An interesting discussion broke out on this comment thread on the Evangelical Outpost (as usual). In particular, Patrick makes an observation about homosexuality and complementarily that really "gets it"; his is a far deeper understanding of nature and the human condition than those who would just point to biological differences between men & women, note that gays can't procreate, and then conclude that homosexuality violates the norm of heterosexual "complementarily" or nature in any meaningful way. As Andrew Sullivan has pointed out, not only does homosexuality not violate the dominant norm of heterosexuality, it in fact, "resonates with it."
Joe Carter: "While we shouldn't attempt to reduce it to it's component parts, we also cannot ignore the physical dimensions of sex, especially sexual differentiation. Men and woman are different in both their physical and emotional makeup. Evangelicals believe that these gender differences are complementary and designed by God to lead to fulfillment and happiness within the union."
As a gay man, I agree with the above. Where we differ is that I don't think many Christians understand and accept the true nature of male and female Complementarity. Men and Women are different, but they are also the same. The concept of the one-flesh union as described is not the whole story, not even for heterosexuals.
It is indeed about the union of the man and the woman. But humans are more complex, and frankly more beautiful than this and it should be taken into consideration.
What I'm getting at is that it's not just the union of the man in the woman, it is also the union of the woman in the man. Or as Peter Gabriel says, it's in the Blood of Eden.
Every human being on the planet, no matter what gender, has inherently both male and female components within them to varying degrees. This is true physically, psychologically, emotionally, and many believe spiritually.
It's an essential part of the make-up of our humanity that should not be dismissed or overlooked when discussing what a marriage is and isn't.
When the "one-flesh" union or marriage takes place, it's actually a double-joining. It's more than just the single joining of a man to a woman. What also takes place is that the part which is female within the man joins with that which is male within the woman.
This double-joining is the bridge between the sexes. It's the phoneline through which men and women are able to communicate with each other and understand each other. Without it the joining between sexes would be in battle, not marriage. And sometimes it still is.
This is the essence of true Complementarity. That's how it works. Christianity seems at some point to have turned it's back on this fundamental truth. I suspect it's more because of the cultural prejudices toward women that were in the societies that Christianity sprang from than it does with Christianity itself. Women were not respected. So the part in men that is female also came to be despised. And the reverse for women.
But Complementarity is still a biological fact. And because of the variety and complexity of the human species it expresses itself in many different ways. The chromosome "Super-male" or female. Mammary glands in men, and penile tissue in women. The physically female blank slate of the fetus. The rush of hormones in different quantities and and at different times that run the development of gender in that fetus. Biologically, Adam comes from Eve's rib. There are also the other variances, including hermaphrodites who in truth are really a third gender, androgyny, and of course transgendered individuals and yes, gay and lesbian people.
Christian marriage assumes a standard of absolute male and female that does not exist in the reality of our species. And a thousand "defense of marriage" laws are not going to change that fact.
So a gay or lesbian union is in fact not the same as that of a heterosexual union. But it is still the union of the man in the woman and the woman in the man. It's in a different, but completely natural, configuration and proportion than that of opposite-sex couples. It's merely a different expression of Complementarity. And it also deserves respect, because it is the design of the Creator, and it's a beautiful thing.
The sheer elegance and genius of the way in which God created the male and female principles men and women to work with each other, in all it's permutations should be acknowledged, celebrated, and respected but above all else, understood.
Patrick correctly notes that the standard of "absolute" gender roles that Christian conservatives seem to posit is an erroneous view of nature, in my opinion, as erroneous as the view of the "social constructionists" who argue that "gender" is a social construct. Also short-sighted is the notion that the "differences" between men and women equal a perfect fit between the two of them. Patrick notes that absolute gender differences would seem to make marriage as much of a "battle," as a union. And that some marriages in fact look like this. Indeed, it was an Evangelical Christian (yes ironic) who noted that "Woman are from Venus, Men are from Mars," seeming to indicate that differences between the genders are as likely to make men and women appear to be a "clumsy matchup" as a "perfect fit."