A couple in Australia has made a public statement, vowing to divorce, ending their ten-year marriage, if gay marriage is legalized in their country. Though Nick and Sarah Jensen have children together, they claim that they simply can’t recognize the institution of marriage any longer as the government defines it if it goes against their understanding of Biblical teaching.
“Marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” writes Nick, “before a community in the sight of God. And the marriage of any couple is important to God regardless of whether that couple recognizes God’s involvement or authority in it,”
But although the Jensen’s claim the importance of recognition of their own marriage is that it is in the eyes of God and before a community of witnesses, it’s the government’s definition that they can’t abide by.
There are a few issues here. First, it seems the couple is unclear on the difference between church and state. granted, it’s not in the United States, but still, the dissonance of his statement above, versus their reasoning for dissolving their marriage, seems fuzzy at best.
Second, there’s some real irony in the idea that because they feel that same-sex marriage is a violation of God’s law, they will dissolve their own marriage…which is itself a violation of God’s law according to many, unless there’s been infidelity.
Third, though the Jensens seem to be coming from a fairly religiously conservative perspective, they’re falling victim to something often practiced in mainline and progressive Christian circles: abandoning a label or identity because it no longer seems to mean what it once did. It seems that little, if anything, changes by abandoning your marriage vows, whereas living out what you feel it should mean in daily life (rather than depending on press releases and gimmicky stunts like “threatening divorce”) would go far further toward holding up one’s own understanding of what it means.
Martin Luther, Origen and Galileo, among many others, were heretics. We need heretics. So I feel like I’m in good company, though my influence is far less than theirs.
As for the Jensens, perhaps they’d be better served to practice some “heresies” of their own by staying married and showing us what they think it means to be a family in the eyes of God and the world. Otherwise, some weeks or months from now theirs will be one more casualty on the roadside of broken covenants that happen far too often already, many for far better reasons than theirs.