Back in 1993 when the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the new world brought out the attack dogs to rage against white Christian Europeans, Fr. John Hardon, SJ predicted that the battle would be nothing compared to the one targeting Jesus Christ and his teachings at the beginning of the new millenia. Since faith and culture have been under attack for generations, Father really didn't need to be a prophet to make that prediction. He just needed to have his eyes open. The attack has been relentless in recent years and we are still two decades away from the 2000th anniversary of Christ's crucifixion. Newsweek's apologia for gay marriage earlier this month by religion editor Lisa Miller (Our Mutual Joy, December 6) represents just one more attack, this one on Biblical teaching about traditional marriage.
Miller's selective interpretation of the Bible leads to her conclusion that it defends gay marriage. This is how she puts it: "Should gay people be married in the same, sacramental sense that straight people are? I would argue that they should. If we are all God's children, made in his likeness and image, then to deny access to any sacrament based on sexuality is exactly the same thing as denying it based on skin color—and no serious (or even semiserious) person would argue that." Take that, you Christian homophobes; Lisa Miller has spoken. (This obviously also makes mincemeat out of the Catholic sacrament of priestly ordination since the Church teaches that only men can be ordained.) But Miller never even makes an argument to support her outlandish statement. Despite thousands of words she never addressed the central issue.
What is marriage? Is it a lump of playdough to be formed according to each man or woman? John wants to marry Dick. Jane plans to wed Jill. Betty wants a menage a trois with Susie and Bob. Woody wants to marry his daughter and Kitty wants....fill in the blank. Can all these situations be described as marriage in Miller's view? We can't say since she never defines what marriage is, except that homosexuals have a right to it, whatever it happens to be. But what possible reason can she use to exclude the rights of these other folks to define marriage however they want if marriage, by definition, has no definition?
But the Bible is actually pretty clear about it. Jesus blessed the institution of marriage between a man and a woman at the wedding feast of Cana when he performed his first miracle. Miller ignores that Biblical event completely. The first book of Genesis is also very clear - God made Adam and Eve and blessed them and said, "That is why a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." That's pretty clear: 1 man plus 1 woman equals two in one flesh, also known as marriage.
There are two purposes for marriage. The first is to procreate and educate children to know, love, and serve God and be happy with him in heaven. That particular purpose is physically impossible for same-sex couples although, who knows, immoral technologies may one day be able to surgically alter a male so he can bear a child, not from a union with the "marriage" partner, but through another immoral technology like cloning. The other purpose of marriage is to unite the couple in love, a love that doesn't seek self-gratification through lust, but desires the good of the other. The depraved practices of homosexuality certainly don't resemble marital love as God intended.
Miller claims that 2000 years of interpreting the bible as defending traditional marriage is just plain wrong. The Bible wasn't written for our time, she says, and must be interpreted with modern eyes as a "living document." This is the same argument liberals use to undermine the Constitution. Whatever aberration they want is found in the document's "penumbra" (the term used in Roe v. Wade to create the right to abortion). Let's face it, very few people actually read, much less study, the Bible so Miller's distortions will no doubt be accepted by those who want to believe what she says. To hell with reality when it conflicts with what I want to do.
Columnist Don Feder and Biblical scholar Robert Gagnon demolish Miller's arguments better than I can. I was, however, intrigued by her comparison of the fight for same-sex marriage to the abolitionist fight to end slavery. "Not since 1860," Miller writes, "when the country's pulpits were full of preachers pronouncing on slavery, pro and con, has one of our basic social (and economic) institutions been so subject to biblical scrutiny."
There is an argument to be made using the issue of slavery for comparison, but it's not the one Miller puts forward. The civil right that applies will never scream for attention because these victims of discrimination are tiny and voiceless. Abortion is the new slavery that makes mothers the slavemasters of their unborn children. Keep them or kill them, it's the mothers right to decide just like keeping or selling slaves was the right of the master. Only one difference for the babies; there's no hope for freedom once the abortionist gets through with them. As for "gay rights" they are based, not on any physical characteristics, but on sinful choices. Gays have as much claim to civil rights protection as kleptomaniacs and adulterers.
Lisa Miller's article is just one more attack on Jesus Christ and his teachings. The saddest thing about the article to me, however, was the ending. She tells her readers, "My friend the priest James Martin says his favorite Scripture relating to the question of homosexuality is Psalm 139, a song that praises the beauty and imperfection in all of us and that glorifies God's knowledge of our most secret selves: 'I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.' And then he adds that in his heart he believes that if Jesus were alive today, he would reach out especially to the gays and lesbians among us, for 'Jesus does not want people to be lonely and sad.' Let the priest's prayer be our own."
Fr. James Martin, is a Jesuit and acting publisher of America, a Catholic dissenters' magazine that has undermined Church teaching for years. If Miller's interpretation of Fr. Martin's words is correct, he needs to be disciplined. Psalm 139 no more relates to the "question of homosexuality" than it relates to fornication or adultery. Being "lonely or sad" is often part of the human condition and it does not excuse evil actions. Jesus would say to sodomite homosexuals exactly the same thing he said to the woman taken in adultery. "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way and sin no more."
It's hard to believe that Fr. John Hardon, a champion of orthodoxy who died on December 30, 2000 at the age of 86, came from the same religious order as Fr. James Martin. May Fr. Hardon pray for his confrere's conversion and for a renewal of sexual purity in the United States.