possibly the worst essay you will ever read

I have been swamped with end of semester grading this week (which is what happens when you spend exam week in Liberia), and I only have a couple days of it left before I can start my Christmas break.  But I did want to mention the Newsweek cover story on gay marriage which I saw when I returned home.  I read it about a week after everyone else, so there isn’t a lot left to say about it.  If you have been living in a cave and missed it, you can read Lisa Miller’s cover story here, at http://www.newsweek.com/id/172653%20.  Al Mohler and Christianity Today give spot on responses at http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=2881 and http://www.ctlibrary.com/ct/2008/decemberweb-only/150-21.0.html.

Here is my two cents.  I was stunned by the shockingly bad scholarship of the essay.  Miller so badly twisted Scripture and then said, as did Newsweek editor Jon Meacham in his introduction to that week’s issue, that anyone who takes a conservative position on homosexuality is “not serious.”  Meacham’s words:  “to argue that something is so because it is in the Bible is more than intellectually bankrupt–it is unserious, and unworthy of the great Judeao-Christian tradition.”  Miller added that “no serious (or even semiserious) person would argue” with her view that gays should be allowed to marry.

When I finished reading the essay on Sunday, and before I found the uproar on the web, I turned to my wife and said “Wow, that may be the worst article I have ever read.”  I flipped to the next page to read the counterpoint (Newsweek nearly always gives space for a contrary view when it discusses a controversial topic), and found that there wasn’t one.

And then it hit me.  How are we supposed to find common ground with these people?  How can we negotiate with people who are so extreme, who ridicule our position from the start as unserious and “more than intellectually bankrupt”?  Perhaps they don’t want to find common ground.  They can read the trends, and they indicate that as the older generation dies off they’ll soon have the votes to pass gay marriage.  They are probably right, but they don’t have to be so mean and stupid about it.  I can accept that you will soon get your way, but don’t pretend that your view is the only right way to read the Bible.  Sheesh!







14 responses to “possibly the worst essay you will ever read”

  1. Well I have to say I’m relieved. I read the title of that post and I thought it was going to be about the essay on my final exam for Historical III, especially after reading your first sentence! 🙂

  2. Jonathan Shelley

    This article is probably the best evidence I have ever seen that Van Til’s approach to apologetics is the right way. Apart from the illuminating grace of the Holy Spirit, we do not have any understanding. It is obvious that Lisa Miller does not understand what marriage is or what the Bible teaches about marriage. It is obvious that Meacham does not understand the difference between faith and fideism. It is heartbreaking to realize that this is the direction our society is taking – not only the licentious exegesis of Scripture, but the fact that such blatant ignorance and cowardly attacks are considered social commentary and cultural discourse. Perhaps the reason no rebuttal was given is because Miller and Meacham realized how tenuous their position was, but I imagine it is indicative of their passionate disdain for conservative believers. Apparently our position is so foolish it doesn’t even deserve to be aired publicly. Still, I’ll stick with biblical “foolishness” over their secular humanistic “wisdom.”

  3. So it’s even worse than my Marcion/Tertullian paper from 2002? Whoa…

    The guys at F.I.R.E. savaged this article as well.

  4. Jonathan, good call on this being evidence for the presuppositional approach (heh…evidence for presuppositional. That’s kind of funny when you write it out.)

  5. Andrew Rogers

    Don’t miss Darrell Bock’s discussion of this article either. He’s blogging through the article, piece by piece and obviously has a huge issue with the scholarship too.


  6. Eric Strattan

    Your thoughts about the Newsweek piece triggered my thinking about another current event: President-elect Obama’s request that Rev. Rick Warren give the invocation during the inaugural ceremonies. The negative reaction from elements of the “progressive” community seems incongruous with their mantra of tolerance. One-sided pluralism does little to bring our divided country together.

  7. Mike g.

    Hey Dr. Wittmer,
    This may be for a different post you make, but I’d also like to hear your thoughts on the reaction to Barack Obama picking Rick Warren for his innauguration. This may not fall within the scope of this blog. I’d like to refer people though to some of the liberal gripes about his choice. This was posted today at CNN. I posted a comment after this article which you may find there (if CNN doesn’t censure it 🙂 In case they did, I actually went to the site for the group she is a part of “People for the American Way” and posted the message I sent her there as well and asked for a response.
    Here’s the article:

  8. mikewittmer

    Mike and Eric:

    I caught the uproar on CNN last night, and I will say that the clip they were running of Rick was not him at his best. He was essentially comparing homosexuality to incest, which I believe is unnecessarily inflammatory. He probably wishes he could have those words back.

    Here is all we need to say to the proponents of gay marriage: what is the new definition of marriage, and on what grounds are you making it? By what criteria will you prevent marriage from sliding into polygamy or any other set of committed relationships? You can roll your eyes and scoff at the question (as Fareed Zakaria did to George Will), but you still have to answer it. It isn’t responsible to overturn the standard definition of marriage without a reasonable alternative. Tell me what that is and on what basis you make it.

  9. Mike,

    It strikes me as a bit funny that you’ve highlighted Meacham’s words yet your post is essentially endorsing what he said. All you did was whine about what he and Miller wrote, calling it “bad scholarship,” yet you offer absolutely no rebuttal to the actual issue..

    I absolutely agree that it was poor scholarship, I also think Meacham’s words were terribly unfair, but your response here is like when my 8 year-old can’t come up with a comeback and throws out the cocky “whatever!” and walks away confident in her own mind, but completely defeated by her lack of response.

    It’s a bit interesting that none of your adherents seem to have a response to the actual article either.

    So what’s going on? Do you not have anything to offer? Is it just not worth your time? Is Meacham right?

  10. Sadly, for the choosing Warren issue, it is not just the left or ‘progressives’ who are causing an uproar, some from the far right are as well.
    Apparently they see Warren praying at Obama’s inauguration as an endorsement of the pro-choice movement, instead of seeing it as a move that speaks well to both men and gives a prominent Evangelical a global stage.
    I imagine that, had Obama picked a extremely liberal pastor, the same groups would be saying “we told you so”.

  11. mikewittmer


    I have a chapter on the homosexual issue in my newly released book, “Don’t Stop Believing.” I didn’t see the need to rehash my arguments here. But if you have the chance to read that chapter, I’d be interested in your response.

  12. I will do that Mike. Thanks

  13. bryon

    After picking up a copy at my local newstand, I felt ripped off.

    Oh, and I enjoyed your cloying response to an odious comment. It made me smile…

  14. mikewittmer


    I’m not sure what “cloying” means, but it makes me feel dirty. Thanks! (how’s that for cloying?).

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