December 08, 2008

Newsweek Features Same-Sex Marriage.....Favorably!

Folks, this is huge. A major news magazine, Newsweek, has featured the issue on it's cover. This is somewhat newsworthy, but the context is much more so. The caption over a picture of a bible with a rainbow-colored page marker is "The Religious Case for Gay Marriage."

Sometimes it seems to people like me that we are voices ow crying in the wilderness when we say how the Bible is misused as the primary tool to condeemn same-sex marriages. Now, a major news source has put that view out in the mainstream for millions of readers to find in their mailboxes or see prominently displayed on the newsstand.

The cover story is written by Newsweek's religious writer, Lisa Miller. Here's an excerpt:

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.

The argument goes something like this statement, which the Rev. Richard A. Hunter, a United Methodist minister, gave to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in June: "The Bible and Jesus define marriage as between one man and one woman. The church cannot condone or bless same-sex marriages because this stands in opposition to Scripture and our tradition."

To which there are two obvious responses: First, while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. And second, as the examples above illustrate, no sensible modern person wants marriage—theirs or anyone else's —to look in its particulars anything like what the Bible describes. "Marriage" in America refers to two separate things, a religious institution and a civil one, though it is most often enacted as a messy conflation of the two. As a civil institution, marriage offers practical benefits to both partners: contractual rights having to do with taxes; insurance; the care and custody of children; visitation rights; and inheritance. As a religious institution, marriage offers something else: a commitment of both partners before God to love, honor and cherish each other—in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer—in accordance with God's will. In a religious marriage, two people promise to take care of each other, profoundly, the way they believe God cares for them. Biblical literalists will disagree, but the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history. In that light, Scripture gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married—and a number of excellent reasons why they should.

Lisa Miller includes many thoughts that have appeared here and in other gay-affirming resources, but I just can't overstate how significant I believe these words appearing on the cover story of a major news magazine is. Anyone who reads this article and still is anti-gay and anti same-sex marriage, in my opinion, just doesn't want to get it and is more interested in pursuing their own agenda than doing what is right and accurately following the example of Jesus and what the Bible teaches us about life.

You can click here to read the rest of the article, which I strongly suggest you do. This could be used an a good opportunity to engage people in a discussion about this issue that ordinarly might not be concerned about it.

1 comment:

  1. The Mosaic Law did prescribed the death penalty for homosexuality, but it also did for murder, rape, kidnapping, witchcraft, idolatry, treason, sedition, contempt of court, temple desecration, cursing one's parents, pre-marital sex, adultery, incest, and bestiality—this last sin apparently a nagging problem in the shepherding culture of the Chosen People, not only for the people, but for the sheep and goats as well.

    Mentions of sodomy—sexual perversions in general—crop up several times in the Old Testament, but homosexuality as such only twice. In the New Testament, Paul denounces both male and female homosexuality, but Jesus Christ, the ultimate authority on sinfulness, doesn't mention homosexuality at all. Clearly, God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because folks there were violent and wicked, not because they were queer.