Last week, the Archdiocese of San Francisco raised a stir when it appropriated the HRC’s effort to turn Facebook red in awareness of the US Supreme Court’s hearing of two Same-sex marriage cases. Any real activist worth his or her weight has to recognize it was a stroke of real genius, although for anyone on the pro-equality side, frustrating and infuriating nonetheless. It is activism 101 to try and appropriate the media tools being used against you, and that is part of what happened here.
But there is another aspect to this that I want to focus on today, and one I hope pro-equality Christians take up and dialogue about as the struggle for Full Equality continues.
Aside from the PR “win” accomplished by the Catholic Church, what does this really mean and is the Church’s exegesis of the scripture right on the money? Here is Luke 12:51 as found in the KJV:
51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
Now, I don’t personally believe that theological arguments matter when it comes to Marriage Equality, and I won’t change my mind there until the Church comes out and condemns all who divorce, wear mixed cloths, eat shell fish, and a host of other abominations that can be found within their Holy Bible. Marriage Equality is a Civil issue pertaining to the Government’s ability to issue marriage licenses, and the unfair discrimination that stops same-sex couples from being treated fairly by a secular government.
But since the only opposition to Marriage Equality is based upon the far-fetched notion that the Church owns the definition of Marriage, theological perspectives become applicable. Let’s use the NIV translation as it seems more modern as well as straightforward.
51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.
This seems like such an odd scripture for the Church to raise given what the Holy Bible tells us about the ministry of Jesus. He spoke out in so many ways against the institutionalized “Church” of his time, the Hebrew Temple and Priests. He spoke out and acted out, if we are to believe Matthew 21:12 , against the status quo and what we are led to believe he saw as a hierarchical abuse of Faith and Power. Luke plays an important part in Liberation Theology, as Jesus in Luke seems especially concerned with the poor and underserved. This seems counter to the Church’s stance demanding submission to the status quo and their control over our bodies and our relationships.
But I think there is another side to this which isn’t really theological at all. Jesus, the Prince of Peace and Lord of Love s now being “framed” by the Church as being about division instead of Peace; Confrontation instead of Love at a time when the notion of Love is swaying public opinion towards Marriage Equality. Why can’t two people who love each other be married everyone is now asking? The Catholic Church looks to separate the idea of Jesus as Lord of Love, and Love as the basis of marriage.
On the other hand, the Church’s action is very telling. This issue- Marriage Equality appears to be the line they are drawing in the sand as one step too far across the line. Odd, really, given that Divorce is so clearly condemned in the Bible, but the Church never fought it so hard. Marriage Equality is the dividing entity, much as Jesus called himself the one of division.