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?
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.