not appear to be any passages in the Bible that condemn any of the above forms of marriages or family structures,” there was no such thing as a “biblical marriage.” That is to say, there was no standard concept of marriage in the Bible. For Robinson, the implication is that one cannot describe same-sex unions as a deviation from a biblical norm, as many opponents of same-sex marriage are wont to do.

Robinson’s article and the chart it contains have been referred to and used by various other authors on the web, though Robinson notes that the chart is not his own and that the creator of the chart is unknown. And, of course, Robinson is not alone in using the apparent absence of a standard form of marriage in the Old Testament in support of redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships.

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