Elder Porter of the Seventy has a column in Newsweek responding to a recent Newsweek opinion piece claiming that opposition to gay marriage was unbiblical. There are several unusual features about the column
The column is co-authored. Writing along with him are Joseph Bottum, a Catholic editor at First Things, and John Mark Reynolds, an evangelical professor.
The column is about the Bible alone.
The column treats the Christian tradition as somewhat normative.
The column claims authority for the Bible not because of divine witness but because its central message (fallen man, redemption through Christ) has been proven through centuries of experience.
Those who tried to live by the Christian understanding have come to amazingly similar conclusions about what God wants in marriage. We have had centuries to try out many different ideas and test them against the text of the Bible and experience. Only traditional marriage has stood. The Orthodox of Russia came to the same conclusion as the Roman Catholics of Italy. The Pentecostals of Kenya came to the same conclusion as the Reformed Christians of Scotland. Over time, different accommodations have been made to extreme or difficult situations, but the ideal has been clear: God’s will is for marriage to be a covenant between a man and a woman. Nothing else will work.
The column is worded more, ah, vigorously then you usually get from church leaders (I’m familiar with the other authors and the wording is unusually strong for them too, if memory serves).
There are some interesting Mormon pointers, both in the passage I cite above and in this one that stops short of treating the Bible as an ultimate authority: “Suppose we were to take the Bible seriously–where it agrees with us, and where it doesn’t.”
All in all, the column is an unusual production.
I remember talking to a Stake President once who was gloomy. He said it was because as Stake President he was responsible for the welfare of everyone in his stake, not just the Saints, and he had no idea what to do for them.
Recently, I think, we’ve seen the Church start to worry that we might need to help save the country before we can convert it.
P.P.S. The Atlantic had the same argument several years ago and we commented on it here.
Also I have this little quirk that makes me react badly to criticizing Seventies and Apostles and so on.