Representative of the quality of her argument is this passage: “It probably goes without saying that the phrase ‘gay marriage’ does not appear in the Bible at all.”
That “probably” is an unintentional, comical touch. The ancient Hebrews were more advanced than we are in this respect: they didn’t waste time tiresomely pondering whether a man and a man or a woman and a woman could marry each other.
GetReligion.org’s Mollie Hemingway penned two capable critiques, Sola scriptura minus the scriptura and What’s the Standard?
The American Conservative’s Daniel Larison also weighed in concerning Newsweek editor Jon Meacham’s vacuous remarks expressing his poor theology.
Courtesy of Baylor University’s Prof. Francis Beckwith, who notes other good responses, we find Rob Bowman’s solid critique at Religious Researcher.
Bowman particularly responds to Miller’s dismissive remarks about Leviticus.
Gay activists cite Leviticus with frequency and stupidity. Using analysis fit only for a bumper sticker, they cite the only passage they know: one which forbids shellfish.
Miller follows their shallow example, writing: “Most of us no longer heed Leviticus on haircuts or blood sacrifices; our modern understanding of the world has surpassed its prescriptions. Why would we regard its condemnation of homosexuality with more seriousness than we regard its advice, which is far lengthier, on the best price to pay for a slave?”
In the very chapters condemning homosexual acts (in 18:22 and 20:13), Leviticus also condemns incest (18:6-18; 20:11-12, 14, 17, 19-21), adultery (18:20; 20:10), child-sacrifice (18:21; 20:2-5), and bestiality (18:23; 20:15-16). The texts condemning homosexual acts are sandwiched immediately between texts condemning child-sacrifice and bestiality in chapter 18 (18:21-23) and between texts condemning different types of incest in chapter 20 (20:12-14).
In the intervening chapter, Leviticus contains what used to be its most famous injunction: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (19:18), quoted by Jesus as the second of the two greatest commandments (Matt. 22:39; Mark 12:31, 33; cf. Luke 10:27).
He charges that the main problem with Miller’s “stock objection" to Leviticus' teaching about homosexual conduct "is not that it pays attention to their context but that it does not pay sufficient, close attention to their context.”
Miller's appeal to the "length" of biblical passages as a measure of their authority is also sophomoric. The gravity of the acts under discussion was so obvious to their audience that the biblical authors would have had no need to go into the obscene details.
The journalistic take on Miller’s essay is also devastating.
“It is no exaggeration to say the piece was an embarrassment,” remarked GetReligion.org’s Mollie Hemingway. She said pieces like Miller’s essay have helped make Newsweek “more or less the laughingstock of the journalism world.”
Referencing Miller’s essay, she accused Newsweek editor Jon Meacham of “trading journalism for hackery and propaganda."
"There was precisely no one provoked to think in any meaningful sense by that last cover story. People were simply provoked to drop subscriptions or otherwise think less of Newsweek. It didn’t engage the Scriptural arguments in favor of traditional marriage fairly or honestly. The only people who would even remotely enjoy that story or find it thoughtful are people who were already inclined to believe it.”
While Newsweek has acknowledged its critics, it remains to be seen whether it will provide a platform for a competent advocate of marriage as a union between man and woman.
As evidence this platform might not be forthcoming, we note comments made at the annual conference of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, held in Washington, D.C. in August.
There David Waters, editor of the “On Faith” blog which appears on the Newsweek web site, urged reporters to avoid prominent Christian leaders and focus only on “real people.”
According to the Culture and Media Institute, at the conference “the discussion quickly degenerated into a seminar on how journalists can ‘conquer’ the religion debate to advance the homosexual political agenda.”
I think, as journalists, our No. 1 obligation is obviously to the truth, and if we’re going to be about the truth then we have to fight and we have to fight for space and for time to tell the right story and to tell the real story, and I think the best way to go about that, at least I’ve found in my experience with my own reporting and with other reporters, is to take time and not go to the Pat Robertsons and the James Dobsons of the world but to find the real people who are really struggling with this issue.
People who are “struggling with this issue” are people of no clear opinion. Waters advocates shutting out those clearly opposed to his agenda, a plausible but wicked strategy. He would make the muddle-headed out to be moderates and reserve clarity only for his political allies in advocacy, who could then define the range of acceptable debate.
Another speaker at the conference, defrocked United Methodist minister Jimmy Creech, advised that journalists not make themselves “complicit” in popularizing the comments of religious leaders Creech considers to be “fringe” and “radical.”
Newsweek is quickly learning that there are real people who are not “struggling with this issue” and who don’t want to pay for predictable and poorly-argued religious opinions (which blogs provide for free).
Its future does not look bright.
Last year, the magazine cut its subscriber number guarantees to advertisers from 3.1 million to 2.6 million. Now the Wall Street Journal reports that Newsweek “could subtract anywhere from 500,000 to one million copies from its current guarantee of 2.6 million.”
They say money follows quality. Judging from recent events, Newsweek is missing both.
Newsweek's website has posted a response, awkwardly titled
No Case for Homosexuality in Bible, written by Joseph Bottum, John Mark Reynolds, and Bruce D. Porter. Will Newsweek publish this in its print edition?