Before it got off the radar I wanted to respond to Lisa Miller’s article in the 12/15 issue of Newsweek. Her article, “Mutual Joy,” was published as the feature article associated with Newsweek’s The Religious Case for Gay Marriage cover story. I’ve subscribed off and on to Newsweek for several years and love their willingness to address controversial issues. Their approach is usually well developed, handled with sensitivity, and adheres to normal standards for journalism.
First, I don’t know why this article was written. Don’t get me wrong, in the wake of last fall’s election results and how the vote went in California, I do understand why the issue of gay marriage would be of interest to a magazine wishing to sell issues. But what I don’t understand is why Newsweek would not only endorse gay marriage , but actually suggest that Miller’s argument and her position has legitimate application to churches.
- Her first claim is that the Bible is not the place to which we should turn for any working definition for “traditional family.” Chiefly citing polygamy, she also calls attention to David’s relationship with Bathsheba and several of Abraham’s faults. But where the Bible’s position here is concerned, these accounts serve as documentation for our sake; so that we will know and understand and see firsthand the consequences of these actions that God has instructed against. The Bible is comprised of real people and a real God very willing to call them out—but not always punitively, but always to provide for opportunities to grow and become better, to be more.
- Miller does not neglect the New Testament either, saying that “Ozzie and Harriet” are nowhere to be found there. Examining the lives and ministries of both Jesus and Paul Miller concludes that marriage is discouraged when this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The reality is that marriage was not an option for these men and the convictions they felt and accepted for their lives. Paul accepted the call to be on the missionary journey for the remainder of his life. Jesus was called to forfeit His life. Neither circumstance leaves room for family.
- And of course nothing written on this subject would fail to include David’s friendship with Jonathan. To describe this relationship as anything other than a high expression of redemptive friendship is a perversion. Through various forms of media our society has elevated romantic love to an unreasonable level. Redemptive community and friendship such as what existed between Jonathan and David is perhaps a higher expression of humanity—we’re neither accustomed nor comfortable with such an expression.
- At one point Lisa Miller writes, “The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it’s impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours.” Really? Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Love thy neighbor as you love yourself. Honor your father and your mother. Don’t lie. Don’t lust. It would seem to me that the people in the world for whom the Bible was written are very much like the people in the world we have today.
But my biggest problem with this issue of Newsweek is that it appears to be written simply to incite. There is no objectivity. There are no leading conservative voices present which by itself points to an unwillingness to address positions that differ from the author’s own. In short, it doesn’t appear to me to be serious. In fact, it’s whiny. And it’s whiny probably because Miller and like-minded advocates have realized that mainstream America does not share their values. That the magazine would choose to take this direction for a cover story and feature article is, simply put, a mistake.