From Dr. Richard Whitekettle (Richard Whitekettle holds a PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Yale University. He is Professor of Religion at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI.):
Equality can sometimes be a good thing. For example, it was nice when your brother or sister didn’t get a bigger piece of cake than you did. And it’s nice when two friends care about each other with equal affection. And it’s nice when you pull the left oar and right oar of a rowboat with equal strength as you try to cross a lake on a windless day.
Equality has become a buzzword among those who support same-sex marriage. The idea is that different forms of unions (for example, same-sex and opposite-sex) should have equal legal status as marriage.
While there are good secular/rational/natural arguments against same-sex marriage, people of faith also make arguments based on their religious beliefs, and especially on what the Bible says. As a result, proponents of same-sex marriage sometimes resort to the Bible as well. One particular aspect of the Bible that proponents often cite in support of their position is the variety of marital forms found in the Old Testament.
For example, in 2001, Bruce Robinson published an article on the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance website entitled “Marriages & family forms: opposite and same-sex, in ancient times and now.” The article identifies and discusses the eight different marital arrangements found in the Old Testament and presents them in the following handy chart:
Robinson argues that, given the diversity of marital arrangements in the Old Testament, and the fact that “there do not appear to be any passages in the Bible that condemn any of the above forms of marriages or family structures,” there was no such thing as a “biblical marriage.” That is to say, there was no standard concept of marriage in the Bible. For Robinson, the implication is that one cannot describe same-sex unions as a deviation from a biblical norm, as many opponents of same-sex marriage are wont to do.
Robinson’s article and the chart it contains have been referred to and used by various other authors on the web, though Robinson notes that the chart is not his own and that the creator of the chart is unknown. And, of course, Robinson is not alone in using the apparent absence of a standard form of marriage in the Old Testament in support of redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships.