I am open to a good biblical and theological argument in support of the blessing of same sex partnerships, and in support of naming such partnerships as 'marriages'. I have yet to find such an argument. I certainly do not find it in the cover story of Newsweek this week where Lisa Miller proffers a religious argument in favour of gay marriage - the background story being the recent decision of the people of California to reject a decision of the judiciary of California to legalise gay marriage. (I appreciate, by the way, the wisdom of our NZ parliament a few years ago when legislating for gay and lesbian partnerships: it provided for 'civil unions' and distinguished these from 'marriages')
I mention this in part because I find Lisa Miller's method of argument quite unpersuasive. She parodies the Bible on marriage, mocking its ability to prescribe for 'modern' marriage by citing the usual suspects of polygamy, wives treated as submissive chattels, and Pauline reluctance to endorse marriage save as a remedy for lust. Of Jesus at the wedding at Cana, the high view of marriage in association with Christ's relationship to the church in Ephesians 5, and the high view of marriage in Jesus' teaching against divorce you will not find a mention in Miller's apparition of an argument. If Lisa Miller (and Newsweek) wishes to persuade the conservative Christian community to think again on homosexuality then a better starting point would be respect for the Bible on marriage rather than mocking it. As it is her argument is effectively a chorus line for the already converted.
In another part of the article Miller takes a tack which I also find unpersuasive, notwithstanding the fact that it is almost endlessly replicated by those attacking the Bible on homosexuality: an attempt is made to undermine the significance of the key Levitical text (18:22) by contrasting it with various other Levitical prohibitions which today look weird and wacky. What Miller and many others do not do is to consider carefully the distinction the church has made ever since Jesus between 'moral' and 'ceremonial' and 'civil' laws in Leviticus, which helps locate Leviticus 18:22 among the 'moral' laws and constrain appropriate comparison to other moral laws, rather than to seemingly weird and wacky, or just plain redundant prescriptions around ceremonial or civil matters. Nor does the tack she takes consider Leviticus 18:22 in the important context of Leviticus 18 itself - a chapter with a list of rules regarding sexual behaviour most if not all of which are honoured to this day in nearly all, indeed if not all societies around the world. (For those with a Bible not handy the rules include prohibition of incest and bestiality - generally illegal, and of adultery - generally not illegal but still regarded as immoral).*
I am open to the possibility that Leviticus 18:22 is accepted by the church as no longer applicable to society today. But the arguments which will persuade me (let alone the whole of the universal church) will need to be of a different calibre to what Miller offers.
*I make this observation not to imply that a loving sexual act between two consenting adults is directly comparable to bestiality (to ward off an obvious protest which might be made about my post) but simply to make the point that Leviticus 18 offers a comprehensive ethic for human sexuality which has relevance to modern society in a manner unsurprising to those who have actually read the whole of the chapter but surprising to those who read articles which imply (however inadvertently) that the Levitical prohibition on homosexual sexual acts is sandwiched between rules forbidding the eating of shellfish and the cooking of milk and meat together and prescribing how slaves and wives are to be bought and sold.