Fellow Passengers: This week’s Prophetic Passage* (Jeremiah 2) transports me to the storied chambers of the NC House and Senate, where a group of lawmakers, with stealth and speed, used the House Rules committee to turn a Nutrient Management Plan bill into a Defense of Marriage Amendment (DOMA). Both chambers passed the measure, without any opportunity for public comment, so now the May 2012 ballot will give voters the opportunity to discriminate and deprive a minority of the right to marry. All in the name of defending marriage. One thing is for certain, the institution of marriage does seem to be in dire need of some protection. Domestic abuse and divorce traumatize far too many families. But really, is restricting the definition of marriage to that of one man and one woman going to be our first line of defense? Is the existence of loving, committed, faithful monogamous relationships among same-sex partners really threatening the marital bliss of heterosexuals? Wouldn’t our state be better served with a well-thought out Nutrient Management Plan?
Today’s Passage reveals that we are not the first generation needing to defend marriage. The marriage in question for Jeremiah, though, wasn’t defined as one man and one woman. It was defined as one God and one people. God has wed the covenant community, and now, the honeymoon is over. Jeremiah takes us to the site of a dreadful domestic dispute, where a spurned Lover’s tongue-lashing shows that hell hath no fury like a Sovereign God scorned. The Lord begins by remembering the good old golden days of the romance with Israel, where the newly freed people of faith followed their God through desert trials, loving the Liberator as a new bride. But the faith has grown frigid, and the people have broken their vows, exchanging their Glory for useless idols, laying down under every spreading tree and turning tricks with every wooden john claiming divine rights. Soda and soap will not wash away the stains and the stench of their infidelity. The rejected Lover continues the heated harangue with ever increasing intensity, likening the wandering infidels to an unrestrainable wild donkey in heat, sniffing the wind for anything to satisfy her cravings.
God ends the lament with a bookend to the beginning reference to the days of bridal bliss: How does a bride forget her wedding attire? Instead of wedding ornaments, my faithless bride adorns her clothes with the lifeblood of the innocent poor. This is classic prophetic proclamation, lowering the boom on the offspring of idolatry: injustice toward the poor. This is also classic Jesus, as he sought to dress up his fiancé followers with something old (the love of God) and something new (the new and radical inclusive nature of that love), something borrowed (the prophetic imagery of a faith that brings justice to the poor) and something blue (the suffering of the cross that ushers in the new beloved community). All I can say is, get me to the church on time, and get all couples there – same sex as well as opposite sex – who are ready to create life-long partnerships defined by this kind of faithful love. Whatever the voters of NC wind up putting in our Constitution, I say any marriage that is defined by this kind of radical love, and any partnership that brings good news to the poor, is a holy union truly worth defending.
How about you? Where does this Prophetic Passage take you on your journey of faith? Feel free to comment.