God’s definition of marriage, according to a lot of people today, is given in Genesis 2:24: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” But there are a few problems with that. For one thing, the word “wife” does not appear in the original text. The word used there is “ishshah,” or woman–the same word Adam uses in the previous verse when he says, “She shall be called woman (ishshah), for she was taken out of man (ish).” There was no license, no priest or rabbi, no vows, or in short, no wedding. Eve was a woman, and Adam just took her and started sleeping with her, without marriage. If you want to find the earliest Biblical reference to actual marriage, you have to go to Sodom.
Latter-day translators, of course, weren’t comfortable with the original idea of a marital union as two people who just start sleeping together, so they replaced the word “woman” with the word “wife” whenever the context makes it plain that she was paired up with a man. But this is an anachronism: the earliest Biblical reference to a formal marriage is found in Genesis 19, where Lot warns the men who were to marry his daughters that Sodom was about to be destroyed. It’s a casual, passing reference, but it’s the earliest.
According to the Genesis 2, God’s original definition of marriage was that you just start sleeping with each other. The formal ceremonies and vows and such arose from secular, cultural sources, of which the earliest Biblical records come from Sodom itself. But even though this kind of formal social acknowledgement has long been denied to gays, the older definition of marriage has always belonged to homosexuals and lesbians as much as anyone else. As long as there have been people, there have been committed, loving, same-sex couples, with or without society’s blessing.
Thus, according to the kind of marriage God allegedly created in Genesis 2, gay marriage has been around longer than Christianity OR Judaism. Moreover, Adam’s sons took “wives” too, so either God created marriage as a sexual union between a brother and his sister, or else there were other people around besides Adam and Eve. Either marriage and incest are the same, or else gay marriage is just as old as heterosexual marriage, since both types of relationship, as far as we know, go all the way back to our prehuman ancestors.
So remember that the next time someone whines to you about “changing” the definition of marriage. We’re not changing it. We’re restoring it, validating it, and celebrating it. We’re letting marriage be everything it was originally meant to be, free from the persecution and oppressions of selfish bigots.
And that’s a good thing.