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December 09, 2008


robin dugall

I have a real problem with this article...in that NO ONE disputes that the bible has stories of wacked out families and marriages. The issue is intent...the creation story outlines the intent...everything that proceeds from the second "act" in the biblical narrative (that being the fall) demonstrates how the human experiment went off course. One of the distinct issues of the implications of the fall are messed up relationships...the argument that the creation story is mysogenistic or simply "male oriented" is proposterous. I wouldn't doubt that Newsweek has an axe to grind with any one who stands for a more traditional view of marriage. "Why not stoke the fires" is there mantra in this debate. Sarna in his Genesis commentaries makes some more relevant comments...in reflecting on the differentiation of the sexes he writes, "no such sexual differentiation is noted in regards to animals. Human sexuality is of a wholly different order from that of the beast...it (hetero-sexual union) is a blessed gift woven into the fabric of life..its abuse is treated in the bible with particular severity...its proper regulation is subsumed under the category of the holy". I've got other thoughts...but I'll stop now. I think that argument in Newsweek is simply bull...oh well, at least you know where I stand on the issue.

Love ya,

Derek Rishmawy

Robin addressed many of the problems with the article above but one that stuck out to me is the fact that while it mentioned the fact that Jesus was single and sat lightly on familial ties, there is no mention of Jesus' clearest pronouncements on the issue as it relates to divorce. In the sayings on marriage, Jesus himself(or Mark and Matthew's Jesus)interprets Genesis for us in at least a monogamous sense and seems to set it forward as a pattern-drawing text. Also, the NT, at least in Ephesians, sets up the Husband/Bride relationship as a pattern for relationships that finds its greatest meaning in the Christ/Church relationship. Christ the true Husband, the Church, the true Bride.

Beyond that, the fact that the Bible records stories of how they were and not as they ought to have been says nothing about the ethical judgment the world of Scripture passes on these events. Abraham and the Patriarchs are clearly not strict models. They are presented as historical figures as the Bible traces out the history or Redemption, not simply as characters in a collection of Sunday School stories with clear morals and protagonists. The Bible also records these patriarchs lying, stealing, murdering, etc. and no one thinks that the Bible does anything but condemn these behaviors even though it records them.

I also found Segal's quote about the Bible interesting. Thing about it is that while Evangelicals, (at least the ones like myself), think that the Bible was written by men, I also do happen to think that God had something to do with its composition and canonization. I think the thing is inspired. Not dictated, but the fact of the matter is that I think culture, while important, is often contradicted and spoken against within Scriptures.

I mean, the Bible was written in a heavily-polytheistic culture and yet we can recognize that all the statements about worshipping Yahweh alone as the true God should be read as polemical, counter-cultural statements about the worship of God, even though they were written by Men for whom polytheism was the way of the world.

I would also like to know if there was any mention of Christian and Jewish traditional interpretation on the subject. Not all traditions rely strictly on the Text. I'm sure the Talmudic interpretation on the issue is worth something for the Jews and Church tradition for Catholics, Orthodox, and a lot of Protestants.

A final note: Newsweek always does this kind of thing. Context only matters when they're attacking traditional/conservative believers.

More to say, but I have to study for finals.

Thanks for the post Mike.


It's been a crazy week, hence my lack of interaction on this post.


I think Robin brings up the exact point that I was thinking. In short, interpreting the scriptures when it comes to moral codes is a very nuanced business. When we read the text we need to acknowledge in our reading that the text was indeed written in a time much different from ours, which saw certain moral codes differently than we do. We need to couple this with the idea that just because something is in the text does not make it a moral standard - take polygamy for example.

In the end, we need to remember that Genesis 1 is where the text begins, not with Genesis 3. The rest of the text from Genesis 4 through Revelation 20 can be seen as a progressive unveiling of God's dream for restoration and reconciliation. [Check out William Webb's Slaves, Women and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis for more on this.]

I think this is a major weakness of the Newsweek article. It tends to shy away from any standard by citing competing standards in the text. It seemed to me what Newsweek needed was a much more nuanced approach in dealing with cultural analysis.


I really like your thoughts Mike. Personally, I've yet to see any Christian thinker write a truly balanced piece on this debate. Perhaps it is because there are so many issues attached to it (i.e. OT and NT historical/contextual issues, philosophical assumptions, theological views on sin and sexuality, moral ethics vs. legal ethics, the philosophical underpinnings of what constitues a right, the implications of homosexual genetic studies, practical evangelism, and the list goes on and on.).

I did not read the whole the article, but I am assuming (and correct me if I am wrong) that the author is very pro gay marriage. Which is fine, I think all traditional marriage proponents should read it with a non-defensive, open-mind.

However, I would have liked it if Newsweek had a traditional marriage proponent write an article too. And not by Bob-hillbilly-Baptist-preacher, but by an Old Testament scholar or an ethics professor who has intelligent thoughts.

Otherwise, it makes Newsweek come off looking biased with a political agenda, rather than reporters of the truth.

Rod Pamer

This is probably off the subject...but the comment from Scott about "Bob-hillbilly-Baptist-preacher" really bugs me. "Bob" is equally important in God's economy as a OT scholar and has a right to stand on his beliefs which may well be based on Scripture. Don't whack on "Bob" because he believes in traditional values. Our culture too quickly judges a person's worth by their credentials and numbers. And by the way, I am not Baptist nor a hillbilly, I have a graduate degree from a secular university, and my name's not "Bob."

Eugene Kerns

Jesus Him self abolished the practice of rightioness throw deed, “tho all things are permisable not all things are benificial” but rightioness comes through faith and faith equals persuits, Paul made the point that the absence of sin is not rightioness, but niether is religious practice, that is why he said ” one mans faith allows him to eat anything another man of weaker faith limits him self, but each man will be judged by the pursuit of his heart, Judeo-Christian, will stand and say Lord Lord, Jesus knowing there hearts will say you pursued wealth, health, and every desire that entered you soul, knowlage, possition,and lust, but me you never knew and I don’t know you, like so many events in our life homosexuality is more obvious our pursuit for an absents from God ( even if they are religios), take flirting for instance it seems harmless and for the most part it is untill someone is affected, our esteem, situation determins possitive or negative and how we affect others, but in this case infect is a better word, we infect and are infected by others, socialy introducing a crack addict, a leper, pedafile, homosexual, into our laws or niegborhood or homes will be measured by risk, some will praise Grace where a household that has small children or influetial preteens others cry fool.the truth of the matter a nice person that does not know Jesus and a homosexual that have both deregarded salvation will end up in the same place hell, but at the moment we love both but the infection of the nice person in minimal and probably benificial, while the homosexual's influence spiritualy may be devistating, politicaly there is much to say on this maybe anther time.


Rod -

I wasn't addressing "Pastor's Bob" intrisic's worth as a human being. Of course he is has as much intrisic value as you, or me, or St. Paul, or even Hitler for that matter. We are all made in the image of God. I get that.

I was however challenging his instrumental worth relative to others. And the brute truth--whether anyone likes it or not--is that degrees, credentials, and influence do make one more effective (and therefore more instrumentally valuable) for the kingdom.

And I was not "whacking" on "Bob" because he has traditional values. I was whacking on the fact that those with traditional values are rarely represented fairly and adequately in the public square. Don't you think it is a shame that there are thoughtful, intelligent Christian philosophers and ethicists with traditional values and PhD's, but rarely get a chance to speak in the media? My guess is that it is a lot easier for the mainstream media to get the opinion of the local pastor or a Focus on the Family representative, which is simply intellectually irresponsible considering the alternative.

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