I haven’t gone to Brokeback Mountain. Not because the subject bothers me, but I just don’t go to movies in theaters very often. But the gist of the story that I’m picking up would apply whether the couple is same sex or not.
Two people have a short, very intense relationship, separate and marry other people. If I understand correctly, they can’t put the original relationship aside and are unfaithful to their wives. It’s as if Romeo and Juliet hadn’t ended up in Juliet’s tomb but had married who they were supposed to and having the tragic finale happen ten or fifteen years later.
There actually was a guest column in the local paper by Maria Anglin of the San Antonio Express-News titled “No one cares about the ‘Brokeback’ wives.” I can see where she’s coming from. Infidelity, like violence, has become such a background noise in the culture that nobody seems to notice unless we’re faced with a same sex couple.
Since I haven’t seen the film I don’t know why these two young guys felt they had to marry. Family pressures, camouflage (this is set in the sixties after all), or failure to understand that they won’t be able to put that summer behind them. Whatever, the reason, the results are tragic.
I don’t remember reading anything in the New Testament where Jesus says anything about the gender of your partner. But, once you commit to your partner you are supposed to be faithful. So it looks like we have a fair amount of controversy over what is a very old story. What happens when you are unfaithful, when you break a promise. Actually what is one of the biggest promises two people can make each other.
And here is where I want to stir up the waters a bit and try to take the definition of adultery beyond the sexual. When a couple marries, especially in the church, they promise to put each other first; “to forsake all others.”
So let’s take this a little further. Take it beyond the sexual definition of adultery. What about corporate demands from the fifties on that the “job comes first” and the spouse and family come second. Often a distant second. Could this be a form of adultery? A kind of unfaithfulness to the marriage vows that society not only accepts but encourages in the name of material success and increased productivity. A form of unfaithfulness that can be just as damaging to family ties as sexual infidelity.