Monday, December 22, 2008

Newsweek's desperate case for gay marriage

On December 6, 2008, Newsweek magazine published a front-page article by Lisa Miller, entitled, "The Religious Case for Gay Marriage." Miller's article has created a firestorm of controversy in the religious community. And no wonder. Miller appears to have had more training from the political community in how to write spin than from Biblical scholarship in how to interpret scripture.

The so-called "case" that Miller builds for gay "marriage" is arrogant, ignorant and desperate.

The arrogant case

Miller arrogantly attacks scripture's clear meaning, referring to the bans on homosexuality in Leviticus as "throwaway lines in a peculiar text" and then has the audacity to say that Paul was "not talking about what we call homosexuality at all" in Romans 1:26-27. For the record, here is the text that she finds so unclear: "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error." (Romans 1:26-27, ESV) As if this claim is not outrageous enough, Miller even claims that the Bible "neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman." Apparently she has not read Genesis 2:18-24, Proverbs 5:15-20, 1 Timothy 3:2, 12. Miller is so haughty as to pronounce from her throne on high that "no sensible modern person wants marriage-theirs or anyone else's -to look in its particulars anything like what the Bible describes." Which brings us to another major problem with the article: ignorance.

The ignorant case

When Miller says that "no sensible modern person" wants a marriage like one in the Bible, it appears that she missed the Song of Solomon, and the rapturous married love that is celebrated in that wonderful Old Testament book. Actually, her quote is referring in particular to the polygamy of Old Testament heroes like Abraham, David and Solomon. What she fails to notice is that the Bible is brutally honest about its "heroes," showing them with all of their faults. In fact, scriptural narrative reports the problems that resulted from polygamy, including the jealousies of Abraham's wives, David's sexual sin, and how Solomon's wives drew his heart away from the Lord.

Miller refers to Jesus' encounter with the woman at the well in John 4 as a "message of acceptance." Jesus reveals himself to the woman at the well, "no matter that she had five former husbands and a current boyfriend." Again Miller misses the point. Jesus does not praise the woman, but rather points out to her that she is living in an immoral relationship, while at the same time showing her that he cares for her soul, in much the same way that Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, but told her "go and sin no more" (John 8:11).

The desperate case

Finally, Miller is so desperate to try to justify homosexual marriage that she makes incredible stretches of logic and ridiculous claims. She repeats the popular claim of gay activists that David and Jonathan had a homosexual relationship, simply because David spoke of their deep love for one another in 2 Samuel 1:26. It is amazing how anybody could read about David's lust for Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11 and think that 2 Samuel 1:26 referred to homosexual love.
In dealing with Paul's condemnation of homosexuality in Romans 1, Miller's article makes the laughable claim that "recently progressive scholars have argued" that Romans 1 was really condemning the promiscuity of emperors Nero and Caligula.
In her final leap of logic, Miller lists the marriages of Moses to the foreigner Zipporah, of Queen Esther to a non-Jew, and of Mary and Joseph as examples of "marriages that defy convention" in the Bible. Desperate to find anything to back up her preconceived ideas, Miller reasons that since these marriages were unconventional, the Bible must therefore justify gay "marriage" as well.

All of this reminds me of something my father, a retired U.S. Army chaplain, told me about Bible interpretation. To illustrate that any two scriptures can be taken out of context and made to appear to say something that they do not really say, Dad gave these two verses: "Judas went and hanged himself…Go ye therefore and do likewise." Lisa Miller's Bible interpretation is just about as dangerous, and Newsweek magazine should be ashamed to print such dribble without even considering another viewpoint for balance.

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