Archive for December 9th, 2008|Daily archive page

Newsweek says Bible supports gay marriage. They’re right.

Newsweek magazine has an excellent cover story in their most recent issue that argues that the Bible does not support the position of same-sex marriage opponents, despite their claims that it does. The article opens with this:

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?

This book supports same-sex marriage rights; it doesn't oppose them

This book is supportive of same-sex marriage rights

The authors point out that fifteen decades ago the Bible was used to support (and to oppose) human slavery.  They also point out the many ways that the institution of marriage has already changed, both since the Mosaic Code was written and within the past few years. They deal with the anti-homosexuality passages in the Bible, albeit with a bit less skill and thoroughness, and give a status update on the state of same-sex unions in various U.S. denominations.  Further polling data on how Americans view same-sex unions and homosexuality are also included.  (See also my prior post, Newsweek poll: support for gay rights is up.)

The article argues that, far from supporting the position of same-sex marriage opponents—who too often go unchallenged theologically—the Bible supports an inclusive view of the institution.

The religious argument for gay marriage …  “is not generally made with reference to particular texts, but with the general conviction that the Bible is bent toward inclusiveness.”

The practice of inclusion, even in defiance of social convention, the reaching out to outcasts, the emphasis on togetherness and community over and against chaos, depravity, indifference—all these biblical values argue for gay marriage. If one is for racial equality and the common nature of humanity, then the values of stability, monogamy and family necessarily follow. The religious argument for gay marriage, he adds, “is not generally made with reference to particular texts, but with the general conviction that the Bible is bent toward inclusiveness.”

Not surprisingly, the article, “Gay Marriage: Our Mutual Joy” (available online here), has proven pretty controversial.  The usual suspects among conservative religious groups is accusing Newsweek of blasphemy, relativism, and the whole gamut of their normal charges.  The magazine’s editor anticipated this and wrote in the issue that “Religious conservatives will say that the liberal media are once again seeking to impose their values (or their ‘agenda,’ a favorite term to describe the views of those who disagree with you) on a God-fearing nation.”  He continued, “Let the letters and emails come. History and demographics are on the side of those who favor inclusion over exclusion.”

Whether you’re inclined to agree with it or not, I highly recommend you check out the article for yourself and make up your own mind.

Governor of Illinois arrested for corruption!

The Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, has been arrested for attempting to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama to the highest bidder. Under state law, when there is a midterm vacancy in the state’s Senate representation the Governor can appoint a replacement; Federal authorities tapped his phones and claim evidence that Blagojevich was trying to sell the appointment for cold hard cash as well as other benefits for himself and his wife, including lucrative appointments to corporate boards.

The Flag of Illinois was so unrecognizable that they had to add the state name to it, making it even worse.

The Flag of Illinois was so unrecognizable that they had to add the state name to it, making it even worse.

In the affidavit, the Governor is quoted as saying “I want to make money,” and noting that a Senate seat “is a f—ing valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.”  He allegedly said that he would appoint himself to the seat if he didn’t “get something real good” for it, saying “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain.” Another time he said “I’ve got this thing and it’s f—ing golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for f—in’ nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me   there.”  Apparently he thought it could put him in good position to run for President himself in 2016.  That’s probably pretty unlikely now.

Blagojevich is under investigation for numerous other alleged acts of corruption, including trying to use government powers to pressure the Chicago Tribune to fire reporters who were critical of him.  Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has called this “the most staggering crime spree in office I have ever seen.”  Unfortunately, the only way he can be impeached right now is if the legislature convenes, which can only happen if he calls for it.  Which probably isn’t too likely.  Apparently they are trying to convene to call for a special election, to get around having the governor appoint someone.  The Times Online out of London has a good story detailing some of the alleged deals that the governor was trying to make; I highly recommend it.

If these allegations are true—and I don’t think you arrest a sitting state governor without a surfeit of evidence—then Blagojevich is one corrupt dude and needs to be in jail, not the Illinois governor’s mansion.  But one must admit that he fits right in at the Illinois executive mansion, three other Governors of the Land of Lincoln have been jailed in the past 35 years, as reported by MSNBC:

— OTTO KERNER, a Democrat who was governor from 1961 to 1968, served less than a year of a three-year sentence after his 1973 conviction on bribery, tax evasion and other counts. He was convicted of arranging favorable horse racing dates as governor in return for getting horse racing association stock at reduced prices. Kerner died in 1976.
— DAN WALKER, a Democrat who was governor from 1973 to 1977, served 1 1/2 years of a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty in 1987 to bank fraud, misapplication of funds and perjury. The charges were not related to his service as governor.
— GEORGE RYAN, a Republican who was governor from 1999 to 2003, was convicted of corruption in 2006 for steering state contracts and leases to political insiders while he was Illinois secretary of state and then governor. He is serving a 6 1/2-year prison term.
Additionally, William Stratton, a Republican, governor from 1953-1961, was later indicted but then acquitted on charges of income tax evasion. What’s going on over there in Illinois, folks?