Newsweek has declared war on marriage. That is the only way to interpret its publishing a lengthy cover story by Lisa Miller that rehashes a laundry list of unoriginal arguments in favor of same-sex "marriage." There are so many logical and theological errors in this piece that we felt it deserved a detailed, point-by-point rebuttal. FRC's President, Tony Perkins, and Vice President for Policy, the Rev. Peter Sprigg, collaborated in preparing this piece

 

Passages in bold below are quotes from the Newsweek article; following each is a rebuttal/response.

"Let's try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does. . . .  Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel-all these fathers and heroes were polygamists.

There is a difference between how the Bible defines marriage and how it depicts it in all it's sin-corrupted reality. It is defined in the creation:

22The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. . . .  24For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:22, 24, NASB)

The accounts of the lives of the Patriarchs, like Abraham, Jacob and David make abundantly clear that deviations from the model of one man one woman led to a multitude of personal and societal problems. 

 "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."

Neither Jesus nor Paul were indifferent to marriage or familial ties-they simply gave priority to unhindered service to God.  Jesus' first recorded miracle was at a wedding, which is hard to see as a non-endorsement of the institution.  Paul taught extensively on proper family relationships, especially of those of husbands and wives and fathers and children (Eph 5:22-6:4).  To somehow infer that Paul was indifferent to marriage is a denial of reality.  Paul was also very clear on one man one woman marriage (1 Tim 3:2, 12).  There was a reason for Paul's repeated focus on marriage - marriage is central to the gospel because it is a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the Church.  Christ is the bridegroom and the Church the bride.  He instructs husbands to follow the manner of Christ and give themselves for the benefit of their wives (Eph 5:25).  It is incomprehensible that Paul would say same-sex marriage reflected the life-giving, hope-filled union of Christ and His bride. 

Of course, marriage was not mandatory in the New Testament-nor is it for social conservatives today. Jesus and Paul both upheld celibacy-as the only acceptable alternative to fidelity in marriage between one man and one woman. The same value is upheld by the modern abstinence movement.

"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."

This is flatly false. See again Genesis 2:

22The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. . . .  24For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:22, 24, NASB)

This was explicitly affirmed by Jesus himself, as recorded in two of the gospels:

3Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" 4And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? 6"So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (Matthew 19:3-6, NASB)

2Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. 3And He answered and said to them, "What did Moses command you?" 4They said, "Moses permitted a man TO WRITE A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY." 5But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6"But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE. 7"FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, 8AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9"What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." 10In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. 11And He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery." (Mark 10:2-12, NASB)

Paul also twice affirms one man one woman marriage as a condition for church leadership (although it is somewhat unclear whether he is contrasting it with polygamy or with divorce and remarriage):

1It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach . . .  (I Timothy 3: 1-2, NASB)

5For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. (Titus 1:5-6, NASB)

"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 Bible is a "living document" only because it is the Word of God, inspired by the living Holy Spirit, not because we have been given license to ignore its plain teachings to compromise with the spirit of the present age instead. Everywhere that Scripture refers to marriage (even the polygamous ones), it is a male-female union, and everywhere that Scripture refers to homosexual conduct, it either condemns it in the strongest possible terms or at the very least casts it in a negative light. (Note: there is not one shred of evidence that the love between David and Jonathan was sexual in nature.)

"Social conservatives point to Adam and Eve as evidence for their one man, one woman argument-in particular, this verse from Genesis: 'Therefore shall a man leave his mother and father, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.' But as Segal says, if you believe that the Bible was written by men and not handed down in its leather bindings by God, then that verse was written by people for whom polygamy was the way of the world.

That is true, so if these men wanted to cover their tracks, would they not have tried to create cover for their ideas of marriage by saying it was God's idea?  Rather it is made clear that is a singular union.  And by the way, God's model of marriage was designed prior to the fall of man.  

"Ozzie and Harriet are nowhere in the New Testament either. The biblical Jesus was-in spite of recent efforts of novelists to paint him otherwise-emphatically unmarried. He preached a radical kind of family, a caring community of believers, whose bond in God superseded all blood ties. Leave your families and follow me, Jesus says in the gospels."

Yes, Jesus was definitely unmarried, and it is true that the "bond in God superseded all blood ties." But "leave your families and follow me" is a rather simplistic paraphrase. Jesus' disciples James and John, adult men, leave their father's fishing business when Jesus calls them (Matt. 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20), and Jesus admonished one questioner who wants to "bury my father" not to delay in following him (Matt. 8:19-22, Luke 9:59-62). The most sweeping statement of this nature made by Jesus is recorded in Mark 10:28-30 (paralleled by Luke 18:28-30):

28Peter began to say to Him, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You." 29Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, 30but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. (NASB)

It is not clear whether "children" here actually refers to minors; and none of these passages speaks of leaving one's spouse. How Miller can conclude that adult sons leaving home to pursue their own calling undermines the traditional nuclear family is not really clear.

"Jesus never mentions homosexuality, but he roundly condemns divorce . . ."

This is undoubtedly because Jesus encountered many more people who were tempted by easy divorce than he did people who were tempted by homosexuality. The whole argument that "Jesus never mentions homosexuality," and therefore that he must have tolerated it, is ridiculous on its face. Jesus never mentions rape or child sexual abuse, but that can hardly be interpreted to mean that he condoned them. As with those sexual sins, he may have felt that homosexuality was so clearly offensive that there was no point in stating the obvious.

A more precise exegetical point is this. There certainly are parts of the Old Testament law that were abrogated in some sense by Jesus, such as the dietary laws. But that was never the case for any of the laws governing sexual conduct. Both, for example, are mentioned (and contrasted) in Mark 7:14-23:

14After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, "Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16["If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."] 17When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18And He said to them, "Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?" (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 20And He was saying, "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21"For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23"All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man." (NASB)

Note that while he "declared all foods clean," the same is not true of all sexual relationships, because "fornications," "adulteries," and "sensuality" remain among those things that "defile the man."

If anything, Jesus strengthened the Old Testament teachings against sexual sin, rather than weakening them. He tightened restrictions on divorce (Matt. 5:31-32; Matt. 19:1-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18) and on adultery:

27"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; 28but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. [Matt. 5:27-28: NASB].

There is no passage where Jesus ever weakened restrictions on sexual behavior. In the case of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11), he prevented the imposition of the death penalty by stoning, but he did not say that she had not sinned-rather, he admonished her to "sin no more."

"It probably goes without saying that the phrase "gay marriage" does not appear in the Bible at all."

Precisely-so how the author can claim that the Bible supports it is a mystery.

" . . . nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women . . ."

This is simply false-see Romans 1:26:

26For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. (NASB)

This is the passage which even liberal evangelical Tony Campolo says cannot be evaded in giving proof that all homosexual conduct is sinful.

"Twice Leviticus refers to sex between men as 'an abomination' (King James version), but these are throwaway lines in a peculiar text given over to codes for living in the ancient Jewish world, a text that devotes verse after verse to treatments for leprosy, cleanliness rituals for menstruating women and the correct way to sacrifice a goat-or a lamb or a turtle dove."

Homosexual activists are fond of dismissing the Leviticus passage by dismissing the larger context of the Levitical code. However, they never place the most famous Leviticus verse (18:22) in its immediate context:

20'You shall not have intercourse with your neighbor's wife, to be defiled with her. 21'You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. 22'You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. 23'Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. (Leviticus 18:20-23)

Adultery, child sacrifice, and bestiality are the behaviors that are most directly compared with homosexuality-not leprosy or menstruation.

"Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, then, but in custom and tradition . . ."

This is a completely ridiculous statement that is supportable only when you accept the idiosyncratic postmodern exegesis she has already laid out, which is completely out of step with responsible biblical interpretation. Even many homosexual activists concede that there is no question that the Bible condemns all homosexual relationships. They argue that we must simply dismiss the Bible as a source of moral authority.

"The Bible endorses slavery . . . 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."

The issue of the Bible and slavery is certainly a complicated one, because it is true that the Bible does not unequivocally condemn slavery-however, that it not the same thing as saying that it "endorses" it. To say, "It provides conceptual shelter for anti-Semites" is ridiculous, given that the Bible was written by Jews, about Jews, and primarily for Jews.

However, note the author's logical inconsistency here. After arguing for several pages that the Bible, in fact, does not condemn homosexual acts and does not define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, she is suddenly shifting gears and saying that we have to ignore what the Bible does teach if it conflicts with modern political correctness.

"Monogamy became the norm in the Christian world in the sixth century . . . Today's vision of marriage as a union of equal partners, joined in a relationship both romantic and pragmatic, is, by very recent standards, radical, says Stephanie Coontz, author of 'Marriage, a History.'"

The first sentence is ridiculous-see I Timothy 3: 1-2 and Titus 1:5-6, cited above. But it is undoubtedly asserted by Coontz, the left's favorite marriage scholar. David Blankenhorn (who is moderate to liberal both politically and theologically, but a serious scholar of marriage and the family) has written that "nearly every sentence that Stephanie Coontz writes contains at least one piece of confusion."

"We cannot look to the Bible as a marriage manual . . . It speaks eloquently of the crucial role of families in a fair society and the risks we incur to ourselves and our children should we cease trying to bind ourselves together in loving pairs."

Actually, there are a number of passages in the Bible with marital advice that remains timely today (even if it does not conform to the rigid egalitarianism that modern liberals insist upon). They include Ephesians 5:22-23, Colossians 3:18-21, and I Peter 3:1-7.

However, Miller cites no Biblical verses that suggest the importance of "loving pairs" other than male-female marriages, except for the story of David and Jonathan. This can fit Miller's rather elastic term "loving pair," but is nowhere described as a marital or family relationship, but rather a very deep friendship.

"In the Christian story, the message of acceptance for all is codified. . . The great Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann . . . quotes the apostle Paul when he looks for biblical support of gay marriage: 'There is neither Greek nor Jew, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ.'"

This is a subtle way of injecting, implicitly, the myth that people are "born gay" or that there is a "gay gene." Ethnic identity, slave status, and gender are all human characteristics that are beyond an individual's choice. The same cannot be said of homosexual conduct. In reality even today, and certainly in the Bible, homosexuality is not an "identity," it is a chosen behavior-a behavior which is in every instance condemned as sinful.

Did the early church contain people who had engaged in homosexual behavior? The answer is yes-but the relevant text is not the one Brueggemann cites, but I Corinthians 6:9-11:

9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Active homosexuals will not "inherit the kingdom of God" unless and until they are washed, sanctified, and justified by Christ. The church in Corinth could not have imagined homosexual marriage, but it did have former homosexuals among its members.

"If one is for racial equality and the common nature of humanity, then the values of stability, monogamy and family necessarily follow. . . 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-and no serious (or even semiserious) person would argue that. . . More basic than theology, though, is human need. . . . We want our children to grow up in stable homes."

There are several issues intertwined in these excerpts. Twice here Miller compares homosexual relationships with race. But race is a characteristic which is inborn, involuntary, immutable, and innocuous. None of those things can honestly be said about the choice to engage in homosexual relationships. When Miller says that "no serious (or even semiserious) person would argue that," it's somewhat unclear whether she's talking about arguing for racial exclusion (in which case she's right) or talking about "denying access to any sacrament based on sexuality"-in which case she is dead wrong. Robert A. J. Gagnon's book The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (493 pages) makes a far more "serious" case for the traditional view of homosexuality than Miller makes against it. But in any case, her premise is false. Remember, strictly speaking, no one is "excluded" from marriage because of their "sexual orientation"-it's just that "marriage" is, by definition, the union of a man and a woman. Many self-identified homosexuals have been married (to people of the opposite sex), while many former homosexuals are currently married (to people of the opposite sex). Furthermore, the comparison with race is not valid (see comments on previous quote).

The "values of stability [and] monogamy" are precisely what is threatened by same-sex "marriage." The research shows that homosexual relationships (particularly male homosexual relationships) simply are not characterized by "stability" or "monogamy" to any degree that is comparable to male-female marriage, and are often overtly rejected by homosexuals (who, for example, often seek other outside sexual partners even when they already have a "long-term" partner). I would agree that "[w]e [meaning society] want our children to grow up in stable homes"-but affirming homosexual parenting by allowing homosexual marriage would undermine that goal, since the higher rates of sexual promiscuity, STD's, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse among homosexuals are not conducive to a "stable" environment. Furthermore, an abundance of social science research shows that children raised by their own biological mother and father who are committed to one another in a lifelong marriage do better than children in any other living situation.

Finally, I would agree that "[m]ore basic than theology, though, is human need." And the most fundamental "human need," apart from sheer survival, is to reproduce ourselves. That is something that can only be done naturally by the union of a man and a woman. And fundamentally that-not Biblical teaching, nor "custom and tradition"-is why civil marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman