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rorschach exegesis: the bible as gay manifesto

By Diogenes (articles ) | Dec 08, 2008

The current Newsweek has an article by Lisa Miller pretending to take seriously the idea that the Bible looks favorably upon homosexual love and is properly used in support rather than rejection of same-sex marriage.  Here's the final paragraph. 

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. 

"If Jesus were alive today ..." The blunder invites the obvious response: Has Jesus died AGAIN? Why weren't we told? 

Miller does not put those words in quotation marks, and it's a reasonable conjecture that they represent her own obtuseness rather than Fr. Martin's.  But there's an important doctrinal point to be made. Jesus IS alive, and he speaks to us, today, through his Vicar, the successor of Peter.  Such is the conviction of Catholics. And that Vicar has made it radiantly clear that sodomy is contrary to God's will and that marriage is effected between, and only between, a man and a woman. 

To justify her reading of the Bible as pro-gay, Miller cites a number of scholars -- or, at least, academics -- willing to discover in Holy Scripture homosexual enthusiasms that eluded earlier readers over the course of the last nineteen centuries or so.  Assembling such a posse is far from difficult. The Bible has always provided ample possibilities for cranks and charlatans to find divine approbation in its pages. In an article in First Things, Harvard Div School's Prof. Jon Levenson explained how, for example, the Nazi theorist Dr. Alfred Rosenberg succeeded in decontaminating the Bible of its compassion, mercy, and Syrian-African superstition, so as to find the true Nordic Christ at its heart.  Fifty years later the goddess theologian Carol Christ wrote that the God of the Bible is a "God of war who stands for too much that I stand against." As Levenson laconically remarks about Alfred and Carol, "It's hard to escape the conclusion that both are missing something." 

Well, when the reader of the Bible cuts the knot with Dei Verbum 10 and becomes his own ultimate umpire of scriptural interpretation, he'll find in the text exactly what he wants to find there.  Thus it's scarcely surprising that persons with newly emancipated sexual fervors have managed to connect the scriptural dots in ways invisible to preceding generations -- ways inhospitable, in fact, to generation full stop. Check out Miller's read on the friendship of David and Jonathan: "Here, the Bible praises enduring love between men. What Jonathan and David did or did not do in privacy is perhaps best left to history and our own imaginations." 

To your imagination, my dear. 

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