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Argument: Bible offers poor model for defining marriage

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Supporting quotations

Lisa Miller. "Our Mutual Joy." Newsweek. December 6th, 2008: "Let's try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does. 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?"


Scott Bidstrup. "Gay Marriage: The Arguments and the Motives": "[Claim:] Marriage is a sacred institution and gay marriage violates that sanctity. This is, of course, related to the motive above. But it is really subtly different. It's based on the assumption that the state has the responsibility to "sanctify" marriages - a fundamentally religious idea. Here we're dealing with people trying to enforce their religious doctrines on someone else, but by doing it through weakening the separation of church and state, by undermining the Bill of Rights. Not that there's anything new about this, of course. But the attempt itself runs against the grain of everything the First Amendment stands for - one does not truly have freedom of religion if one does not have the right to freedom from religion as well. It would seem to me that anyone who feels that the sanctity of their marriage is threatened by a gay couple down the street having the right to marry, is mighty insecure about their religion anyway.

Even if one accepts the presumption of the United States as a bible-believing, Christian nation as an acceptable legal doctrine, as many conservative Christians insist, and the bible should be the basis for the sacred institution of marriage, perhaps those Christians should get out their bibles and actually read them for a change. Including all the inconvenient passages that not only permit but can even require polygamy, involuntary marriage and the like.

How about Deuteronomy 25:5-10, for example: "When brothers reside together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband's brother shall go in to her, taking her in marriage and performing the duty of a husband's brother to her, and the firstborn whom she bears shall succeed to the name of the deceased brother, so that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. But if the man has no desire to marry his brother's widow, then his brother's widow shall go up to the elders at the gate and say 'My husband's brother refuses to perpetuate his brother's name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband's brother to me. Then the elders of his town shall summon him and speak to him. If he persists, saying 'I have no desire to marry her,' then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, pull his sandal from his foot, spit in his face, and declare 'This is what is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house. Throughout Israel his family will be known as 'the house of him whose sandal was pulled off.'"

If the Bible is sacred and inviolate when it comes to the institution of marriage, then the above passage and all the other inconvenient ones require reverence too, do they not? If the Christian is going to say, well, that's old, quaint and should no longer be expected to apply, well, then, that's exactly the point! The institution of marriage as it is practiced in the real world is a culturally defined institution, not biblically defined, as a reading of the above quotation should make quite clear, and it is high time we recognize and face up to the cold reality that cultural values have changed since the bible was written, and the institution of marriage has changed along with it. Gay marriage is simply part of that evolutionary process of social progress."

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