Sola scriptura minus the scriptura

holybible1I knew we had to take a look at Newsweek‘s cover story when I read the first line. It was just that bad. It was written by senior editor Lisa Miller who oversees all of the magazine’s religion coverage. Which is pretty shocking when you look at the unbelievable ignorance on display in her grossly unfair first paragraph:

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?

How many things are wrong with that opening line? (Beyond the junior high-worthy snarkiness of the “let’s try” opening, I mean.) How about that “religious conservatives” don’t argue that civil marriage should be defined “as the Bible does.” I mean, it would be nice if Newsweek or other mainstream outlets took the time to learn what religious conservatives have to say about marriage before they attack it. Is that so much to ask?

When I started looking at the media coverage of this hot topic, I had to do just that. As a libertarian, I was unfamiliar with why people thought the state should define marriage, much less why it should be defined in such a way as to limit it to a certain number or sex of people. And what I found is that there is an unbelievable wealth of argument in favor of traditional marriage. And most of it is based (no, not in the fevered imaginations of what Hollywood and the media elite think religious conservatives believe) but in Natural Law. In this way of thinking, society defines marriage as a sexual union between a husband and wife, based around the ideas that babies are created via intercourse, that procreation is necessary for the survival of society and that babies need fathers as well as mothers. So the entire premise of this article is wrong, if you look at it that way.

But if you are going to pretend that opposition to same-sex marriage is based Sola Scriptura, could we at least get our Scripture right?

This is such hackery that it’s offensive. Abraham and Sarah, while certainly noted for their eventual trust in God were basically poster children for marital disobedience when they didn’t trust God to provide them with children. Even though he promised them they would have offspring. Sarah was a jealous and cruel slavemaster and Abraham was pliant and cowardly during their Hagar offensive. In fact, if you are reading the Old Testament as a self-improvement book based on anything other than the commandments from God, you are an idiot. God’s chosen people, some of them with great and abiding faith, are sinful disasters — the lot of them.

I hold sacred the New Testament model of marriage and find Miller’s comments to be beneath contempt. I also wonder what, if anything, she has read from the New Testament.

When my husband read the opening graph of this train wreck of a hit piece, he wondered if these words of Jesus, found in the Gospel of Matthew, indicated indifference to family:

And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Would that be the indifference that Miller is referring to? Because it really just doesn’t sound indifferent to me. This quote from Jesus comes in a larger section on, well, earthly attachments. One part notes that only those who have the gift of celibacy are to be celibate. I have no doubt that my elementary school-age nieces know these things. Shouldn’t Lisa Miller?

And while St. Paul does endorse single life enthusiastically, for those who are able (a key point left out of Miller’s little opening paragraph), he writes extensively about marriage. In fact, he’s normally picked on for his clear endorsement of traditional marriage, as in Ephesians 5:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

There is nothing lukewarm about this. In fact, there is nothing lukewarm about any of the writings of Paul.

Now, as a member of a contemporary marriage, albeit one that isn’t so foolish as to think marriage is about gender equality or romantic love, I can honestly say that the Bible has been the only guide that has helped my husband and myself. We turn to it constantly to be reminded that the husband is to sacrifice for the wife and the wife is to respect the husband (these things don’t come naturally to either my husband or myself).

And yet Miller discounts our faith by saying that “of course” a contemporary married couple wouldn’t turn to Scripture as a guide for marriage. Just who does she think she is? And why does she have the cover story of Newsweek?

The rest of the piece is about as worthless and mendacious as the opening paragraph. She repeatedly pretends that marriage is not defined in Scripture — although the two examples I gave above manage to define it unambiguously as a heterosexual union. Even her own mentions of the patriarchs prove the point that Biblical marriage is heterosexual in nature.

The piece then goes on to pretend that homosexuality isn’t really mentioned much in Scripture (except when it’s talking about, you guessed it, King David and Jonathan!) and, of course, discounts St. Paul’s teachings on the matter as not really about homosexuality but modern-day sins having nothing to do with homosexuality. Not that the actual New Testament passages, such as this one, are included in the story:

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, 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 their own persons the due penalty for their error.

Some may find that passage ambiguous. Many will not. But what’s amazing is that Miller actually also writes that Scripture never once refers to sexual relations between women. Um, if you don’t know what the Bible says, you probably shouldn’t preach about it, you know?

And yet preach with unhinged emotion is precisely what Miller does. 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?

She actually uses Miss Manners to defend liturgical changes in marital rites. I mean, really. This is a serious topic. We have had the majority populace of three dozen states now vote to define marriage as a heterosexual union. I know the news industry is suffering but perhaps one reporter could go actually research what these people think.

Instead we learn nothing about the principled opposition to same-sex marriage and instead get blasphemy and some of the most cliched reading of Scripture to appear in print. Thanks, Newsweek. Thanks a bunch.

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  • Chris Bolinger

    Once I see the word “Newsweek“, I ignore everything else. I envision a policeman saying, “Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.”

    you are an idiot

    Don’t hold back, Mollie. Tell us how you really feel. :-)

  • Brian

    I love how the argument in this article uses an essentially gnostic, otherworldly vision of Jesus to support its claims. That might work if you’re quoting the Gospel of Thomas, but the canonical Gospels are firmly rooted in the world of Second Temple Judaism, which was of course a far cry from the implicit Platonism in play here.

    And then she trots out this modernist idea of progress in a long argument on the second page. Does anyone really believe that things are getting better, more moral over time? And what evidence is there to support such a claim?

    Like too much in this article, it is taken on faith. The wrong sort of faith.

  • Stoo

    I think morals have improved, yes. It’s just that bad people have greater scope to do bad things these days (money, power, really big bombs) compared to a medieval king. And we still have the capacity to revert to being nasty and selfish. But hey, at least (in the west anyway) we’re not sending children down mineshafts or burning witches anymore. Or keeping slaves. And war is no longer seen as a legitimate means of getting yourself more territory, etc. The framework has improved, people just aren’t great at holding to it sometimes.

    What are the right and wrong sorts of faith?

    Ok, getting rambly there. Good rant there anyway Mollie. I honestly don’t know how much mileage there is in a “bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality really” stance, I’d be interested to hear comments from any christian liberals here.

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  • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog.html Jason Pitzl-Waters

    “As a libertarian…”

    So, as a libertarian, do you support the Libertarian Party’s official stance on gay marriage?

    “Repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act and state laws and amendments defining marriage. Oppose any new laws or Constitutional amendments defining terms for personal, private relationships. Repeal any state or federal law assigning special benefits to people based on marital status, family structure, sexual orientation or gender identification. Repeal any state or federal laws denying same-sex partners rights enjoyed by others, such as adoption of children and spousal immigration.”

    If not, why not? I ask for this idealogical clarification since you brought it up, and the term because the term “libertarian” (whether with a small or large “L”) has been twisted to mean a surprisingly large number of things.

  • Dave

    Mollie, however inaccurate the Newsweek article is, the fact is that if you read letters to the editor you do indeed find religious conservatives claiming that the union of one man and one woman has been the only form of marriage for thousands of years, and that the Bible backs this up. The worst thing Newsweek has done is respond to conservative ignorance with liberal ignorance.

  • Brian Walden

    Why is Lisa Miller employed by a magazine that claims to be objective? I think her work finds its way onto this site just about every time she covers traditional Christianity. Her writing would better service a magazine that openly promotes a certain certain worldview.

  • Stephen A.

    Mollie is right, this is a snarky, offensive and clearly biased piece of writing. No “news” article (or article in a so-called “news” magazine) should start with “Let’s try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does.”

    Of course what followed that horrendous first graph is the standard leftist attack on marriage and the Bible: a broad, fallacious group of cliched attacks that amount to shilling for the gay marriage movement.

    It seems to me that the ancient Israelites who jotted down these extraordinary marriage stories did so because they were just that – extraordinary departures from the norm. The vast majority of marriages in the bible are man-woman, lifelong relationships, or aren’t mentioned at all because such was the norm.

    Looking to the bible for literal guidance without any context, as if it was a daily horoscope, is idiotic. The man opening the bible randomly and seeing the words, “And he went out and hung himself” (as in, Judas) or the couple opening it to the Abraham/Sarah story mentioned by the writer here, would surely discover the folly of thinking that EVERY word of the bible, out of context, is worthy of emulation.

    Then again (since I like to see both sides) such writing, though perhaps with more intellectual vigor and honesty, would surely be a good corrective against Biblical Literalists who tend to see some issues with a clarity that the early Church Fathers never would have dreamt of.

    I will also take up the point Jason mentioned, since “libertarians” would surely see open marriages, gay marriages and even the end of all state-recognized marriage as “good” outcomes. I can hardly believe the person writing this post would self-identify in this way, had Mollie herself not said such a thing. Words mean something, and ‘libertarian’ means “systematic social destruction” and the overturning of long-held values, not ‘conservatism’ in any meaningful sense.

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  • Stephen A.

    Her writing would better service a magazine that openly promotes a certain certain worldview.

    But Newsweek does promote “a certain worldview,” doesn’t it? Apparently, a non-Conservative Christian one.

  • Martha

    I think that “any contemporary heterosexual married couple” who wake up, whether on their wedding day or not, with “some optimistic and newfangled ideas about gender equality and romantic love” need a good smack around the head. But then again, I’m a bitter old spinster :-)

    Like the proverb has it “Love flies out the window when poverty comes out at the door.” Hearts’n'flowers will bring you straight to the divorce court, if you’re pinning all your hopes on the pink, fluffy clouds lasting and overcoming all difficulties without effort on each of your parts.

    Mollie, haveta go with Chris on this: it’s Lisa Miller. It’s “Newsweek.” What were you expecting? ;-)

  • Brian L

    The worst thing Newsweek has done is respond to conservative ignorance with liberal ignorance.

    Perhaps true, but a weak argument. Journalists see themselves as defenders of truth (don’t they?), the enlightened ones who can explain to the rest of us what is really going on. Letter to the Editor writers tend to be a bit unhinged, no matter their social/political views. For the former to devote major page space to arguing with the latter is about at bad as the article itself.

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com MattK

    I haven’t read Newsweek in 20 years. It isn’t reliable.

  • Paul

    Mollie, you say: “As a libertarian, I was unfamiliar with why people thought the state should define marriage, much less why it should be defined in such a way as to limit it to a certain number or sex of people”

    Actually, marriage always has been, in every society and through every time, first and foremost a civil contract between a single man and a single woman. (In some societies it may be permissible for an individual to engage in more than one marriage simultaneously, but that’s another issue). Laying aside the religious elements for a moment, in basic function, the man agrees to provide and care for the woman and subsequent offspring while the woman agrees to give him exclusive sexual access, bear his children, and maintain his household. In many countries, marriage contracts are arranged through the state first, religious ceremonies are anciliary. In this country, religions leaders are given authority by the state to conduct valid marriage ceremonies and to sign the marriage license.

    I only say this to emphasize the importance – which you noted – of marriage to a functioning society. I would refer you to “Man on Earth: A Celebration of Mankind: Portraits of Human Culture in a Multitude of Environmen” by John Reader for a fascinating overview of marriage across the wide spectrum of human society. All religions – in their capacity as the guardians of society – therefore guard and sanctify marriage as the foundation of that society. As Robert Heinlein said: any society that doesn’t guard its women and children doesn’t last very long. This has been true even in those societies that accept homosexual behavior! Even the Spartans, who legitimized homosexuality to an extreme that would shock most liberal Americans, maintained the institution of marriage.

    Marriage is built on the biological differences between men and women. These are many, but to synopsize: men are built both physically and mentally for hunting and fighting. We’re hardwired to provide for and protect our mates and children. Women, of coure, are the only ones who can actually bear and nurse the children and are built to be able to handle them while they’re growing up. The two sides are complementary. I can handle some issues that would have my wife in tears, she can handle 3-year olds that would drive me to drink, if not infanticide. (The issue of the different sexual roles in society and why they exist is fascinating, but would require a topic by itself). As an engineer and a Christian, let’s just say that I can appreciate the elegence of God’s solution to the problem of child rearing.

    This is why the issue of homosexual “marriage” is so critical. Warm snugglies are nice, but the basic problem is that one of the two is the wrong sex! A gay male might feel “feminine” but he really isn’t. Even if he’s gone “trans-gender” his internal wiring is all wrong for the task at hand. Eventually, he’ll run up against problems that require a woman to handle – and will fail. The same may be said for a pair of women.

    Societies that allow the family to fail inevitably fall. God isn’t arbitrary, He sets these systems in place for good reason, and we ignore His advice (much less His commands) at our peril.

  • Jenni

    You are 100 percent right about the Newsweek article. Well done!

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  • FW Ken

    As a civil institution, marriage offers practical benefits to both partners…

    In a religious marriage, two people promise to take care of each other…

    Missing from the discussion (apart from Mollie’s reference to natural law) is a serious consideration of what, precisely, is the community’s interest in regulating and privileging the married state.

    Miller makes a lot of claims about religion, the bible, and history regarding marriage; many of those claims are factually wrong, many are prejudiced and misleading, and some are simply silly (“Monogamy became the norm in the Christian world in the sixth century”). Amid all the claims, there is precious little rationale.

    A secular, or, most popularly, a multi-cultural society has no interest in the religious aspects of marriage. Per the libertarians, it has no interest in civil aspects of marriage either. So what, precisely, is the communal interest in regulating marriages. Is marriage a private act with no social consequences and therefore no legitimate government regulation?

    After reading Mollie’s post, I wasn’t going to waste time reading the article. However, I like to read articles when I comment, so I gutted it up and took it like a man. That’s time wasted that I will never get back.

    And my cynical-about-journalism meter is over-the-top again.

  • http://notes-from-offcenter.com Drew Tatusko

    Regarding the complementarian position, it would also seem that women should not enlist in the armed services or have jobs outside of the household. It would also seem that single parenting is as structurally a problem to social order. It would also stand to reason that we should outlaw divorce as was the case in Ireland. This is not a slippery slope, it is being consistent with the application of what we mean by natural law in relationships across the board without even coming to the issue of same gender love.

    Also, marriage as a function of romantic love is a rather recent norm in the scope of human history. Before that, as with the near eastern tradition for Paul and others in Scripture, was a social contract more related as a necessary function of labor, economics, and genetic transmission than anything else.

    What the Bible says, what it means, and how it is read are all part of hermeneutics. Miller’s hermeneutic looks at the issue as if we were to live out the bible exactly as written with all of the cultural and social structures at the time of its writing in place. To that degree we, at least in the West, might read certain things in the Bible regarding relationships, but that does not mean that we are looking at it as some instruction book. If that were so outlawing divorce and supporting slavery with benevolent masters is certainly justified if not clearly commanded. Even to suggest that Paul thought we would read his epistles as eternal prescription is absurd given that he most likely thought he was in the last generation before the coming Kingdom of God.

    So yes, let’s all read the bible and understand where we are making arbitrary assumptions on thing rooted in our intuitive sense of order which is highly contrary to a 60 BCE Jew. None of the writers were enlightened evangelicals or Catholics and how we read their words needs to hold that up against what we have, with reason, excised from Scripture in our social structures.

    BTW – the libertarian position is that the state should not define marriage at all and only has recourse to define civil unions for which gender should not be a mitigating variable. Check Cato @ Liberty (a libertarian think-tank) or Reason (a libertarian mag) for articles on it.

    Peace.

  • http://notes-from-offcenter.com Drew Tatusko

    Excuse me, I meant a 60 CE Jew. But BCE works just as well. :-)

  • Chris Bolinger

    That’s time wasted that I will never get back.

    Newsweek: Wasting people’s valuable time since 1933.

  • Patrick

    You could have done a much better job of convincing me of the flaws in the Newsweek article if it weren’t for the constant (and very childish) insults you’ve heaped on its author.

  • Nicholas

    … but the canonical Gospels are firmly rooted in the world of Second Temple Judaism, which was of course a far cry from the implicit Platonism in play here.

    The article sounds terrible, so I can’t bring myself to read it, but I would be careful making snap judgments about the relationship between Christianity, Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, and forms of Platonism. You may never have heard of Philo of Alexandria, but the early Christians certainly had. Which is not to say that Jesus and Paul were Platonists, but that the Hellenistic world of the first century was, well, Hellenistic. Even the Lord’s Prayer, with its desire for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven,” implies that the earth is a flawed copy of a heavenly ideal that perfectly follows God’s will.

    Which may or may not have anything to do with whether Gnostic and “Platonic” ideas can be used in pro- or anti-gay marriage arguments. But the demarcations between Christianity, Judaism, Gnosticism and Platonism in the early centuries aren’t always as simple as “Athens vs. Jerusalem.”

  • peg

    Patrick said:

    You could have done a much better job of convincing me of the flaws in the Newsweek article if it weren’t for the constant (and very childish) insults you’ve heaped on its author.

    Are you serious, Patrick? The author seems to be totally unaware of Robert Gagnon’s defining work, totally ignores all the other sexual taboos in Lev. 18. A simple principle in hermeneutics is to evaluate something within its immediate context before doing so in its broader context (the rest of Leviticus).

    Please, tell us how this article is anything other than unresearched, high-school level advocacy.

    Furthermore, Patrick, can you give an example of a major MSM article that totally misrepresented your theological/philosophical position on something in a snarky way, but for which you had the utmost respect?

  • FW Ken

    Regarding the complementarian position, it would also seem that women should not enlist in the armed services or have jobs outside of the household.

    Complementary biological functions do not control social arrangements (military service or career paths). That is apples and oranges.

    It would also seem that single parenting is as structurally a problem to social order. It would also stand to reason that we should outlaw divorce as was the case in Ireland.

    Single parenting and divorce are in fact socially problematic, if sometimes necessary, and a fair amount of research supports the positive effects of children having two parents, one male and one female. We can, of course, debate how laws can and should manage social problems without pretending that social pathologies – which harm people – are somehow desirable.

    And, for the record, here’s the actual context of the Levitical prohibition on same-sex acts:

    1 “None of you shall approach a close relative to have sexual intercourse with her. I am the LORD.
    7
    You shall not disgrace your father by having intercourse with your mother. Besides, since she is your own mother, you shall not have intercourse with her.
    8
    You shall not have intercourse with your father’s wife, for that would be a disgrace to your father.
    9
    You shall not have intercourse with your sister, your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in your own household or born elsewhere.
    10
    You shall not have intercourse with your son’s daughter or with your daughter’s daughter, for that would be a disgrace to your own family.
    11
    You shall not have intercourse with the daughter whom your father’s wife bore to him, since she, too, is your sister.
    12
    You shall not have intercourse with your father’s sister, since she is your father’s relative.
    13
    You shall not have intercourse with your mother’s sister, since she is your mother’s relative.
    14
    You shall not disgrace your father’s brother by being intimate with his wife, since she, too, is your aunt.
    15
    You shall not have intercourse with your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, and therefore you shall not disgrace her.
    16
    2 You shall not have intercourse with your brother’s wife, for that would be a disgrace to your brother.
    17
    You shall not have intercourse with a woman and also with her daughter, nor shall you marry and have intercourse with her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter; this would be shameful, because they are related to her.
    18
    While your wife is still living you shall not marry her sister as her rival; for thus you would disgrace your first wife.
    19 “You shall not approach a woman to have intercourse with her while she is unclean from menstruation.
    20 You shall not have carnal relations with your neighbor’s wife, defiling yourself with her.
    21 You shall not offer any of your offspring to be immolated to Molech, thus profaning the name of your God. I am the LORD.
    22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination. 23 You shall not have carnal relations with an animal, defiling yourself with it; nor shall a woman set herself in front of an animal to mate with it; such things are abhorrent.

    Incest, bestiality, children sacrificed to idols and same-sex acts: which of these are OK today?

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Jason Pitzl-Waters asks:

    So, as a libertarian, do you support the Libertarian Party’s official stance on gay marriage?

    I’m a libertarian, not a Libertarian. I generally don’t pay attention to the L Party.

    But as a libertarian, I see an exceedingly small role — in terms of size and scope — for the state. I mean, I don’t believe in public roads or public schools (Hi, Public School Teacher Mom!) or the state deciding which families should get government benefits and which shouldn’t.

    I do see a fairly large role for social institutions — such as churches — to enforce (through non-coercive means) social goals. Unlike many people who call themselves libertarian these days, i find libertinism to be juvenile and morally repugnant.

    I am also aware that my views are not likely to gain significant popularity any time soon.

    Also, I will say that my research of why people oppose same-sex marriage has taught me a lot about the cohesive position of those who think the state has a vital interest in family policy.

    And I’m kind of aghast that more reporters don’t know these fairly basic tenets of natural law and conservative thought.

  • Stoo

    I’ll tell you what’s really not ok, and that’s drawing any sort of equivalence between same-sex acts and child sacrifice.

  • Stoo

    Also: oh, great, one of those “privatise the sidewalk” lolbertarian types. ;)

  • http://notes-from-offcenter.com Drew Tatusko

    FWKen.

    1) For the first comment you simply re-stated my claim that it really does boil down to biological function. To say that biological function does not control social function simply ignores history where it is clear that this is the case as you then show in your reference to Leviticus. There we see that both biology and social roles are mutually exclusive. If it is not the case, why the social distinction in roles between men and women, neighbor and stranger, etc.?

    2) Not disagreeing with the second part with you. But that is a clear moment of inconsistency with how we a) understand the function of the holiness code and 2) what parts of the holiness code we choose to obey. So if you want to follow this literally (and you really should read beyond that passage and then before it to get the full effect), it seems that stoning people caught in situations like this should be permissible. And I know John 8 as well. It is unlikely to have been an actual event in Jesus’ life and moreover, he never told them not to stone the girl.

  • http://notes-from-offcenter.com Drew Tatusko

    “I’m a libertarian, not a Libertarian.”

    Which means to say what? You are a social conservative who is also fiscally conservative unless it comes to legislating specific moral issues that you cling to? That’s what we call a neo-con and it is a far cry from libertarian. Libertarians (who cares what size “L” you use) look for socially liberal policies enacted through fiscally conservative limited government. To have a truly limited role of government in the marketplace and in lawmaking, government’s only role is to protect personal property rights and civil liberties for everyone without undue infringement on those liberties. No libertarian can justifiably support marriage amendments or even the government role to define marriage quite frankly due to an inherent inconsistency that should be as obvious as why libertarians have strong issues with the Patriot Act.

    I agree that the problem with right-libertarianism is that it favors anarcho-capitalism at the expense of justice in its hardest form. Yet even so, a left position cannot agree that any organization of people should “enforce” social goals. Support? Sure. Sell to others? Why not. But to support a social institution enforcing its social agenda is about as contrary to any libertarian position that one can think of.

    I think reporters are quite aware of this material, but its rational inconsistency is so profound that it is not worth crediting quite frankly. Reason does a fine job of at least reporting the libertarian position from a philosophical more than specific political party (Big L) perspective. As does CATO.

  • FW Ken

    Mr. Tatusko -

    We disagree, I think, that the biological functionality controls social functions, because I don’t think that your examples of women in the military and working outside of the home are logically connected to their sex. That I cannot bear a child does not preclude me from cleaning the house or my (imaginary) wife from holding a paying job outside the home; that she can bear a child is certainly not insignificant, but not, I think, determinative. And it seems to me that Leviticus 18 concerns itself primarily with biology: brothers and sisters, parents and children, and so on. I suppose you could argue that excluding in-laws from sexual congress is “social” in nature, but it seems to me directly related to the blood relations. If I wanted to argue against women working outside of the home, I wouldn’t say it was because of their biology.

    Interpretation and application of the Old Testament is an entire field of study beyond the scope of this blog. My interest was only to note that if you want to argue from the actual context, which is incest, bestiality, and child sacrifice. Stoo doesn’t like that nettlesome fact, but it’s not my side trying to argue from context.

    For the record, I don’t believe that sola scriptura exists, much less that it is an appropriate way to approach the scriptures. The question is not what God says, but, rather, who says what God says, either in the formal sense of scriptural text, or the applied sense of interpretation. In other words, by what authority do you claim approval for your opinions and beliefs? That’s not original to me, btw; I got it from my very Episcopalian Church History professor.

    Perhaps you will see, therefore, that my problem with this particular article is, first and foremost, the inaccuracies and prejudicial claims it makes, and, second, that Ms. Miller appeals to authorities I don’t recognize as having any legitimacy.

  • FW Ken

    Bad sentence:

    note that if you want to argue from the actual context

    should read:

    that if you want to argue context, then argue from the actual context.

  • Jerry

    There’s the question of what the Bible (and other religion’s scriptures) define as acceptable relationships. Mollie’s comments directly spoke to this question. And this is strictly a theological question.

    Second, there’s the issue of what restrictions government should put on the ability of people to to enter into a specific legal contract. There’s the question of age, of course, which is defined differently in different states. Then there’s the quantity question (polygamy/polyandry). Then there’s the gender (gay marriage) question. The second area is where issue lies. How do you reconcile what is in one state a valid marriage but in another one statutory rape? Why shouldn’t Muslims, some Mormon groups (etc?) be allowed to have plural marriage arrangment if they so choose? And, of course, what restrictions should be put on the ability of gays to enter into the contract called marriage.

    I deliberately put these 3 different situations together because I’ve seen some people flip their positions when considering them separately. Is it really OK as NH law states for a 13-year old to get married under certain circumstances?

    And how does this all play under separation of Church and State?

    And, of course, how badly does the medial reflect all of the issues surrounding marriage.

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  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com MattK

    I feel the need to comment that this thread of comments is so far away from a discussion of journalism that I am chuckling. I think that’s fine, but I also think its funny.

  • JR

    I think all the insults lobbed in this article at Lisa Miller’s writing are appropriate. This is, honestly, a stupid piece of writing. She needs to either study her subject or try a different line of work.

  • Dave2

    FW Ken wrote:

    Incest, bestiality, children sacrificed to idols and same-sex acts: which of these are OK today?

    How about sex during a woman’s period (verse 19)? Oh, and also same-sex acts.

  • Martha

    Dave2: let me get this clear.

    You are saying – out of the list of sexual laws in Leviticus – that (in your personal opinion) the prohibitions on sex during menstruation and same-sex intercourse are okay.

    Well, and a guy can say that (in his personal opinion) having sex with his step-daughter or step-granddaughter is okay, too. After all, if it’s all on the level of “we don’t observe the shellfish taboo nowadays”, why shouldn’t intergenerational love be fine?

    As long as the couple are not related by blood and it’s all consensual (of course), why not?

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  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    There was so much in comments to read that I scanned quickly. Does anyone know what Lisa Miller’s religious-educational background is??? Is the news coverage of politics, foreign affairs, science, etc. in Newsweek as totally ignorant and biased as this so-called reporter-editor’s piece???? No wonder MSM news publications are self-destructing. Thankfully in our area the Boston Globe’s circulation is melting away like an ice cube on a white hot griddle. And I know they console themselves that it is the fault of the internet, not their subscribers’ being fed up with their lies and ignorance wrapped in a deeply liberal spin. However, I do not know a single person who switched news sources because they suddenly didn’t like newsprint format.

  • Martha

    Okay, getting back to the point, which is coverage of religion in the media: some have asked why we are being so horrible to Lisa, saying such mean things about this piece and about her? We’re just big meanies!

    The reason is not that we’re big meanies (though some of us may be), it’s that this is a dreadful piece of – it’s not even reporting; it’s an opinion piece. “What I Think, by Lisa Miller”.

    Except that she doesn’t provide any evidence that she *does*, or even *can*, think.

    Boiling down the story? article? production scrawled in crayon on sugar paper?, it comes to this:

    (1) Mean ol’ bigoted religious conservatives want to force all us normal people to live according to the Bible. Ha! They’re big dummies, ‘cos they don’t even know what the Bible says!
    (2) The Bible says men can have lots of wives! Nothing about having lots of husbands, granted, but still! So marriage isn’t between one man and one woman, like the mean ol’ bigoted religious conservatives says – which means marriage can be between one man and one woman, one man and four women, one man and one man, one woman and one woman, or any combination thereof. So there, mean ol’ bigoted religious conservatives! Your Holy Book says we’re right!
    (3) Anyhow, it’s not even a Holy Book. It’s just a record of social laws, is all. So it has no value whatsoever as a historical record of what marriage norms in ancient societies were like, so it has nothing to do with the background to the development of marriage norms in current societies.
    (4) Besides, there are no gay people in the Bible anyways!
    (5) Except for David and Jonathan!
    (6) Unless they weren’t gay, just brothers-in-law who were very good friends. Oh, who knows? Not me, that’s for sure! But why let that stop me from using them as an example to make my point, which is… er, um… I’m pretty sure I have a point, here, somewhere…
    (7) Jesus said nothing about gay people. He just wants us to be nice to each other. He’s not judgemental or anything heavy like that.
    (8) And besides, Jesus said divorce was wrong, so how about that, all you American Christians who permit divorce? (Er – but wouldn’t that make Jesus one of those mean ol’ bigoted religious conservatives, like for instance the Pope, if He said divorce is wrong? But I thought Jesus was down with us doing away with all those repressive patriarchal power-structures to subjugate women in matrimony… oh, I’m all confused now!)
    (9) Though I can’t spend five minutes Googling the Catechism of the Catholic Church online to find out what mean ol’ bigoted religious conservatives think marriage is all about, luckily, I have a friend who’s a priest, and he says it’s all about love and our feelings! There’s even a psalm to back him up, whatever a psalm is…
    (10) Anyhow, we all know those mean ol’ bigoted religious conservatives just want to stop us having fun and being close to each other. Jesus wasn’t even married Himself, and St. Paul – you know, that mean ol’ bigoted religious conservative guy back then? – said marriage was bad and everyone should be single. Monogamy only became widespread in the 6th century (my friend Sheila’s book says here), so that means for the first five centuries, Christians weren’t getting married at all. Except for the guys who had multiple wives.
    (11) To sum up: marriage is all about our feelings. If we feel we want to do it, it’s okay, and the law should change to acknowledge that. Just like if I feel I want a lot of money, it’s okay for me to rob a bank, and the law should acknowledge that. Um – hang on, do I really mean that? Never mind, the editor will sort it out for me!

  • Stoo

    If we feel we want to do it, it’s okay, and the law should change to acknowledge that.

    Of for crying out loud, who ever justified something with that alone?

    Grumpy sarcasm and furious strawmanning like that just makes me lose sympathy for you guys.

  • Martha

    “…the Christian Lord’s lack of interest in matters of the flesh.”

    Because it’s not like Christians have a doctrine such as the Incarnation.

    Stoo, Lisa wraps up with “More basic than theology, though, is human need. We want, as Abraham did, to grow old surrounded by friends and family and to be buried at last peacefully among them. We want, as Jesus taught, to love one another for our own good—and, not to be too grandiose about it, for the good of the world. We want our children to grow up in stable homes. What happens in the bedroom, really, has nothing to do with any of this.”

    ‘Human need’ and ‘We want…we want…we want…we want’ are the arbiters, not theology, and ‘what happens in the bedroom has nothing to do with any of this.’

    Quite apart from the fact that what happens in the bedroom has a lot to do with how those children come about in the first place, is Lisa really saying that if Daddy (or Mummy) makes a habit of hopping into bed with the next-door neighbours, and Mummy (or Daddy) finds out about this, it will have no effect whatsoever on the stability of the home? Or if Mummy (or Daddy) meets a new person that they fall in love with and want to marry, that has nothing to do with the stability of the home? Or if Mummy and Daddy are having problems in the bedroom, that won’t affect their relationship? Come off it!

  • Jackie

    So, we’re back to this: Bigotry as set forth in the Bible. If you’re going to make public policy, this is not the basis for it. If you’re going to tell a group of people who have done nothing wrong that they’re not allowed to do what the rest of us can do, you should have a better reason than ‘It’s tradition’ or ‘It’s in the Bible.’

  • CJ

    First of all:

    1. Martha: I think the difference between your example of incest and gay marriage is that in the latter, the participants are consenting adults. That is a significant difference indeed.

    2. Let’s talk about “natural law.” Perhaps, Mollie, you mean “common law,” because your usage of the term “natural” law is pejorative. Natural laws typically refer to God-given rights — not social institutions like marriage. Throughout history natural laws have often run afoul of societal norms. On the other hand, you seem to identify these norms as a form of common law, which through their continued practice now have become undeniable. Then again, common laws have sometimes been used as an excuse to defend traditions and prejudices, such as interracial marriage, another taboo once supposedly forbidden by the Bible. They have also been used to justify other institutions like slavery. In the end, your constructivist argument for a static institution of heterosexual marriage reflects an outright attempt to reify something that has constantly evolved throughout time and place — something for which, you say, is a basic truism of human existence, but actually reflects tradition and subjective societal norms.

  • http://redstatefeminists.org Red State Gal

    I’d like to talk about the secular case for companionate heterosexual monogamy. I guess first we have to get past the religious theme of Lisa Miller’s essay by saying that it is impossible to divorce the concept of “sin” from Christianity–after all, the central figure in the religion dies to expiate the sins of us all. Miller’s argument is a tired old argument about the non-existence of sin, which is simply incompatible with Christianity.

    Second, all this silliness about Levitical law’s inapplicability to modern days. The law of Moses was given as a punishment–a lesser law–to the Israelites because they couldn’t figure out that religion involves making distinctions between something called “good” and something called “bad.” To figure out God’s intent, you have to go back to the very beginning, before the Mosaic law-which-is-punishment. And there you find God creating one man and one woman and marrying them. And declaring them equals–”and he shall rule WITH thee.” Why this arrangement? Because that is how the gods live, and we are their children, born to grow up in their image.

    But my purpose is not a religious argument. No, the critical importance of equitable heterosexual monogamy (not to be confused with a debased heterosexual monogamy where a man is like an “owner” of his wife) is its nature as a lynchpin of gender equality. This issue is THE feminist issue of the age. A society that does not privilege an arrangement where one man and one women live together–in equality, love, respect–undermines the very possibility of gender equality. Discarding this as a societal ideal, and eliminating state support for this radical experiment in gender equality is tantamount to flushing the feminist movement down the drain.

    Mary Hartman, the eminent feminist historian, shows that it was the development of companionate heterosexual monogamy in NW Europe in the 1200-1500s that provided the necessary pre-requisite for the development of democracy. That’s right–the slow emergence of gender-equal heterosexual monogamy is what ushered in democracy for the first time in human history. It was living gender equality day in and day out, in the kitchen, the parlor, the bedroom, that made humanity’s ascent into real freedom possible. Any rational democracy would choose to nurture and elevate its wellspring.

    Indeed, if feminism is subverted through the undermining of gender-equal heterosexual monogamy, the age-old system of the Mannerbund will emerge once more, bringing with it totalitarianism and bloodshed of the worst variety. It is gender-equal heterosexual monogamy that is at the root of peace, freedom, and prosperity among humanity. To kill that root is to commit societal suicide. I don’t need the Bible to tell me this–a secular case for the criticality of gender-equal heterosexual monogamy is quite persuadable on its own terms–even though it is noteworthy that the Edenic story backs up this argument in the Christian religious context.

    RSG
    http://redstatefeminists.org

  • Daniel

    I would prefer to get back to the journalistic issues, which I think is the intended purpose of this site.

    Mollie, even though you disagree with them, there are well-known theologians trying to develop a Christian and biblical basis for same-sex marriage and homosexuality. L. William Countryman, Walter Wink and Marvin Ellison are three that come to mind.

    Are you saying this issue is so clearly resolved in favor of one side that Newsweek should not report on the competing perspective? (Haven’t people on this site criticized the mainstream media for doing the same on the issue of evolution?) Journalistically — not theologically — what issues should Newsweek use when writing about this topic when there are (at minimum) two points of view?

    The issue of the Bible and same-sex marriage isn’t terribly interesting to me in itself. But I am interested in what responsibility you think reporters have in handling an issue that you see as clear cut but that some Christian and Jewish theologians do not.

  • Amanda Hugginkiss

    Also, I will say that my research of why people oppose same-sex marriage has taught me a lot about the cohesive position of those who think the state has a vital interest in family policy.

    But really, what have you learned? You claim you’ve “researched” and “consulted” and studied various matters, but you have always arrived at precisely the same position you started. And this is because, like virtually everyone in your neck of the intellectual woods, you really don’t care about learning or studying or researching anything. You just want to see your exceedingly blinkered world-view returned to you, like nursery rhyme or lullaby repeated by a doting grandmother, again and again and again.

  • Stoo

    Martha I don’t know what point you’re trying to get at with talk of affairs or whatever. I thought we were talking about gay marriage?

    And people believe that what goes on in the bedroom of a married gay couple has no ill effect on how kids turn out. You might disagree but it’s unfair to reduce the argument to “If we feel we want to do it, it’s okay”.

    I dunno, i feel i should just do a mean-sprited sarcastic rant about “mean old liberals want to destroy marriage because they hate god” or something, just to try and show you what your post looked like. But it’s late and this post is probably spiking fodder already!

  • Gabriel Coeli

    But…

    You didn’t bother to refute any of Newsweek’s points about the murkiness of biblical teachings, you just threw out some other passages where the Bible appears to speak clearly and authoritatively on the subject. But if it speaks clearly in some areas, and not so clearly in others, and is so easily confused in others, isn’t that exactly what murkiness is?

    You’ve created a straw man argument with this piece, which is an actual hit piece, unlike Newsweek’s. Instead of engaging the argument, you’ve engaged the arguer. Instead of substantial refutation, you’ve just thrown out the red meat tags of “Liberal” and even questioned the faith of so-called Liberal Christians (very inclusive and loving of you, by the way.) You don’t go down through the piece and honestly engage it intellectually, you use pejoratives and adopt a snooty, aggrieved tone; is this debate? Is this the Christian defense of its own ideals? An unwillingness or inability to conduct any kind of dialogue without such righteous indignation that it merits this type of insubstantial mudslinging? Are you sure you even read the Newsweek piece?

    Also, to suggest that the Bible is not a living document is to take, part and parcel, scripture in totality and apply it to our world. This includes dashing Babylonian children on rocks, and you as a woman having no contact with anyone during your menstrual period, and stoning people, and reinstituting slavery, and the whole bit. The whole bit.

    Oh, and “Natural Law” is one of the most ridiculous Evangelical defenses of its views on gay marriage that I’ve ever heard. Please, please, please write a blog post about how our government needs to take quick action to make sure the human race continues breeding. If you’re seriously suggesting that by allowing a minority a civic distinction enjoyed by the majority, the assuredness that a generation will follow our own is in jeopardy, I really need to read that article. Because that is AMAZING.

    You are part of a generation, and a voice in society, and a political force, that will one day be looked on with the same wide-eyed disbelief and disgust that we now view Jim Crow laws in the 1960s South with, and anti-immigrant legislation and movements in 1900s New York, and so many others like it that have been pushed to the wayside to make room for inclusiveness, peace, and progress. I don’t pity you, but I look forward to the day that you and your ilk are gone from or marginalized in our society.

  • Michael

    Newsweek or “News Weak”

    The quality of the reporting for this article — as well as many that have come before it on a whole host of subjects — is one of the reasons I didn’t renew my subscription a couple years ago after having been a subscriber for almost a decade.

    The quality of jounalistic reporting seemed to have taken a downward trajectory more toward “People” magazine — this article was just confirmation that the trajactory remains in the same downward direction. Unfortunate, but not unexpected. This is just a part of the general “dumbing down” of America.

  • http://themcj.com Christopher Johnson

    When all else fails, work in the “bigotry” blast, the last refuge of the leftist who’s lost the argument. This post has nothing whatsoever to do with “bigotry” and everything to do with the titantic dishonesty of an alleged “reporter” trying to make the Bible say what it clearly does not(and if you think it says what Miller thinks it says, you are beyond delusional). Try addressing the points actually raised here and leave off the pseudo-moral posturing.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    G. Coeli:

    This is where it really, really helps to view the Bible through 2000 years of Christian Tradition, with a large T. Look for the doctrines on which the Christian Tradition speaks with one voice… Look to Rome. Look to the East. Look to the ancient Churches.

  • Stephen A.

    Stoo, you never had sympathy for them. Who are you fooling? ;-)

    Martha’s deconstruction (post 43) is hilarious but right on point.

    The fact that the Bible mentions other marriage arrangements, and sometimes other sexual arrangements, doesn’t mean that the marriage arrangement being sought by activists today (man/man and woman/woman pairings) is somehow sanctioned by the Bible, and I think that’s this thread’s entire point: that it’s a silly inference Miller is making – along with being logically flawed. The fact that a specific kind of behavior was said to be allowed by God in one case doesn’t mean ALL other kinds of behavior is allowed.

    It sounds silly even writing it.

    Even sillier when she is forced to admit that in “a handful of passages” Homosexuality is condemned. However, nowhere is it praised, or given sanction. If it’s so positive in God’s eyes, then why not?

    Also, I see nothing implying that this article, which calls gay marriage a “JOY” in the headline, is anything other than an unlabeled opinion piece of advocacy journalism.

    That lack of labeling is inexcusable, regardless of which side of the issue is being pushed.

  • Dave2

    Martha,

    You’ve completely misunderstood what I wrote, I suppose because you’ve misunderstood what FW Ken wrote.

    I wasn’t defending the prohibitions. I was defending the acts being prohibited. For the record: sex with a menstruating woman, okay; child sacrifice to Moloch, not okay.

  • http://knapsack.blogspot.com Jeff (the mild-mannered one)

    Mollie, i think it’s clear — you owe an apology to junior high school students everywhere. They wouldn’t be that snidely snarky even about Britney Spears.

    Miller on religious conservatives is more like a fifth grade boy talking about girls: “Ewwwwwwwwww!!!!!!” Which is not junior high.

  • George Conger

    Mollie,

    You’ve written a wonderful piece here—-you have balanced reproof for a job badly done, with just the right level of outrage–not too much or too little. I enjoy reading you work—well done!

  • http://thoughtdreams.wordpress.com matt

    I hate to use labels, precisely because they become deluded and confusing, but libertarian is probably the best way to describe my political views, and since I haven’t seen what I take to be the true libertarian understanding of this issue, I’ll provide it here. At any rate, libertarian or not, this is my view of the issue:

    No person may force anyone else to live how they do not want. Stated another way, the one basic rule of society is that as long as your actions do not injure other people or their property, you are free to do what you want. Therefore, whether or not a Christian agrees with gay marriage, they have no right to deny others the opportunity to live how they want. They can try to tell them why they think it’s wrong, they don’t have to interact with them, but they cannot interfere with people who are living their lives peaceably.
    The problem is that the government has gotten all wrapped up in the institution of marriage, which complicates the issue. My position is that the government has no role in regulating or dispensing private religious ceremonies.

  • FW Ken

    No, Dave2, you misunderstood what I wrote, which was that the context of the prohibition on same-sex acts (Leviticus 18) is not dietary law, slavery, or menstruating women. It’s incest, bestiality, and child sacrifice. Again, I’m not the one arguing context, only the one insisting that it be argued honestly. Lisa Miller’s profound dishonesty about the bible and Christianity is offensive. Reject the bible, reject the Christian Faith, but at least tell the truth.

  • Libbie+

    Has anyone noticed the seeming leap Roger Ebert took this week with his review of the film “Milk”: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081124/REVIEWS/811240297
    I don’t read him regularly, so maybe I haven’t realized, but it seems as though all of a sudden (is it the election?) the media is acting as though the question about homosexuality has completely been decided. It’s a coup, but in truly Orwellian fashion!

  • SteveH

    Hi,

    An interesting debate. My question, if anyone cares to chime in is, in NT both Jesus and Paul state their position that heterosexual marriage is the preferred and natural state. However, where in the NT do we get from there to using the instruments of the state to proscribe non-conforming unions? I don’t believe render unto Caesar or Romans 13 applies here. Thoughts?

  • Daniel

    The more often I visit this site, the more convinced I am of one thing: It’s not so much journalists who don’t get religion (though many, many don’t) but it’s the religious who don’t understand journalism.

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  • Stephen A.

    So, Daniel, you don’t think deliberately misconstruing conservative Christians’ views of the Bible, and advocating one agenda over another while pretending it’s “news” isn’t NOT Getting Religion, and isn’t worthy of critique, or at least comment?

  • Linda Morton

    “You are an idiot”.

    Oh my, oh my, Molly. Is this what Jesus would have said?

  • http://www.herbely.com Herb

    I’m sorry that I’v already cancelled my subscription to Newsweek. I’d love to to it now.

  • Larry Craig

    From The Secret Gospel Of Mark (google it up):

    Jesus, going toward it
    02 rolled away the stone from the entrance to the tomb. And going in immediately where
    03 the young man was, he stretched out a hand and raised him up, holding
    04 his hand. Then, the man looked at him and loved him and
    05 he began to call him to his side, that he might be with him. And going from
    06 the tomb, they went to the house of the young man. For he was rich. And after
    07 six days, Jesus instructed him. And when it was late, the young man went
    08 to him. He had put a linen around his naked body, and
    09 he remained with him through that night. For Jesus taught him
    10 the mystery of the kingdom of God.

  • Jay

    This reminds me of tmatt’s comment (long ago and again and again) that religion is the only beat in journalism where lack of knowledge is considered a qualification.

    Of course, this is also evidence of the problem having all the nation’s major publications headquartered in NYC, Boston or Washington, where the reporters hang out with others who think the way they do and enforce a certain social and cultural orthodoxy.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Daniel wrote:

    “The more often I visit this site, the more convinced I am of one thing: It’s not so much journalists who don’t get religion (though many, many don’t) but it’s the religious who don’t understand journalism.”

    Why do you say that? What is your reasoning?

    Mollie

  • Dave2

    FW Ken wrote:

    No, Dave2, you misunderstood what I wrote, which was that the context of the prohibition on same-sex acts (Leviticus 18) is not dietary law, slavery, or menstruating women.

    FW Ken, you are quite wrong about the basic facts of Scripture. The verse about having sex with menstruating women is verse 19. The one about same-sex acts is verse 22.

    Also, you wrote this:

    Incest, bestiality, children sacrificed to idols and same-sex acts: which of these are OK today?

    The “these” refers to the acts being prohibited, not the prohibitions themselves. But Martha, in responding to me, interpreted “these” as referring to the prohibitions. Consequently, Martha misunderstood what you wrote.

    Sorry, but you are clearly wrong about plain matters of fact.

  • Chris Bolinger

    Dave2, chill, dude. Leviticus 18 means Leviticus Chapter 18.

    Anyone for a discussion of how the press reports on religion?

  • Dave2

    Chris Bolinger,

    No kidding. How does that affect my point?

  • Dave

    Brian L (#14), you pay attention to letters to the editor for the same reason you read the comments on GetReligion: to find out what people are thinking. I stand by my comment.

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  • FW Ken

    I stand corrected, Dave on the reference to Leviticus. I am glad to add menstrating women to the context. And I did miss Martha’s 39. However, reviewing the comments, it seems that 39 is an entirely reasonable reponse to your 38.

    Your 57 (and 38) remain incomprehensible to me, unless you are trying to argue the morality of certainly behaviors. If you are, have fun. Personally, I don’t argue same-sex issues from the bible, since it isn’t a text we have in common. But when people bring up the bible, accuracy (my own included) is a good thing.

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  • Dave2

    FW Ken,

    In 26, you asked the rhetorical question, “which of these are OK today?”. I wasn’t sure whether you meant morally okay or considered okay by society. But, whichever you meant, I took/take it your point was this: none of the prohibited acts in Leviticus 18 providing the context for 18:22 are okay.

    In 38, I responded by saying that sex with a menstruating woman is okay. It’s obviously morally okay and it’s also considered okay by society. So that’s a counterexample. It’s an act prohibited in Leviticus 18 that is perfectly okay.

    But in 39, Martha responded with a complete misinterpretation. She responded as if I said the prohibition on sex with a menstruating woman is okay. As if I thought that the prohibition on child sacrifice to Moloch was a bad idea, or that the prohibition on sex with animals was a bad idea, but that the prohibition on sex with a menstruating woman was just fine. This is, of course, a complete reversal of what I had said. She apparently thought your “these” referred to the prohibitions instead of the prohibited acts, this being the source of her confusion.

    This isn’t just much ado over nothing. Many condemn homosexuality as immoral with an appeal to Leviticus 18:22. But then they must either condemn sex with a menstruating woman as immoral, or else they must give a principled reason as to why 18:22 does and 18:19 does not embody a moral truth. The former is obviously absurd and the latter looks hopeless. Consequently, one cannot condemn homosexuality as immoral with an appeal to Leviticus 18:22.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Come on people. Keep focused on media coverage of religion.

    Take your religious arguments elsewhere. Many of these comments are also boring and overwritten.

    Keep it focused.

  • Dave2

    Mollie, surely it’s a little late in the day for that!

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  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2 Douglas LeBlanc

    Dear readers,

    This is a courtesy message to let you know we have to shut down comments — temporarily — this evening. Our new server has asked that we not post new items, or comments, as of 5 p.m. (EST). You should see a post about this within the next few hours.

    Our new server hopes to launch the crossover by 10 p.m. (EST). Once I see the site forwarding correctly to our new server, I’ll happily turn comments back on for this post.

    Please be patient with us.

  • Dave

    Mollie (#80), your core criticism of the Miller article was that it was based on an incorrect reading of scripture. That brings the question of what is the correct reading of scripture, into the journalistic discussion, unless you are setting up your reading of it as the only possible correct one. You opened the door.

    You opened another door by invoking natural law. I’m not objecting to that but, because you made your reading of it part of the foundation of your critique, it’s legitimate to discuss that, too.

    I haven’t indulged in either, because I regard the former as literature and mythologized history, and the latter as something like astrology for the educated, a pre-scientific body of thought without relevance to our age. But I would reserve the right to comment on either, in this thread, because of the opened doors.

    The guy who just quoted a slab of the bible was out of line.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Dave87:

    That is not her key criticism. Her main point is that the article only presents one side of the debate, assuming that the liberal interpretation is the only one possible or that the other side is, essentially, stupid or bigoted.

    There’s no journalism here, in other words. One side was represent in the essay as the only side.

  • Nate

    Marriage is about 2 people coming together. it IS about love.

    It is about an equal, loving, relationship. There are not set roles to play. The husband does not HAVE to sacrifice for the woman, and the wife does not HAVE to do all she can to please the husband.

    If marriage is not about a loving relationship, then it is nothing. It is about two people committing to each other for an infinite bond.

    The concept of marriage is a complete figment of society. I’m sorry, but anyone who really thinks that 2 people who have committed to a lifetime relationship, live their entire lives together, and have acted faithfully throughout have less right to be considered ‘married’ than do 2 people who have been ‘married’ and then divorces after 5 years is completely off kilter.

    Speaking of natural law – there are only a few things in life that are 100% natural, absolute and pure. Love is one. Probably because no one person can tell any other one person what it is exactly, or exactly how to get it. It is something you FEEL. Something you know, clearer than anything else, when you’ve found it.

    How can one person tell another person that marriage, which is based on love, cannot be had between any two people that are willing to commit to, love, honor, respect, and cherish the other?

    Gender has nothing to do with it.

  • michael the conservative

    What the Bible says about marriage is inconsistent. What it says about adultery and divorce is not. When the religious right pushes for a law banning divorce, I’ll listen and respect their efforts. Until then, I’ll simply note their hypocrisy and move on.

    BTW – regarding the word “libertarian”: I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • http://paganmonist.blogspot.com/ Copper Stewart

    “Natual Law” arguments are usually nothing more than projection of cultural bias, and usually don’t take into account the fact that homosexuality occurs in every mammalian species without exception, including pair-bonding in many species, and in this instance fail to consider the fact that the nuclear family–as opposed to extended family and tribal constructs–is a relatively new historical phenomenon. As referenced here, it also presumes that the primary telos of marriage is reproduction, which is patently absurd. Reduced, the argument is little more than a justification for state management of reproduction–a reduction that reveals the “natural law” as neither natural nor “law,” but rather nothing more than a mechanism of authoritarian control. No wonder textual religions–grounded as they are in ideologies of control–are its primary defenders.

    Queer people should be abandoning the false and regressive religions that substitute authority and text for authentic experience. Churches opposed to the expansion of marriage aren’t places to find God–merely places to perform the blighted scripts of the past.

  • Brad

    matt in comment #60 makes a valid point.

    The problem is that the government has gotten all wrapped up in the institution of marriage, which complicates the issue. My position is that the government has no role in regulating or dispensing private religious ceremonies.

    The best solution would be to eliminate government regulated marriages and replace them with some sort of standard civil contract. (That is to say, “civil union”.)

    This would leave those who have no interest in religion the ability to get the legal benefits of civil unions without endangering any person’s or group’s ability to freely exercise their religious beliefs.

    ===

    And on the article, the quoted first paragraph is all I needed to read to conclude that Mollie’s criticism was warranted.

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  • Stephen A.

    Daniel, way back on post 49, says..

    Are you saying this issue is so clearly resolved in favor of one side that Newsweek should not report on the competing perspective? (Haven’t people on this site criticized the mainstream media for doing the same on the issue of evolution?) Journalistically — not theologically — what issues should Newsweek use when writing about this topic when there are (at minimum) two points of view?

    The problem in THIS case is that there was no “journalism” just bald-faced shilling for one side, using snark, misrepresenting religious views, and (arguably) twisting the Bible without any regard for context for the Laws cited and their differing weights and importances.

    “Two sides” would have been great, but this was, in fact, an essay and advocacy piece, and Newsweek rarely if ever gives the opposing side any ink.

    Brad (92) argues:

    The best solution would be to eliminate government regulated marriages and replace them with some sort of standard civil contract. (That is to say, “civil union”.)

    This would leave those who have no interest in religion the ability to get the legal benefits of civil unions without endangering any person’s or group’s ability to freely exercise their religious beliefs.

    The problem with this libertarian-like solution is that, deep down, this is a social issue (and a secular one) as much as a religious issue, and the moral conflicts still remain, even if you take gov’t out of the picture.

    Saying, in effect, “Let’s just give everyone an equal kind of marriage, sanctioned by the state, but not call it that” just equalizes what many believe, morally, is NOT equal (i.e. gay sexual relationships) and by doing so, one side loses – the side that says nothing should be equal o marriage. It also effectively gives gov’t sanction to gay unions, which is the entire core argument against them being made by gay marriage opponents.

    Whom, also, could argue that yes, these unions in fact would have indeed “destroyed marriage” if they are taken completely out of the gov’t realm – where, some would argue, it clearly DOES belong, as a matter of social policy.

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  • Helios

    It is interesting, and quite telling, to me that when a person such as Ms. Miller decides to interpret scripture, it’s seen as a blasphemous inaccuracy. Yet when so-called “religious” people, and by “religious” I’m referring mostly to conservative Christians, decide to interpret scripture it is completely accurate and not only that, somehow revelatory.

    What is completely ambiguous becomes “cut and dry” only when it says something you want it to say.

    Why not just be honest about what you really feel: homosexuals make you uncomfortable and you would rather hide behind your religion than face your fear.

    It’s certainly okay for a Christian to eat shellfish, no problem there, shellfish aren’t scary (unless you have a food allergy…) But bring gays into the mix and it’s, WAAAAIIT a minute, look right here in Leviticus.. Utter hypocrisy.

    If you wonder why people get angry with you when you start this “the bible says” business, it’s exactly this: you have an uncanny knack for finding things in the bible that match your own personal prejudices while ignoring anything that doesn’t please you.

    And as far as “natural law” goes, biology says nothing about homosexuality being either right or wrong, because biology says NOTHING about morality. There is nothing inherently natural or unnatural about morality. It is a purely human invention. Which doesn’t mean morality should be thrown out the window. It simply we don’t need religion to have it. Especially not yours.

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  • Dave2

    Stephen A.,

    Even if the government treats two things equally, it simply does not follow that the government is saying they are equally valuable. More likely, the government is remaining silent about the relative value of the two things.

    Here’s an example that illustrates the point: the government treats a marriage between two 40-year olds the same as a marriage between an 80-year old and a 20-year old. Most of us find the latter kind of marriage unsettling and inadvisable, but the government doesn’t get involved.

    There are countless other examples.

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  • j. christian

    it also presumes that the primary telos of marriage is reproduction, which is patently absurd.

    That presumption is not patently absurd, just incomplete. You left off the raising of the offspring part. Reproducing takes an instant; raising children takes years. Marriage has something to do with that.

    Queer people should be abandoning the false and regressive religions that substitute authority and text for authentic experience.

    Unless, of course, those queer people have found authentic experience through the authority of church and scripture, in which case they probably don’t see it as false and regressive, but true and uplifting.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Helios,

    The GetReligion position is that no journalist should be interpreting Scripture. That’s not their job. Their job is to report news. In this case, interviewing different folks about their views would have been a good idea. And newsy, too!

  • Kathy

    The United States government should not be interferring with the personal lives of its citizens. Marriage, as I understand it, is a God-scanctioned union of a man and a woman. However, not all men and women are God fearing, therefore this logic (truth to many) cannot be applied in one broad stroke. Many heterosexual married couples do not subscribe to any faith. Yet they are married. Religion is irrelevant in regards to the rights of citizens to lead private lives free from excessive government, short of protection from foreign enemies & and the basics.

    Should homosexual individuals choose to enter in to a marriage contract, I do not care. If they wish to reap the healthcare benefits and access to mutual property that those hetersexual married couples enjoy, by all means- I don’t care.

    But don’t force a vote. I don’t want to vote on this, because I will vote based on my reality and my belief. By forcing others to have a stake in the future of a homosexual’s private life, the GLBT community openly invites anti-gay individuals to comment on how a private citizen conducts his/her life. I don’t force others to go to church; I don’t talk about my sex life. Why should this be any different? Stop seeking the approval of those that don’t believe the way you do. Live your lives- stop asking for the country-at-large to nod its head in approval and say good job.

  • Jay

    The passages in the Bible were written by men of power, not by GOD. These men were prejudice towards women, homosexuals, and all others unlike them. How can you believe this line that you wrote:
    “We turn to it constantly to be reminded that the husband is to sacrifice for the wife and the wife is to respect the husband (these things don’t come naturally to either my husband or myself).” Your husband does not own you, he should respect you as well.
    Most Christian religions do not allow women to be religious leaders. Men wrote the Bible, and men have defined most of our religious rules and customs. Just because they were in power and created these rules long ago, doesn’t mean they were right. We need to update our religious customs and change the discriminatory rules against women and homosexuals. We should ALL be treated EQUALLY.

  • Stephen A.

    Dave2: I guess the entire point of whether the government should view all marriage pairings that humans can dream up as advisable and pleasant is the core of the argument. That’s the libertine/libertarian position, in which government does not make ANY social policies. That, however, isn’t how governments have ever acted.

    The question the media should be discussing is whether it SHOULD act that way, and exploring what would happen if it did – from a religious as well as a purely secular point of view. THAT would truly be a public service by the media.

    Granted, it would truly be a novel experiment to try such a thing, but I hope those who take that view don’t also have a problem with people pointing out that this puts polygamy and even more extreme situations than you cite – say, 16-year-olds marrying 65-year-olds – on the table, too, since all rules would simply no longer apply.

    Usually gay marriage proponents are quoted by media as saying “no” to further expansions of marriage rights, and that such examples are “ludicrous” and “tactics” by G.M. opponents. Kind of bigoted of them, don’t you think? Maybe Lisa Miller would write a nasty opinion piece about them, too.

  • Stephen A.

    Kathy (#106 above,) in a society in which more than two individuals live, there will ALWAYS be rules. How that society is organized determines who makes the rules: a king or dictator, the people directly, or an elected legislative body.

    The Utopian libertarian philosophical belief I’m hearing here in these posts – that all people are utterly detached from one another and that their behaviors and life choices have absolutely no affect on one another – is utterly untenable in societies and is a fantasy divorced from reality. To start there is to wish for something that never was and never will be. It’s also slightly immature and always comes across as a philosophy that is half-baked and not quite “done” as a thought process, since reality all around us debunks it rather thoroughly.

    ALL votes affect someone else. That’s the nature of voting. Unless you’re moving to a deserted island and will be the only one voting, my vote will continue to affect how you conduct your life, and yours affects the way I will conduct mine. That’s life, and that’s living in a Society.

    The question now is: What will be the nature of that Society? Media must stop taking sides, demonizing, and lecturing, and start educating and thinking these issues through in a serious way, so we can all make fully informed decisions.

    And maybe if they committed themselves to this, we’d actually start buying their papers and magazines again.

  • Daniel

    Mollie, this is what I meant:

    The article is intended to be a journalistic essay of the kind you find in many news magazines. Frankly, I think Lisa Miller should have done additional reporting before publishing, but that’s me. I have no qualms with her subject.

    Specifically, Miller wrote a journalistic essay taking issue with a piece of conventional wisdom — that the biblical basis against same-sex marriage is clear-cut. That’s a perfectly legitimate topic to pursue in a news magazine, given the prominence of the issue.

    (In truth, Miller’s piece reads more like something you would find in The Atlantic than a traditional Newsweek article, but that’s a separate point.)

    Many of those posting here are attacking the article, saying it is poor journalism, because it doesn’t agree with their theology or interpretation of scripture. Nearly every month, Harper’s, The Atlantic and even Newsweek publish reported essays with conclusions that I vigorously disagree with. That doesn’t mean the stories are bad journalism.

    Overall, this story doesn’t fit the template of your blog. Newsweek editor John Meacham clearly “got religion.” In his accompanying article, he predicted how Christian conservatives would react and over-react — like members of an aggrieved special interest.

    Mollie, I am interested in knowing if you think Miller could have written an acceptable article, dealing with all the issues you raised, that still reached the same conclusion. Is that possible, in your mind?

  • http://www.colombianito2.blogspot.com Sergio Méndez

    Well, looks like “getreligion”, doesn´t get philosophy. Couriously. Just to start thinking that natural law has anything to do with “what society defines…” strikes me at odd…with the core idea of natural law (that rights are inherent to the world and persons, not some social fabrication). That catholics have twisted natural law, and greek taught in general to pretend that the union of a man and a woman is only to “produce babies”, hardly means the argument is sound or even coherent with natural law.

  • http://www.colombianito2.blogspot.com Sergio Méndez

    “But as a libertarian, I see an exceedingly small role — in terms of size and scope — for the state. I mean, I don’t believe in public roads or public schools (Hi, Public School Teacher Mom!) or the state deciding which families should get government benefits and which shouldn’t.”

    And why you seem to support the conservative position that says heterosexual nuclear family should recieve the priviledges it recieves from the state?

  • Dale

    Sergio Mendez wrote:

    Well, looks like “getreligion”, doesn´t get philosophy.

    Huh? The original post wasn’t making a philosophical argument, it was making a journalistic one. If a news magazine is going to address the conflict over same-sex marriage, it should try to present the major viewpoints fairly. Mollie wasn’t arguing about Natural Law theory, she was pointing out that it exists, and that it’s a tradition of long standing in both Catholic and Protestant communities that object to same-sex marriage. Some of the commenters may know little about Natural Law, but they’re commenters, not GetReligion.

    That catholics have twisted natural law, and greek taught in general to pretend that the union of a man and a woman is only to “produce babies”, hardly means the argument is sound or even coherent with natural law.

    There are a lot of Catholics who would disagree with your assertion that they’ve “twisted natural law,” and your caricature of Catholic teaching about sexuality. If the Newsweek article presented a Catholic or Protestant argument about same-sex marriage drawing from Natural Law (which it didn’t, and that’s part of Mollie’s point), then maybe the article could include critiques of that argument. To leave Natural Law completely out of the article is odd, unless the article is meant as propaganda, not news. Again, that’s Mollie’s point.

  • http://www.colombianito2.blogspot.com Sergio Méndez

    Dale:

    Well, first, the only charicature I see here of “natural law” with regard to marriage is the one made in the blog entry. I will say that the catholic understanding of natural law (which, yes, I find twisted) will point more to the way male and female bodies were created and the purpose their sexual union in sexuality means. But that does not necesarely has to do with reproduction, since the catholic church has not yet frobidden non fertil couples from marying.

    But then, the point is if you are so interested on the article including natural law as part of the discusion, thats fine with me. But I think that hardly makes your own presentation of natural inmune to criticism (either cause it is a wrong characterization of catholic understanding of natural law or cause it actually ignores that there ARE natural law arguments in favor of gay marriage and that catholics hardly have the monopoly on using natural law).

  • http://thoughtdreams.wordpress.com matt

    Stephen A. writes:

    I guess the entire point of whether the government should view all marriage pairings that humans can dream up as advisable and pleasant is the core of the argument. That’s the libertine/libertarian position, in which government does not make ANY social policies. That, however, isn’t how governments have ever acted.

    The Utopian libertarian philosophical belief I’m hearing here in these posts – that all people are utterly detached from one another and that their behaviors and life choices have absolutely no affect on one another – is utterly untenable in societies and is a fantasy divorced from reality. To start there is to wish for something that never was and never will be. It’s also slightly immature and always comes across as a philosophy that is half-baked and not quite “done” as a thought process, since reality all around us debunks it rather thoroughly.

    ALL votes affect someone else. That’s the nature of voting. Unless you’re moving to a deserted island and will be the only one voting, my vote will continue to affect how you conduct your life, and yours affects the way I will conduct mine. That’s life, and that’s living in a Society.

    So can you tell me what gives you the special right to decide whether two consenting adults should be allowed to live together and do whatever else marriage entails? Perhaps I disapprove of your living arrangement. Should marriages like yours be on the ballot? Should the people at large be voting on what religions are practiced as well? It seems an inherent position of Christianity that practicing non-Christian religions (and sometimes the wrong denominations of Christianity) is immoral. Should we have a vote on what religions are allowed? Or should we just allow people the freedom to choose for themselves?

    Dismissing the “libertarian” position as leading to the destruction of society is shallow and wrong. To the contrary, I find that government intervention in questions like this is more the insidious and divisive path. When a country attempts to choose en masse what “social policies” will be enacted, the debate over these things instantly becomes much more fierce. It is clear why: all of a sudden people’s human rights are up for referendum.

    To address your other points, no, I do not hold the delusion to think that there has ever been a country with a government that truly respects all these rights. But there’s a difference between what is and what ought to be. I’m arguing what there ought to be.
    I also do not think that people are independent and isolated from one another, and that one person’s life decision has no effect on others, and moreover would not want to live in a society where this was so. But I cannot see what gives you the privilege to make life decisions for anyone but yourself. If someone else makes a life decision you disapprove of, you just have to find a way to co-exist. This is still true in your world of government-run society, but in my ideal no one would use the government to “legally” deny some people of their human rights.

  • http://thoughtdreams.wordpress.com matt

    And for the record, I think the Newsweek article was pathetic as well. The writer goes to (literally) incredible efforts to ignore parts of the New Testament addressing homosexuality and immorality. She mentions Paul’s condemnation of homesexuality among other things, but does not actually provide the text, or even give the verse, probably because it would be so debilitating to her argument. As Mollie gives the passage, here is Romans 1:26-7:

    For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, 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 their own persons the due penalty for their error.

    Lisa Miller’s Bible must have had this verse missing. She, and many others, dismiss even clearer verses such as Leviticus 18:22 (“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination.”) by saying times have changed, it’s a rule in a book full of ridiculous rules nobody observes anymore, etc. But if you’re going to start picking which parts of the Bible still apply, why even use it at all?

    Suffice it to say, though I support the right of gays to marry, I was not impressed with Newsweek’s little crusade for justice.

  • FW Ken

    Matt,

    So can you tell me what gives you the special right to decide whether two consenting adults should be allowed to live together and do whatever else marriage entails?

    No one is saying you can’t live together. You are free to make whatever private arrangements you wish for your life, as I am. Marriage is a public act in which the couple covenants together within the community, assumes certain obligations, and receives certain benefits.

    I respect your willingness to look at the bible honestly. Your points were made somewhere up in the swamp of this thread, and it’s a major complaint against Miller’s work.

    But if you’re going to start picking which parts of the Bible still apply, why even use it at all?

    Ah, that’s the question, about which libraries have been written. :-)

    Best wishes.

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  • Stephen A.

    So can you tell me what gives you the special right to decide whether two consenting adults should be allowed to live together and do whatever else marriage entails? Perhaps I disapprove of your living arrangement. Should marriages like yours be on the ballot? Should the people at large be voting on what religions are practiced as well?

    It’s a logical fallacy, and of course absurd, to say that if ONE social policy is on the ballot ALL things (like religion) should be on the ballot, too. So of course I’m not saying that.

    BTW, what gives you the right to say THREE consenting adults can’t marry? That’s not illogical, but a logical extension of the argument against any government involvement in marriages, and I bet that’s a “special right” you’re withholding for yourself. And I say: you, and I, have every right to restrict that kind of marriage, just as we have the right to forbid religious practices such as animal slaughter.

    I also do not think that people are independent and isolated from one another, and that one person’s life decision has no effect on others, and moreover would not want to live in a society where this was so. But I cannot see what gives you the privilege to make life decisions for anyone but yourself.

    You can’t have it both ways. Either we’re interdependent on one another, or not. What you’ve said – that we’re interdependent and make decisions that effect one another, but that we are also totally free from the constraints of others’ decisions – is nonsensical.

    That we are utterly free from any constraints society may impose upon us is a fantasy, even if that’s what you fervently wish to be true of the world.

    Let me place a footnote here and say that, if society decides that gay marriages are harmless and actually beneficial, I could live with that, and am not knee-jerkingly against exploring the idea.

    I’m just not hearing those rational arguments from the gay marriage supporters. I’m only hearing “you’re not the bossa me” nonsense that, as noted, leads to an unraveling of society if taken to its logical conclusion.

  • http://www.colombianito2.blogspot.com Sergio Méndez

    Stephan A:

    First, you didn’t answer the question that was posed to you: what gives you the right to deny two consenting adults who want to marry their wish? Instead, you took on evasives (and let me be clear, there is no right to deny 3 consenting adults from marrying anyways. Who said polygamy should be illegal?) You complain that you are “not hearing rational arguments from gay marriage supportesr” yet you still have failed to produce a single argument against gay marriage. So much for your demands.

  • http://thoughtdreams.wordpress.com matt

    Before I get to a full-fledged response (I’ve been writing a paper continuously over the past 24 hours which is due later today), I ask Stephen A. if he does not see any absurdity in claiming that freedom of religion ought to be allowed without question, while issues like gay marriage, which is a subset of freedom of religion, should be voted on?

    You can’t have it both ways. Either you’re for free religious practice or you’re not.

  • Stephen A.

    Sergio, I answered the question: society decides, and always has, what the standards are for marriage. Just like it decides what the standards are for alcohol consumption, when one can drive and whether I can open a 24/7 convenience market in my quiet neighborhood or not.

    We’re not totally free to do as we please, because society has standards. Sorry to wake people up to that cold reality, but it’s a fact.

    One side in this national discussion often simply throws out the lines “You’re bigots” “you’re mean” and just “it oughta be, ’cause we say so” but those aren’t arguments. They’re attacks, or at best, assertions.

    I’m glad that you, at least, are consistent in saying that if we destroy the notion of civil marriage, then ANYONE can marry in any number, without restriction. I simply don’t want to live in such a world, so I’m going to vote “no” on that concept.

  • Stephen A.

    Matt, more flaws in reasoning. Gay marriage is only a partial subset of religion. It’s a moral and (more broadly) a social and civil/secular issue.

    Frankly, I’m all in favor of gay marriages. I don’t care if a denomination holds gay ceremonies. And good for gays if they want to live together. As noted by someone above, though, whether society recognizes gay sexual unions as “equal” to heterosexual unions, and all the legal and financial benefits that comes from such a union, is a question FOR SOCIETY TO DETERMINE.

    If society determines that it’s preferable to all ALL people to marry in ALL combinations (or extends it to SOME but not to others) then that’s entirely legitimate.

    And you misstate things. I didn’t say religion should be allowed without restriction. Read it again. There is nothing anyone can mention that is allowed without ANY restriction.

  • Stephen A.

    To clarify my statement in poast #124, I support gay WEDDINGS (though may be convinced to support marriages, too, with the right arguments.)

    Speaking of the right arguments..

    I want to post this excellent, classy and intelligent commentary by the always classy and intelligent Camille Paglia in Salon. It’s the opposite of the rage-filled, snarky drivel Lisa Miller created for Newsweek. And while she self-identifies here as an atheist (it’s well known) one wouldn’t have guessed it from her commentary, and that used to be seen as a positive for journalism.

    After California voters adopted Proposition 8, which amended the state Constitution to prohibit gay marriage, gay activists have launched a program of open confrontation with and intimidation of religious believers, mainly Mormons. I thought we’d gotten over the adolescent tantrum phase of gay activism, typified by ACT UP’s 1989 invasion of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where the communion host was thrown on the floor. Want to cause a nice long backlash to gay rights? That’s the way to do it.

    I may be an atheist, but I respect religion and certainly find it far more philosophically expansive and culturally sustaining than the me-me-me sense of foot-stamping entitlement projected by too many gay activists in the unlamented past. My position has always been (as in “No Law in the Arena” in my 1994 book, “Vamps & Tramps”) that government should get out of the marriage business. Marriage is a religious concept that should be defined and administered only by churches. The government, a secular entity, must institute and guarantee civil unions, open to both straight and gay couples and conferring full legal rights and benefits. Liberal heterosexuals who profess support for gay rights should be urged to publicly shun marriage and join gays in the civil union movement.

    In their displeasure at the California vote, gay activists have fomented animosity among African-Americans who voted for Proposition 8 and who reject any equivalence between racism and homophobia. Do gays really want to split the Democratic coalition? I completely agree with a hard-hitting piece by the British gay activist Mark Simpson (which was forwarded to me by Glenn Belverio), “Let’s Be Civil: Marriage Isn’t the End of the Rainbow.” Simpson, who has been called “a skinhead Oscar Wilde,” is famous among other things for a riveting 2002 Salon article that put the term “metrosexual” into world circulation. I appreciate Simpson’s candor about how marriage is a very poor fit with the actual open lifestyle of so many gay men, which is far more radical. Marriage may be desirable for some gay men and women, but at what cost? Activists should have focused instead on removing all impediments to equality in civil unions — such as the unjust denial of Social Security benefits to the surviving partner in gay relationships.

    While I disagree with some of her views here (like abolition of civil marriage) her reasonableness and ability to see both sides of the issue are more likely to sway people who think differently on the issue.

    This, I submit, is more “newsy” than Miller’s hateful rant, which pretended to be news.

  • Steve Weatherbe

    I’m a journalist myself, and I would say that Miller’s piece in Newsweek is certainly within the bounds of journalism. But it belongs in a column, with a nice picture of the writer, and set apart in stylistic ways from the main content of the journal, which in Newsweek’s case, ought to be news.
    There is a hybrid, popularized by Time Magazine, which they call an essay. It mixes commentary seamlessly with news. But the news component behaves like conventional news coverage: fair and balanced treatment of all sides of the issue.
    If Miller had simply been given a column, and poured out her hackneyed attack inside it, people would still be upset, but not at a distortion or abuse of a journalistic genre. By presenting it as a cover story, Newsweek is saying: this is the truth. And it just isn’t.
    It reminds me of Jon Stewart’s comment on religion in his book America, about more people being killed in the name of religion (or was it in the name of Jesus Christ) than in all the wars of history. He caps this (and nothing else in his book) with “It’s a fact.” But it just isn’t.

  • http://n/a alicia p

    I can’t get over that article. It’s just so hurtful…I can’t believe that God’s word would be mutilated like that. We should pray for the author Lisa Miller, especially if she simply does not understand scripture. I do not like what she has done at all, and I do not agree with her opinion whatsoever, but doesn’t Christ say to pray for those who hate us/those who persecute us/those who do not love us?

  • http://www.colombianito2.blogspot.com Sergio Méndez

    Stephen:

    You say:

    “Frankly, I’m all in favor of gay marriages. I don’t care if a denomination holds gay ceremonies. And good for gays if they want to live together. As noted by someone above, though, whether society recognizes gay sexual unions as “equal” to heterosexual unions, and all the legal and financial benefits that comes from such a union, is a question FOR SOCIETY TO DETERMINE.”

    Well, this were you go dead wrong. You are actually saying that “society” has the right to gran PRIVILEDGES to some form of unions over others, but you are not giving any justification for what is some balatan form of discrimination. You could have argued the same thing about inter racial marriage 40 years ago (most people in many southern states were against inter racial marriages), and you will be still death wrong.

  • http://www.colombianito2.blogspot.com Sergio Méndez

    Stepehen:

    “Sergio, I answered the question: society decides, and always has, what the standards are for marriage. Just like it decides what the standards are for alcohol consumption, when one can drive and whether I can open a 24/7 convenience market in my quiet neighborhood or not.

    We’re not totally free to do as we please, because society has standards. Sorry to wake people up to that cold reality, but it’s a fact.”

    How funny…this kind of position seems exactly in odds with natural law arguments that this whole entry was trying to highlight as the one of the main argument AGAINST gay marriage. Now people don´t have “inalienable rights”, now moral laws are not eternal and unchanging…now it depends on “what society says”. Good old fashioned positive law you people criticize (rightly by the way) on liberals. Go figure.

  • Athelstane

    Hello Michael the Conservative,

    “When the religious right pushes for a law banning divorce, I’ll listen and respect their efforts. Until then, I’ll simply note their hypocrisy and move on.”

    The catholic Church is opposed to divorce, and actively opposed the passage of no-fault divorce laws. It also has supported the passage of covenant marriage statutes, such as that now existing in Louisiana.

    If there’s any hypocrisy on our end, it might be in the application (not principle, but application)in some dioceses in recent years of annulment grants. But that’s a different story.

    Alas that Ms. Miller never takes the time to even bother engaging the Catholic position on marriage (or divorce), or for that matter that of any other traditional Christian church or denomination. And this, as Mollie notes, is the real failure of her article as a piece of news analysis, even one with an opinion component.

  • Stephen A.

    Sergio, I am indeed saying society has a right to grant privileges. It always has, throughout history, and is normative.

    To suggest that society has no right to define its own standards of conduct is utterly new in human history, and is in fact a Utopian pipe dream.

    As for Natural Law, I wasn’t the one making that argument. But for the record, there is no God-given right to a civil marriage that I’m aware of.

    And when someone raises the race-mixing issue in connection with same-sex marriage, they lose the argument automatically.

    Back onto the topic of this post, I totally agree with Steve Weatherbe in post 126, when he says:

    Miller’s piece in Newsweek is certainly within the bounds of journalism. But it belongs in a column, with a nice picture of the writer, and set apart in stylistic ways from the main content of the journal, which in Newsweek’s case, ought to be news.

    Commentary is fine (and will be judged according to its fairness and/or bias) but it should be clearly separated from the actual NEWS. If a publication is overwhelmed with unbalanced commentary, much of it masquerading as news, then there’s a problem, and I think that’s the case with Newsweek.

  • http://www.colombianito2.blogspot.com Sergio Méndez

    Stephan:

    You don´t seem to understand the point. The point is not if society has actually defined what rights people have, but if rights actually come from society. The first one is a hsitoric, factual issue. The second is a moral, normative question. But if you actually think it is society who defines rights, then you are a positivist, not a natural law theorist. Very liberal of you.

    On the other side, you claim anybody who uses the interratial marriage example loses argument automatically. Sorry, I do not accept your contention. Specially cause you fail to see that the same twisted logic operates in both cases (that the “mayority of society” denied the right of tow consenting adults to form a union called “marriage”). In other words, you don´t have a serious argument against gay marriage, just an appeal to numbers, a very common logical fallacy.

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  • Stephen A.

    Sergio, have mercy on that dead horse you’re beating. I do believe that rights come from God. God, however, does not write legislation, statutes or zoning regulations. Nor does God define civil marriage, or the benefits thereof. More to the point, you’re mixing a general philosophical principle with the nitty-gritty of public policy and how it manifests itself in daily lives.

    Recognizing the difference isn’t me being “liberal” (LOL!) It’s my recognizing that philosophy has to be translated into daily practice. And, oh yeah, it has to be properly applied, and your interpretation isn’t.

    Those pushing the idea that denying two men or two women the right to civil marriage is in ANY WAY similar to the old laws against mixed race marriages – when two gays enjoy every other right in society and are free to live together, sleep together and even live “out of the closet” with barely an eyebrow raised in today’s society (Ellen?) – is making a ludicrous and indefensible argument.

    Give it up. And start making the case based on some other basis than “everyone who opposes it is a bigot.” Because that’s false, insulting and a dead-end. See Prop. 8 results for evidence of that approach.

  • http://www.colombianito2.blogspot.com Sergio Méndez

    Stephan:

    If you actually believe that rights come from God, then laws made by human do not apply when conflicting with such rights. If it was the case that God had given gays the right to marry, who are you or legislation to argue against those?

    My point is not that you are a liberal, is that you are arguing like one, which seems puzzling

    Finally, concerning interracial marriage, simply calling it “loudicrous” just because, well, you say so, doesn´t refute the argument. You haven´t adressed the reasons I stated to compare both cases, nor given any other than the populist mantra to support your assersion. So, give take your own advise: give it up.

  • mbrbelt

    I have been reading through this and find it very confusing. I am a gay man, a Christian, and have been in a monogomous relationship for 22 years. I keep coming back to the thought that many of you just don’t know us, except in stereotypical distortion. I went to Robert Gagnon’s essay referenced in post #118.

    One of his two premisis is “even more importantly, homosexual unions are not wrong primarily because of their disproportionately high incidence of promiscuity (especially among males.” Where did this “fact” come from?

    In a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, in a study of nearly 5000 men, 10% of MARRIED men have had sex with a man in the last year, and 10% of heterosexually identified men are having sex ONLY with men. None of these men call themselves “gay.” In fact, it would appear from this study that more heterosexual men are having sex with other men than gay men are!

    If promiscuity is a problem, it isn’t a “gay” problem, it is a human problem.

    The hatred I feel directed at me from many of these posts is incredible, and yet none of you know who I really am. Perhaps your time reading the Bible might be better focused on reading about love and forgiveness than in how to pass judgement on others.

    And I can’t think of one traditional family which has in any way be at risk because of my sexual orientation

  • Stephen A.

    Sergio: I’m just posting here to note that I did not say interracial marriage was “ludicrous.” I said your comparison of it with gay marriage in this debate was.

    For someone like me, who is halfway to your position on gay marriage, and has said he is open to it if he hears logical and non-attacking arguments that make the case, you sure are alienating. And that’s the problem with this approach.

    mbrbelt: Why is the incidence of promiscuity immaterial to this discussion? Check out Camille Paglia’s comment (post 125) about how “marriage is a very poor fit with the actual open lifestyle of so many gay men.” She’s no bigoted Right-Winger.

    I’m sure this aspect has been totally ignored by the media, who fear the violent backlash of the gay extremists, but it’s a valid point, and a fact, that many gay men aren’t lucky enough to be in such a stable relationship as you are, nor do they desire it.

    The assertion, based on one study, that 10% of straight men are secretly “on the down-low” is hard to swallow.

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  • mbrbelt

    I don’t really like the phrase “down low,” and it IS hard to swallow that 10% of married men are having sex with other men, but if you look at the numbers of men who are arrested for “indecency,” in most cases they are married men, although it’s usually called “gay” sex in the media.

    You are willing to accept Ms. Paglia’s assertion with no reference, but doubt a well documented study in a respected and juried medical journal? Perhaps you’re searching only for evidence which confirms what you already believe. I did not refer to her, or anyone else, as a bigotted right winger, although you implied that I did.

    I have lots of good gay friends and none that I know are in open relationships, certainly no more than my heterosexual friends, and the length of my relationship is not unsual in experience.

    I think you would find that most of our lives are remarkably similar to the ones which are being described, and if you would get to know us some of those myths would be erased.

    Personally, I do not believe that promiscuity is more frequent in the gay community than it is in the heterosexual community, but in the heterosexual community it is just “boys will be boys.” We have a tendency to think in binary terms: gay/straight, good/evil. While it certainly is true that some gay men are promiscuous, but one size does not fit all.

  • Noah

    Have fun in your ignorance, and welcome to the twenty-first century, Mollie.

    Ms. Miller gets the cover story in Newsweek because she is the magazine’s religion editor. If I were you, I would choose my battles when it comes to arguing with a centrist source about fundamentalism.

    Congratulations on your traditional marriage (each to their own, I will respect that) but your beliefs about what others can and can’t do to experience marital bliss is, quite frankly, not up to you.

    Oh, and did anyone mention that the Bible should not have any play in government anyway? Church and state are separated in this country, are they not?

  • http://returntorome.com Francis Beckwith

    “Have fun in your ignorance, and welcome to the twenty-first century, Mollie.”

    Why is chronology important? If it were the late 1930s Germany, would you tell Bonhoffer, “Have fun in your ignorance, and welcome to the 1930s, Dietrich.”

    Time is not an argument.

  • http://www.colombianito2.blogspot.com Sergio Méndez

    Stephen:

    Sorry I didn´t myself clear in my last comment. I mean that you simply calling ludicrous THE COMPARISON doesn´t make it so. And you haven´t given any answer or argument to consider the comparison ludicrous. Now, concerning the issue of gay marriage, I think it is the burden of proof of those who oppose it to give arguments against it. I haven´t seen the first one that resembles a rational one. As wrong as conservatives are in social issues, gay marriage is particulary absurd position to hold for them.

  • http://returntorome.com Francis Beckwith

    Sergio:

    Why do you think the opponents of gay marriage have the burden of proof? Don’t you think the innovators seeking to redefine this institution by judicial fiat have the burden? If not, does that mean that the next innovator who comes along also does not have the burden of proof? For example, suppose someone comes along in five years and claims that same-sex polygamy between siblings ought to be recognized by law. Who has the burden, the innovator or its opponents?

  • mbrbelt

    Are you putting gay marriage in the same category as gay multiple-partnered incest? Oh, and also incapable of fidelity. My partner will be soooooooooooo disappointed when I get home and tell him I want to have sex with his brother too, unless of course I find someone to have sex with before get home.

  • FW Ken

    Finally, concerning interracial marriage, simply calling it “loudicrous” just because, well, you say so, doesn´t refute the argument

    What refutes the argument is that sexual preference is in a category different than race. There is no respectable scientific evidence to equate the two. Even if one is “born gay”, so what? There are many forms of birth defects.

  • http://returntorome.com Francis Beckwith

    “Are you putting gay marriage in the same category as gay multiple-partnered incest? Oh, and also incapable of fidelity. My partner will be soooooooooooo disappointed when I get home and tell him I want to have sex with his brother too, unless of course I find someone to have sex with before get home.”

    No, I’m not. I’m asking a rational question about the conceptual coherence of the position you are defending. That’s what adults sometimes do who disagree with each other on issues having to do with deep questions of human nature. They don’t emote, distract, or appeal to personal offense.

    Remember, the sort of humor (or attempt thereof) that you are offering here was precisely the sort offered about homosexuality in the 1950s. Two men or two women marrying was part of Catskill burlesque cross-dress comedy and not taken seriously.

    Here’s the question: on what grounds could you exclude gay-multiple-partnered incest marriage? The problem is not mine; it is yours. I’m just taking your principles and cashing them out. If you think I’m mistaken, please explain with real reasons.

    Don’t forget the script: We’re supposed to be irrational bigots, and you’re supposed be enlightened, educated, and sophisticated. So, you can’t appeal to your desires, your wants, financial benefits, hospital visits, etc., none of which has anything to do with marriage per se.

    So, perhaps what you ridicule today will become a serious idea in the future.

  • http://returntorome.com Francis Beckwith

    “What refutes the argument is that sexual preference is in a category different than race. There is no respectable scientific evidence to equate the two.”

    Here’s a better argument. There is no such thing as a bad race. But there are such things as bad consensual sex acts, e.g., adultery, incest, bestiality, etc. Even ardent racists did not believe that it was immoral to be black. They just thought blacks were inferior, which is to be sure a wicked view, but not a moral judgment. On the other hand, sex acts can be immoral or moral, even if we disagree about the quality of those acts. Swingers may believe that consensual adultery is morally benign, but it would seem strange to say that those that think that swinging is immoral are “bigots” or “irrational.” I can see why some people believe that homosexuality is morally benign. But I cannot see how one can move from that view to the judgment that those that disagree with that view are irrational bigots. That’s just bombastic rhetoric intended to intimidate dissenters. But the SSM movement has no choice. For if they concede even a little to their opponents–if they confess that there are many fine, thoughtful, and reasonable people who think that homosexuality is immoral and they do so based on careful deliberation and sincere devotion to the truth–the entire narrative of the past four decades comes crashing down. For that narrative requires that critics of homosexual practice are irrational hateful bigots. Sadly, this is the uncivil card that the gay rights movement thinks it must play. They may very well win with it. But the society that results will not be more tolerant or rational. It will be one that teaches its citizens that bullying, rather than reasoning, is the way you achieve political and cultural success. It will nurture a climate in which thoughtful dissent is punished by sheer and mere accusation and name-calling; people will lose reputations and jobs because they don’t acquiesce to the spirit of the age. See what has happened in the post-Prop 8 California: a feeding frenzy of unbridled recriminations against ordinary citizens–many of whom gave no more than $100–who supported prop 8. A waitress at a Mexican restaurant was fired because of pressure put on the restaurant at which she worked; the director of the LA Film Festival quit his position; Scott Eckern, director of the California Musical Theatre, resigned.

    These sorts of instances have been repeated privately and in numerous venues throughout California.

  • http://blogstuhl.blogspot.com Joel A. Brondos

    Dr. Beckwith,

    Chesterton once opined that “people fight because they don’t know how to argue.”

    Would we be better served if we addressed Postmodernism instead of homosexuality, dealing with the disease rather than a symptom (which you in a sense were doing with your most recent posts)?

    And if not Postmodernism, then perhaps Narcissism — which one of my mentors proposed as being manifest most acutely in homosexuality?

  • FW Ken

    But I cannot see how one can move from that view to the judgment that those that disagree with that view are irrational bigots. That’s just bombastic rhetoric intended to intimidate dissenters.

    Due respect, Dr. Beckwith, but there were racists who argued that black folk were morally, as well as intellectually inferior. I remember that from my Texas youth.

    The progress from “gay is normal” to “you are a bigoted homophobe is you don’t agree” is, to me, quite understandable if you remember that the first fundamental of gay rights advocacy is that homosexuality is normal – a variant of our humanity in the same category as hand dominance, eye color, and, specifically, race (or ethnicity). Obviously (in this long thread, in fact), gay rights advocates have taken that understanding and borrowed from the civil rights movement to advance their cause. As I said above, there is no evidence to support that contention, although it forms a major foundation for Lisa Miller’s article and seems to have become social dogma.

    Also, I have largely deleted the term “homosexuality” from my vocabulary. What exactly does it mean in the phrase “homosexuality is benign” or even “homosexuality is immoral”? Same-sex attractions? Same-sex genital acts? A sexual identity? A social identity constructed upon that sexual identity? Forgive me if this seems like picking at words, but since I first encountered the gay apologetic ca: 1976 (in The Daily Texan while a graduate student in Austin, to be precise), I have seen a fair amount of time wasted on bait-and-switch arguments between sexual attractions, sexual preference, sexual acts, and social identities based on those factors.

    Joel Brondos, you make an interesting point, but I wonder if the disease is materialism, rather than post-modernism?

  • mbrbelt

    “For example, suppose someone comes along in five years and claims that same-sex polygamy between siblings ought to be recognized by law.”

    My mistake. I thought YOU were using humor, because it doesn’t seem that your response meets your criteria for “don’t emote, distract, or appeal to personal offense.”

    I just have a hard time understanding a couple of things. If Sola Scriptura means “The only way to know for sure what God expects of us is to stay true to what we know He has revealed – the Bible. We can know, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that Scripture is true, authoritative, and reliable. The same cannot be said of tradition,” then how does one account for the internal inconsistencies in the Bible and also some of the inconsistencies in what the Bible says and what is/was practiced, e.g. slavery? The Bible may be inerrant, but the men and women who are interpreting it are not, so why should I believe one interpretation of “abomination” rather than another?

    Why is it that truly Biblical scholars can disagree on its meaning if the Bible is the inerrant truth? If you are wanting reasonable discourse, why are leaders who disagree branded heretics and removed from leadership in the Evangelical church? Are humor and reason mutually exclusive?

    What I am objecting to is the repeated mischaracterizations of homosexuality which occurs over and over in these posts: matrialism, narcissism, infedility, hedonism. They are all stereotypes. Charicteristics of some are raised to master status, generalized to the entire population, assumed to be true of all, and any the search for any disconfirming evidence is halted.

    It would be the same as if I called those of you with whom I disagree “right wing biggots,” which I assure you have not and will never, although those words seem to have been attributed to me.

    I object to the idea that my family is demonized, and that Evanelical Christian families are presented as perfect by people like Ted Haggard and Senator Larry Craig.

    Meaningful discourse is really very difficult when someone’s position is “You must believe as I believe or you are going to hell.” When you are told as I was, that I was not welcome in a church because I was gay because it was a “family” church, that is not an invitation to rational discussion.

    So your invitation is accepted with a certain degree of cynicism and skepticism. This entire discussion has seemed to have the intent of branding Lisa Miller a heretic. I have seen little to suggest that there is any interest in looking for areas of agreement.

    We are caught up in a system of binary reasoning: good/Fundamentalism/heterosexual marriage v. evil/progressive Christianity/homosexuality. I came to this site hoping I would come to some understanding but it seems that whatever I write is mischaracterized as if I am some extreme, gay activist. I am simply searching for some common ground, shared values, upon which we might form the basis of meaningful discussion.

    I am a simple, thoughtful, Christian man who shares many of the values I think most of you have. I happen to believe, after years of painful struggle with the issues, that I am gay. I love my family and they love me. I support your families and I ask for your support of mine. I happen to believe that my sinfulness is no greater than most of yours, and I believe in a loving God who offers me forgiveness and salvation. I ask that you not judge me by a stereotype of homosexuality which has repeatedly been disproved.

  • http://n/a alicia p

    Mr Belt,

    While I do not agree with the homosexual lifestyle, I think you make a valid point that I as a christian hold…that God loves people who are gay just as much as people who are not. I do think homosexuality is a sin, just as the Bible says, but I also think that my selfishness/angry thoughts at times/ability to gossip a lot/cigarette smoking are also sins.

    Doesn’t it go love the sinner, hate the sin?

  • http://www.colombianito2.blogspot.com Sergio Méndez

    Francis:

    Why do opposers of gay marriage have the burden of proof? Well, simple: cause is opposers of gay marrige who support a priviledge for heteroxual marriages and who pretend to impose their beliefs on consenting adults seeking freely to have a stable relationship. Gay marriage supporters are not seeking to force anti gay marriage crowd to be gays and marry, but anti gay marry crowd denying gays the same rights than heterosexuals. Saying that heteroxesual marriage is the stablished norm hardly makes it acceptable by default.

    FN Key:

    The point of comapring gay marriage and interracial marriage is not about comparing “race” with sexual preference. The point is that opposers of gay marriage use THE SAME KIND of arguments as the opposers of interratial marriage: “society opposes it” “society has the right to decide” “traditionally marriage is defined as the union betweenn xxx and yyy, and thus tradition MUST be right for the sole fact of being tradition”.

  • http://blogstuhl.blogspot.com Joel A. Brondos

    alicia p,

    I appreciate your comments and I think that you recognize something that is true in all of us, but the saying “love the sinner, hate the sin” has always seemed inadequate.

    Saying that God loves the sinner but hates the sin is a little like saying that a heat-seeking missile doesn’t care about the pilot but hates the afterburners. Sinner and sin are not so easily separated.

    If the Lord only had to deal with sin, then there really was no need for an incarnate Savior, the Immanuel taking on our flesh. But in Christ we have God’s heat-seeking missile hitting its target on the cross: God made Him who knew no sin to BE sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21)

    And there is the epistemology of 1 Cor. 2:14 with which we have to contend.

    Perhaps there is some point in arguing about homosexuality with homosexuals, of arguing about cigarette smoking with chain smokers, of arguing about liquor with alcoholics, or arguing about pride with the conceited, of arguing about verbal abuse with the curmudgeon, of arguing about ex cathedra with the pope. If I, however, could but come to an agreement about sin, about the knowledge of good and evil, then I imagine that we would be much closer to relishing forgiveness, life and salvation in Christ rather than trying to “reform” the “morals” of the world by political, compulsive, litigious means.

    Romans 5:8-10

  • FW Ken

    Mr. Mendez -

    You are not accurately reflecting my experience of this argument over 30 years, or even the last few days.

    Innumerable times have I read and debated whether race and sexual preference are of the same nature. Moreover, the anti-gay marriage arguments on this thread alone make a range of arguments far beyond what you are claiming. In fact (and I am not willing to re-read the whole thread to verify), the principle use of “tradition” is in contrast with “sola scriptura”.

    In fact, across time and across cultures, marriage has been between a man and a woman (or several women). Even societies that permit some same-sex activity (the Greeks, for example) still expected a man to have a wife in addition to his boy-love (who was expected to grow out of it). If 20th century Americans want to re-define marriage as including same-sex couples, they need to explain why they know better than all humanity why that should be so.

    Now, that is an argument from social tradition and I give it to you free of charge. However, it’s not the only argument, nor the principle one on this thread. It’s a weighty one, though, and unless you wish to be charged with cultural chauvinism and arrogance, you should address it.

    Though not here. This blog is about journalism, of which Lisa Miller’s article is a poor example.

  • http://blogstuhl.blogspot.com Joel A. Brondos

    mbrbelt,

    You write that you are a simple, thoughtful, Christian man who says, “I believe in a loving God who offers me forgiveness and salvation.”

    I don’t disagree with you and hope that you will truly always believe that. And yet, I wonder, HOW do you know that? Is it something that you sense by intuition or experience? If so, what happens at some point your intuition changes or your experiences grant you less confidence?

    Is it something that comes from the Bible (after all, this discussion was started by an article having to do with sola Scriptura)? And if by the Bible, then why believe some of it but not all of it? Why accept some parts of the Bible as being acceptable as it pleases, but reject or dismiss other parts which displease?

    Thomas Jefferson attempted such a Bible (The Jefferson Bible), using cut-and-paste skills with great finesse.

    I wish there were someone or some group today who who re-compose the Scriptures in such a way as to take out all of what they consider to be human-biased prejudiced material and keep only the stuff that is true, keep only the God-inspired, eternally accurate stuff. Provide the world with something that homosexuals can say, “This is the true SOLA Scriptura.”

    It was the Pharisees who were condemned by Christ for laying guilt and burdens on people which were too heavy for them to bear. Christians ought not be burdening others, but rather bearing one another’s burdens. Still, it is not the burdens heaped upon us by other sinners but rather the burden of the Law of God Himself under which we are crushed.

    If I were to bring up the Bible passages about homosexuality with which I imagine you are only too acutely aware, I would not do it in order to bludgeon you over the head with them. I for myself have things which are so very much a part of me but are nonetheless condemned by God, e.g. Matthew 6., and you could easily condemn me for calling the kettle black.

    Still, I do not take the position that “Well, I’m forgiven for all that hatred, lust, selfishness, etc., I’ll just keep right on doing them.” Romans 6, “Shall we continue to sin that grace may abound?” Grace is not a license to sin. (Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 2:16) — (and I am not here imputing to you or anyone else the implication that you believe homosexuality is sin. I don’t suppose that you do — and hence the topic of my earlier post.)

    There certainly have been attempts to dismiss the Bible’s condemnations against homosexuality (and I have a brother who has published a rather eloquent attempt), judging Paul’s words to be homophobic, prejudiced, steeped in cultural milieu, some fossil which ought to have been dissolved in the evolution of Religionsgeschichte, etc. But if those words are in fact the Word of God (and if we are not to give homosexuality an exemption which the other issues listed in those passages are not privileged to get), then the issue is not using those passages to bludgeon people but rather how will such burdens be borne? If the scriptural condemnations against homosexuality are the true Word of God, then how shall they be borne (NOT how shall they be used to beat up on people)?

    Together with Paul — and perhaps also with you, I cry out “The good that I would do, that I do not and the evil that I would not, that I do . . . Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:18-24) My sins are my own, not yours. How will you help me with mine? If you want to direct me to Christ, then how shall I believe a Bible which I can only believe in part? If St. Paul was wrong about homosexuality then perhaps he was also wrong about forgiveness — in which case both of us are to be pitied among men (1 Cor. 15:19).

    Kyrie eleison.

  • Stephen A.

    I’ve been equally guilty of this here, too, but I think we shouldn’t focus on each other’s faith, but instead on whether this cover article was fair to both sides, as journalism should be.

    In this case, clearly it was not.

    I *think* (though I’m not sure) that 155, now 156, posts is a near-record for the GR blog. The long ones are usually the ones that veer off course into theological discussions, as we’ve all done here.

  • http://www.colombianito2.blogspot.com Sergio Méndez

    Ken, you say:

    “If 20th century Americans want to re-define marriage as including same-sex couples, they need to explain why they know better than all humanity why that should be so.”

    Well sorry, you don´t see how can I reprase that with “slavery” and “the natural order” between races or social classes for “XIX century americans”? The pont is humanity is not doing well by denying homosexuals the right to marry and giving one type of union sort of privilidges that are not only undeserved, but unecesary.

  • FW Ken

    Mr. Mendez,

    Except, of course, that slavery is not a universal social arrangement. In fact, it’s precisely that – a social arrangement, defective and immoral, but not an intrinsic part of our humanity. At any rate, the major arguments are not regarding tradition, as I said, and slavery, which pertains to race and nationality, is not in the same category as marriage.

    giving one type of union sort of privilidges that are not only undeserved…

    An interesting statement worth highlighting.

  • FW Ken

    That was unclear; let me try again.

    You can only refute the argument from tradition (which is not the only, or even most important argument against same-sex marriage) if you make the original category error of including sexual preferences with race, sex, and other normal variants of human existence.

    Moreover, the argument against slavery begins in the Old Testament, with the years of jubilee, continues in the New Testament, where slave holders are enjoined to be kind and gentle, and follows throughout Church History, when the effects of slavery were minimized as much as possible (there are papal edicts attempting just that). Finally, after thousands of years, a large part of the world renounced slavery, though it continues in some places. Can you plot a trajectory similar to that for same-sex marriage?

    And I agree with Stephen. This is way beyond the scope of this blog or this thread, so Mr. Mendez, you get the last word if you want it. Best wishes.

  • Sean Santos

    “And most of it is based (no, not in the fevered imaginations of what Hollywood and the media elite think religious conservatives believe) but in Natural Law.”

    I find this sort of statement irritating in a few ways.

    First, “natural law”, in the most basic sense, simply implies that there is a natural, objectively determinable law that is the ideal for how society should function, right? However, unless you come up with a basic principle to determine what that law is, you can argue that just about anything coincides with “natural law”. From one perspective, one could draw the conclusion that since sex naturally feels good and guilt naturally feels bad, natural law dictates that you should have whatever type of sex you don’t feel guilty about. As far as the destabilization of society goes, that’s fine since so many people have lived in the “natural” state of anarchy throughout history.

    Of course, you can be more specific and say that you believe in something like “natural law, as discovered through the lens of biblical principles”, but then you lose the point of bringing up natural law in the first place, which was to make it look like you were arguing based something other than just scripture, and thus bypass separation of church and state.

    Of course there are still other alternatives, like “natural law as discovered by the assumption of individual sovereignty” (which would be close to anarchy, as far as I can see), “natural law as discovered from the assumption of God-given human rights” (which is sort of vague in that which rights are “God-given” has never been thoroughly agreed-upon by any sizable group of people through history), or “natural law as discovered through a least-harm or utilitarian principle”. A lot of people intuitively flock to the last of these. As far as I can tell, there’s no argument based on utilitarianism against same-sex marriage, unless one of these two things is true:

    1) There is proof that children adopted by gay couples are substantially worse off, and would have some sort of developmental difficulties even if homosexuality wasn’t so frequently frowned upon in our society. Freudian mumbo-jumbo aside, I’ve seen no study that purports to show that this has actually occurred in the increasing numbers of children raised by same-sex parents.

    2) There is proof that heterosexual marriage suffers after same-sex marriage is legalized. I’ve seen plenty of statistics about how countries with high divorce rates or high illegitimacy rates tend to legalize same-sex marriage. I have seen no sociological studies or non-anecdotal evidence that introducing same-sex marriage in any way hurts heterosexual marriage. That is, there are a lot of arguments that our concept of marriage is under attack. I have seen no evidence that allowing same-sex marriage has ever caused people to devalue heterosexual marriage, or to stop taking child-raising seriously within marriage.

    Apologies for the length of the rant, but it rubs me wrong when religious conservatives, rather than having the self-honesty and courage to say “I would believe in this for no other reason than that the bible says so”, decide to use other terms to pretend some natural or scientific justification for their ideas (“natural law” or, say, “intelligent design”). When such concepts are mere masquerades for principles based primarily on scripture, they are at least as intellectually dishonest and contemptible as the appeals to relativism that are so frequently bandied about by modern liberals.

  • mbrbelt

    Last week the Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments about gay marriage. For those who want to see the stream, here is the website:

    http://www.judicial.state.ia.us/

    A couple of quick points:

    The argument for “tradition” is weakened by the fact that “tradition” in some cases has incorporated immoral practices.

    The arguements in this case said that marriage would be damaged, but perhaps not until 20 years in the future when heterosexuals would begin to see that marriage was no longer relevant if same sex couples were allowed to marry. Someone, help me understand that one!

    Finally, is it possible for an article to be seen as fair and balanced when both sides of this discussion are locked into their polarity? When I have attempted to find areas of agreement, the response has been to quote scripture which tells me how wrong I am.

    It is interesting to note the evolution of thinking related to slavery from the original Biblical thinking. A similar evolution has occurred in the thinking of the roles of women. It appears that the only way to suggest that a similar evolution must not occur with homosexuality is to say that they are totally different.

    How can anything be fair and balanced when people continue to scream at each other and refuse to look at areas where we can agree?

    I take my comfort in knowing that I am accountable only to God for my behavior.

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  • Stephen A.

    Sergio says:

    The argument for “tradition” is weakened by the fact that “tradition” in some cases has incorporated immoral practices.

    So all man/woman marriages would have to have been PERFECT throughout history for supporters of opposite-sex marriage to hold it up as a historical example of something has existed in nearly EVERY society since the dawn of history? Illogical. Mind-blowingly so.

    Also, slavery is not equal to gay marriage. Not even close.

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  • Allan Javellana

    Everyone should take a few minutes to see this video on You Tube. This should answer this Newsweek article.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbP2W_FOWJY

  • mbrbelt

    “So all man/woman marriages would have to have been PERFECT throughout history for supporters of opposite-sex…” If that is the conclusion you drew from my post, I think you need to read it again, but then again, there is no rational discourse when arguements are so emotionally based.

    Nor did I equate slavery to being gay. I was suggesting that the position on slavery in the Bible has evolved over time, just like hair-cutting and eating shell fish. However, you are saying that homosexuality is “sola scriptura.” Seems a bit inconsistent to me.

    It was nice to be compared to barnyard animals. I raise cattle and my cows, for purposes of procreation, have sex once a year.

    It seems to me the compromise solution is to separate church and state. Grant EVERYONE who wants to live in a committed relationship a license for a civil union and have the church only bless the relationships of those who choose. Somehow, I doubt that will satisfy opponents.

  • Barry

    Mollie, you expect Newsweek to respond favorably to you, to respect your opinions and to know them better. I agree. They should do that, especially as journalists if they want to be professional.
    However, if you are going to preach such fairness, you should take a look at your own sermon and modify the language you used to attack Newsweek. They don’t deserve should aggressive rhetoric and neither do you and neither do any of us.
    So, the question is do you really want dialogue or do you just want them to accept whatever you believe to be true?

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  • Tommy

    Hi Mollie, I now live in Mexico where I am not bombarded anymore by this disgusting agenda. My friend from PHX sent me the link when it first appeared online. I was in shock, and couldn’t believe what I was reading. I couldn’t respond to her right away, and then had forgotten about it until I read your splendid reply – you are brilliant. I am (I think) one of the few Catholics anymore who knows his Bible (I’ve been around the block in other religions trust me), and I couldn’t even get a handle on this evil. Is it that important for people to win even if it means no one will ever collect the trophy? Tragic. All we can do is continue asking God for His will to be done here and in the clouds! Adios! Tommy…