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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tradition a burden on idea of marriage

 •  Kin split on Graham's last sermon

By Jay Sakashita

I oppose traditional marriage. I suspect, too, that those who publicly claim to support traditional marriage really don't, at least not on biblical grounds.

After all, exactly which form of biblical marriage should be held up as the traditional model? Polygamy? Some great biblical figures had multiple wives. Solomon, to whom God gave wisdom and insight, had 700 wives.

If not polygamy, then how about other forms of traditional marriage found in books of the Bible such as Deuteronomy, Ezra, Nehemiah and elsewhere, which ban interracial marriage?

Because of this Bible-based form of traditional marriage, it was illegal in parts of the United States up until 1967 to marry outside of one's ethnicity. My one wife and I come from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and our relationship is enriched as a result. I am sure there are many others in Hawai'i in racially mixed relationships who feel similarly.

Yet such relationships would be in violation of traditional marriage, according to certain books in the Bible, and our relationships would be considered criminal and viewed as immoral had not such discriminatory laws been changed in the United States.

In the biblical tradition, a woman did not have the right to divorce her husband. Because of this form of traditional marriage where women enjoyed few rights, it was not acceptable in the United States for a woman to vote, hold elective office, attend college or divorce an abusive husband.

There are still other forms of traditional marriage I do not support. For example, marriage where the wife is not allowed to have a job, but must stay home while the husband works as the sole provider. Careers can be fulfilling and life-transforming, and in our times who would oppose the idea of a woman having the opportunity to gain an education so that she might pursue her own professional goals?

Some believe with the arrival of Christ, the former laws of the Bible are no longer binding as Christ heralded a new tradition. In other words: Traditions changed, with the old giving way to the new.

According to some in the Christian faith, Jesus was not married. A traditional form of marriage thus became no marriage. This explains in part the development of monks and nuns in Christianity.

Beliefs about traditional marriage extend to notions of traditional family as well, where ideas and shapes of the family have evolved. Single or divorced parents, along with their biological or adopted children and their children's stepsiblings and half-siblings, are all family despite being outside the traditional model.

Traditions are meant to provide continuity, not constraint. They should inspire and stir innovation and should not be invoked to mask discrimination.

Tradition can be a source of change. In this regard, traditions are more akin to bridges and pathways rather than fences and gates. Traditional marriage, therefore, violates the tradition of marriage.