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Blessing Same-Sex Unions

The Perils of Queer Romance and the Confusions of Christian Marriage

Blessing Same-Sex Unions

The Perils of Queer Romance and the Confusions of Christian Marriage

At most church weddings, the person presiding over the ritual is not a priest or a pastor, but the wedding planner, followed by the photographer, the florist, and the caterer. And in this day and age, more wedding theology is supplied by Modern Bride magazine or reality television than by any of the Christian treatises on holy matrimony. Indeed, church weddings have strayed long and far from distinctly Christian aspirations. The costumes and gestures might still be right, but the intentions are hardly religious.

Why then, asks noted gay commentator Mark D. Jordan, are so many churches vehemently opposed to blessing same-sex unions? In this incisive work, Jordan shows how carefully selected ideals of Christian marriage have come to dominate recent debates over same-sex unions. Opponents of gay marriage, he reveals, too often confuse simplified ideals of matrimony with historical facts. They suppose, for instance, that there has been a stable Christian tradition of marriage across millennia, when in reality Christians have quarreled among themselves for centuries about even the most basic elements of marital theology, authorizing experiments like polygamy and divorce.

Jordan also argues that no matter what the courts do, Christian churches will have to decide for themselves whether to bless same-sex unions. No civil compromise can settle the religious questions surrounding gay marriage. And queer Christians, he contends, will have to discover for themselves what they really want out of marriage. If they are not just after legal recognition as a couple or a place at the social table, do they really seek the blessing of God? Or just the garish melodrama of a white wedding? Posing trenchant questions such as these, Blessing Same-Sex Unions will be a must-read for both sides of the debate over gay marriage in America today.

256 pages | 11 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2005

Gay and Lesbian Studies

History: General History

Religion: Comparative Studies and History of Religion

Sociology: Sociology--Marriage and Family


“A powerful, at times brilliant, brief for Christian churches blessing same-sex unions. . . . Jordan traces the history of Christian thought about marriage . . . and insists that there is no fixed, transhistorical Christian ideal. . . . Since the early church only grudgingly allowed Christians to marry, same-sex unions may be no more a departure from previous Christian understandings of marriage than today’s enthusiastic endorsement of heterosexual marriage. . . . This is not merely a contribution to gay studies; any Christian who wants to think more clearly about marriage should read Jordan.”

Publishers Weekly

“Documenting his case colorfully from both popular media and scholarly sources, [Jordan] askes: If all that marriage entails is following the etiquette advice from a professional wedding planer, what is the point? Jordan digs deep as he examines the historical and theological origins of Christian marriage.”

Craig L. Nessen | Christian Century

"Blessing Same Sex Union is an impressive display of learning and a clear warning against the dangers of mass marketing and the false certainty so characteristic of the Christian right."

Daniel A. Burr | Gay & Lesbian Review

"A thoughtful and provocatively sustained analysis of gay marriage, Jordan’s book will undoubtedly cost him a few friends."

Wade Edwards | Virginia Quarterly Review

"Jordan’s brilliant reading of logic within current debates of history, Christian theology, and contemporary wedding culture effectively challenges what many hold to be true about ’blessing same-sex unions’. . . . One of the great strengths of this examination is Jordan’s . . . ability to point to the odd and sometimes surprising confluence of commercialism, homophobia, Christian theology, state power, and sexism (to name just a few) embedded in so many of the contemporary discourses of gay marriage."

Thomas A. Foster | H-Net Book Review

"For this straight Christian, the honest insights into gays’ own understanding of their unions, and the mingling of these with insights of deep faith and love, made for a compelling read. This comedy of manners deserves to be taken seriously."

Adrian Thatcher | INTAMS

Table of Contents

Introduction: Uncivil Ceremonies
1. Some Boys’ Romance
2. A Proper Engagement
3. Your (?) Special Day
4. Finding Some Marriage Theology—Before the Ceremony
5. The Wedding and Its Attendants
6. Afterward; or, Out of Bounds
7. Ending in Time
Epilogue: A Comic Exhortation
List of Works Cited

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