Before I begin, I want to warn you about the content of this post. I know some of my readers probably would rather not be exposed to very adult topics, and I’d rather not subject you to reading something that you don’t want to or should not read. This is something for high schoolers on up! That being said, you may read on at your own risk.
This week was a milestone for me—I started college! One of my classes is on Biblical Interpretation. For our first assignment, we have to read this article, http://thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2008/12/05/our-mutual-joy.print.html/ , which we certainly don’t agree with, and identify the biblical arguments that the author uses to present her case. After reading this article, I wish the assignment were to write a very long essay to argue against the article. I suppose I’ll have to settle for a blog post. I’d really like to post the entire article here and then attack it and tear it apart, paragraph by paragraph. However, that would become a very long blog post, and it would most likely end up sounding angry. So I’ll simply address the main issues I see with this article, assuming my reader has read it. Right now, I am extremely annoyed, offended, disgusted, and altogether horrified by the way that the author, Lisa Miller, mutilates the Holy word of my God.
In this article, Miller addresses the topic of the Biblical view of homosexuality. I really don’t know why she even bothers. Obviously, she regard the Bible as myth; she denies the virgin birth and refers to the account of Esther as “legend.” In addition, she discards large portions of scripture and reinterprets other parts. She claims that Old Testament sections of law (such as Leviticus 18, which describes gay sex as detestible) as “throwaway lines.” Throwaway lines! Since when is any part of the Bible disposable? Second Timothy 3:16 says that “all scripture is God-breathed.” That includes Leviticus. It includes all of the law, for that matter.
As far as I can tell, from my viewpoint as a relatively well-studied but and yet young and inexperienced individual, there are two parts to the Law. There are the sections that deal with the forgiveness of sin, sacrifices, ceremonial cleanliness, and all things temple-related. These sections were fulfilled in Christ Jesus (Matthew 5:17), and we no longer go about cleansing our souls in the same way. This would be an excellent discussion for another blog post. There are also the sections that deal with public order, disciplinary action, et cetera; the case laws and related items. Modern society rarely, if ever, follows the biblical laws that God gave the Israelites. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, we a Westerners see democracy, republicanism, or some form of both or either as the only proper way to run a country. Secondly, a theocratic government seems preposterous in this modern age. Thirdly, as much as we like to bash leftists, our society is, unfortunately, very heavily influenced by Marxist thought, which is anti-God in nature*. However, a careful study of the Law (through the lens of cultural context in regards to the Israelite definitions of “slavery” and other seemingly horrible ideas) will show that God really is a lot smarter that people when it comes to designing government. Yes, capital punishment is inflicted on adulterers. Yes, slavery is allowed. Yes, high fines are imposed on criminals who cannot afford them. But stop-- instead of looking at it through the eyes of a Romanized, Westernized, faulty and failing modern system, look at it how God mean for you to view it. Immorality would be nearly nonexistent if the penalty were death, families would be whole, single teen mothers wouldn’t struggle to raise children. Slavery in Israel was nothing like slavery in early America or in ancient Egypt. The high fines on criminals often drove them to be under servitude to the benefit of whomever they had wronged. Is that a bad idea? I don’t think so. The Law never mentioned prisons. In America, a criminal is locked up, the victim, though his taxes, pays for the criminal’s room and board, and the criminal often leaves the prison with a PHD! In ancient Israel, the criminal pays what he can to cover the cost of what he stole, and then covers the rest by working without pay. The criminal’s sin toward the victim is atoned for. He has paid back what he owes. The victim receives compensation. The state doesn’t spend millions. The system works (Ex. 22). In the Law, God says not to beat up your servant. He says not to exact usury. He says not to kill other people, steal their stuff or have sexual relations with someone of your same gender. It’s there in black and white, and it is as relevant today as it was then. Matthew 2:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.”
Another thing that I find very odd about Miller’s arguments is that while she disregards the Law on grounds of cultural context, she clings to Paul’s statements on the value of celibacy without really looking at any context at all. Paul says in 1 Corinthians that it is good to remain single and not marry. Looking at this through the lens of cultural context, I can see two reasons for this: first, the obvious reason, that it is much easier to serve God when you don’t have a family to support and be distracted by. Second, at the time of Paul’s writing, Christianity wasn’t exactly a popular religion with the general public and the government. It’s a lot easier to pick up and flee when you’re flying solo.
I could go on for pages, but I want to address only one more thing about Miller’s article that really killed me. Allow me to paraphrase her words: “Society has abandoned most of the other traditional aspects of marriage; why not the one-man, one-woman definition? Let’s get with the times.” Ah. So now we are supposed to condone the departure from the “traditions” that held society together for centuries! I’m an extreme conservative—I believe that a woman should submit to her husband. There was a time, not so very long ago, when I would not have been labeled a “weirdo” for believing this way. Most Christians don’t hold this view, despite what the Bible teaches (Eph 5:22, 24; Col 3:18). As a whole, we no longer believe that a woman should submit to and obey her husband. That is an example of backsliding (sorry if that offends you—don’t talk to me about it. I didn’t write the book, I just read it). According to Miller, because we are backslidden, we ought to become more so! The logic of this idea escapes me completely.
Miller says that “we cannot look to the Bible as a marriage manual.” I say, why not? Isn’t the Bible supposed to be at the center of every aspect of our lives? Any married person will tell you that their marriage is a huge part of who they are and what they do. Marriage is a contract that binds two people together, hopefully for life. I don’t want to try to figure out how to make it work on my own! I need help from the One who designed marriage and who created me and whoever I’ll marry. Miller got a lot of things wrong in her article. Her logic is senseless, her argument is full of holes, her quotes are out of context. However, the biggest mistake she made was to claim that the Bible cannot be an authority on marriage. The Bible is the final authority on everything, and God promises that those who obey Him will receive blessings. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty good to me. I think I’ll stick with my old-fashioned traditions.
*As a side note, Marxism or Marxist-like ideas can probably be blamed for the gay rights movement. It is quite simple to trace the high divorce rate, increase of immorality in the 20th century, abortion and gay rights to the feminist movement. Feminist thought is essentially Marxist.