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The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage

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  • nyguy_1225
    The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage by Erwin W. Lutzer (Moody Publishers, 2004, 115 pp.) Love Supreme: Gay nuptials and the making of modern marriage by Adam
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 17, 2004
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      The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage by Erwin W. Lutzer (Moody
      Publishers, 2004, 115 pp.) "Love Supreme: Gay nuptials and the
      making of modern marriage" by Adam Haslett, The New Yorker, May 31,
      2004.

      A review by Dr. Ralph Blair

      Angry traditionalists in Massachusetts launched an effort to stop
      what they said was a fatal blow to marriage, the family and
      childrearing -- "wrong in theory and bad in practice." They warned
      of increased divorce and polygamy. That was in 1915 – a campaign
      against extending the right to vote to women. These same dire
      warnings were raised against interracial marriage. And Bible verses
      were abused in both issues.

      Again, as Lutzer's publisher warns, there's "a battle raging for
      marriage [and] the implications for society are profound." It's
      said that this fight for "traditional marriage [is] the single
      greatest threat to religious freedom today." One blurb claims that
      Lutzer "avoids emotional, reactionary solutions" but goes on, rather
      breathlessly, to assert that, "if not corrected – [marriage for same-
      sex couples] will cause our nation to implode." Lutzer, we're
      told, "sorts truth from spin." Of course, this is a book of spin.
      To pretend it's not is, itself, spin.

      Lutzer's misreading of the Bible takes too much for granted and
      neglects too much. He speaks only of "marriage as we know it" and
      then assumes that "the Bible condemns homosexuality," meaning, of
      course, homosexuality as we know it. That's anachronistic. He says
      he tries to be "loving," to all, including "communities
      of ... `gender orientation,'" – a designation that is both a
      mislabeling and a dismissing and illustrates his ignorance and
      disdain. He mistakenly thinks that homosexuality is the result of
      molestation and that it is but "compulsively acting out." He says
      that "several years ago" he spoke at an "ex-gay" conference. If
      that was "several years ago," he should know that, by now, most of
      those who heard him have "fallen" out of the movement and are still
      as gay as ever. In fact, his wishful thinking – that homosexuals
      can change – isn't what's in the fine print of the "ex-gay" movement
      these days. He pushes the Religious Right's figure of 2 percent for
      the population at issue and yet insists that if some of them get
      legally married it will be disastrous for everybody else. He pushes
      the false assertion that the American Psychiatric Association's
      declassification of homosexuality was due to disruptive radical
      activists. Actually, it was a scientific decision. Had the DSM not
      dropped it as a mental disorder, homosexuality would have been the
      only entry not meeting the DSM's two-pronged scientific criterion.

      Lutzer decries the "push to `reinvent' the family" but fails to note
      that Jesus reinvented the family, placing the family of faith over
      the blood relations Lutzer pushes. He warns that if marriage for
      gay couples is permitted, "who is to say that it must be limited to
      two people?" He mocks: "Why not one man with two wives?" – as with
      Abraham, Sarah and Hagar?

      It's ironic that Moody Publishers is this Moody Church pastor's
      publisher, for D. L. Moody used to warn that Christians make a big
      mistake when they take wrong positions on social issues and thus
      turn people off to the gospel. In his day, Moody stood up for a
      fellow evangelical's stance for evolution over against the majority
      who raged against it. These days, gay people cannot hear the Good
      News above the din against their having the right to marry – a right
      Lutzer reserves for people resembling himself and his wife. He does
      admit that "we have failed to properly represent Christ and the
      gospel in the wider world, including the gay world." He knows
      that "for reasons, some of which may be of our own making, [gay
      people] have turned a deaf ear to the church." That's because the
      Lutzers in the churches have turned a deaf ear to them.

      In regards to "the truth" and "the traditional view of marriage,"
      Haslett's New Yorker essay gives some helpful historical
      perspective. He doesn't go back as far as the Bible days – and
      neither, of course, does Lutzer. The common traditions of Bible
      days include parental selection of the spouses for children,
      polygamous marriages, the duty of a man to have sex with the widows
      of all his brothers who die without having fathered a child, and so
      on. But Fundamentalists today reject these biblical traditions for
      marriage and family.

      Haslett takes note of the long tradition of families marrying other
      families through arranged marriages of political alliance and
      economic advantage rather than romance. He sees the Protestant
      Reformation's idea of "companionate marriage" as a significant
      turning from this as well as from Catholicism's "ideal of chastity,
      which considered earthly marriage a more or less unfortunate
      necessity meant to accommodate human weakness." In pointing out the
      Puritan Milton's advocacy of divorce, he does not mention Luther's
      advice to Henry VIII – that, rather than divorce, the king should do
      as the biblical patriarchs and take an additional wife.

      Haslett notes the fact that Catholicism, even in Luther's day, "had
      no requirement that a priest be present at the wedding ceremony;
      vows spoken in private were sufficient to create a binding
      marriage." He points out that the tradition of banns arose because
      of the need to determine if the prospective bride and groom might
      already be committed elsewhere. He mentions the long struggle with
      miscegenation laws and the expansion of the marriage franchise to
      the poor, the sterile and slaves.

      With some exaggeration, Hazlett writes: "Not until the confessional
      diaries and novels of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth
      centuries started to influence bourgeois notions of what Jane Austen
      called `connubial felicity' did romance begin its steady ascent to
      the marital realm." He adds: "Today, needless to say, the most
      respectable reason you can give for getting married is that you have
      fallen in love." Alluding to "the decline of the patriarchal legal
      structure and the rise of the goal of self-fulfillment," Haslett
      says: "Gay marriage is unsettling, to many, not because it departs
      from modern meanings of matrimony but because it embodies them."

      The value of this essay lies in Haslett's examples of the diversity
      of "traditional marriage" and in his calling for historical
      perspective. Given the evolution in what has passed
      for "traditional marriage," Haslett says we've arrived at a juncture
      that "is a historically peculiar state of affairs, one that would be
      alien to our ancestors and to most traditional cultures today. And
      it makes the push for gay marriage inevitable."
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