The Bible and Gay Marriage

In a matter of days, more than 40,000 readers responded to our Dec. 15 cover story, "The Religious Case for Gay Marriage." The vast majority stemmed from a letter-writing campaign encouraged by the American Family Association, which took issue with the piece. Below, a sample of the responses from both sides.

In "Our Mutual Joy" (Dec. 15), Lisa Miller fails to recognize that the natural order of creation, not the Bible, defines what marriage is. The Bible confirms what was already present—namely, that marriage is a relationship constructed on the basis of heterosexual difference. Miller selectively references biblical instances of polygamy and abusive conduct to attempt to show that marriage was never intended to be only the union of one man and one woman. These situations demonstrate the limited consciousness and societal practices of the time. The subsequent teaching of the prophets and of the Wisdom literature rebuilt the consciousness of the people about the true nature and dignity of marriage. The teaching of Jesus in the 19th chapter of Saint Matthew's Gospel makes clear that marriage is between one man and one woman. The sexual difference between man and woman is the baseline template essential to marriage because only this difference allows a true union of persons on every level of their being. As Miller correctly states in her article, "We cannot look to the Bible as a marriage manual, but we can read it for universal truths." The nature of marriage as exclusively a heterosexual union is one of those universal truths.
Rev. J. Brian Bransfield, Incoming Executive Director
Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Washington, D.C.

As a Christian, I'll be the first to tell you that I don't have all the answers, though God promises to reveal all to us at the appointed time. But let's be clear: if the Bible is the divine word of God, then you either accept it all or none of it. It's not a menu to just pick and choose and create your own interpretation. I choose to believe God's word and God's plan. I've got gay friends, and I don't condemn them or judge them. That's not my job. I just love them and leave the rest up to our God.
Jeff Conwell
via internet

I was saddened but not surprised that NEWSWEEK would run a blatantly distorted interpretation of Scripture regarding homosexual marriage. As Christians, we are taught to love the sinner and not the sin. Well, you've taken it two steps further—condone the sin and then put it into law to validate it. The Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths agree that homosexuality is a sin. All that's left are the nonbelievers and agnostics who are trying to rewrite the Bible, like Lisa Miller.
Nancy McKay-Rosa
via internet

This is probably the most well-reasoned and calmly written essay about gay marriage I've ever read. This last big struggle in civil rights has burst open a festering sore that not only shows the true ugliness of organized religion, but threatens the separation of church and state. For what this is really about is removing the last obstacle in patriarchal control of people's private lives. In my own family, if one were to apply biblical proscriptions, every single person would have been stoned to death by now. Yet some of the condemned would still deny me my private civil rights based on laws even they have broken. Who decided that the Bible is the law in this country and not the Constitution and our Bill of Rights?
Monique Bryher
Studio City, Calif.

Your cover story on same-sex marriage is shameful. Lisa Miller's misunderstanding and dismissal of Scripture is astonishing. Voters in 30 states have recognized that marriage is the bringing together of the two sexes. They understood that gender matters, and that both husbands and wives matter to society and to children. Children need both a mother and father, and two men do not make a mom. If marriage is to mean anything political activists desire, then it will ultimately mean nothing to society.
Micah Clark
Noblesville, Ind.

I was very disappointed by the article on gay marriage. I would rather have seen someone take the time to talk to those whom the author vilifies: Bible-believing Christians. If she had done research, the author would have found that she was misstating the position of Bible-believing Christians as well as getting her facts wrong about what the Bible says. I also would have thought that she would mention that Islam condemns homosexuality as well. But then I suppose it is politically incorrect to bash Muslims.
Bruce Goettsche|
a Harpe, Ill.

Thank you, NEWSWEEK and Lisa Miller, for your timely and insightful article about equal marriage. Please know that many people of faith wish and hope for a more capacious and gracious world—one in which divergent faith and beliefs are respected and are given freedom to grow. Your article provides a much-needed rebuke for fundamentalists who would seek to keep others from the love of God and from civil marriage and all the joys and trials that might result. Thank you again for your courage and your voice.
Tim Johnson
Las Vegas, Nev.

Strategy for 21st-Century Peace
Wow. I just read the Dec. 8 issue, "How to Fix the World," and was so impressed by Fareed Zakaria's articles. It was illuminating to read "This Fire Needs to Be Put Out" on the horrific attacks in Mumbai from the perspective of someone who has been there. The issue contained so many terrific ideas from so many regional experts for President-elect Barack Obama to absorb and implement. Let's pray that he chooses the correct ones.
Dottie Barna
Sun City, Ariz.

In "Know The Limits of U.S. Power," Prof. John Mearsheimer, on the subject of the Middle East, advocates a strategy that he calls "offshore balancing." Although the idea sounds interesting, two of the interrelated examples that he cites in support of the idea are far from being indicative of success. They are the Iran-Iraq War and Iraq's conquest of Kuwait. Mearsheimer does not seem to acknowledge the devastating effects of U.S. assistance to Saddam Hussein and the relationship of American policy to those catastrophic events. Close to 1 million estimated casualties on both sides, in the longest war in recent history, cannot be claimed to be a victory for pursuing an offshore-balancing strategy.
Sattar Farzan
Falls Church, Va.

Paying Afghan warlords to fight terrorism has not been effective in the past. In the 1980s, the United States provided the warlords (the then mujahedin) with cash and weapons to kick the Soviet troops out of Afghanistan. The Taliban and Osama bin Laden took their place. Then, in 2001, bin Laden & Co. were surrounded in the Tora Bora mountains. The United States did exactly what Prof. Andrew J. Bacevich recommends in "Think Again: What's Our Definition of Victory?"—it outsourced his capture to the Afghan warlords. They took money from both the United States and Al Qaeda and then let bin Laden escape to Pakistan. For the war against terrorism to be effective, the Pakistanis must be forced to deal with terrorism. In Afghanistan, the United States and its allies must withdraw support from Hamid Karzai and his allies. It is the lack of government control, high unemployment and disenchantment with the corrupt, inept Karzai government, coupled with financial assistance from the insurgency, that enables terrorists to operate freely in the countryside and small towns. Thus, in Afghanistan, narcotics must be eradicated for nation-building to be effective. Regionally, the United States must work to focus Pakistan on supporting the antiterrorism efforts on the borders and work with Iran to calm the waters. A solution, while not instant, is at least possible over time.
Ehsan Entezar
Modesto, Calif.

Drug Violence on Our Doorstep
Neither Mexico nor the United States has many "drug-related shootings" ("Bloodshed on the Border," Dec. 8).What both Mexico and the United States do have is lots of drug-prohibition-related violent crime. It absolutely will get worse until we end the ban on drugs. Seventy-five years ago, our great-grandfathers regained their sanity and relegalized a different drug, alcohol.
Kirk Muse
Mesa, Ariz.

The crime, corruption and overdose deaths attributed to illegal drugs are invariably the results of drug prohibition. With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gunned each other down in violent turf battles. Drug prohibition funds organized crime at home and terrorism abroad, which is then used to justify increased drug-war spending. It's time to end this madness and instead treat all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the public-health problem it is.
Robert Sharpe
Common Sense for Drug Policy
Washington, D.C.

Not in Jackie O ' s Shadow
Having grown to adolescence during the Kennedy years, I agree with historian Carl Anthony that Michelle Obama and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis have little in common, but I also recognize that "youth, beauty and little kids running around" is far from being an "aside from" consideration ("Very Little in Common But That 'O'," PERISCOPE, Dec. 8). The excitement many older boomers and seniors feel at the prospect of a beautiful family with delightful little girls moving into the White House is very much like what we felt during the Kennedy era. No, it's not the second coming of the Camelot mythology. This is so historic and precedent-setting that there is really nowhere to look for comparison. But it does recall that feeling of something so new and vibrant afoot.
Felice Sage
Littleton, Colo.

Al Gore on Global Warming
Calling Al Gore "the world's most prominent environmentalist on carbon taxes, clean coal and the dangers of illusion" is ironic because it continues the illusion of Gore's theme that a very minor greenhouse gas—carbon dioxide—is driving global warming ("Don't Count On Magic," Dec. 8). Most media, Al Gore, some of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others have avoided the overwhelming evidence that the rise of carbon dioxide follows the rise of temperature. There have been 10 major glacial and interglacial periods in the past million years. We are currently in an interglacial period with continued warming. Global warming is not entirely bad. The carbon tax will do great harm to the economy for invalid reasons.
C. Kent Chamberlain
Idaho Falls, Idaho

I appreciate the interview with Al Gore, but as usual, Gore isn't talking about one of the biggest things we can do to cut carbon emissions: eat less meat! Eighteen percent of greenhouse gases come from the production of meat in this country. Real environmentalists don't eat meat!
Kecia Talbot
San Rafael, Calif.

In our Dec. 1 story "What Michelle Means to Us" we said that Michelle Obama would grace the March cover of Vogue. While Vogue has in fact been in discussions with her representatives about appearing on the magazine's cover, both sides now say no cover appearance has been confirmed.