The current issue of Newsweek magazine has a cover article making the case that the Bible says gay marriage is OK. In fact, if you read religion editor Lisa Miller’s piece, you would get the impression that gay marriage may actually be the God-preferred marriage.
Let’s try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does. Shall we look to Abraham, the great patriarch, who slept with his servant when he discovered his beloved wife Sarah was infertile? Or to Jacob, who fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants)? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel—all these fathers and heroes were polygamists. The New Testament model of marriage is hardly better. Jesus himself was single and preached an indifference to earthly attachments—especially family. The apostle Paul (also single) regarded marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lust. “It is better to marry than to burn with passion,” says the apostle, in one of the most lukewarm endorsements of a treasured institution ever uttered. Would any contemporary heterosexual married couple—who likely woke up on their wedding day harboring some optimistic and newfangled ideas about gender equality and romantic love—turn to the Bible as a how-to script?
Of course not, yet the religious opponents of gay marriage would have it be so.
I’ve attended church for my entire life, not once has any pastor used Abraham as a model of what a Christian marriage should look like. Miller obviously hasn’t read the Cliff Notes of the Cliff Notes of the Old Testament: “God creates man and everything man does makes God angry.”
An honest reading of most of the Old Testament is that it contains more in the way of what not to do, than what to do.
If Miller can’t bring herself to honestly represent the “conservative” (and I would say “Biblical”) case against homosexuality and gay marriage, then it should be no surprise that her affirmative case for the practice is equally dishonest.
Check out the following links for detailed criticisms of Miller’s piece:
Especially telling in Hemingway’s piece is this bit:
She never once speaks with an actual opponent of same-sex marriage. She never once speaks with someone who knows anything about the Biblical model of marriage as understood for thousands of years. This piece is disgusting, unfair and unworthy of a high school graduate. It is the opposite of thought-provoking. It’s a post-frontal lobotomy exegesis of Scripture. This is journalism? This is how people are supposed to cover the news, today?
Silly Mollie, opinion columnists don’t have to speak with both sides.
For a more generalized look at Biblical prohibitions against homosexual behavior, check out this piece by Robert Gagnon [PDF format] — a response to an article attempting to make the case that there is no Biblical injunction.
Finally, there is the most insulting portion of this entire Newsweek debacle — editor Jon Meacham’s note.
No matter what one thinks about gay rights—for, against or somewhere in between —this conservative resort to biblical authority is the worst kind of fundamentalism. Given the history of the making of the Scriptures and the millennia of critical attention scholars and others have given to the stories and injunctions that come to us in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament, to argue that something is so because it is in the Bible is more than intellectually bankrupt—it is unserious, and unworthy of the great Judeo-Christian tradition.
It’s odd to argue that an appeal to Biblical authority is “the worst kind of fundamentalism” when the cover story purports to make the liberal case for gay marriage using a similar appeal to Biblical authority. There are plenty of public policy arguments for prohibiting same-sex marriages — and those are what should be and are used as part of the public debate. But to prohibit believing Christians, Jews or Muslims from voting on a public policy issue based on their religious views is the worst kind of secular fundamentalism.
- Christopher Johnson also does a humorous and biting rip on Meacham.