One of the most useful side-effects of the pasage of Prop. 8 in California is that people are asking, “So why won’t we let the gays get married again?” and anti-marriage advocates, unable to win their case in the civic square have retreated to religion, pulling out the “Because the Bible tells me so” defense.
Not true, says Newsweek‘s Lisa Miller in this morning’s cover story, The Religious Case for Gay Marriage, which argues that there’s a pretty compelling theological argument for gay marriage. Looking at the institution Miller asks:
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?
Miller goes on to argue that the traditional family values that religious conservatives in this country are so fond of protecting are virtually absent from the Bible and are modern inventions and interpretations of the Bible. She says:
Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, then, but in custom and tradition (and, to talk turkey for a minute, a personal discomfort with gay sex that transcends theological argument).
Which is lately what we’ve been thinking too. The arguments against gay marriage are objectively pretty weak and almost every extended conversation we have with someone against gay marriage eventually devolves into a “gay sex is icky” conversation, to which I have to explain that most of us don’t have plans on to invite the wedding reception up to our rooms at the end of the night.
It’s an even-handed piece that will, if history is any indicator, result in Lisa Miller getting lots of nasty phone calls at the behest of the Christian Anti-Defamation League.