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Religious Tolerance logo

2008-DEC Newsweek article in support of same-sex marriage

Topics covered in the article: Part 1

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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 marriage.

  • 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:
    • 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 claims that the Bible says nothing against SSM. Further, the Bible gives a number of reasons why SSM should be legalized.

  • 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 words.

    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 relationships.

    She quotes scholar Neil Elliott's book "The Arrogance of Nations," in which he:
     "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 God"." 1

This review continues in Part 2

References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Lisa Miller, "Our Mutual Joy," Newsweek, 2008-DEC-15, at: http://www.newsweek.com/

Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > MenuNewsweek article > here

Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-DEC-12
Latest update: 2008-DEC 14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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