Although gay marriage seems to have settled into acceptance in this country, it still meets with virulent opposition elsewhere, including in the United States. Certain of the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination serve as good examples. Strutting their Christian credentials, they loudly proclaim their mantra, "Marriage means one man and one woman."
Their credentials do not, however, seem to include knowledge of the Bible. Far from one man and one woman, the Biblical prophets were more inclined to one man and many women. For example, Abraham, father of the Hebrew nation, had three, a piker however compared to David, first king of Israel, who had at least eight, plus 10 concubines for those days when he was feeling exceptionally randy. Moses, bearer of the tablets, only had two, but Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Reputedly the world's wisest man, he may also have been its most libidinous. Jacob, father of the twelve patriarchs of the tribes of Israel, was clearly a man of more modest appetites, limiting himself to four wives. Marriage as one man, one woman? These lusty buggers would have laughed you out of the room.
The nuclear family—one man, one wife and children—adopted by Christianity probably came about because the religion was created within the Roman Empire which, drawing on European customs, had a tradition of monogamous marriage. The Muslim faith, truer to Middle Eastern custom and therefore to the Bible, still allows polygamy.
So when Christians fundamentalists trot out their marriage means one man and one woman mantra, we might tactfully suggest they read their Old Testament and refresh their fundamentalism.