Sunday, April 14, 2013
That is the question Professor Dan Crane asks in a new post over at the Center for Law and Religion Forum. He offers three interesting responses (and by interesting, I mean interesting). Here's a bit from the first:
First, Jesus would likely have faulted both sides of the debate for an excessively materialist perspective. On one side, we hear that marriage is about procreation and child rearing. On the other, that it’s about love and companionship. But Jesus did not understand marriage primarily in terms of its temporal or material effects. For Jesus, marriage was a spiritual representation of divine relationships. According to Jesus, God created man and woman—male and female—in the image of God, mirroring the unity and diversity within the Godhead. Jesus and later apostolic writers referred to Jesus as a bridegroom and the Church as his bride. Jesus explained that in Heaven people would not be married to one another, since they would be in perfect union with God. Thus, the ultimate good of marriage was not that it served immediate material needs but that it celebrated the eternal nature of God.
This understanding of marriage has precious little purchase in the contemporary, hyper-materialist world. Even those who recognize marriage’s “spiritual” component usually mean that psychosomatically—marriage feeds long-term emotional and pyschological needs. We’ve lost any sense of human institutions as good because of their correspondence to divinity. Across the ideological spectrum, we’ve given in to Richard Posner’s wish of “unmasking and challenging the Platonic, traditionalist, and theological vestiges in Enlightenment thinking.” It’s safe to say that Jesus would have had a different take.