Hector Avalos: Marriage in 2040

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Hector Avalos: Marriage in 2040 Empty Hector Avalos: Marriage in 2040

Post by Guest on Tue Jul 14, 2015 4:29 pm

There may be no Fourth of July more memorable than the one we celebrated yesterday for all who waited for gay marriage to become legalized throughout the land on June 26. Winners were congratulated and losers were comforted. Pundits were ready to tell us what it all meant. But how will this historical development be treated in 2040, 25 years from now? Allow me to speculate, not prophesy, based on my experience with religious history.

If past experience is any indication, one might witness another version of Frederick Douglass’ retrospective remarks on abolition: “Now that slavery is no more, and the multitude are claiming the credit of its abolition, though but a score of years have passed since the same multitude were claiming an exactly opposite credit, it is difficult to realize that an abolitionist was ever an object of popular scorn and reproach in this country” (“Great Britain’s Example is High, Noble, and Grand…”, August 6, 1885).

If this sort of history is repeated, then 25 years from now, gay-welcoming churches will be the norm. Members will affirm that they were always for gay marriage or that it followed inevitably from Christian and biblical principles. Christian churches who still cling to the one-man-one-woman rule will be ostracized curiosities, much like the few remaining segregationist churches are today. In 2040, Leviticus 20:13 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, two of the main texts used to reject gay marriage, will be conveniently ignored much like the prohibitions on adultery are today in many churches who are against gay rights. Jesus regarded any act of remarriage after divorce as “adultery” in Mark 10:11-12 and allowed only an exception for fornication in Matthew 19:9. By that standard, many self-described Christians are in adulterous relationships.

But there are too many divorced-and-remarried worshippers in churches to ban them all. Churches would be half empty and income reduced if they adhered faithfully to the Bible on this issue. For similar reasons, most churches will yield to reality when it comes to gay marriage in 2040.
In 2040, all current heterosexual marriages that were meant to last that long will still be just fine. In fact, most people in committed relationships may never marry at all by 2040.

The level of divorces due to one partner discovering he or she is gay will decline because most people will no longer feel the need to hide their sexual orientation by the time of their first marriage. The rate of divorce among evangelical Christians will be about the same or higher than it is today. But the number of heterosexual marriages dissolved because others are in a gay marriage will be nearly nil, just like today.
Divorces in 2040 will be for pretty much the same reasons one sees today — disputes over money, sex and the entertainment center’s remote control, if is still needed.

But those who want more biblical marriages should rejoice in 2040. There may be polygamous marriages by then, a possibility mentioned in John Roberts’ dissent. The Bible says that polygamy was practiced by Abraham, Jacob, David and other blessed biblical figures. Abraham even married his half sister (Genesis 20:12). If that was good enough for Abraham, then why not become more biblical by legalizing that, too?
Jurisprudential vocabulary may change in 2040. “Jiggery-pokery” will become a term of endearment or affirmation for interpretations of constitutional law that Justice Antonin Scalia hates.

I say this because “Protestantism” was initially a term of abuse that eventually became widely accepted by those against whom it was used.
We might hear a constitutional law professor in 2040 summarize the legalization of gay marriage thusly: “Interpreting the Fourteenth Amendment to allow gay marriage was simply good-ole ‘jiggery pokery.’” Students will nod affirmatively.

A constitutional right to gay marriage will not only be viewed as a triumph of our constitutional system by 2040, but it will be “obvious” that it always should have been interpreted that way. On July 4, 2040, we will no longer speak of “gay marriage,” but of “marriage,” which will be defined as a committed consensual relationship of two or more adults who love each other irrespective of gender.

Hector Avalos is a professor of religious studies at Iowa State University



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