The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 11, 2012

Your View: Bible ill-equipped to settle amendment

By Jon Stephenson, St. Peter

— I believe the Minnesota State Legislature missed something when drafting language for the proposed amendment to Article 13 of the Minnesota Constitution, to wit: "Section 13. Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota." I hope the Legislature meant to specify "...at a time..."

Certainly, we have a tradition in this state of allowing people to marry again following the death of or divorce from a spouse and would not exclude successive unions. We are, after all, a state and a nation that appears to thrive on sequential monogamy.

With regards to arguments about the proposed amendment, let us lay aside any reference to Biblical examples of family values unless we are willing to consider the example of King David with his wives and concubines. (2 Samuel 5:13); or King Solomon, whose wives included 700 princesses and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). Unless I am missing something, the only injunction about the number of persons in a union is advice that a bishop must be the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2) ... so much for assumed celibacy in the clergy.

Finally, whether a specific and preclusive amendment is appropriate to the Minnesota State Constitution or any other constitution is a matter of debate (constitutional scholars may weigh in here), but since someone decided that Section 12 of the same Article 13, a section concerning hunting and fishing rights, was appropriate, I suppose considering an amendment offering to exclude certain rights for certain persons is also appropriate -- just depends on who wields the amendment pen and who they judge should be excluded (and whether the electorate agrees).