Monday, December 8, 2008

Gay Marriage, Scripture, and Culture

One of the ways that traditional Christian teaching and morality is attacked in the culture is by trying to reinterpret it in terms of a bland, generic ethic of tolerance and "niceness." This is especially so when some try to argue for the acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage. An example of this recently surfaced in a Newsweek article. To those uninformed about Scriptural teaching this article might seem persuasive. But in fact it is a shallow distortion of what the Bible has to say on the subject.

Here is a nice response written by Wall Street Journal writer Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, who happens to a member of our Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. She does a good job of dissecting and destroying the arguments set forth in this article. More and more I think Christians are going to need to be better versed in Scripture and its teaching to respond to the many corruptions of the faith that are presented in secular and popular culture. Here's a snippet of the article that I hope you'll read in full:

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I knew we had to take a look at this week’s 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?

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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.

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And here's a Protestant perspective on the article.

1 comment:

Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

The Presbyterian Professor Dr. Robert A. J Gagnon also made a very thorough rebuttal of the article here at http://www.robgagnon.net/NewsweekMillerHomosexResp.htm