Companionship and Same Sex Unions
One of the points made by people opposing the blessing of same sex unions by the Christian church comes out of Genesis 2:18. In that verse, God has created Adam, but as has not yet created Eve. In Genesis 2:18, God says: "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." A couple of verses later, God takes the rib of Adam and creates Eve as a suitable helper for him. The Biblical account continues:
The man said,
"This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man."
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." Genesis 2:23-24.
Many view these verses as evidence that God created woman for man and thus marriage should be reserved for people of the opposite sex. In this understanding, it is not good that a man should be alone so God created the woman specifically to be his companion and helper. Thus, man is intended to be joined to a woman to be his companion and his wife. However, not all Christians see it this way.
In Journey Together Faithfully, the Sexuality Study presently being conducted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America ("ELCA"), the study notes that this verse is used by some people in support of the blessing of same sex unions. Specifically in reference to this verse, the study says:
"Some point out that part of God's intent in the creation is to provide for companionship, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner' (Genesis 2:18). While the partnership portrayed in Genesis 2 is a heterosexual one, the basic need for companionship reflected here is one that seems relevant to the lives of gay and lesbian people as well.
In other words, those who advocate the blessing of same sex unions identify the central teaching of this verse the need for companionship--a need apparently recognized and blessed by God. Recognizing that the Bible records that God created woman for man, they argue that God was not being restrictive in doing so. If the central issue of these verses is that it is not good that people be alone, then the need for companionship should be able to be fulfilled by a member of the same sex equally as well as a member of the opposite sex.
First, I find this type of Biblical parsing to be less than convincing. If the argument is that God wants us to have companionship as the good sought, then it seems that Genesis 2:23-24 are meaningless. Those verse say that man is to leave his parents to become one flesh with his wife (which certainly means a woman). It is the fact that woman was taken out of man (as recorded in Genesis 2:21-22) that leads to them becoming one flesh. It is interesting that the ELCA study conveniently ignores these verses.
Moreover, I don't doubt the fact that people need companionship, but does it go too far to say that the only companionship that will suffice is the companionship found in marriage? Is the type of "companionship" that God wants us to have? Consider the following from Marriage Is Not God's Answer to Loneliness by Christopher Ash in Kairos Insight Magazine:
"In the rest of Scripture, God makes it clear that His remedy for human loneliness is fellowship, not (necessarily) marriage. Fellowship with the Father and the Son, and with our brothers and sisters in Christ, this is God's remedy for loneliness. It is a remedy gloriously open to all, including all those for whom marriage is not a possibility--those too young for marriage, the widowed, the divorced, those struggling with homosexual temptation, those who cannot find a marriage partner."(Emphasis added.)
To restate this as I understand it, one of the central thesis of the Bible is that we are part of a humanity than has been alienated from God. God seeks to have us come into communion with Him and sent His only Son to restore that communion--a communion that has been lost since the days of Adam and Eve. As part of His divine plan, He set up His church on Earth which is the physical manifestation of His presence. Each of us are to become brothers and sisters in Christ, caring for each other and loving each other as we love ourselves and as God would love us. This is all of the companionship we need.
Pastor Ash continues:
"Many passages in Scripture speak of love and the fulfillment of human longings; yet very few speak of marriage in this context. For example, in 1 John 4:7-21, we read in wonderful depth about the love of God for His people, the love of His people for God, the love of His people for one another; but marriage and sex are nowhere in sight. In 1 Thessalonians 2:6-8, Paul speaks with great warmth about the sharing of his life with the believers; but again, sex and marriage are nowhere in sight. 1 Corinthians 13, so popular for marriage services, is actually about the love that ought to (but in Corinth does not) mark a fellowship of believers. John 13-16 are all about fellowship love, but again sex and marriage are nowhere in sight. Nowhere in the Psalms are the longings of the human heart related to sexual love (except perhaps Psalm 45, although this focuses more on the joy of a family)." Id.
Here is the question that I think needs to be asked: accepting the fact that God does not believe it to be good that we be alone, why should Adam's need for a companion in Genesis 2 be converted into the need for sexual companionship? Could it be that the need for companionship cited by God in Genesis 2 can be (and is being) met by the love and care given to fellow Christians within the church?
(Edited June 30, 2004 at 8:12 pdt)