The promise that Abraham will become a great nation is connected with the circumcision of his foreskin, forging a connection between sex and politics. This connection has controversial and unsettling resonances in a liberal society that would often separate the two.
Righteous Joseph does not publicly shame his fiancée Mary, breaking with common practice in an honor and shame culture. The angel that appears to him calls him to take a further step, to assume the role of father to Mary’s curious child.
The Old Testament account of Jacob’s sojourn with Laban can expose some contemporary Christian blindspots, not least in assumptions concerning the ‘biblical’ meaning of marriage. However, we must also reckon with the limitations of the text’s own perspective, giving voice to the silent female characters within it.
DOMA’s exclusion of same-sex marriages violated equal protection, the Court ruled, because the exclusion was based on a demeaning view of same-sex marriages—a view of such marriages as, in the words of the Court, “second-class”: morally inferior to opposite-sex marriages.The Supreme Court reached the correct decision in United States v. Windsor, in my judgment, but Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the Court was much less clear than it should have been about why DOMA’s exclusion of same-sex marriages was unconstitutional.