Honorable Mention: Duncan’s Bar Mitzvah

If a 13-year old gets it, and can explain both the problem with adhering to the notion of “biblical marriage” as well as the need for marriage equality this well …

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… there is no good reason for any state or government to impede justice for all.

I especially appreciate that this call for marriage equality comes at the heart of a religious ritual, and in connection to close and careful study of sacred texts.

“How has the definition of traditional marriage changed since the days of the Torah?  Just looking at my Torah portionas a proof text, I think it has changed a lot.  Leah and Rachel had absolutely no say in marrying Jacob.  It was like a business deal between Jacob and Laban. … While studying my Torah portion and comparing and contrasting marriage in the past and present, I found that it would be irresponsible to exclude the topic of gay marriage.”

He goes on to point out that opponents of gay marriage often use the bible as justification for insisting on “one man one woman” as marriage.  Of course, through the Torah and the rest of scripture, marriage is usually one man and several women who, in the case of Jacob, were also his first cousins.

Religions have too often and for too long been chief perpetrators of injustice and bigotry toward gay and lesbian human beings, relying on errant readings of biblical texts.  It will take more courageous and thoughtful voices like Duncan’s, congregations like this that supported and produced him, as well national religious bodies to undo the inequalities that persist around the country.

For more on the subject, see this article on religious liberty and marriage equality by Sally Steenland at the Center for American Progress.

Author note:  ‘Honorable Mention’ is a recurring feature on this blog … a quick mention/shout-out to someone or something worth noting.


About Caryn Riswold

Caryn D. Riswold is a feminist theologian in the Lutheran tradition. She is Professor of Religion and also teaches Gender and Women’s Studies at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where she has worked for over a decade teaching undergraduates to think critically and creatively about religion. She earned her Ph.D. and Th.M. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, holds a master’s degree from the Claremont School of Theology, and received her B.A. from Augustana College in her childhood hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.