2008-DEC Newsweek article
in support of same-sex marriage
Topics covered in the article: Part 1
Topics covered in Lisa Miller's article:
- She starts her article 1 by talking about the sex
lives and family structures of prominent ancient Hebrew leaders:
Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel. This is a
record of multiple wives, concubines. It includes
references to slave girls being assigned by their owners to have sex with
these leaders. She criticizes Jesus and Paul who repeatedly denigrated
- Next, she compares the fight for SSM with the battle to end slavery.
Both involved clergy preaching intensely pro and con. She writes: "All the
religious rhetoric, it seems, has been on the side of the gay-marriage
opponents, who use Scripture as the foundation for their objections." This
is a serious error. Although most of the media coverage is given to those
who oppose SSM, there are many liberal and progressive faith groups who
advocate SSM, including the United Church, Metropolitan Community Church,
and congregations affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association.
- She quotes a statement given by Rev. Richard A. Hunter, a United
Methodist minister, to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2008-JUN: "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."
- Miller differentiates between:
She claims that the Bible says nothing against SSM. Further, the
Bible gives a number of reasons why SSM should be legalized.
- Civil marriage -- that brings protections and rights to spouses and
their children -- and
- Religious marriage which is a covenant involving the couple and God.
- She quotes Alan Segal, a Bible scholar at Barnard University, who said
that marriage in the Bible was between "... one man and as many women as he
could pay for." He also mentioned that the Bible was written by people who
lived in a polygamous culture.
- She notes that may conservatives criticize SSM because such couples
cannot procreate. This comment brings to mind an event in Canada where the
federal government was in court opposing SSM for this same reason. Then the
plaintiffs' lawyer got up to speak. She is a lesbian involved in a loving,
committed relationship, and was, at the time, very visibly pregnant. Her
condition was as effective in demonlishing the government's case as were her
Miller points out weaknesses in that argument: infertile opposite-sex
couples are free to marry; female same-sex couples can and do have children
through artificial insemination; same-sex couples can and do adopt.
- She notes that Jesus apparently remained unmarried. He taught a radical
new type of family -- that of a "caring communities of believers."
- Concerning same-sex sexual activity, she quotes an entry on "Homosexual
Practices" in the Anchor Bible Dictionary. It states that nowhere
in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women, "possibly because it
did not result in true physical 'union' (by male entry)." Actually, most
theologians interpret Romans 1:26 as clearly
referring to sex between women. The verse says, in part: "For this cause God
gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the
natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men,
leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward
another." However, it clearly refers to women who were heterosexual
and yet engaged in same-sex behavior -- perhaps in a Pagan orgy. It would
not necessarily apply to lesbians.
She states that Leviticus 18:22 Leviticus 20:13
condemns same-sex sexual activity by men as "an abomination." She does not
mention a common liberal interpretation of these verses as applying only to
same-sex behavior in Pagan temples. But she rejects these verses as
"throwaway lines" that are no longer applicable today -- like the
prohibition of pork, or wearing of clothing made of two textiles, or
receiving tatoos. She asks: "Why would we regard its condemnation of
homosexuality with more seriousness than we regard its advice, which is far
lengthier, on the best price to pay for a slave?"
She does not mention the Sodom and Gomorrah story, perhaps because so many
Christians already realize that Genesis 19 refers to the homosexual rape of
unwilling victims, and thus is unrelated to consensual, same-sex
She quotes scholar Neil Elliott's book "The Arrogance of Nations," in which
"argues that Paul is referring in this famous passage to the depravity of
the Roman emperors, the craven habits of Nero and Caligula, a reference
his audience would have grasped instantly. 'Paul is not talking about
what we call homosexuality at all,' Elliott says. 'He's talking about a
certain group of people who have done everything in this list. We're not
dealing with anything like gay love or gay marriage. We're talking about
really, really violent people who meet their end and are judged by
This review continues in Part 2
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
- Lisa Miller, "Our Mutual Joy," Newsweek, 2008-DEC-15, at:
Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2008-DEC-12
Latest update: 2008-DEC 14
Author: B.A. Robinson