Gay authors David and Constantino Khalaf, a married couple, have set out to challenge the traditional understanding of Christian marriage in their provocative book Modern Kinship: A Queer Guide to Christian Marriage. “We seek to reaffirm some aspects of marriage and challenge others,” they write.
“This is a brave book,” writes a reviewer on Amazon. “It is thoroughly Christian, and as such risks frustrating queer readers who have been wounded by Christian religiosity. Yet it is also thoroughly queer, and as such risks inciting traditionalist readers who would claim there is no such thing as a queer Christian marriage.”
With a foreword by bestselling author Rachel Held Evans, Modern Kinship seeks to deconstruct harmful notions of marriage for straight couples, too. “We hope to touch upon the universal truths of contemporary relationship, regardless of faith tradition or sexual orientation,” the Khalafs write. “And we want more than anything for readers to understand that even if some of us aren’t built for marriage, each of us is built for kinship.”
The authors, who have been LGBTQ relationship bloggers for more than three years, see kinship as “a bond as old as humanity, made available in modern times to people who have heretofore lived on the margins. In a world inching ever closer to God’s kingdom—a world where ‘there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer male and female’—modern kinship includes the marriages of LGBTQ couples.”
Taking to task the notion that sacred marriage can only be understood as a complementary union of male and female, the authors assert that egalitarianism and covenantal commitment are a stronger foundation for a long-lasting relationship.
In Modern Kinship, the Khalafs explain that “a good marriage is outwardly focused; it carries a mission and seeks to make the world a more loving, peaceful place. That requires commitment and working together even when things get rough.” Theirs “is a lofty vision of marriage, one that requires those who enter into it to examine their reasons carefully. Yet it is also a more humble view of it than the one held by a majority of Christians, and perhaps even society at large, today.”
“Marriage is not the summit upon which you’ll live happily ever after,” the authors conclude. “Marriage is a lifelong commitment to grow and work with one another toward what the Jewish tradition calls tikkun olam: the healing of the world or, the interpretation we like best, a ‘construction for eternity.’ Each of us—married, single, cis, trans, gay, straight, black, white, rich, poor—has a unique and vital role in the construction of eternity, and not one role is more important than another.”
“If you are married,” the Khalafs advise both gay and straight readers, “discern with your spouse the ways in which God is calling you to work together for what in Christianity we call the advancement of the kingdom. You’ll be working on it for a very long time.”