Monday, December 08, 2008

The Gospel According to Newsweek

From the cover story in the December 15 (on news stands now) issue of Newsweek -- which my email inbox is pinging out of control with everybody-and-their-brother/sister fowarding it to me saying "LOOK AT THIS!" --

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OUR MUTUAL JOY

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?

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Read the rest here ... and consider a letter to the editor in support to balance the flood of others they're likely to receive in Newseek Land!

6 comments:

john said...

That will have the Primitives setting high-jump records all over the world!

:-)

RonF said...

Hagar's marriage to Abraham was Sarah's idea, not God's, and what happened thereafter seems to present it as a bad idea, not as God's definition of marriage.

Paul believed in the imminence of the Second Coming and thought that people should spend their time preparing for it. Jesus was looking for people to dedicate themselves to God's work. Neither was seeking to redefine marriage. Other of Paul's writings presume that most Christians are married and did not suggest that they set aside their wives or husbands or to take up with someone of the same sex. In fact, Paul argued strenously against divorce, which sounds like a defense of marriage to me.

Miller claims that “while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman.” What, then, does he make of Genesis 2:24-25 and Matthew 19:1-8? I note he manages to be silent on them. There's plenty in there about man and woman cleaving together, but nothing about man and man or woman and woman.

But then Miller doesn't seem to have done much actual research into the Bible. She cites the Anchor Bible Dictionary as stating that “nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women.” What does she think that Romans 1:26-27 is about: “For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

People who want to make claims about what the Bible does or does not say should probably read it first.

MarkBrunson said...

Actually, there is very little in the Bible to set a positive view on marriage at all.

It's spoken of in terms of duty, a dissolving of ties between blood family (leave mother and father and cleave), Christ speaks of it in almost warning tones and states that it is not an institution found in Paradise. Paul speaks of it as a second best for those who can't control their urges.

Even the wedding feast in Cana doesn't actually give anything but the slimmest interpretation of real approval for marriage. The miracle was making water into wine at Mary's behest, not the wedding. It is just as valid, if not more so, to posit Jesus making a point of blessing Mary's faith, blessing a child's obedience to his mother, even blessing wine and winemakers as there is to posit a blessing of marriage.

I don't believe the Bible can be said to make a case for same-sex marriage - or marriage at all, as we now understand it - but that doesn't mean the Bible is correct.

I also find it amusing that people like Ron can take "cultural and historical context" into account when talking about Paul's clearly dismissive view of marriage while denigrating the use of the same context in liberal readings.

So much for integrity and consistency.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Thanks RonF---I can read as well as you can, and Miller is right about the fact that marriage in the Bible is hardly the model that fundagelicals claim. (And I love the way you try to blame Abraham's prostituting of his wife on HER---how very typical!)

Susan--not only did I send a letter to the editor, I signed up for a subscription and told them why.

Pax,
Doxy

JCF said...

She cites the Anchor Bible Dictionary as stating that “nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women.” What does she think that Romans 1:26-27 is about: “For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature"

A facile (and anachronistic) reading of Romans, RonF: most legit NT scholars believe that passage refers to "Female Superior" (woman on top) heterosexual sex, not sex between women.

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Susan, I've written Newsweek, and passed on (and will continue to promote) the address. I'll try to purchase the issue, if I can (a subscription is beyond my unemployed means, sadly)

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Ron F said: "What, then, does he make of Genesis 2:24-25 and Matthew 19:1-8?"

As false a signature "Ron F" is (no Blog, no profile), so is the statement (often heard) that Genesis 2:24-25 defines marriage in some way.

It doesn't.

There was no marriage in Judaism until centuries later, certainly no monogamous one. It's a pagan invention (Greeks, Romans). But, above all, an economic consideration...

What Judaism had around 500 BC, or so, was concubinage. Quite simply living together, sharing a bed, as elsewhere. There was no form.

This form-less living together was the Law in Sweden up till 14 June 1917, BTW, when the new "childrens laws" declared it un-chastity; sin.

Matt 19:1-8 in its way proves this - and changes and addings and redactions on the whole... For Adam (= human) and Eve (= Heva; Life-giver) didn't have any parents...

Especially not if they are supposed to be the first humanoids ;=)

As JCF suggested, no one before the great anti Semite and anti Gay Johannes Chrysóstomos (oily-mouth) c:a 400 thought the c*nts in Romans 1:26 were lesbians, but that they were "used" by their Lords, from behind.