In Our Mutual Joy, Newsweek's cover
story for December 15, available today on magazine racks, Religion
Editor Lisa Miller concludes there is nothing in the Bible
prohibiting gay marriage and quite a bit for it.
that the institution of marriage is continually evolving, and that
“traditional marriage” as we think of it today did not exist
during Biblical times.
believes the Bible supports an argument for gay marriage.
Models of marriage
in the Old Testament include polygamist and incestuous relationships,
while in the New Testament Jesus remained single and “preached an
indifference to earthly attachments – especially family.”
But, says Miller,
most religious conservatives would point to Adam and Eve as evidence
for their one man, one woman argument. “Therefore shall a man
leave his mother and father, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they
shall be one of flesh,” it says in Genesis.
Bible scholar Alan Segal, however, says that that verse was most
probably written by people who believed in polygamy.
remained unmarried and preached of a new family unit of believers,
whose “bond in God superseded all blood ties.” He also said
there will be no marriage in heaven and condemned those who divorce.
After fleshing out
the Old and New Testaments, Miller finally comes out and states the
obvious: The real problem with gay marriage for social conservatives
is the gay, not the marriage.
And the Bible does
say a few things about being gay, but she quickly dismisses Leviticus
who says sex between men is “an abomination” by calling this a
“throwaway line” – advice on how to live in an ancient Jewish
world that is no longer relevant. Leviticus discusses how to bargain
for a slave in greater detail, yet we give it no serious
contemplation, Miller argues.
Which only leaves
the notion that the tradition of marriage is somehow rooted in the
Here too Miller
reasons otherwise: “The
Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it's impossible to
apply its rules, at face value, to ours.” For instance, the Bible
endorses slavery, provides conceptual shelter for anti-Semites, and
recommends the death penalty for adulterers.
in fact, bears little resemblance to Biblical marriage – monogamy
has replaced an adulterous husband, whose title of master has evolved
to equal partner in the 20th century.
And while the Bible
offers little in the form of a marriage manual, it does endorse gay
marriage, Miller insists.
“If we are all
God's children, made in his likeness and image, then to deny access
to any sacrament based on sexuality is exactly the same thing as
denying it based on skin color,” she submits.
“Being with one
another in community is how you love God. That's what marriage is
about,” says the Rev. Chloe Breyer, executive director of the
Interfaith Center in New York.
People get married
“for their mutual joy,” she adds.
On the net:
Miller's Our Mutual Joy