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Topics of interest to Clerks of Session, Session Moderators and others who are interested in Presbyterian local-church governance.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bone of My Bone, Flesh of My Flesh

Here’s a scriptural interpretation angle I hadn’t heard before – as much time as I’ve spent investigating the scripture passages typically cited as foundational to Christian marriage.

A member of the Assembly Committee asked the Special Committee to share where, in scripture, they find evidence permitting same-gender marriage. Surprisingly, one of the Special Committee members cited Genesis 2:23, in which Adam exclaims of Eve, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” – probably the passage most frequently cited by traditionalists. He did so by comparing it to Genesis 29:14, in which Laban says to his nephew, Jacob, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!”

His point was that Laban’s use of the bone-and-flesh imagery in that other context indicates that the similar statement in Genesis 2 describes not marriage in particular, but family relationships in general. No one’s suggesting that the ancient Hebrews practiced same-gender marriage, but, by that reasoning, what Adam is celebrating is the quality of the bond that unites him and Eve, not its particular nature as a male-female relationship.

In modern parlance, Laban and Jacob share the same DNA (like other ancient peoples, the Hebrews might have said they share the same blood, which is much the same). When Adam says of Eve, “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,” he is bringing Eve into the circle of family. That is one of the most beautiful features of marriage, but - if this take on the passage is correct - it’s not dependent on the male-female bond as such.

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