And... For those of you who merely want an argument, be sure that you really understand what is being said before you wade into the fray. This is something that you will need to examine thoroughly before you weigh in. This is not simply an 'interpretation' issue: The evidence is clear.
You don't have to like what the Bible says - that's OK. But if you claim to believe in the Bible, you must deal with it. Don't like it? Fine - try another faith: Be my guest. I do not believe that the sun will stop shining if you choose another faith (or no faith at all).
NOTE: This is not a discussion of whether gay marriage should be allowed in the USA. That was discussed earlier in another post here. It is only a discussion of the Biblical view on gays and gay marriage.
On December 6, 2008, Lisa Miller wrote an article in Newsweek titled "Our Mutual Joy." It is a pitiful attempt at deliberate misinterpretation and tampering of scriptures in order to fit an agenda. To start out her salvo, Lisa uses examples of polygamy and apparent lukewarm recommendations of marriage:
"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?
Of course not, yet the religious opponents of gay marriage would have it be so."
But the truth is drastically different. As Calliope writes:
"Just because the Bible records some cases of polygamy does not mean that it approves of polygamy. The pattern established in the Bible by God (and often repeated) is one man, one woman (Genesis 3:24, Eph. 5:31). Church leaders in the New Testament are to be the husband of one wife (I Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6)."
In addition, many Jews and Christians over the years have pointed to the spicy heterosexual Song of Solomon (a.k.a. the Song of Songs) as a role model of an ideal, passionate marriage. It is hardly the stuff of prudes, as the bride and groom extol each other's physical attributes in great detail. They also discuss the raptures of the physical side of marriage.
And although the apostle Paul himself said (in the New Testament) that marriage was not the first and best choice, it is important to remember the situation at that time, when people were regularly being persecuted for their faith: Marriage and families complicated matters even further (ask anyone who is currently a missionary). And yet we know that at least one of Jesus' disciples (Peter) was married. So were Paul's compadres, Priscilla and Aquila.
The New Testament also spells out how husbands and wives are to treat each other. This was unique at the time, as women were almost always regarded by most people as a step-up from the slaves and without rights.
So, Lisa is woefully wrong. She is not merely cherrypicking scriptures to fit her agenda - she is ignoring so many facts that she is in danger of being asked to work on O.J. Simpson's legal team.
For instance, Lisa mentions that Jesus condemns divorce, but claims that this was a way to allow men the option to cheat on their wives. Lisa completely neglects The Divorce Clause.
What is The Divorce Clause, you ask?
In Matthew 5:31-32, Jesus says “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”
At the time of his pronouncement, Jesus was addressing only men. However, this is traditionally interpreted as a rule that applies to both men and women. Additionally, it was a protection for the women at the time, since men were readily divorcing and remarrying women at their own convenience during a time when women could not easily fend for themselves and had to live according to their husbands' whims.
Lisa goes on to state "...while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman." This is an utter falsehood.
I'll grant you that the Bible doesn't start with a dictionary which includes the definitions of every word used in it. That's because it doesn't have to. It uses terms and ideas that were universally accepted then.
If a Jew had walked up to a fellow Jew during Old Testament times and tried to argue that marriage could be between two people of the same sex, the best response he could hope for would be a hearty chuckle. The worst response he might encounter would be a very public death at the hands of an angry mob.
Because the Bible was and is very explicit in it's stand on homosexuality.
"Homosexuality is clearly condemned, both in the Old Testament (Lev. 18:22, Genesis 19 with Jude 1:7, etc.) and in the New Testament (Rom. 1:21-27; I Cor. 6:9-10, etc.) To teach the contrary is the ultimate in Scripture-twisting.
Also: Are we to assume that God has changed His mind about homosexuality? Malachi 3:6 "I am the Lord. I do not change."
This is also said about Jesus Christ in Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same: yesterday and today and forever."
But Lisa writes "...the Anchor Bible Dictionary notes that nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women, "possibly because it did not result in true physical 'union' (by male entry).""
This goes back to the 'lack' of a dictionary at the beginning of the Bible. Again, everyone knew what homosexuality meant, and it was used for both sexes.
In Romans chapter 1, the author speaks of God condemning evil people and punishing them. In Romans 1:26, we read "For this reason, God delivered them to degrading passions as their females exchanged their natural sexual function for one that is unnatural." Obviously the Bible doesn't regard homosexuality as a reward, but as something to be ashamed and horrified about.
Lisa also attempts to dismiss the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality by saying that it was only present in the Old Testament, but the book of Romans is in the New Testament and it invalidates her claim.
Lisa furthers her falacious arguments by adding "...progressive scholars have argued that his condemnation of men who "were inflamed with lust for one another" (which he calls "a perversion") is really a critique of the worst kind of wickedness: self-delusion, violence, promiscuity and debauchery."
This would only be argued by a 'progressive' scholar who doesn't know what language the Bible is written in, and chooses to disregard it. The word for 'lust' here in the original language means just that - a sexual desire.
Going back to her attack on traditional marriage, Lisa triumphantly declares "Monogamy became the norm in the Christian world in the sixth century; husbands' frequent enjoyment of mistresses and prostitutes became taboo by the beginning of the 20th."
Nice statistics for Lisa, if true. But they're not. Simply because something is practiced does not make it acceptable, and cheating on one's spouse was never acceptable or sanctioned by the Bible. (The problem with the issue of polygamy was dealt with earlier in this post).
Lisa attempts to wind up her article by writing "We cannot look to the Bible as a marriage manual, but we can read it for universal truths as we struggle toward a more just future."
Really? And what selective truths would that include? When do the restrictions against parents marrying their children become passe? When do we decide that it's OK to have sex with a goat because we choose to believe that this is no longer applicable to modern times?
One cannot take what one chooses from a religion and then leave the rest. At that point, it becomes a different religion entirely. So, if Lisa has decided to censor the Bible, cutting out passages at will, then I recommend that she start The Church of Lisa. It certainly will no longer be recognizable as Christianity.
The issue is not as simple as Lisa would like to portray it. This is the reason that churches are battling within their ranks. It is why the Episcopal church now has a major split.
Lisa then tries the worn out "What Would Jesus Do?" card. She writes "In the Christian story, the message of acceptance for all is codified. Jesus reaches out to everyone, especially those on the margins..." Not true. Again.
As Calliope points out, Jesus says he doesn't change. And he also makes it very clear that he does not tolerate all forms of sin because he's just a nice guy who wants everyone to get along. In fact, Jesus was a pretty unpopular guy among many at the time of his arrival on the scene. Crowds don't repeatedly seek to kill someone who is preaching tolerance of everything. Where Jesus showed tolerance was his acceptance of anyone who repented from evil and believed he was the Messiah.
Somehow, I doubt that Lisa believes that.
In her article, Lisa sums up her position in one sentence: "Ozzie and Harriet are nowhere in the New Testament..."
She is, of course, correct. And neither are Adam and Steve.