Anyone who pays attention to politics has heard conservatives and religious believers argue that marriage is — and always has been — a relationship between one man and one woman, and thus, that same-sex marriage should be illegal.
Here’s the problem: marriage has not always been a relationship between one man and one woman.
Time to break out your Bible … Abraham had two wives, Sarah and her handmaiden Hagar. King Solomon had 700 wives, plus 300 concubines and slaves. Jacob, the patriarch who gives Israel its name, had two wives and two concubines. In a humanist vein, Exodus 21:10 warns that when men take additional wives, they must still provide for their previous one. (Exodus 21:16 adds that if a man seduces a virgin and has sex with her, he has to marry her, too.)
But that’s not all. In biblical society, when you conquered another city, tribe, or nation, the victorious men would “win” their defeated foes’ wives as part of the spoils. It also commanded levirate marriage, the system wherein, if a man died, his younger brother would have to marry his widow and produce heirs with her who would be considered the older brother’s descendants. Now that’s traditional marriage!
And that’s just the Bible. Click here to keep reading the long, sordid history of “traditional marriage.”
A private university in Georgia is forcing its roughly 278 employees to sign a statement that rejects pre-marital sex, homosexuality, and drinking in public — or risk termination. Shorter University’s “personal lifestyle statement” says that the school will only employ Christians who closely follow the Bible and regularly attend church.
Said President Don Dowless to local news outlet WSB-TV:
“I think that anybody who adheres to a lifestyle that is outside of what the Biblical mandate is — what the board has passed, including the president — would not be allowed to continue here.”
Dowless told the Christian Post that the policy is legal, and meant to clarify the school’s position as a Christian university.
“We love Jesus Christ, and we want people who serve here to love Jesus Christ and be willing to not just sign the document, but enthusiastically endorse that in every aspect of their lives. We are an institution that wants to foster a Christian environment…and that’s done by all employees who we hire, not just the faculty but also the staff.”
“As a private institution we have a right, just like organizations have the right, to set expectations of their employees. We have a right to hire only Christians.”
Of course, whether the policy is ethical is a different matter. If you are interested, there is a public petition here.
You might enjoy reading this recent letter to the editor in the Minnesota newspaper Winona Daily News. The writer argues that the Bible is not a good source on either science or morality by citing unscientific and immoral passages from the Bible.
If you accept the argument outlined in the letter, this leaves the obvious question: if the Bible cannot inform us about how the world works (science), or help us learn how to live together in relative peace (morality), what is the Bible good for?
Here’s a peek:
Do actions become moral simply because they’re dictated by God, or are they dictated by God because they are moral? It doesn’t take much thought to see that the right answer is the second one. Why? Because if God commanded us to do something obviously immoral, such as kill our children or steal, it wouldn’t automatically become OK. Of course, you can argue that God would never sanction something like that because he’s a completely moral being, but then you’re still using some idea of morality that is independent of God. Either way, it’s clear that even for the faithful, God cannot be the source of morality but at best a transmitter of some human-generated morality.
Roughly thirty percent of Americans believe the Bible is the actual and literal word of God, according to a new study from Gallup. Meanwhile, 49 percent said the Bible is the inspired word of God but that it should not be taken literally, while just 17 percent consider it an ancient book of stories recorded by men.
Here’s a graph to help you put this into perspective:
You can find further breakdowns inside the above link. I always find the breakdown by education to be interesting: