newsweek’s stab at hermeneutics

I don’t know how many are aware of Newsweek’s recent cover story regarding homosexual marriage and how the Bible’s “values” support it, but it was quite something. If you have some time to kill and want to read a good example of how not to approach the scripture then this is a good one.

Professor Robert A. Gagnon has performed a valuable service for all of us by taking Ms. Miller’s arguments seriously enough to read them carefully and thoroughly demolish them. Here is the good professor’s first sentence of a 23 page takedown: “As its cover story for the Dec. 15, 2008 issue, the editors of Newsweek offer readers a hopelessly distorted and one-sided propaganda piece on “gay marriage” entitled “Our Mutual Joy.””

It just gets better after that.

Here are some of the professor’s concluding thoughts:

Lisa Miller’s article is so poorly researched and so badly (and arrogantly) argued that the editors of Newsweek should be ashamed of themselves for publishing it. But they are not ashamed. In fact, managing editor Jon Meacham sets up Miller’s cover story in his “Editor’s Desk” column by writing:

No matter what one thinks about gay rights—for, against or somewhere in between —this conservative resort to biblical authority is the worst kind of fundamentalism. Given the history of the making of the Scriptures and the millennia of critical attention scholars and others have given to the stories and injunctions that come to us in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament, 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.
Let’s see if I understand this: Basing one’s views on the overwhelming witness of Scripture regarding an important issue of sexual ethics, including the witness of Jesus—a witness understood, of course, in its historical and literary contexts—is “unworthy of the great Judeo-Christian tradition”? Does Meacham not realize that obedience to scriptural authority and the teaching of Jesus is precisely how “the great Judeo-Christian tradition” formulated its theology since its inception? And how is a negation of appeals to scriptural authority consistent with the subheading for Miller’s article: “Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side”? 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?
The question must be asked: What is it with the “elite” newspapers and newsmagazines over the past decade? Are they so obsessed with promoting the homosexualist agenda that they have now given up even a pretense to objectivity, balanced research, and good sense? Do they care nothing for destroying their reputation, built up over many years, as credible sources for news and commentary? These news sources are more and more resembling a homosexualist Pravda—a different agenda but the same style of propaganda “news” reporting that would make the old Kremlin leadership proud.

We should, of course, continue to dialogue with homosexualist advocates like Miller and Meacham. However, their support for a homosexualist ideology is so brazen and offensive in its blatant misinformation—obviously they are very angry about the passage of Proposition 8 in California—that subscribers to Newsweek should give serious consideration to canceling their subscription. For such homosexualist zealots as Miller and Meacham, reasoned argumentation is unlikely to have any major impact. They will understand the language of money, though. It is clear that, ultimately, Miller and Meacham have little desire to make responsible arguments about the merits of moral appeals to Scripture (their refusal to consider any major argument against their position is evidence enough of this). They have only one objective; namely, to intimidate Jews and Christians who appeal to Scripture for their opposition to homosexual practice. Such persons must either shut up or else be treated as the ignorant religious bigots that Miller and Meacham claim them to be.

hat tip to Vitamin Z and Justin Taylor


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