If you haven’t seen the Marx Brothers movie “A Night at the Opera,” then it’s possible that, until now, your life has been a hollow lie devoid of meaning, hope, or joy. I suggest you rush right out and buy a copy at once. Aside from lasting joy and cultural education, I bring this film to your attention because of a particular scene.
Near the end of the film, Chico and Harpo slip the sheet music for “Take me out to the ballgame” into the score, and then slip themselves into the pit. As the opera starts, the orchestra breaks into “Take me out to the ballgame” and Chico and Harpo pull out a baseball and have a short game, during which Chico pitches and Harpo uses a violin to smack the ball into the woodwinds. It’s classic Marx Brothers shtick which I will now use for my own metaphysical purposes. But first, let’s go to the beach.
Driftwood and Bon Fires
Welcome to the metaphorical beach! Here we find pieces of driftwood washed up on shore. Whatever the wood looked like in the distant past, it has been formed by wind and waves, chance and time to be smooth and aesthetically pleasing. In the 1970’s people would use them as home decorations until they ran out of wine and came stumbling down the stairs, squinting in the morning light, only to say to themselves, “What is that hunk of wood doing in the middle of the dining room table?” What was once $200 of interior décor is now found at garage sales for as little as 25 cents.
So, imagine you are at the beach, and you look into the water to find one such natural treasure floating your way. Having found some driftwood amidst the waves, you pick it up and you say to your friends, “Hey! We can use this as a baseball bat!” And despite the fact that there is no orchestra to be found, you play a rousing game of baseball with your new and all natural bat. As you play, Antonio Stradivari walks by and says to himself, “How clever! Those kids are using a piece of driftwood as a baseball bat.” And he goes home to watch a movie.
Eventually, you stop playing baseball to go get a Choco Taco. When you return you find that one of your friends has started a fire on the beach, which you think is wonderful until you realize that they have made this fire with your all natural driftwood bat! Mother Nature’s own Louisville Slugger is turning to ash before your eyes! The horror! The horror! “How could you do this to me?” you cry in despair. “That was my baseball bat!” Your friends stare at you as if you have bananas in your ears and say, “It’s JUST driftwood. It’s a hunk of dead tree that was shaped by the laws of nature plus chance plus time. You decided to use it as a baseball bat, and now we’ve decided to use it to make a fire. What’s the big deal?”
This is just like that time you found the perfect walking stick in the woods, and then set it down to get a soda, and your friends used it to make s’mores. You begin to wonder if any of them could be trusted to pet sit, or if they would eat your cat.
Meanwhile, at the Home of Stradivari…
Meanwhile, Antonio Stradivari has made it home and is watching the Marx Brother’s A Night at the Opera with his children. They are delighted and amused until the Opera starts. Then, Harpo- this icon of comedy entertainment- grabs a violin and uses it to whack a baseball! The children gasp in horror. “Daddy!” one of them cries, “What’s he doing with your violin?” But Antonio is unable to find the words to express the shock and disgust as his beloved creation, a Stradivarius violin, valued at $15 million dollars, is used in the same way one might use a found piece of common driftwood!
One of his children suggests that the Marx Brothers must be destroyed. Antonio realizes that this is so, and he grabs the phone intending to call the lawyer who works for him- the one who is known as “The Angel of Death.” But another child says to him, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Antonio, seeing the mercy of his child, puts down the phone and skips to the next scene.
Which brings us back to the topic of this series- the debate over gay marriage. No, really! This will all tie together in just a minute.
Nature or Craftsmanship?
The defenders of homosexual marriage are acting as if marriage and sexuality are like driftwood- it’s the result of accidental chance plus time which we have found and decided to use for one of several uses. When the other side comes along and says, “You can’t do that! That’s not what it’s for!” they roll their eyes and try to remind us that it’s JUST DRIFTWOOD. Just because we chose to use it as a baseball bat doesn’t mean EVERYONE has to use it the same way. And if we’re just arguing about driftwood, they are correct. Our baseball bat might be important to us, but it’s still just driftwood. It’s not really special and important. We just gave it a purpose which made us FEEL like it was special. But it wasn’t MADE to be a bat anymore than it was MADE to be a decoration for your dining room table- or firewood for that matter.
The defenders of traditional, Christian marriage are not just arguing about their feelings for driftwood. We are the children of Antonio Stradivari. Our father has made something beautiful and good. That piece of wood was not formed by chance and accident, but by the hands of a loving artist with great purpose. A violin has purpose built into it, which is why you need two different pieces. You need the violin and the bow. If you have no bow, it is a beautiful instrument, but it will not fulfill its primary purpose for existing- to make music. If you have two violins or two bows, you still do not have music. Like a key and a lock, a violin must be paired with something different to be complete-a bow- to fulfill the purpose for which it was made.
I think the metaphor is fairly obvious, but I’ll spell it out anyway. God made sexuality with great artistry and purpose, as Stradivari made violins. As the violin and bow are each a complete thing, made with beauty and purpose, men and women are complete by themselves and made with value, beauty, and purpose. But as a pair of bows will not make music- so a homosexual couple cannot fulfill God’s purpose in their design. This goes beyond the mere ability to reproduce, but it does include that. Men and women were made in the image of God, and alone we are not a complete image. Two men or two women also do not complete the image of God. And worse than simply being incomplete in purpose, when one violin is used as a bow on another, both are damaged and neither makes the music it was intended to make. I will address this subject more fully in a future chapter.
From Dining Room Table to Garage Sale Bargin Bin
If you reject the creator God and choose to say marriage, sex, and humankind is all driftwood- matter plus chance plus time- then you can use it as a baseball bat or a walking stick- but here is the point you have to face- you can also use it as firewood. The Nazis did this to homosexuals as well as Jews for exactly this reason. They rejected the Biblical God and the morality that came with in favor of Darwinistic naturalism, and they tried to kill all of the homosexuals in Europe. If you reject the Biblical God and the morality that comes from him in favor of Gay Marriage today, what will stop our nation from using them as firewood tomorrow? Driftwood can be art for your dining room or fuel for your fire and all that keeps one from being the other is fashion. Today our fashion is calling for the legalization of gay marriage, but when our culture ejects the influence of the church and embraces Darwin as Germany did at the turn of the last century, what will keep us from doing away with this evolutionary dead end in the same manner? What keeps the$200 of dining room art from becoming a 25 cent piece of garbage you desire to rid yourself of? It can happen here. It happened in Europe not that very long ago.
And to make this point clear- it doesn’t matter what ELSE you use a Stradivarius for- if it is not for music, it is an abuse of the artist’s design. Homosexuality is not the only sin. God intended one violin and one bow for a lifetime of beautiful sheet music (pun intended). No trading bows with other musicians, and no using three bows at a time, or two bows and a toothbrush. No beating the violin with the bow like a drum. No filling the violin with beer or floating it in the bathtub. Had Harpo used the violin as a golf club, a football, or as a drum stick, he would still be doing wrong and the children of Stradivari would still oppose it, not because they hate the Marx Brothers, or even because they really believe Harpo intended to offend their father, but because they love their father and they know his work and the purpose for which it was made.
So as a son of Stradivari, I want you to remember that none of us are driftwood. You were made beautiful and with purpose. We are all Human First. And as humans we are made to make music, love God, and watch the Marx Brothers. Do yourself a favor- first, read the Bible. After that, get some Marx Brothers movies and watch them all. You’ll thank me. As for me, I’m going to grab a handful of change and go garage sailing. I’m looking for a big hunk of wood for the middle of my dining room table.