Monday, December 8, 2008

Historical revision and intellectual disingenuousness permeate "Newsweek" cover story on homosexual marriage.

Advocates for homosexual marriage in the liberal intelligentsia realize a major roadblock to achieving their goal is that pesky book the Bible and the influence it holds on millions of Christians and Jews and even Muslims.

Generally, I think they're dismissive of these uneducated, unenlightened folks who take serious a book written a couple of thousand years ago by often uneducated people bound to "superstitious" beliefs about miracles and supernatural happenings.

Be that as it may, they figure they better address the claims of this book because of its influence. They see the influence churches, including black churches, played in the battle in California over Prop 8. "All the religious rhetoric, it seems, has been on the side of the gay-marriage opponents, who use Scripture as the foundation for their objections." They realize their better address the Bible on this issue.

When they do, they attempt to debunk and deconstruct the clear meaning the the texts by trying to read into the text their own biases.

Such is the case with the Newsweek cover story,
"Our Mutual Joy: Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side" written by a Lisa Miller.

The first paragraph of the article cynically looks at a couple of biblical ideas and stories and distorts their meaning.
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? Of course not, yet the religious opponents of gay marriage would have it be so.
Miller suggests both the Old and Testaments take a low view of marriage. This is ridiculous. To suggest the model or ideal for marriage in the Old Testament is polygamy is ridiculous. Genesis 1 points out that the ideal is one man and one woman. The effects of the fall can be seen in the distortion of all areas of life including family and marital life. The fact that people engaged in less than the ideal does not mean that has become the ideal.

In the New Testament, Jesus reaffirms the ideal of marriage is a one man, one woman relationship and says the reason God allowed unilateral divorce in the Old Testament was their stubborn, hard hearts. Matthew 19

Similarly, Miller says Paul had a similar low view of marriage. That marriage was a last resort for those who can't control their lusts.

Paul's comment that it was better for a person not to marry was due to the crisis and difficulties facing the people he was communicating with. In fact, Paul analogies marriage between a man and a woman to Christ and the church. Marriage is a beautiful, powerful institution ordained by God.

Miller then seeks to address the view that the Bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman by saying it doesn't and no right thinking person would want their marriage to look like a biblical marriage.
First, while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. And second, as the examples above illustrate, no sensible modern person wants marriage-theirs or anyone else's -to look in its particulars anything like what the Bible describes.
First, Jesus clearly does define marriage as a lifelong relationship between one man, one woman. And her second assertion merely distorts what the Bible actually says about marriage. There are a lot of bad things mentioned in the Bible, e.g. murder, rape, betrayal and so forth but that doesn't mean the Bible affirms them; it's merely describing what sinful people do.

She then asserts the relativist thinking that the Bible is a "living document" with no fixed meaning that needs to be reinterpreted in light of today's changing circumstances.
Biblical literalists will disagree, but the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history. In that light, Scripture gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married-and a number of excellent reasons why they should.
Of course, if the Bible doesn't have a clear definition of marriage and the models of marriage it provides are what no sensible person would want, why does the Bible even need to be considered in the debate? She then argues the other side by saying the Bible is "powerful" and "speaks truth to us" 2,000 years later. See how she's simply throwing arguments at the Bible which are contradictory and mutually exclusive?

She says the Bible never addresses woman to woman sex. Wrong. See Romans 1:26.

She says Paul really wasn't talking about homosexuality. She references "progressive scholars" to support her argument.
Paul was tough on homosexuality, though recently 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. In his book "The Arrogance of Nations," the scholar Neil Elliott argues that Paul is referring in this famous passage to the depravity of the Roman emperors, the craven habits of Nero and Caligula, a reference his audience would have grasped instantly. "Paul is not talking about what we call homosexuality at all," Elliott says. "He's talking about a certain group of people who have done everything in this list. We're not dealing with anything like gay love or gay marriage. We're talking about really, really violent people who meet their end and are judged by God."
Unfortunately for her, such arguments have no basis in fact, merely speculative efforts to dismiss Paul's meaning as found in the text and clearly understood by Christians consistently since the text was written.

She makes the false assertion that
Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, then, but in custom and tradition (and, to talk turkey for a minute, a personal discomfort with gay sex that transcends theological argument).

And we need "A mature view of scriptural authority requires us, as we have in the past, to move beyond literalism. The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it's impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours."
Again let's move beyond "literalism" she says.
And she uses the usual liberal "literalism" smokescreen to say we need to change the meaning of the text. How do you move beyond historical events that occurred? Are they simply not be taken literally and thereby can be dismissed as not statements of fact?

She includes a smattering of liberal, e.g. progressive religious figures who support her pro-homosexual marriage views and concludes by saying that if we really loved as Jesus taught us to we'd support homosexual marriage.

Of course, Jesus said he didn't come to abolish the law but fulfill it. Matthew 5:17 (A law which clearly forbids homosexual behavior.) And the New Testament definition of love, in part says, "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. I Corinthians 13

In a biblical understanding of love, those who do not rejoice at wrongdoing such as homosexual behavior are acting in the spirit of biblical love while those who do rejoice in homosexual behavior are not.

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