Three Iowa Religious Studies Profs Author Joint Editorial on Claims of “Biblical” Marriage

Iowa State Univertities

Three Iowa Universities: The University of Iowa, The Iowa State University, and The University of Northern Iowa.

Three religious studies professors: Dr. Hector Avalos (Iowa State), Dr. Robert R. Cargill (Iowa), and Dr. Kenneth Atkinson (UNI)

One joint statement in the Des Moines Register entitled, “Iowa View: 1 man, 1 woman isn’t the Bible’s only marriage view“, warning against those who attempt to claim that the Bible defines marriage as only “between one man and one woman”. (UPDATE: The link to the article at the Des Moines Register is broken, but you can download a .pdf copy of the article here.)

Please read the editorial. It demonstrates the potential flaws and consequences in attempting to root modern civil and social institutions like marriage and its legislation in 2000+ year old religious documents that often say more than people think they say.

57 Responses

  1. Beautifully done. Thanks!

  2. Their statement echoes what your chart says, Dr. C.

    The facts re: what the Bible (any version) says will of course, be ignored by those Christians who have an agenda that pretends that “God” ONLY endorsed one man-one woman marriage . . . it’s a bit embarrassing for them, but the fact that that agenda is contradicted by what the Bible (any version) actually SAYS will have NO impact on those believers. Oh, well . . . it was tough enough for folks like that to accept that the earth revolves around the sun, after all, so we shouldn’t expect miracles (well … so to speak).

  3. Don’t most religious documents say more than they say, almost by definition?

    I mean, they’re usually written to address just one particular issue, at one particular time, by one particular writer (who may or may not be who he says he is), in one particular cultural setting.

    Ten years later, are those same writings relevant? Probably not, unless they appeal to someone’s particular morality. So why do we have the gall (or lunacy) to consider them remotely relevant two millennia or more later? And what kind of person would even try to apply those irrelevencies to people today?

    I suppose (never had training in this area) this is history 101, but now that I can (just) read some of these texts in their (more-or-less) original form, they appear to me to be no more relevant to the LGBT community now than Pilate’s laundry list would be.

    I guess it’s all back to the ‘what writings can justify my disgust’ paradigm. So it’s nice to see scholars weighing in and proving the irrelevancy of applying -6th century desert-dwelling nomad rules to twenty-first century individuals never fades or grows old!

  4. […] an interview with The Huffington Post, Iowa University Professor Robert R. Cargill said the column was the brainchild of his colleague Hector Avalos, who suggested local scholars […]

  5. The religion endorsed in the Old Testament is Judaism, a system or economy in which man is judged by God’s Law, and failing to meet perfection, someone must pay the price to redeem him. The religion endorsed in the New Testament is Christianity, a system or economy in which man is redeemed by Jesus Christ, and in His death, we become heirs of a new covenant. The reason for the names, “Old Testament” and “New Testament” is directly due to this inheritance in Jesus Christ. Therefore, these doctors do err in trying to tie Christianity to an obligation to Old Testament Law. You will search in vain for an endorsement of polygamy in the New Testament. It is in the New Testament that Christians are told that the church leadership must be the husband of one wife. So, the only wonder is why these doctors of religion and philosophy have misrepresented the Bible?

  6. The ‘Bible’, or the ‘New Testament’?
    Is the ‘Old Testament’ not part of the Bible? Is it a different all-knowing God? Are you attempting to argue that God changed his mind on polygamy like he did with kosher regulations?

  7. @bobcargill I tried to make it clear that the form of religion presented in the New Testament is fundamentally different from the form of religion in the Old Testament, even though the two forms are related and symbiotic. However, you appear to be hostile to Christianity, which won’t make your acceptance or understanding of what I tell you any easier.

    God never instituted polygamy. That was something that man invented, and God tolerated to a degree. In the beginning, God made one man and one woman to be one flesh as husband and wife; that was God’s institution.

    Christians have a different relationship with God than the Jews did. We no longer go to the centralized altar to offer our burnt offerings. Our sins are no longer expiated by animal sacrifices, but all sacrifices are completed in Jesus Christ. Inasmuch as God spoke all along of this happening, this isn’t a case of Him changing His mind. It is a case of us living in a different relationship that God intended from the beginning that we should have.

  8. In Leviticus we see homosexuality is forbidden, so the only question related to marriage and the Bible is whether marriage is to be between a man and a woman or a man and a number of women. Polygamy has been practiced both as a choice (Jews, Mormons) and as a need (Apaches), and in all Judaeo-Christian and Indigenous cases has ultimately generally yielded to monogamy. This is not news, nor is the fact that some politicians and activists ‘cherry pick’ scripture excerpts for ulterior motives, rather like academics raising ‘issues’ like this to bring attention to the Bible but more to themselves.

    Hollingsworth v Perry, California Proposition 8, is now before our court of last resort. Let’s defend heterosexual marriage, now, and if our courts at some future time address polygamy, let’s deal with that then.

  9. I am still waiting for a verse that expressly endorses same gender marriage.

  10. and I’m still waiting for the verse that expressly prohibits slavery. Or expressly endorses divorced peoples to remarry.
    There is no verse that expressly endorses same gender marriage. But do we need a verse to expressly endorse things, like a woman’s right to vote? Or can we agree that the verses that prohibit a woman from having authority over a man may be antiquated, and move forward into a modern age.

    If you’re waiting for the Bible to expressly endorse modern social relationships in order to permit/prohibit them, then I would have hated to know you had we lived in the 1860’s…

  11. The key point you are neglecting is that several Bible verses expressly condemn homosexual intercourse. For Christianity to accept homosexuality, we would require at least as strong an expression endorsing it. Your counter-examples are inapplicable for this reason.

  12. […] an interview with The Huffington Post, Iowa University Professor Robert R. Cargill said the column was the brainchild of his colleague Hector Avalos, who suggested local scholars […]

  13. And this is my main point: just because a 2000-year old religious document says homosexuals are ‘sinful’ and worthy of death does NOT mean that it is true today, nor that it should be prohibited.
    You and I both can point to any number of things that are/were prohibited in the Bible, that are lawful today in America. There is no ban on divorce for reasons other than infidelity. There is no ban on interracial marriage. There is no ban on marriage between peoples of different faiths. There is no ban on divorced people remarrying. There IS now an age limit regarding when people could marry (something that didn’t exist in the period of the composition of the Bible). There were rules mandating that if slaves chose to marry, the children of that marriage were retained by the slave owner as property that can be inherited by the slave owner’s children. These are all commands of God. All of them pertain to marriage. And yet we’ve managed to alter most or all of them. And yet it is the gays that are singled out for oppression, because some among us want to continue to enforce a VERY selective number of verses pertaining to marriage. Why is that?

    Given the fact that there is no victim in a consensual, same-sex relationship, why should two men or two women not be permitted to marry?

    THIS is my point: the Bible should not be used to dictate modern law. Yes, the Bible says, “Do not murder” and “Do not steal”, but we all agree these are still bad. The Bible likewise says “Keep the Sabbath” and “Worship no other gods”, and yet we have abandoned the Sabbath prohibitions (in most counties) and the First Amendment protects one’s right to worship whomever they want to worship – in DIRECT violation of the Bible!

    I don’t care what a religious institution decides for itself. I really don’t. I care about attempting to use an ancient religious document to dictate modern secular law. They do that in Iran. How’s that working out?

    I fear the modern Christian equivalent of Sharia law, especially when the rest of Scripture is so quickly jettisoned, while some insist that the ban on gays should remain. THAT is what is inconsistent, hypocritical, and unsustainable.

    I DON’T think the Bible should be the law of the land. I no longer care what the Bible says about homosexuality, nor the Qur’an, nor any other religious text. Since when does America base its modern laws on the Bible? We’ve ignored the Bible’s mandates on divorce (see above), but yet we want to retain it on homosexuality?

    It’s unsustainable, and it needs to end.

    Believe whatever you want. Just don’t insist on forcing me to believe it too. If you don’t like homosexual marriage, don’t marry a homosexual.

  14. Like it or not, the Bible is the heart of Christianity. Without the Bible, Christianity becomes just another club. Everything Christians know about God, Jesus and doctrine comes to us from the Bible. So, your dismissal of the Bible actually is a dismissal of the faith of a billion people, and all the consequences that has for society. Of course, for some people, the role the Bible plays in their lives is more obvious than it is for other people; however, you cannot simply dismiss the Bible as a 2000 year old document that we should ignore, because it has a profound impact on our world, even today.

    The counter-points you make have various errors that I choose to summarize only by saying that our secular law is the product of men, many of whom were Christians, but none of whom were perfect and all-seeing. Do you agree with every law we have in this country? I sure don’t! So, I don’t see the merit of your using our laws as the metric by which to judge the Bible. If we were discussing divorce or age of consent, your counter-points might be relevant, but the topic is homosexuality, and you would do well to stick with finding counter-points related to that topic. We are not going to throw away the Bible just because you don’t think we use it.

    OK, one counter-point you make to which I must make a specific objection. You keep bringing up Old Testament Law. I’ve posted TWICE on this thread why that is an invalid argument. I suspect that you don’t realize that your counter-points are from the Old Testament, and you don’t appreciate the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The differences are profound, and explain much of the disparities you have noted between the Bible and our modern secular laws. You cannot understand this discussion if you do not understand this point, and virtually all discussions like this fail to understand this point! That is the reason that I replied to this article in the first place.

  15. I agree: the Bible is the heart of Christianity. And yet, a number of American Christians do not oppose legal same-sex marriage. And that number is now nearing or at a majority in this country.
    In the same fashion, a majority of Christians once endorsed the practice of slavery. But over time, DESPITE the Bible’s (OT AND NT) endorsement of slavery, we got over it.

    As far as your point on the OT law, I’ll ask my question again: Did God give the OT law? The SAME, all-knowing, future-knowing God? Or was God not to be taken seriously in the OT? It’s the SAME God! (Unless you’re a heretic, of course.) THE OT IS 70% OF THE CHRISTIAN BIBLE! Yes, the NT alters some of the OT’s commands (like kosher regulations) and retains others (like slavery). But to argue that the OT is ‘nailed to the cross’ and ‘no longer applies’ is foolish. Let me ask you this: what Bible did the early Christians use? When Jesus quotes “Scripture”, how many NT verses does he quote? When Jesus says that he has not come to abolish the law, and that not a single stroke of the law will fall away, do you think Jesus was just kidding?

    And even if we DID simply dismiss the OT, I still don’t see you leading the debate over bringing back slavery and wanting a constitutional amendment in the US to prohibit divorce except in cases of infidelity. You’re not arguing that. You’re not advocating that. You’re just going after the gays. Are we banning tattoos? A tattoo is a conscious “lifestyle choice” that is directly prohibited by God, and there is no NT verse that “trumps” this injunction of the Lord God Almighty. Are we prohibiting tattooed-Americans from getting married?

    It’s the selective hypocrisy on the part of those who want to ban same-sex marriage that undermines the entire argument. You want Sharia Law for Christians when it comes to gays, but not when it comes to commands like ‘sell all that you own and give it to the poor.’ Homosexuals are being singled out in this debate. It’s why conservative Evangelicals are losing this argument. It’s why the Republicans are wallowing in obscurity. Until they move past this issue, they’re doomed.

  16. It is true that many who call themselves Christians endorse homosexual marriage. Nevertheless, this is despite the foundation of Christianity. That is not a condemnation of the Bible, but it shows inconsistency in those who call themselves Christians. I don’t believe the number of Christians who do this is near a majority; for every denomination that announces acceptance of homosexuality, there is another that splits away in protest.

    The Bible does not endorse slavery, though it does regulate it and offers philosophy regarding it. Evidence that my point is true comes from the fact that it is Christianity that TWICE eliminated slavery from European cultures, the most recent abolitionist movement beginning with Quakers and Baptists in Britain and America nearly 2 centuries ago, at a time when the whole world unquestioningly accepted slavery. Both abolitionist movements of the last 1000 years were based on the biblical teaching of Christian brotherhood and Apostle Paul’s statement that all men are related. So, no, we did not simply “get over” slavery. It wasn’t an accident, and it wasn’t from humanistic teaching. It was specifically biblical Christianity that overcame slavery.

    Yes, of course God gave the Old Testament Law. As it stands, this Law is perfect. Unfortunately, perfect Law condemns all the world, because no one is perfect. God stated from the beginning that a time would come when humanity did not relate to Him through the Law, but through His Spirit living in them. Your complaint is that God did not choose to create a single code under which all men should live forever, even though the Old Testament Law only applied to ancient Israel, pre-Christ, not to the entire world, post-Christ.

    Hebrews (the New Testament book) says the purpose of the Law was to act as the tutor, to bring us to Christ. The concept is that of a rich man’s child who is put under the training of a stern guardian. When the child comes of age, he is no longer under that guardian’s authority, but is disciplined to behave as a mature adult. Now the guardian (the Law) no longer is necessary. Your complaint is that because we had the tutor as a child, we should have the tutor ruling over us our entire lives, or else God is inconsistent.

    Jesus forms the division between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, the Redeemer who purchases the people from the enslavement of sin and the condemnation of the Law. So, the fact that Jesus quotes the Old Testament is not surprise, as He is at the termination of the economy under the Law. After Christ’s death and resurrection, Christians were guided by the apostles, who received divine revelation, and began writing the New Testament. Jesus did not say that the Law would never end its reign; he said that not a single stroke of the Law would fall away until it was fulfilled. Jesus fulfilled the Law.

    Although the US is changing its ideological basis from biblical Christianity to secular humanism, don’t think that change is completed, yet. Old laws still exist against adultery and prostitution. Divorce was permitted under Old Testament Law, too, and, yes, divorced people in that era did remarry (Jesus comments on doing that, but the details are more extensive than I wish to develop now).

    My opposition to homosexuality is based on the Bible, but that is not the only reason that I oppose homosexuality. I am also opposed to it because homosexuality is a public health menace. However, that is a bit off-topic for this discussion, so I’m not now developing that argument here.

  17. Just for the exercise in sophistry, do you find all consentual relationships socially acceptable? For example: polygamy? Can a man marry his brother? his sister? his mother? his daughter? 


    Leviticus 25:44: “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.”

    I thought we were talking about the same Bible. And I thought we were having a rational debate.

    and did you REALLY just say that “Homosexuality is a PUBLIC HEALTH MENACE”? But HETEROSEXUALLY transmitted STDs are just fine and dandy?

    Good Grief!

  19. Richard,

    There are things a state prohibits, and there are things a state permits, and then there are things a state permits, but regulates. God does not prohibit slavery. He permits it, and then regulates it. There are divine commands in the Bible permitting and regulating slavery.

    Arguing that God “allowed” but did not “endorse” slavery or polygamy is like arguing that the U.S. “allows” but does not “endorse” the ownership and operation of automobiles. OF COURSE the state endorses cars: they have laws on the books that allow them to operate. There are classes one must take on how to drive. Etc.

    Arguing that the U.S. “allows” cars to operate but somehow does not “endorse” their operation is just as absurd as attempting to argue that God did not “endorse” polygamy and slavery, but he just established laws permitting and regulating it.


  20. The Bible has rules allowing for divorce, too, but Jesus was specific that God does not endorse divorce. Jesus said that Moses gave the law of divorce because of the hardness of people’s hearts. The relationship between one who provides financial support to one who works for financial support has ample room for abuse, and the hardness of human hearts certainly comes into play. “You may do” is not an endorsement; it is permission. An endorsement is “do this.” This isn’t a discussion about slavery, so I’m not trying to have a debate about slavery. I will say, though, that US slavery never was modeled after anything found in the Bible, apart from having the same name applied to it, so claiming that US slavery came from the Bible is a questionable position.

    The state generally does not endorse cars. It allows and regulates cars. A state endorsement would be encouraging people to support cars, when, in fact, the state usually tries to endorse public transportation at the expense of cars.

  21. “did you REALLY just say that ‘Homosexuality is a PUBLIC HEALTH MENACE’? But HETEROSEXUALLY transmitted STDs are just fine and dandy?”

    No, I did not say that heterosexually transmitted STDs are just fine and dandy. As I understand it, part of the reason that laws against prostitution exist is out of concern for heterosexually-transmitted STDs. Promiscuous sex is a public health menace. Promiscuous sex is also central to homosexuality in the US. Various studies have documented that homosexuals (particularly men) have significantly more sex partners than do heterosexuals.

    I wrote in another forum that the Massachusetts Supreme Court split 4-3 in favor of legalizing homosexual marriages in the 2003 decision for “Goodridge v. Department of Public Health.” Despite this split, the one point on which everyone on all sides agreed is that an essential component of marriage is the exclusive commitment of the marriage partners to one another. However, about half of all homosexual marriages begin, by mutual agreement of the partners, as “open” marriages, that is, they are non-exclusive by design and intent. Furthermore, many advocates look to the legalization of homosexual marriage to introduce innovation in the concept of traditional marriage.

    Other studies have found that homosexual men in the California Bay area engage in risky sex practices because that risk increases the thrill of sex. Because of their IV drug use, homosexual men also account for the majority of HIV infected IV drug users.

    Homosexual advocacy groups are trying to overturn the ban on their donating blood, despite the fact that 1 out of 5 homosexual men in the US is HIV infected. Homosexual men in the US are 83 times more likely to be infected with HIV than are heterosexual men. The recent (few years) rise in drug-resistant gonorrhea, syphilis and TB is almost entirely accounted in the number of infected homosexuals.

    So, yes, homosexuals represent a public health menace.

  22. but heterosexuals can still get married. you’re not looking to ban their marriages, just the gay ones.

    (does anyone else not see the gaping flaws in this logic?)

  23. Heterosexuals are not as promiscuous as homosexuals, and heterosexuals have much lower rates and much less serious diseases as homosexuals. Really, are you trying to equate HIV, a lethal disease, with gonorrhea, a disease that we can still cure?

  24. And we like sophistry here ;-)

    I argue for two, non-related, of-age, consensual men or two women.
    “Two” (not polygamy, which I argue contributes to the continued suppression of women’s rights, as most polyamorous relationships involve one male and multiple females (not the other way around), and a religious context.
    “Non-related” (beyond first cousin, but this is admittedly a minimum) because of the documented genetic problems with incest in MANY species, not just humans.
    “Consensual” meaning legally able to consent (i.e., it’s not forced)
    “Adults” meaning of legal age, including present exceptions.

    That would be my legal definition: “two, non-related, consensual adults”. I’m not arguing for ‘anything goes’, just for victimless relationships to be legal.

  25. Now you’re just making stuff up. We’ve entered the land of hearsay. Please cite your source on the above claim.

  26. At least now you’ve made your real point – that the Bible (and other religions) are obsolete. My observation is that most intellectuals forget who brought them to the dance – and they think that all dance partners are equal. But let us be careful not to throw Christianity under the proverbial bus, for no other religion deserves credit for being the bedrock of liberty. (I am using the classical definition of liberty – self-regulation, not government regulation). Not all cultures are equal. Once you erase the cultural guardrails provided by religion, Man is bound by nothing. And history shows that Man is a very depraved creature, inclined to evil, abuse and destruction. History records that even “enlightened people” are incapable of sustaining liberty without reliance upon Christian principles. I much prefer the mischief invited by the New Testament than Mine Kamf. Man, even enlightened intellectuals, would do well to nurture and cultivate the cultural heritage that spawned and sustains liberty. The alternative is the Golag. If I support your right of freedom of association, will you reciprocate and support my right of freedom of disassociation? If not, then there must be a winner and a loser in this discussion.

    Just for the exercise in sophistry, do you find all consentual relationships of equally preferable to a stable society? For example: polygamy? Can a man marry his brother? his sister? his mother? his daughter?

  27. We allow heterosexual marriage because heterosexuals generally (especially when Christianity was a stronger influence) respect marital fidelity. Half of homosexuals “marriages” are open marriages within their first year, meaning, openly allowing for sex partners in addition to the married couple. Homosexual advocates are intent on up-ended, radically changing, our nation’s sexual practices into androgynous and open sexuality. Marriage would become just a legal arrangement with no social commitment.

  28. Why the limitation, professor?

  29. for the reasons I explained.

  30. Do I understand you correctly?
    1. Are you arguing that all male on female marriage is suppression? Does your model assume women cannot consent to a polygamous relationship?
    2. Are you arguing for limiting marriage to two people so that it remains within the “religious context”? If so, what is the source?
    3. Your model does not allow for any exceptions for non-childbearing marriage? Lets say for octogonarians or the sterilized?

    Finally, what interest does society have in even taking a position on a religious institution? Marriage was a religious institution before governments came along and attached certain legal perks to recognzie and encourage the institution. For government to legislatively say that statutory marriage is the equivalent to religious marriage is like the legislature giving out honorary PhDs to celebrities or philanthropists.

  31. Funny . . . I thought that the ENTIRE Bible was the Word of God.

    And how can God “change his mind” . . since he is omniscient and perfect ? Golly, makes no sense.

    For those who claim that God DID “change his mind” re: “rules in the Old Testament” that supposedly “no longer apply” . . . please cite to the parts of the Bible where GOD makes it clear that this is what he is doing and where GOD lists the rules that no longer apply. … THANKS, this will be great to know . . . this claim is made from time to time so I am sure that those who make this claim have the Bible verses to back up this claim …. EXPLICITLY.



  32. […] an interview with The Huffington Post, Iowa University Professor Robert R. Cargill said the column was the brainchild of his colleague Hector Avalos, who suggested local scholars put […]

  33. Richard (and Darrell), you *do* realise you’re simply reiterating the talking points of the extreme right, don’t you?

    For example, you claim homosexuality is a health menace. How, precisely, does a consensual sex act between two loving people constitute a public health menace? I don’t care however ‘icky’ you personally consider that act, but unless someone is physically harmed without their consent, it ain’t your business, bub. That is, unless you’re wearing garments woven from a single natural fibre only, you’ve never eaten shellfish, you’ve not recently cooked an animal in it’s own juices, and you do no work on Sundays. And then, it’s still none of your beeswax, but it would show a little consistency on your part. The whole of the law, every jot and tick, remember?

    Arguing that homosexual marriages break up more than heterosexual marriages ignores one fact : according to you, there’s no such thing as a legitimate marriage for homosexuals. So you’re comparing civic unions in one, subjugated demographic with legal, formalised marriages – including marriages against one partner’s wishes, which is almost never the case with homosexual unions – in the rest of the population. I hate maths and even I can see the errors of your ways there!

    And finally, in Darrell’s corner, we have the “Caveman Unleashed” cliché. It always rears it’s ugly head! You know – If we didn’t have the bible, we’d all be madly raping, pillaging, groping, stuffing, and stealing, etc, etc, etc.

    I’ll say here, with Bob’s permission, what I say to every single person who tells me the same thing :

    I’m an atheist. I’ve been an atheist for some years now. I consider myself someone who flourishes in, and finds endless fascination with, modern society. I have no desire to kill, rape, or maim anyone else, now or ever before. Therefore, as I consider myself a fairly typical atheist, I would consider *your* implication of the loss of the bible’s control over *your* mind deeply disturbing. Especially if there was an axe or packet of condoms in the room!

    Your statement tells ME more about YOUR potential behaviour towards other people, than it tells you about atheists, wouldn’t you agree?

    This war against homosexuals isn’t raging because an irrelevant bit of shepherding mythos says anything about homosexuality – it’s raging because people who are personally disgusted by the sexual act are trying to justify their bigotry with desert dweller dialogs that were as bigoted then as they are now. End of story.

  34. […] an interview with The Huffington Post, Iowa University Professor Robert R. Cargillsaid the column was the brainchild of his colleague Hector Avalos, who suggested local scholars put […]

  35. These “scholars” have apparently failed to read Romans, Chapter 1, which clearly expresses the biblical stand on this subject. Believers follow the New Testament, not the Old. Plural relationships are not endorsed by the New Testament. This is very disappointing and misleading.

  36. Again, let me clarify what the article says and doesn’t say for those who cannot or deliberately choose not to read it carefully:

    The article does NOT say that the Bible does NOT condemn homosexuality. It clearly does. The whole Bible (both Old and New Testaments).
    What the article DOES say is that marriage between “one man and one woman” is also not the only God-ordained form of marriage in the BIBLE (not just the New Testament, but the whole Bible).
    We cannot ignore the fact that there were MANY acceptable, God-commanded forms of marriage in the Old Testament. This is clear.
    When the New Testament is composed, we are given a few, more limited options:
    1) remain single
    2) IF men marry, they are to be the husband of one wife
    3) Do not divorce.
    4) IF you divorce on grounds of infidelity, do not remarry, but be reconciled to your wife. Anyone who marries another commits adultery, etc.

    So the NT redefines marriage by eliminating many forms of God-ordained marriage unions found in the OT.

    The conclusion of the article is twofold:
    1) It is INCORRECT to claim that ‘one man, one woman’ is the ONLY acceptable form of marriage in the BIBLE (again, not just the NT, but the WHOLE BIBLE).
    2) We should not legislate modern laws based upon ancient religious texts. For one, this is the beginning of a Christian version of Sharia law, which is constitutionally prohibited. Second, there is no way this interpretation can be consistently maintained with OTHER NT mandates, like those allowing for slavery, prohibiting women form having authority over men, etc.

    I’ll ask again: based upon the arguments from conservatives above, there should equally be a movement to ban divorce, or at least to ban divorced people from re-marrying. But there isn’t. Religious conservatives don’t want to prohibit that. They don’t want to truly interpret the Bible this way for all things, just for the gays.

    That’s the argument. It is not misleading: it is black and white, and sometimes red. It’s what many Christians have simply chosen NOT to read so that they can continue to enjoy opposing slavery and the equal rights of women, while still suppressing the rights of gays. You cannot do both consistently.

  37. I have no interest in politics, nor do I have any desire to suppress anyone’s rights, including homosexuals. II would feel no need to comment if I had not read the countless praises this study has evoked on another sites. To most, this study says homosexual relationships are approved by the Bible. The biblical views on this are clearly written so just as Christians choose not to read, so do the masses that continue to pretend they know what the Bible says because of what someone tells them, when they clearly have not studied it at all. Leaving those very important verses out are damaging. Taking the whole Bible, including Romans 1, how can this statement be made? “Ultimately, said Cargill, a Biblical “argument against same-sex marriage is wholly unsustainable. We all know this, but very few scholars are talking about it, because they don’t want to take the heat.” If the relationship itself is not approved, how can such a union be approved? Again, the relationships mentioned in the Old Testament are of no consequence as you stated the New Testament did redefine marriage and that is what Christians adhere to now or are taught to adhere at least. The Bible states that clearly as well. I do not stand around protesting gay marriage and I agree, infidelity and divorce are right there too. I do not embrace the teachings that are easy and toss out the ones that challenge me. I only care that people who feel the need to seek biblical answers concerning this subject or any other for that matter are met with them, all of them. That is my only goal or concern.

  38. My last comment has been awaiting moderation for almost FIVE HOURS. Seems a bit excessive for a not all inappropriate statement.

  39. Again, the article is very clear that we are NOT saying that the Bible endorses homosexuality. I don’t care if you think people won’t read it that way, that’s not what it says. People are smarter that you give them credit for.

    The article simply says that “one man and one woman” is also not the only acceptable “biblical” arrangement for marriage, as same God of the same Bible also commanded several various arrangements.

    We also conclude that just because the Bible says something about a social arrangement, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we should maintain that religious command in our modern civil laws. Otherwise, we should still have slavery.

  40. Seriously? Lol.

    Relax. My wife and I just had twins. Premies. And I spent my day gardening with my older son.

    I have a full time job, and a busy family. Do you really think I just “sit around in my underpants all day blogging?” While I welcome your comments, approving them at a time of your liking isn’t really a priority.

    Are you REALLY complaining that I didn’t approve your comment quickly enough on my blog??!

    Wow. Just wow.

  41. Congratulations! And no, actually I figured moderating was done through some other entity. You would be surprised how often opposing comments simply never appear. That was not directed towards you. Thought it was just the usual annoying internet fun. I don’t get on blogs very often. But, if I were that ridiculous you definitely would have told me a thing or two. I appreciate your comments and your time.

    And I wasn’t saying I thought people might read it that way. I actually saw many examples of it when the article came out of Huffington Post. That was most everyone’s understanding. That was the only reason I chose to comment at all. And I said before, no interest in the laws. That was never my point.

    But, again congratulations on new babies! Hope all is well with everyone!!

  42. Speaking of shari’a law… at least Muslim fundamentalists take every word in every surah seriously, and shari’a law reflects that mentality.

    I mean, if you’re going to base your society on sticking to the actual laws as written in your holy book, you’re really not trying hard enough if you pick and choose what bits of what theistic recommendations you’re going to follow.

    In fact, the little I know of medieval christianity and early Hebraic custom seems to confirm that nobody (outside of the biblical model fathers and sons) has ever followed the laws to stone your kids at the city gates. Surely not! Surely a society founded for millennia on the laws of a single holy canon must follow all the laws in that canon – to the letter? To the written (if miscopied a bit) letter?

    Have there been archeological confirmation of the “stone anyone who even looks at you funny” biblical laws? No piles of shattered forearm bones and immature skulls, indicating youthful victims with the “classic” stoning defense injuries? No inexplicable increase in the number of youthful skeletons unearthed with multiple unhealed fractures?

    I’m quite serious about this question of dead kids… It seems to present a bit of a stumbling block for anyone claiming that these archaic and repellent laws are to be followed at all, let alone in their entirety, thousands of years later. What strength does a law have if it’s never, ever, been followed in thousands of years? How can you claim any such law has any hold over anyone, especially if it’s not written into contemporary law? (I’m actually interested in any answers anyone has about this point!)

  43. I’ve read several of you on here claim that Christianity “cherry picks” which commands to obey. It’s one thing for people who don’t know anything about the Bible to make such statements, but I’m shocked that someone who claims proficiency in religion would do so. It reveals a basic ignorance of fundamental Christian doctrine. Didn’t any of you read the Book of Acts?

  44. I’d also like to know why Dr. Cargill continues claiming that we would still have slavery if it were up to Christianity, when it is obvious historical fact that abolitionism was a Christian movement. I pointed out that it was Christianity that virtually eliminated slavery from Europe TWICE over the last 1000 years.

  45. Richard,

    The abolition of slavery was, in part, a NORTHERN religious movement. In the SOUTH, the Christians were the ones holding the open Bibles, pointing to
    Colossians 3:22, 1 Peter 2:18, and Ephesians 6:5 and screaming, “The Bible clearly states that God is OK with slavery because THE BIBLE ITSELF clearly and unambiguously says “slaves obey your masters!”

    Thus, abolition was not as much a CHRISTIAN movement as it was a NORTHERN POLITICAL movement embraced by SOME Christians.

    The laughable irony is, of course, that YOU’RE MAKING THE SAME ARGUMENT AS THE PRO-SLAVERY SOUTHERN CHRISTIANS: “See, the Bible says something about this particular kind of relationship thousands of years ago. We should continue to practice this.”

    And of course, WE’RE MAKING THE ABOLITIONIST ARGUMENT: “Yes, I realize what the Bible says on this matter, but can’t we all agree in this modern day and age that this practice is HIGHLY discriminatory, and in this instance, it would be OK to depart from Scriptural command?”

    That’s the central point of this whole debate: YOU’RE reading the Bible like the slave-owning Christians and insisting that the old way be preserved because the Bible tells us so. WE’RE arguing the abolitionist argument, insisting that just because the Bible says something doesn’t mean it should continue to be modern law.

    And yet YOU keep appealing to abolition as if it’s going to help YOUR argument, when all it does is expose your fundamentalist argument.

  46. Gentelmen, God’s law is followed on Earth as it is in Heaven. It may not be followed by Man, but is it followed by God. Violating His law has consequences. Sometimes the consequences are clear and present, othertimes they are subtle and distant. So if I eat pork, or don’t discipline my kid enough, there are consequences. Out steadfast disobedience does not change the Truth.
    So now the real question – in your world, Professor, can I choose not to associate with a group based on the content of their character and beliefs? Or can the State punish me for my disassociation? Is yours a world of live and let live, or live and compel acceptance?

  47. My world is one where modern society is not bound by ancient laws which call for the execution of those who pick up sticks on Saturday, eat shellfish, worship whomever they choose, or wear a cotton-poly mix shirt. We should have laws and enforce them, but they should be laws that have victims, and NOT victimless ‘crimes’ like ‘blasphemy’ and ‘homosexuality’ and ‘coveting’ and ‘religious plurality’.

  48. I see that wHO Radio conservative talk show host has addressed your article line-by-line in his blog. One could argue how effective, but it does beg the question – Do you have any plans to go on his show to discuss the article and maybe some of the counterpoints to yours he presents? IMO, this would be facinating radio! Here’s the link if you haven’t read it:

    I do have one comment of my own to make. Even with my limited understanding/study of Christianity and the Bible, I do have a pretty clear understanding that the Bible contains contextual laws like “don’t eat pork” that were made for specific people for a specific time in history. Due to the unsanitary conditions pigs lived in, it wasn’t safe to eat pork back then. On the other hand, other laws are repeated throughout the Bible in different times, circumstances, and to different communities making them timeless and thus apply to Christians today. e.g…love one another and as your correctly pointed out in your article, the prohobition against homosexual acts.

    In all due respect, I do find it odd that a person of your creditials would slip in the “shellfish” comment to help make your point when in reality it is understood to be a contextual, not a timeless law.

    Anyway, I look forward to hopefully hearing you on the radio??

  49. Chris,

    Yes, I saw his post the day he posted it. Pretty standard conservative Christian apologetic, but I did note that it skewed a little more to the fundamentalist than I expected. Then again, the fundy argument is really the only argument opponents of marriage equality can make. So not unexpected. And he’s right: I’ve heard them before. He just needed to establish the fundamental counter points.

    Re: the shellfish argument, yes, Acts 10 and Peter’s vision is the simple answer. But the larger question is twofold: first, why would the omniscient, future-knowing God of the universe suddenly stop handing out capital sentences for shellfish. Why ban it in the first place? I mean, we know that bottom feeding is what most of the animals deemed ‘unclean’ have in common, but I’m not sure God changed his mind based on new health and safety advances in pork and shrimp production.

    The second point is to acknowledge that what HAD been a hard and fast will of God was suddenly redefined for what was then a modern society (vis-a-vis Iron Age Israel). That is, the early Christians redefined kosher regulations, that previously God-ordained otherwise ‘victimless’ command. The parallels should not be missed. We are constantly redefining God’s will, and arguing that it was always the plan/God’s will.

    Anywho, I too think it would be good radio.

    Cheers, bc

  50. […] I’ll certainly continue the discussion with those who have concerns about the religious arguments pertaining to same-sex […]

  51. Unfortunately, the link to the Des Moines Register is no longer valid.

  52. Is the article available elsewhere? I would love to read it.

  53. Thirding that the article is no longer available on the Des Moines register (surprise surprise, they must have been pretty upset about it). I would love to read it as well. Is there anywhere I can find it, please?

  54. It’s available on the Des Moines Register’s archive, but there may be a paywall.

  55. […] appeared on KCRG news in eastern Iowa yesterday evening to discuss the contents of an op-ed piece I co-authored in June 2013 for the Des Moines Register with Iowa State’s Dr. Hector Avalos and Northern […]

  56. […] an interview with The Huffington Post, Iowa University Professor Robert R. Cargill said the column was the brainchild of his colleague Hector Avalos, who suggested local scholars […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: