Newsweek magazine's latest cover story has stirred strong criticism from Christians over its analysis of the Bible and the definition of marriage.
In the cover article The Religious Case for Gay Marriage, religion editor Lisa Miller argues that the Bible's message of marriage lacks the clarity and substance needed to form a good case against same-sex marriage.
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"While the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family," she wrote, "neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman."
Miller cites examples of men like Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon, whom she notes were "all polygamists." She adds that "no sensible modern person wants marriage--theirs or anyone else's -- to look in its particulars anything like what the Bible describes."
Fact or Opinion?
Many Christian leaders say Miller's arguments are weak and misinterpret the Bible.
Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, called the story "yet another attack on orthodox Christianity."
"I hardly think that Newsweek is a credible venue for theological discussion," he said. "I thought it was just full of holes."
On the FRC blog, Perkins and rebutts several of the claims Miller made in her article.
"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," they wrote, using Genesis 2:22,24 as a reference.
"The whole argument that 'Jesus never mentions homosexuality,' and therefore that he must have tolerated it, is ridiculous on its face," he added. "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," he writes.
Other Christians weren't surprised by the article, arguing that Newsweek has sided in favor of gay marriage for a long time.
"Newsweek has been so far in the tank on the homosexual issue, for so long, they need scuba gear and breathing apparatus," said Richard Land, leader of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. "I don't think it's going to change the minds of anyone who takes biblical teachings seriously."
'Sloppy' Moral Reasoning
Newsweek editor Jon Meacham says he expected the backlash over the article.
In his Editor's Note at the front of the magazine he writes, "Religious conservatives will say that the liberal media are once again seeking to impose their values... on a God-fearing nation."
"Let the letters and emails come," he says. "History and demographics are on the side of those who favor inclusion over exclusion."
He later adds that "...to argue that something is so because it is in the Bible is more than intellectually bankrupt-it is unserious, and unworthy of the great Judeo-Christian tradition."
But that is a point Pittsburgh Theology Professor Robert Gagnon says undermines Miller's article, which uses Scripture to make her case for gay marriage.
"So as an alternative to submitting to the overwhelming witness of Scripture on moral issues, which includes the voice of Jesus, believers should prefer the sloppy moral reasoning of people like Meacham and Miller?" Gagnon asks in his lengthy critique of the Newsweek article.
Miller's article was originally published on the Newsweek Web site Dec. 6 and appears in the Dec. 15 magazine issue.
Sources: Politico, Newsweek