Conservatives Blast Newsweek For Weekly Entering 21st Century
“It doesn’t surprise me. Newsweek has been so far in the tank on the homosexual issue, for so long, they need scuba gear and breathing apparatus,” said Richard Land, who heads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “I don’t think it’s going to change the minds of anyone who takes biblical teachings seriously.”
Tony Perkins, president of the socially conservative Family Research Council, agreed, calling Newsweek‘s cover story “yet another attack on orthodox Christianity.”
Lisa Miller explains that the Bible was written in a different place and time, and that religious traditions about gay marriage have more to do with custom and tradition than Biblical prescriptions. After all, Biblical icons like Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon were polygamists, and Jesus “was single and reached an indifference to earthly attachments–especially family.” Further inflaming religious conservatives, Miller writes:
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.
They often cite Leviticus, which refers to sex between men as “an abomination”, as their foundation for opposing gay marriage. But do they then follow every other teaching in that Book?
Most of us no longer heed Leviticus on haircuts or blood sacrifices; our modern understanding of the world has surpassed its prescriptions. Why would we regard its condemnation of homosexuality with more seriousness than we regard its advice, which is far lengthier, on the best price to pay for a slave?
The Bible endorses slavery, a practice that Americans now universally consider shameful and barbaric. It recommends the death penalty for adulterers (and in Leviticus, for men who have sex with men, for that matter). It provides conceptual shelter for anti-Semites. 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.
Monogamy didn’t become the norm until the Sixth Century. Mistresses and prostitutes didn’t achieve social opprobrium until the start of the 20th Century. But what the Bible preached, what Jesus preached, was inclusiveness. The apostle Paul says, “There is neither Greek nor Jew, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ.”
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. Terry Davis is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Hartford, Conn., and has been presiding over “holy unions” since 1992. “I’m against promiscuity-love ought to be expressed in committed relationships, not through casual sex, and I think the church should recognize the validity of committed same-sex relationships,” he says.Click here for reuse options!
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