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June 24th, 2010
09:27 AM ET

Woman sues church over gay marriage

Years before the nation's capital legalized same-sex marriage in March, one church in Washington, D.C., opened its doors to gay couples as part of its mission to establish an "inclusive body of Biblical believers."

Pastors Christine and Dennis Wiley performed a 2007 commitment ceremony at their altar.  That action split the historically black church, prompting half of the congregation to leave.

Yvonne Moore not only left Covenant Baptist, where she had worshipped for nearly 40 years: she filed a lawsuit for her weekly tithes because, as she said, "They didn't respect the members enough to listen to us."

Moore said she attended the 2007 commitment ceremony and found it "totally disgusting."

"I don't believe in that, I'm southern Baptist," Moore told CNN's Soledad O'Brien.  "The bible speaks against that. You cannot take that in the church."

So she sued the church for a portion of the estimated $250,000 that she estimates she had paid in weekly donations over the past 37 years.

Read how race and ethnicity can be a challenge to gay acceptance

Moore's now former pastors believe that gay rights are a natural extension of the black Civil Rights movement.

"I don't think we as a people have a lock on civil rights," Pastor Dennis Wiley said.

The struggle for civil rights is something that Moore can relate to:  Growing up in Florida, she said she was one of the first blacks to eat at a lunch counter in her hometown.

But she is still on the fence about comparing her situation, as an African-American, to that of the gay community.  She said Dennis Wiley asked her to consider the situation of her friend, who is gay.

"Dennis asked me ... 'How do you feel the way you were treated and just think about the way he was treated.'  And I was like, 'Oh, OK,'" Moore said.

She later dropped her lawsuit, but has not returned to the church.

Editor's note:  CNN's Soledad O'Brien follows a same-sex couple in their struggle against the legal and personal obstacles to become parents. Can these men achieve a life as mainstream as their parents? Watch "Gary and Tony Have a Baby," 8 p.m. ET Thursday.

- CNN.com Senior Producer

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Gay marriage

soundoff (342 Responses)
  1. CSH

    The BIBLE clearly speaks against it. Ms Moore was COMPLETELY justified in what she did.. COMPLETELY. There is no way you can alter the word. Your either for it or againt it.. there is NO GRAY AREA!

    June 25, 2010 at 11:12 am |
    • illlisten

      1 Corinthians 6:7- yes, the WHOLE Bible.

      June 25, 2010 at 11:44 am |
  2. Elle

    If you study Christianity, then you all will know that the Bible speaks against the act of being gay, and condoning such act. In reality, people can choose to be whoever they want to be, or pwople will be who they are. If you belive in the Bilble and practice as it preaches, then yes, it will be against the will of God and the Bible to condone gay marriage in the Church. Point blank!

    June 25, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  3. JohnQuest

    Question, does Christians believe in the OT or NT, or do they pick and chose what to believe from both based on there own personal belief systems?

    June 25, 2010 at 10:43 am |
    • Ted Obrecht

      The true Christian considers the entire Bible the inspired Word of God – Old Testament and New Testament alike. The New Testament kind of stands on the shoulders of the Old Testament. The New Testament does not cancel out the Old Testament, but augments and/or supersedes it. As Christians, we find that the Old Testament provides the building blocks of our faith and the New Testament provides us with the instruction not only for our salvation, but for our day-to-day lives.

      June 27, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
  4. Ted Obrecht

    This should not be a debate over whether homosexuality is right or wrong, or whether or not gay marriage should be legalized. This woman is simply not following Biblical scripture. Our tithe is given to God, but ADMINISTERED by people, in particular the staff of the church. The tithe is to be used in accordance with scripture. If the tithes are not used in a scriptural way, then it is between God and the individual(s) involved in the misuse of the tithes. The woman in question should have a clear conscience and not be concerned about what happened to her tithe; she did what the Bible says to do and that's the end of that – SHE was obedient. She has no right or recourse to complain about the use of her money. There are other church leaders who misuse tithes. God will deal with all of us at "Judgment Day" with regard to our sins. Scriptures also instruct us to NOT bring suit against each other (Christian believers). So she is scripturally wrong on both issues – the use of tithes AND the resulting lawsuit. Regarding homosexuality, the Bible is clear that it is a sin. There is no sin, however, that is greater than any other, so we are ALL sinners. We are instructed to hate the SIN, but love the sinner.

    June 25, 2010 at 10:35 am |
    • Sand

      The church is not following scripture. The woman is. She wasn't suing the gay couple now was she?

      June 25, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  5. seadream

    As a christian what people that are not christians should understand is that our core belief is in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8 For it is by Grace that you have been saved through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the Gift of God. Not by works, so that no one can boast. While we believe that being Gay is a sin, it does not have any more weight than any other sin. All sin is equal in the eyes of God. While Gay marriage in a church should not be condoned no one should stop "gays" from going to church. Also anyone who says that someone who is Gay will not go to heaven...that is not true. While everyone should try to not to sin and live their life for Christ as best as possible, what gets one into heaven is the belief that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior. So if someone is Gay and believes that, they are going to heaven.

    June 25, 2010 at 9:38 am |
    • Christian

      Wrong.

      June 25, 2010 at 9:53 am |
    • Milly

      Marriage is steeped in the Christian faith as a covenant AND a commitment. For those of you who don't know what a covenant is, it is a promise to God. That's right; marriage is a commitment to your spouse AND a promise to God that you will honor Him and your spouse. Now let's be logical here: If someone believes in Christianity, then why would he or she believe in gay marriage if they now what marriage really is? The truth is that the Bible says being gay is an abomination so WHY would a Christian who wants to obey God's Word think that gay marriage is acceptable? Think about it.

      June 25, 2010 at 10:09 am |
    • seadream

      I don't think Gay marriage is acceptable and I never said it is, but someone who is Gay should not be stopped from going to church.

      June 25, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  6. Rohan L. Ebanks

    Theologically speaking I don’t see the problem. Man’s freewill or Lev 20:13 notwithstanding, if God exists and if what is said about his attributes are true, then God must of known which one of his creations would turn out to be gay…… Because he is all-knowing.
    If God has a problem with people being gay, then he could have done something about it ……….. Because he is all-powerful.
    In his infinite wisdom, God made gay people anyway………… Remember, he is all-wise.
    In this respect we can conclude that God must be OK with people being gay. All the fuss therefore, must spring from bigoted man’s predigest and
    narrow-mindedness.

    I can’t imagine old Yahweh being shocked and surprised each time a gay person comes out of the closet. Can you??

    June 25, 2010 at 8:45 am |
    • Sand

      He doesn't mess around with free will, this goes all the way back to Adam and Eve.

      June 25, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
    • Sand

      Plus you can say the same thing about murderers, thieves, and any other criminal out there. Humanity, for the most part, chose to stop following god, we pay the consequences.

      June 25, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  7. Jeff

    I find it interesting that the media seems to continuously look for "problems" with the church and ignore the positive stories.

    June 25, 2010 at 7:40 am |
  8. Christian Perspective

    The issue with the Church, and by this I don't mean the building but the actual assembly of believers, and homosexual marriages should not be on whether or not homosexuals should be treated with dignity and respect as Christians are called to give to the needy, respect the widow, and be kind to the marginalized. When comparing the issue of homosexuality and the civil rights movement there can be no denying that Christians shouldn't treat homosexuals with respect.

    The issue; however, is that we (Christians) are not supposed to submit ourselves to sin. According to the Bible, homosexuality is a sin. Therefore, the Baptist Church mentioned in this article shouldn't have conducted a homosexual commitment ceremony as it is in direct violation of the Word of God.

    Christians should respect all people. Respect does not; however, have to equal moral capitulation to acts that we view as immoral. Respect equals kindness, caring, and helping people, but that doesn't mean that I have to condone a person’s actions if I know they are immoral.

    June 25, 2010 at 7:17 am |
  9. Christian

    Our Lord Jesus taught us saying "as it was in the days of Sodom so shall it be when the Son of man return" For the true followers of the Way these events should not surprise us, for the Bible says "in the last days they shall call right wrong, and wrong write. The Holy Bible declares in the OT, and NT, that homosexuality is sin. But with correct revelation of the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit, we are to love as Jesus Christ loved, NOT the sin, but the individual. For I personally was just as lost in sin living with the opposite sex, as is the Homosexual, or any other type of sin.

    Now concerning the false teachers at this church, they are liars, and blasphemers of the Scriptures. And if any one wants to know what the Bible says, there is no private interpretation, it needs no interpretation, just read it for yourself. Most people want to read every other book than the Bible. If you have a problem with a scripture, pray to the Father and He will show you. For the Bible says "the Holy Spirit will lead and guide you to all truths".

    Now for the colored sister, she naturally would be upset. But the Lord will help her. She was right for standing for righteousness sake. If anyone tells you that being a Christian is a flower bed of ease is either a liar, or haven't met God themselves.
    The Lord bless you!

    June 25, 2010 at 1:35 am |
    • thomas222

      Did u really just say "colored sister"? Wow....

      June 29, 2010 at 2:59 am |
  10. Bleh

    Why did she attend the commitment ceremony? Was she invited? Also, I agree that it isn't "natural" but humans don't really do things by the book of nature, now do we? That's why we have things like plastic and airplanes. Also, the world is so crowded and getting more and more so that we will soon be fighting over water and other natural resources. It will get harder and harder to feed everyone. A few people taking themselves out of the breeding pool probably isn't that bad of a thing...especially when they are more than willing to adopt children whose nature abiding parents just don't want them. Give gay people a break and pull that mote out of your own eye.

    June 25, 2010 at 1:32 am |
    • Steve

      By the way, the word wrongly translated as "unnatural" in then bible really means "uncommon". It doesn't mean something that's against nature, but something that's not the norm in society. I believe there is a verse somewhere that describes one of god's own actions as "unnatural".

      June 25, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
  11. DanW

    The fact is that the leadership of her church chose to embrace the sin, along with the sinner. In that case a Christian is supposed to withdraw (and, yes, that is Biblical – 2Th 3:6 "But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly..."). She was wrong, however, in suing the pastors and may have come to that realization, since she withdrew the suit.

    June 25, 2010 at 12:51 am |
  12. Suzanne

    God is love. It's our understanding of love that trips us up. It is out of love that He speaks the truth to us. If we decide to be tolerant of things that God is against and will keep us out of heaven, how can you call that love? It's not love, but trying to win the approval of men disguised by the word "tolerance". God loves mankind and I try to work at having the same kind of love God does, By telling you the truth about what God has said in his word. Romans 1:26-27 calls it shameful lusts, indecent acts and perversion. 1 Cor 6:9 says homosexual offenders will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    June 25, 2010 at 12:00 am |
  13. dee

    I believe if everybody will take at least a year to read the bible and seek God with their whole hearts with no agenda this conversation would be totally different. The Bible say that " My people perish for the lack of knowledge.." Hosea 4:6. If we truly want to be followers of Christ we need to listen and follow his whole counsel. The bible also says "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:"John 1:6. That's for every area of our lives. We may sin and ask forgiveness, but we do not make a practice of sin. And we don't make our identity based on our sin. As Paul say .. and such were some of you. 1 corinthians 6:11 (read the entire chapter for context. We don't make our sin into a lifestyle. The operative word is (were). God loves everyone, but the truth is He hates sin. All sin. Therefore as a christian my aim to allow Him to purge me from all sin and allow Him by His Holy Spirit to enable me to live a life that is Holy and acceptable to Him. If I fall into sin, I ask His forgiveness and... ."He is faithful and just to forgive me of all sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness."1 John 1:9. We need to be followers of Christ or if we want to do our own thing just say it. Don't try to seek the bible to bless our sin. Just do like the atheist, be real and say I just want to do my own thing and be accepted on my own terms. Don't make everyone else have to agree with you. Just like you don't want people who think smoking marijuana is spiritual to have the bible bless smoking marijuana in church don't try to bend the bible to fit your philosophy of life. God welcomes everyone at his table, but you don't make the menu. Everyone of every pursuasion and sin are welcome in church but you can not rewrite God's word to fit your sin. It does not work that way. The purpose for going to church is to become more like Christ who was without sin. We shoud be dieing daily to sin, not glorifying it. I don't mean to be harsh I love all my brothers and sister in christ but I want you to remember Proverbs 27: 6 "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." I endeavor to speak the truth in love and see that we all grow in our maturity and understanding in Christ. Keep the Power of True Gospel Message Alive!

    June 24, 2010 at 10:21 pm |
  14. John

    You let the Devil in, your candlestick is now out.

    June 24, 2010 at 9:26 pm |
    • Larry

      WHAT ????????????????????????????????

      June 24, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
    • DanW

      @ Larry...John's comment is a Biblical reference from the book of Revelation. Jesus came to John in a vision and told him to warn certain churches in Asia minor, which were backslidden and in sin to repent or He would remove their candle (i.e. "light" or testimony) from among the churches.

      June 25, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  15. RLR

    What a bunch of "Christian" hipocrits. Being a "Christian" is to live the life of Christ (if you believe in a Christ). I was taught in Catholic school that God loves everyone. One would think that African-Americans would be more tolerant, considering all the crap they had to put up with since being kidnapped and brought to American in slavery.

    June 24, 2010 at 9:22 pm |
    • DanW

      God does loves everyone, but He saves those who are willing to repent of their sin - daily - and walk with Him. There is no hypocrisy in calling a sin sin. There is also nothing hypocritical in her being black. Her moral convictions have nothing to do with the color of her skin. I fear your Catholic school only taught you half of the truth.

      June 25, 2010 at 1:05 am |
  16. illlisten

    she attended the church for 37 years and never read 1 Corinthians 6:7.

    June 24, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
    • DanW

      She withdrew the suit.

      June 25, 2010 at 1:07 am |
    • illlisten

      she withdrew the suit after she finally discovered the Scripture telling her that Christians aren't to sue Christians, or when she heard from a laywer that the lawsuit is frivolous?

      June 25, 2010 at 11:33 am |
  17. HeIsGod

    Regarding Atheists: – There is no God. – Of course there is no God! What can be expected from those who have wiped God out of their lives? It’s easy for you to say that God isn’t real or that He is a fairytale because you want to keep sinning and don’t want to be bothered having others telling you what saith the LORD. Keep on disbelieving, you can’t wipe Him out completely from your life, you will, unfortunately, come face to face with God and you will be judged according to your deeds! If the dead Atheists in h3ll could just come back to let you know that all this time Atheists had it all wrong about God, maybe, just maybe, you will believe. But than again, how can a group of ignorant foolish Atheists people believe when they are so stiff-neck and stubborn? Gay people are also quick to condemn a murderer, priest rapists, BTW I am not a Catholic, and those who molest children, but don’t want anyone to condemn you of your Gay sin that leads to eternal damnation….funny, huh?

    June 24, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
    • Kerry

      Only a fool says there is no God. When you take your last breath he is waiting on the other side and you will have only wished you would have known him here. He loves you right where you are at. Don't go your whole life without Him, there is more to life than cars, money and women! All will truly come to an end in this world. But God, heaven and hell are eternal.

      June 24, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
  18. HeIsGod

    There is no greater Liberty than the one that has in Christ Jesus in their lives!! Anyone that is Gay should be respected for who they really are human beings. For we are all human beings and even God knows that, He created us. The problem with America is, they are making laws to outlaw what God says in His word! America is still being stiff-neck and stubborn towards God and no matter how God is sending all this disasters that Americans has caused and are causing, His Voice are falling in deaf ears. We already have lost millions of people through Tornados, Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Hurricanes and so on, but still, America won’t listen!!! How long must God send all this disaster, that American has brought upon herself, in order to wake up? Poor America, destruction and corruption has become your very closest friend and has provoked God to anger! Wake up America, God will not tolerate your sin forever! Return back to God and He will forgive you and restore you, until than, doom is your reward!!

    June 24, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
  19. HeIsGod

    God Almighty will not tolerate for His church to be fill with filthiness

    Wrong doctrine taught by denominations and pastors will be exposed by time itself, by the Holy Spirit, by the Scriptures, which will finally be studied studiously by the elect instead of just accepted from the pulpit. Many large churches, denominations, church leaders and pastors will fall. They will be rejected both by society and by the believer, for their vain lifestyle and teaching of God's Word. Eventually all godly organized churches and ministries will be shut down as persecution of the true believer takes its full course. As believers have suffered in many countries throughout the world for their faith, so many will now suffer in America.

    The Lord Jesus is warning the American Christians that he is preparing to return to earth. Before he returns, he will give more opportunities for both the unbeliever and believer to prepare for his coming. Great trouble will fall on America along with a major Crisis that will change the American lifestyle. He warns that the born again believer will also be challenged by the Lord through the change of events in American lifestyle, calamities and persecution. But through it all the true Church will become holy without spot or wrinkle and learn to trust in Jesus. Amen and amen!!

    June 24, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
    • Eric G.

      Please provide proof and verifiable evidence of your god.

      June 24, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Well, Eric G., dear, it isn't my responsibility to prove to you if there is or isn't a God. God is the only one that can prove to you that Your Maker is your God. Also, God or the supernatural can not be proven under a microscope, neither can they be observed. Even if God would have allowed us to prove to Atheists, your eyes will still remain blind.

      Please provide proof and verifiable evidence that God doesn't exist.

      June 24, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
    • Eric G.

      The burden of proof lies with you. If I tell you that I am god. If you can't prove that I am not god, does that make me god? I think your logic is skewed. You cannot prove your belief, so you resort to condecending comments and rhetoric. I would like to debate with you because you are obviously a stout believer. Unfortunately, until you can present an argument based in reason and honesty, I cannot take your position seriously. Please try harder next time.

      June 24, 2010 at 7:58 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Even in the ancient times, many men consider themselves gods but have died. You will also be among them, dead and lost, eternally. There is no God. – Of course there is no God! What can be expected from those who have wiped God out of their lives? It’s easy for you to say that God isn’t real or that He is a fairytale because you want to keep sinning and don’t want to be bothered having others telling you what saith the LORD. Keep on disbelieving, you can’t wipe Him out completely from your life, you will, unfortunately, come face to face with God and you will be judged according to your deeds! If the dead Atheists in h3ll could just come back to let you know that all this time Atheists had it all wrong about God, maybe, just maybe, you will believe. But than again, how can a group of ignorant foolish Atheists people believe when they are so stiff-neck and stubborn?

      June 24, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
    • Eric G.

      Thank you for proving my point. No facts, no proof, nothing but insults and threats because you cannot defend your position. You sir, are like a frightened child. Try to be a man and explain your beliefs without resorting to schoolyard name calling.

      June 24, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  20. HeIsGod

    It is a shame that now churches are starting to buy into the evil of Satan!!

    When there is a lack of righteousness and holiness in peoples' lives, they compromise. They are afraid to speak the truth to others. They lie and give excuses for their unfaithfulness by saying they do not want to hurt people's feelings. You can say it another way, but the truth is, their own relationship with God is lacking. In reality, they do not have the spiritual strength to obey the spirit; nor are they led by the Spirit, but by their own understanding, mentality and flesh. They find it difficult to give godly counsel because, according to his Word, they do not have an intimate relationship with the Author of Truth. Thus, they do not know what the truth is, or if they do, they do not have the spirit (strength) to do or say what he asks of them.

    The majority of the Church in America lacks holiness and righteousness. God must and will prepare them for his return. For he will not allow his New Jerusalem to be polluted, corrupt, diseased, poverty stricken, ruled by the vain, immoral or amoral, again. Before his final judgment when people are sentenced to eternal separation or eternal life with him in the New Jerusalem, Jesus will give more opportunity for a change of heart. The American "born again Christian" will be chastened by the Lord and tried by the fire. God will force events to deal with their spiritually weak condition until the American Christian (true believer) will look to the Lord for their strength and call upon the Lord earnestly, not out of some mythical explanation or prayer. Through the changing events and new laws in society, the American believer will be forced of God to take his stand on spiritual and moral truths until they are hated and persecuted by society. The American Christian will not escape having to take his stand and position in the Lord!

    June 24, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.