Where do we look for the end of loneliness?

New Testament scholar and author Wesley Hill responds to the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage:

I’m gay myself, of course, albeit celibate, and as I watched all the excitement of my gay friends yesterday, I couldn’t help but sympathize with the jubilation. Like Jonathan Rauch, I have known shame and loneliness, and I am drawn to the promise of home that same-sex marriage holds out.

Yet I’m also a Christian, and according to historic Christian orthodoxy, marriage isn’t the only, or even the primary, place to find love. In the New Testament, as J. Louis Martyn once wrote, “the answer to loneliness is not marriage, but rather the new-creational community that God is calling into being in Christ, the church marked by mutual love, as it is led by the Spirit of Christ.” Marriage in Christian theology is, you might say, demythologized. With the coming of Christ, its necessity is taken away: gone is the notion that without it we are doomed to lovelessness.

For that reason, even if my faith permitted me to embrace Justice Kennedy’s understanding of “marriage equality”—which it doesn’t—I would still resist his conclusion about where to find the end of loneliness. Christianity teaches that marriage is transitory (Matthew 22:30), that celibacy is an honorable good drawing us into relationship with others (1 Corinthians 7:38), and that sacrificial love is open to anyone, regardless of marital status (Galatians 3:28).

Unlike Jonathan Rauch and Justice Kennedy, I don’t believe husband or wife is the right name for same-sex partners. But according to the promise of Scripture, baptized is a name offered freely to every last one of us, gay or straight or anywhere in between—and it’s a name that means beloved. That is the good news the church is given to proclaim, now more than ever.


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