Newsweek Makes the Religious Case for Gay Marriage

Newsweek Magazine’s cover story this week makes the religious case for gay marriage. And its a fascinating read that frankly should have come out before election day.

Some excerpts below:

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.

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.

The argument goes something like this statement, which the Rev. Richard A. Hunter, a United Methodist minister, gave to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in June: “The Bible and Jesus define marriage as between one man and one woman. The church cannot condone or bless same-sex marriages because this stands in opposition to Scripture and our tradition.”

To which there are two obvious responses: 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. “Marriage” in America refers to two separate things, a religious institution and a civil one, though it is most often enacted as a messy conflation of the two. As a civil institution, marriage offers practical benefits to both partners: contractual rights having to do with taxes; insurance; the care and custody of children; visitation rights; and inheritance. As a religious institution, marriage offers something else: a commitment of both partners before God to love, honor and cherish each other—in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer—in accordance with God’s will. In a religious marriage, two people promise to take care of each other, profoundly, the way they believe God cares for them. 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.

The article is getting so much internet traffic, Newsweek suspended the comments section.

  6 comments for “Newsweek Makes the Religious Case for Gay Marriage

  1. Misha Houser
    December 10, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Thanks for posting this story Dan…I’ve been looking for that pesky “between a man and a woman” passage for a while…I’ve never found it. The big lie they tell to commit people to vote for H8 is very sad.

  2. Revan
    December 10, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Misha I know which passage you are thinking of, and while I don’t know the specifics of it, it is a small 3 or 4 word passage in Leviticus and its about a page or 2 after the part that prohibits eating shellfish.

    Newsweek made an interesting read. Might I suggest an article in this months The Advocate, with an interesting insight into the abysmal failure that was the No on 8 campaign.

  3. Dan Chmielewski
    December 10, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Leviticus says a man shouldn’t lie down with another man like a woman. He also admonishes Jews from eating shellfish and pork.

    I have always wondered; Jesus lived to age 33 and there’s never a reference to a girlfriend or wife. How do we know that Jesus was straight?

  4. Mr. Smith
    December 11, 2008 at 10:55 am

    A good response to the Newsweek article can be found at the blog of the journal called “First Things.” There are some really bad arguments on both sides of the Prop 8/H8 debate. Please see these sites for a legitimate response:

  5. anon
    December 11, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    “How do we know that Jesus was straight”

    Well, if you believe that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin, as is, say, stealing, then he couldn’t have been gay because it also says he lead a sinless life.

    And if you don’t believe any of that, then you can’t answer the question conclusively.

    But then, why would any of that matter when evaluating whether or not Jesus was who he claimed to be?

  6. Katarski
    December 13, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    I thought maybe some verses would help clear things up
    if you are truly reading the bible after asking our Lord and Savior Jesus for guidance then it would be very easy to see the real life illustration and definition of marriage: Adam and Eve’s union where God (Jesus) gives his daughter to Adam ….
    And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living…Gen 3:20 going back a few verses …
    God says it is so.
    .And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy WIFE, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life;
    Even Adam recognized what God had done for him
    Gen 2:23 And Adam said, This [is] now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

    Gen 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

    And as far as the new testament verses with how Christ himself felt about women or anyone else for that matter lets look at 2 of the many areas where He shows very much how He felt about us.
    He cares for us no matter what happens to us
    John 11:32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
    John 11:33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
    Secondly Jesus considers anyone who truly believes in Him as their Lord and Savior differently they are now empowered to be the children of God through him and his family

    Mat 12:47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.

    Mat 12:48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?

    Mat 12:49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

    Mat 12:50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

    And please don’t forget freinds…John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

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