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Who is on God's side of the marriage debate?
March 25th, 2013
11:00 PM ET

Who is on God's side of the marriage debate?

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – As the Supreme Court considers two major same-sex marriage cases that could change marriage in the United States, religious leaders on both sides of the debate believe they are on God's side of the contentious issue.

In the months leading up to this week's Supreme Court hearings, religious leaders from across the country have held prayer vigils and rallies for their respective causes.

At each event, even those with diametrically opposed views, leaders cite biblical principles as the foundation for their beliefs.

"I believe I am on God's side," Dr. Richard Land, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and and opponent of same-sex marriage, told CNN. "I have no question in what God says marriage is."

"I do think we are on God's side because my idea of God is someone that is loving," said the Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Washington National Cathedral and a proponent of same-sex marriage. "My understanding is that kind of God that loves everyone and wants everyone to live a joyful life."

This week, the Supreme Court will hear two cases. One will examine the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a law that prohibited same-sex marriage in California, and the other will test the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 legislation that forbids the recognition of same-sex marriages nationwide and bars married gay and lesbian couples from receiving federal benefits.

Marriage and the Supreme Court: Five things to watch

Land and Hall each have actively worked on his side of this debate.

Hall, after taking the reins at the National Cathedral in 2012, decided to marry same-sex couples in the historic church. Land, who has counseled Republican presidents and members of Congress, has written and spoken at length about why same-sex marriage goes against biblical principles.

And although they both believe in the Bible, their opinions on how the text views same-sex marriage are shaped by their views on how literally to read the holy book.

"I come from a tradition that looks at the big story," said Hall, an Episcopalian. "The image of Jesus in the Bible is of someone who really makes everyone welcome, and it is from that perspective that I operate."

Hall acknowledges, however, that the Bible isn't the only guide for this belief.

"Our argument is not entirely scriptural-based," Hall said, after acknowledging passages of the holy book that define marriage as being between a man and a woman. "There is no place in the Bible that I can point to that says Jesus performed a same-sex marriage or anything like that."

In addition to scripture, Hall said, "tradition and reason" anchor his belief that same-sex couples should be allowed to wed. There are about 2 million Episcopalians in the United States.

CNN Belief: My Take: Will gay rights infringe on religious liberty?

Land, on the other hand, cites the chapters and verses that guide his views on same-sex marriage.

"The people who take a more conservative view of the Bible and believe that they are under the authority of scripture almost universally oppose same-sex marriage," Land said about people who agree with him.

For Land, this view is not only consistent but  also roots his belief in "traditional values" and his disgust with "moral relativism."

Land, a Southern Baptist, continued: "The people who are religious and support same-sex marriage tend to take a Dalmatian view of scripture. They believe the Bible is divine in spots, and they think they can spot the spots."

If the Supreme Court decides in favor of same-sex marriage, Land said, the decision would be on par with the court's 1973 decision on Roe v. Wade, which affirmed a woman's right to an abortion.

"I think it will evoke a similar reaction," Land said.

Southern Baptists count 16 million members in the United States.

CNN Poll: 'Rob Portman effect' fuels support for same-sex marriage

This split over the biblical reasoning behind each side of the marriage debate extends beyond just Land and Hall, however. Churches around the country have been divided on the issue, with some choosing to allow same-sex marriage and others to forbid it.

The Rev. Jacqui Lewis, the senior minister at Middle Collegiate Church in New York who has worked with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation on same-sex marriage, comes down in favor of same-sex marriage.

She uses the Bible - and civil rights - in her reasoning.

"I don't think that people who are supporting gay marriage need to distance themselves from the Bible in needing to find support," Lewis said. When asked about how the Bible anchors her beliefs, she cited Mark 12:31: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

On the other side of the argument is Robert Gagnon, a biblical scholar at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary who has worked with the Family Research Council on the issue.

"Only a woman is a true sexual compliment to a man and vice versa," said Gagnon, citing Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24, along with the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, as the reasoning behind his view on same-sex marriage.

"That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh," reads Genesis 2:24.

As for how he feels about people such as Hall who use the Bible to defend their position in support of same-sex marriage: "You are rejecting Jesus himself. ... Just go ahead and make up your own religion."

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Gay marriage • Politics

soundoff (2,640 Responses)
  1. David DeForge

    "Who is on God's side of the marriage debate?"

    I don't think Shiva cares. Or is it Thor or Odin or Abandinus or Gwyn ap Nudd or Vach or Pele or Aitherne or Ya Muta'alee or Amaterasu Omikami. There are so many to choose from.

    March 26, 2013 at 10:24 am |
  2. DamianKnight

    This really isn't a difficult thing to decide and it seems quite obvious if we examine it. Marriage is both a legal/financial and a religion insti.tution, but the two sides are completely seperate.

    As far as the legal/financial side, there's no reason a gay couple cannot get married as long as they are of legal age and consent to it. They shouldn't be denied the legal and financial benefits of marriage and it's discriminatory to carte blanche deny them these rights.

    As for the religious side, any place of worship should neither be required to perform or recognize something that goes against their beliefs. So if that church doesn't wish to perform gay marriage or recognize it within their church, then they have the right to do so. Many groups will not perform a marriage for a person who has already been divorced. Same thing can be applied here.

    There is no religious requirement to marriage, which is why a judge or a ship's captain can perform them.

    I don't even see why this is an issue. It's really not that complicated.

    March 26, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • sam stone

      Seems that way to me. Still, can't wait to see the pious heads explode once the prohibition is overturned

      March 26, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • justasheep

      I wholeheartedly agree.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • Dana

      You make too much sense. You must be a straight atheist like me.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • DamianKnight

      Actually, I'm a Christian. 🙂

      March 26, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • JC

      It's only uncomplicated if you acknowledge that religion must be absolutely kept out of the laws and governance of this country. Many of the religious right believe religion should dictate the laws of this land. They essentially believe that "separation of church and state" does not exist. These are dangerous people who have no place in governing this country.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  3. Gave Them Up

    Adam and his helper predate any organization. No help from any organization needed.

    March 26, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • sam stone

      And they were not married

      March 26, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Doris

      The doctor specifically said that this chemical imbalance would get out of control again if you "gave them up".

      March 26, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      Caught in your own web of pretend.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:52 am |
  4. Thoth

    @Live
    You wrote:"I would REALLY love to know the argument for the defenders of Prop. 8 and DOMA. Since this is a case about the CIVIL right to marry, they cannot use anything religious in their argument."

    By your own admission religion should have do bearing on civil unions. So why are people using biblical pas.sages to support their positions?

    To answer your question: Individual Freedom – that is what supports same-s e x unions. 'Marriage' recognized by the state and fed is nothing more than a legal contract. People of same genders enter into contracts ever day. Why should a 'marriage' contract be any different? (without invoking perceived moral superiority)

    March 26, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  5. The Non Believer

    I hope marriage equality passes for people of all orientations, even those that are ambiguious.

    March 26, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • The Non Believer

      i.e. those with gender disorders

      March 26, 2013 at 10:20 am |
  6. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    Some believe the Pope is the Anti-Christ. Some believe Obama is the Anti-Christ.

    Some believe that celibacy is appropriate for certain people, or for certain positions. It's ridiculous. Celibacy is unnatural and will continue to cause problems for the religious institutions that employ it.

    Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but don't understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease. Realistically, many abortions could be avoided if a morning-after pill were not viewed as such an evil option. Many of these same people bring children into the world at a high pace, and then would prefer that the rest of society take over and educate their children in their particular brand of religion when they don't plan well.

    In the U.S. recently we learned of the head of Lutheran CMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting.

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage.

    One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags".

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri.

    One sect believes women to be subservient, while another sect in the same denomination promotes equality between the sexes.

    Conflicted and unfounded right from the very beginning, Christianity continues to splinter and create divisions and more extremism as time goes by.

    March 26, 2013 at 10:07 am |

  7. [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TBd-UCwVAY&w=640&h=360]

    March 26, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  8. Live4Him

    @Mirosal : I would REALLY love to know the argument for the defenders of Prop. 8 and DOMA. Since this is a case about the CIVIL right to marry, they cannot use anything religious in their argument.

    Sure, I'll take on this issue. I'll start with the following premises and build from there.

    1) Marriage is a life-long commitment : Throughout history, civilizations have seen marriage as a life-long commitment. While this view has been changing recently, it doesn't change this fact.
    2) Marriage provides a means to raise the next generation : Throughout history, civilizations have seen marriage as a means to raise the next generation. Children raised in a stable environment tend to be more stable and better overall than those whose life is frequently changing. These areas include the following, but are not limited to this list:
    __ a) Better training / education
    __ b) Better workers
    __ c) To get in trouble with the law less frequently.
    3) Tax breaks cost money: Giving tax breaks to citizen will cost the government in tax revenue.
    4) Granted for perceived benefit: Tax breaks are only granted to individuals / corporations when the government perceives a benefit to granting that break.
    5) Future generation is a perceived benefit: American society has recognized that raising the next generation in a stable environment will benefit America in the future.

    Research has found that 85% of marriages survive 10 years or more, while 50% survive 20 years or more. On the other hand, for the self-defined 'committed' homosexual relationships, 12% will survive for 10 years or more and 5% will survive for 20 years or more.

    So, committed homosexual couples tend to less stable relationships than heterosexual couples. Additionally, homosexual couples need outside help to produce offspring. Both of these facts directly impact the perceived benefit to America.

    Please note that I did not reference any religious text or beliefs in this postulate, so this is not just a religious issue.

    March 26, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • Saraswati

      "So, committed hom’ose’xual couples tend to less stable relationships than heterose’xual couples."

      You are comparing apples to oranges. "Committed hom’ose’xual relationships" where marriage is not allowed is the same as a combination of married heterose’xual couples and those living together considering themselves committed. And even then it's not the same because legal barriers and financial issues (such as insurance) hold many married couples together longer.

      Again, you aren't really dumb enough not to see this; you're just a manipulative little faker. Get back to us when you have some real stats about marriages compared to marriages and broken down by couple type (les’bians, heterose’xuals, gay men).

      March 26, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • clarity

      "On the other hand, for the self-defined 'committed' homosexual relationships, 12% will survive for 10 years or more and 5% will survive for 20 years or more."

      Well now that marriage may be an option for more, why wouldn't you expect those rates to improve? I really don't think you can predict the future on this, either, Gullible4Him.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • Live4Him

      @Saraswati : You are comparing apples to oranges. "Committed hom’ose’xual relationships" where marriage is not allowed is the same as a combination of married heterose’xual couples and those living together considering themselves committed.

      Ummm.... Uncommitted heterosexual couples live together, while committed heterosexual couples get MARRIED. Up until recently, committed homosexual relationships didn't have that option in America. So, we're comparing apples to apples.

      @Saraswati : legal barriers and financial issues (such as insurance) hold many married couples together longer.

      Do you have any empirical evidence to support this conjecture?

      March 26, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • Saraswati

      People we know actually are likely to divorce and so should by L4H's logic be banned from marrying:

      * People who don't want children or are infertile (also obviously less likely to have children)
      * People in the military
      * Men with high testosterone
      * Couples where the man is more than 9 years older than his wife
      * People who don't smile as much as the average
      * The less educated
      * Women likely to become overweight (again, less likely to have children)
      * Black women
      * smokers

      And yet no real evidence comparing actual lesbian marriages to hetero marriages.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Live4Him

      @clarity : Well now that marriage may be an option for more, why wouldn't you expect those rates to improve?

      Why would you expect the rates for a committed homosexual to change simply because their legal status changed? The laws cannot force people to act in a certain manner (i.e. ever speed while driving?), so because the couple's legal status has changed won't impact their underlying commitment to each other. The change must come from the inside of the relationship, not the outside.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Thoth

      @Live – you wrote:

      "Additionally, ho.mose.xual couples need outside help to produce offspring. Both of these facts directly impact the perceived benefit to America."

      How many heteros.ex.ual couples utilize IVF? adopt? Where a child comes from isn't an indicator of how that child will be nutured or raised.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Live4Him

      @Saraswati : People we know actually are likely to divorce and so should by L4H's logic be banned from marrying:

      You seem to be projecting your views upon my posts, rather than letting me speak on my behalf.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • DamianKnight

      There was a comedian who once said, "Gays should be allowed to marry. Why should they be any less miserable than everybody else?"

      Just to add some humor to this obviously, lively debate.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • clarity

      @clarity : Well now that marriage may be an option for more, why wouldn't you expect those rates to improve?

      L4H: [ "Why would you expect the rates for a committed homosexual to change simply because their legal status changed? The laws cannot force people to act in a certain manner (i.e. ever speed while driving?), so because the couple's legal status has changed won't impact their underlying commitment to each other. The change must come from the inside of the relationship, not the outside." ]

      I would anticipate that, with the added advantages afforded same-sex couples (to equal what opposite-sex couples currently benefit from), there will be an effect on longevity.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • Live4Him

      @Thoth : How many heteros.ex.ual couples utilize IVF? adopt?

      Only a few, granted.

      @Thoth : Where a child comes from isn't an indicator of how that child will be nutured or raised.

      My first point (i.e. the stability of the relationship) will directly impact how the child will be nutured or raised.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Fundies Gone Wild!

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0-04VDrCbM&w=640&h=360]

      March 26, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • the AnViL™

      ok so basically what we're seeing here – again – is that there is NO good secular reason to deny the constitutionally guaranteed equality that all americans are entitled to, for anyone based on their sexual orientation.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • WASP

      @him: marriage is an unnatural state of the human condition. humans created "marriage" and solitary couples strictly to maintain that in small villages everyone could validate that two humans of close genetic relations weren't having relations.
      yes yes yes i am aware of monarchy and others wanting to "keep it in the family" mainly wanting to keep their "ordained" power in their own family, which caused serious birth defects in the offspring.

      today you can live your whole life without ever being "legally" married to anyone............least of all some religious dino-psycho like you.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • DamianKnight

      @L4H – you stated "My first point (i.e. the stability of the relationship) will directly impact how the child will be nutured or raised."

      Certainly, but that can be applied to hetero couples as well. How many people come from single parent households? With the marriage success rate of the church being the same as that of the general population (50%), is the church (and by that I mean the believers who attend) really in a position to tell people who should or should not be married?

      March 26, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Really?

      "Research has found that 85% of marriages survive 10 years or more, while 50% survive 20 years or more. On the other hand, for the self-defined 'committed' homosexual relationships, 12% will survive for 10 years or more and 5% will survive for 20 years or more."

      Cite your source

      March 26, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Thoth

      @Live – LOL, all your neat little stats to support your bigotry and your answer to my question is "Only a few"......no stat? Disappointed ;-{

      And no, marital stability does not imply a nurturing childhood. Are you suggesting that single parents, or divorced parents don't love and nurture their children beyond their marriage? And, as a product of a 'stable' marriage I can positively state that my childhood was anything but nuturing. My parents are still together – 53 years – but they sure as he!! were not nurturing, loving, or supportive. Everything was based on 'god'. My success is in spite of them.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • Saraswati

      @L4H: Ummm.... Uncommitted heterose’xual couples live together, while committed heterose’xual couples get MARRIED. Up until recently, committed hom’ose’xual relationships didn't have that option in America. So, we're comparing apples to apples.

      You were comparing “committed relationships” not marriages. Get some marriage data on same se’x marriages over 20 years. Oh, you don’t have it? Amazing. Apples and oranges no matter what dishonesty you use to twist it.

      @L4H: Do you have any empirical evidence to support this conjecture?

      http://www.totaldivorce.com/blog/2012/11/19/study-finds-that-divorce-rate-plummeted-during-recent-recession/

      There’s been a ton of research on the drop in divorces in hard economic times…get off your butt and read.

      We see the same for people getting married in the first place for the insurance:

      “According to the Kaiser Family Foundation survey conducted in the spring of 2008, about 7 percent of the adults surveyed admitted that someone in their home had married to get health insurance.”

      Which lengthens the time they are considered “married”.

      Straight couples are also more likely to have children and therefore more likely to stay together just for the kids even if unhappy, which is hardly an argument that the marriage is “better” because it lasts longer.

      As I’ve mentioned before, I’m really not interested in doing you’re work for you when you are too lazy to do it yourself. If you’re too lazy to read and so sheltered you’ve never met anyone who stayed together for insurance there’s not much I can do to help you.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Lie4Him
      "You seem to be projecting your views upon my posts, rather than letting me speak on my behalf."

      OK, let's have an answer: should people who will not have children be allowed to marry?
      If yes, isn't that one of your reasons for not allowing same-sex marriage?
      Please explain.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • Bill

      "Do you have any empirical evidence to support this conjecture?"

      My parents

      March 26, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  9. SAAB

    Does Supreme Court believe in GOD?

    March 26, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • midwest rail

      All the justices have a professed faith of some denomination. Why do you ask ?

      March 26, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Midwest, I'm not sure if that's the same thing. Do you think they would have got the job had they not done so?

      March 26, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • midwest rail

      Agreed, sara – but my point to SAAB is, why does it matter ?

      March 26, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Midwest, I don't think it should if they are acting in the ideal way they should, but I think most, if not all, will be in some way influenced by their underlying beliefs.

      March 26, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • clarity

      Which GOD?

      March 26, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • cindy

      They may believe in God but they don't believe what He says.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Vic

      Through out history of the US Supreme Court, all Supreme Justices BELIEVE in God!!

      It used to be all Protestants!!!

      http://www.adherents.com/adh_sc.html

      March 26, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Science

      The numbers

      Do 6 Catholics + 3 Jews = 9 Protestants? – CNN Belief Blog – CNN ...

      religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/05/.../do-6-catholics-3-jews-9-protestan...

      May 19, 2010 – "I was doing the math like this: 6 Catholics + 3 Jews = 0 Protestants. I'm no longer sure that's right."

      March 26, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      So science, you have 3 Jews that don't know they are divorced and 6 Catholics that think they replaced the Jews. Think any good will come from their meddling?

      March 26, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • == o ==

      Give it up, GTU and get back on your meds.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • JC

      Put it this way. They have to at least verbally blather their belief, whether they believe or not as a prerequisite to even being considered for the Supreme Court. This is changing, but it'll be awhile before politicians and potential judges can be honest.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  10. Truth Prevails :-)

    To those opposing same-sex marriages:

    1) What are your personal reasons for disagreeing? Using your belief or 'b/c the bible says so' is not a personal reason.
    2) How do these couples directly affect your life? Are they bringing harm to you directly?
    3) Do they pay taxes as you do?
    4) Do they work?
    5) You've already condemned them to hell, so why does it matter so much to you? They won't (according to you) make it to 'heaven' regardless.
    6) How would you handle it if one of your children or family member's came to you and introduced you to their partner who happened to be the same gender?

    March 26, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  11. Doc Vestibule

    The great thing about citing God as one's authority is that God is never around to clarify what He actually meant.
    The Bible is so rife with allegory, metaphor, and outright contradictions that it has been used for thousands of years to support both sides of any given debate, from slavery to women's suffrage to genocide – and now gay rights.

    March 26, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • clarity

      So true. Just among some of the Lutherans in the U.S., one sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one is already performing gay marriage.

      March 26, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Science

      Hey Doc

      The other side maybe ?

      The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Insti-tute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Insti-tute manifesto known as the Wedge Docu-ment,[1] which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose ultimate goal is to defeat materialism, naturalism, evolution, and "reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic
      convictions.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy

      Peace

      March 26, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Science
      Yeah – those folk's objective in pushing for creationism to be taught in schools as "to defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies".
      In other words, they fear that teaching FACTS to children will drive them away from religion.

      March 26, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Saraswati

      "In other words, they fear that teaching FACTS to children will drive them away from religion."

      Yeah, pretty much.

      March 26, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      They do appear to be grasping at any straw available to keep their belief alive.

      March 26, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Saraswati

      "They do appear to be grasping at any straw available to keep their belief alive."

      I think they can salv age parts of Christianity, but it will take an overhaul to place the system in a larger context such as some Unitarians or some Hindus might view it. To survive Christianity will have to admit some inaccuracies which will likely mean also finding some truths in other religions. I don't see a way for it to survive outside of claiming it is a "partial view" or "partial truth" of a larger set.

      March 26, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Science

      To Doc Vestibule.............................................. love the FACTS !

      Peru Surprises With Two New Amazing Species of Woodlizards......................... not the talking snake !

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130320115224.htm

      March 26, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Saraswati
      Some denominations are slowly making the adjustment.
      It may have taken some 300 years, but teh Vatican finally admitted that Copernicus might've had a point.
      Catholics no longer teach biblical literalism – it's pretty much just the American Baptists these days

      March 26, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Doc, So you think major religions like Catholicism will be able to hold followers in the face of the widespread criticisms that their followers can read? Catholicism is losing members either to the secular world or to more conservative groups (that are themselves about to collapse). How would they stem this flow long term ... growth in developing countries is only a short term measure until those countries also develop.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • clarity

      Doc: "it's pretty much just the American Baptists these days"

      What??? I don't think so. And I think you're leaving out some people that should be in that category.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Saraswati
      Christianity as a whole is losing relevance, the Catholic Church most of all.
      I'm just saying that thanks to a couple of popes (Pius XII and JPII) who were able to grasp the futility of arguing against scientific advances like evolution, heliocentrism, the vast and expanding universe etc., they've abandoned a literal interpretation of the Bible.
      So long as they continue to rail against the reality of moral relativism, calling it the greatest evil the world has ever faced, they will continue to lose ground.
      Instant, global communication has made it very difficult to keep insulated from other cultures and religions, which is why the world is becoming increasingly secularized.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Doc, yeah, they have made some strides that way. I think that will allow them to hold on without tossing everything out, but I just don't see the bible-as-the-single-source version surviving when they have to admit so much was wrong. I guess the only way to see is to wait...

      March 26, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • clarity

      Oh – Doc – when you said "American Baptists", maybe you were speaking generally of Baptists in the U.S. versus the organization "American Baptist Churches, U.S.A." (informally – 'American Baptists') which generally are quite different than Southern Baptists. But still, there are plenty of other non-Baptist Christians in the U.S. that teach Bible literalism.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • DamianKnight

      That's a good argument, Doc. Anyone can cherry-pick scripture, which is why for a full understanding you have to understand the context it was written. If you really want to, you can make the Bible "say" anything.

      Once can easily cite 1 Corinthians 7:8 stating that no one should get married and we just get rid of the whole marriage insti.tution altogether. "Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do."

      That's why doing a study of the Bible is more important than finding one scripture and using it as a basis for a belief.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • Bill

      "The great thing about citing God as one's authority is that God is never around to clarify what He actually meant"

      I have alwasys been impressed by god's complete and utter inability to show himself.

      That impresses me even more than his ability to determine who wins the superbowl.

      He's awesome!

      March 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  12. Thoth

    ".... religious leaders on both sides of the debate believe they are on God's side of the contentious issue."

    Doesn't the above stand as evidence that no one actually knows 'god', if 'it' exists, or what it might 'think'.

    More importantly, why do people living in a 'free' country think that passages from a book rejected by a quarter of the citizens, and written during far different challenges to mankind, should have any bearing on government legislation?

    March 26, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Saraswati

      "More importantly, why do people living in a 'free' country think that passages from a book rejected by a quarter of the citizens, and written during far different challenges to mankind, should have any bearing on government legislation?"

      Maybe because their pastors have told them over and over that this country was founded on religious values and their politicians have told them over and over that this is the "greatest country on earth". Coupled with an unwillingness to think for oneself it seems that kind of brainwashing can be pretty powerful.

      March 26, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • MUST SEE Creatard Pwnage Par Excellence

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QIrfxj02pQ&w=640&h=360]

      March 26, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  13. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    I am worried that once again the Supreme Court of the United States will legislate and further curtail my ability to tell people – and enforce – what they may or may not do with their bodies and their lives. It was a splendid country once upon a time.

    March 26, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • bobk52

      Everyone thinks the past was better, believe me it's not.

      March 26, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Doris

      "Everyone thinks the past was better, believe me it's not."

      Do you ever read the things you write before posting them, bobk??

      March 26, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • cindy

      The past was great. We had morals, things were simpler and much more enjoyable. We didn't know what everyone else in the world was doing, I miss the past very much.

      March 26, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • Bill

      "The past was great. We had morals, things were simpler and much more enjoyable."

      Yeah, then we went and gave women the right to vote and let them start offering there opinion on matters that they have no business speaking about. I liked it much better when they had no voice, and just shut up like they are supposed to. Like when women WERE property, and not allowed to OWN it.

      It was way better then.

      March 26, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  14. Saraswati

    It's pretty simple minded that this article is ti tled "Who is on God's side of the marriage debate?" and only talks about the Christian god. This is a predominantly Christian country so I'm not surprised for the Christian god to be a topic of an article, but to give that article so misleading a ti tle speaks to both the narrow mind of the author and perceived audience.

    March 26, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • bobk52

      This is CNN. Expect no more.

      March 26, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • clarity

      Agreed. It's also somewhat an admission of the conflicted nature of Christianity.

      Thomas Jefferson

      Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

      March 26, 2013 at 8:38 am |
  15. Thomas Jefferson

    [If] the nature of... government [were] a subordination of the civil to the ecclesiastical power, I [would] consider it as desperate for long years to come. Their steady habits [will] exclude the advances of information, and they [will] seem exactly where they [have always been]. And there [the] clergy will always keep them if they can. [They] will follow the bark of liberty only by the help of a tow-rope.

    March 26, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • bobk52

      Been here- heard that "!"

      March 26, 2013 at 8:29 am |
  16. Robert

    It is clear from the reproductive organs that man and woman were designed for each other whether by God or nature.

    It is clear from the text of both the Old and New Testament that God does not approve of same gender marriage.

    Therefore anyone claiming to be a Christian while supporting same gender marriage leaves me scratching my head.

    March 26, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Apparently so does civil rights, and probably basic math.

      March 26, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Mirosal

      Whatever you think your "god" might have to say in this doesn't matter one whit. These are cases concerning the CIVIL right to marry. Religion, religious views, or religious texts will not, and cannot, be presented as any matter of "fact" before the court. This is a SECULAR government, with secular laws. Even if your "god" should make an appearance before the court (HA HA HA), "his" word wouldn't carry any weight at all in this, as this is a civil matter, argued before a CIVIL court.

      March 26, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • bobk52

      Richard, Kudos!

      March 26, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • Saraswati

      You might as well say that anyone who doesn't think the earth was literally created in a few days, doesn't think adulterers should be stoned, daughters offered up for ra pe or divorce allowed leaves you scratching your head. Once they start picking and choosing it’s really all are Christians or none.

      March 26, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • bobk52

      Dang it! I meant Robert. Robert, Kudos!

      March 26, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • Brent

      "It is clear from the text of both the Old and New Testament that God does not approve of same gender marriage. "

      The term “traditional marriage” is a term employed by anti-gay religious groups and individuals to promote bigotry, prejudice, hostility and discrimination toward gay and lesbian citizens.

      The term is used to justify a social injustice both in terms of denying gay and lesbian individuals equal treatment guaranteed by our Constitution and also denying them human dignity. The use of the term is an action that promotes constitutional unfairness and human indignity and therefore one which is morally wrong.

      If a person of faith agrees that a practice that promotes looking upon a segment of society as inferior, unworthy and undeserving of that which we find as good in our lives, the use of the term “traditional marriage” therefore also must be sinful.

      Regardless of their particular faith, the person would be hard-pressed to say that love, compassion and wanting what is best in our lives for others around us are not the core principles of most religions. When a person of faith stands opposed to those principles, their attitude and actions stand opposed to the principles which they strive to uphold in the everyday interactions with those around them.

      There is also deceit involved in the use of the term “traditional marriage” because those who employ the term attempt to perpetrate an untruth and ulterior motives of hostility and prejudice.

      The untruth comes when “traditional marriage” is offered up as a term that defines a religious concept of a God-blessed union of a young man and woman who fall in love, get married with no prior sexual experience, have children and remain together into old age. They are implying that this is how God ordains marriage.

      If it is, it took him until just 50 years ago to arrive at that conclusion.

      The tradition of marriage in Old Testament times meant the man and his wife could have the same father.

      In the Bible, the patriarch of the Hebrew people, Abraham, and his wife, Sarah, couldn’t have children so Sarah put forth her slave Hagar for Abraham to have children by.

      In Old Testament times, it was normal, sometimes even required for a man to take multiple wives. A man having multiple wives was accepted by the church as late as the 5th Century, 500 years after the teachings set forth in the New Testament. The church for a very long time apparently did not interpret biblical teaching as an edict for one-man, one-woman marriage.

      The tradition of marital unions in the 1700s and 1800s in America doesn’t seem to measure up to God-ordained – especially from the female perspective.

      One third of brides were pregnant at the altar in Concord, Massachusetts during the 20 years prior to the American Revolution.

      In this quote from a wedding couple in 1855, we see that the church had no problem blessing a legal marriage that was considered by many – including this couple – as a violation of the woman’s dignity and civil rights:

      “We believe that personal independence and equal human rights can never be forfeited, except for crime; that marriage should be an equal and permanent partnership, and so recognized by law; that until it is so recognized, married partners should provide against the radical injustice of present laws, by every means in their power…”

      So we can look back and see that religious teachings which uphold the ideals of love, dignity, compassion and respect for each person within marital unions throughout history has taken a back seat.

      In other words, the definition of a God-ordained tradition of marriage has never been constant rather it has evolved.

      History shows us it’s the marital union that should be uplifted…not the evolving traditions of a social institution. In other words, it’s not about how we come together but why.

      Rev. Mark Gallagher, a Unitarian minister, in 2004 asked “what about a marriage could have that quality of spiritual beauty? What makes for sacredness in a marriage?” He names four things.

      “First and foremost, mutual love. A feeling of heightened affection, respect, concern, and appreciation between marital partners. It gives a certain sparkle to the time spent together, and potentially to the entire experience of life. The presence of love makes a marriage sacred.

      “Fidelity contributes to the sacredness of a marriage. Commitments fulfilled. Coming through. Hanging in. Placing the integrity of the relationship over personal preference and convenience. It builds a powerful trust. Fidelity makes a marriage sacred.

      “Intimacy brings sacredness in a marriage. When two people reveal themselves to one another over time, they cannot help but gain acquaintance with the deep regions of the human experience. They get to know one another, of course. But more importantly, they get to know themselves.

      Through relating intimately over time, deeper honesty and authenticity become possible. This is the spiritual journey to know and be known, behind the public charade, however subtle or crude that may be.

      “And forgiveness generates sacredness in a marriage. We all make mistakes and need forgiveness. Our spiritual liberation requires that we become masters of forgiveness letting go of resentment for slights and injuries. The prolonged togetherness of marriage will present myriad opportunities for the practice of forgiveness. When forgiveness flows freely, there is a palpable quality of gentleness and compassion.”

      Does the heterosexual couple uniting in marriage today lift up the union as characterized by love, fidelity, intimacy and forgiveness. We expect they do and we suspect those characteristics as Gallagher concluded in his sermon are what exude sacredness.

      We also know that gay and lesbian couples uphold those same characteristics for their unions. Why would they not? Why would a parent of a gay son or daughter not want their child to enjoy the happiness derived from a lifelong devotion to those characteristics? Why would a brother or sister with a gay sibling not want their brother or sister to enjoy the happiness derived from a lifelong devotion to those characteristics?

      Why would a person of faith not want the gay or lesbian individual to enjoy the happiness derived from the pursuit of marriage sanctity?

      Why would we as Americans not want our government and its laws to recognize that same marriage sanctity for gay and lesbian individuals in their pursuit of liberty and happiness?

      There can be only one reason and that is because many of us have been conditioned by years of misguided church teaching to look upon gay and lesbian individuals as morally inferior, unworthy and therefore undeserving of that which we uphold as good and sanctified in our lives.

      March 26, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • bobk52

      Thanks me , for correcting myself Hugs & kisses.

      March 26, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • Doris

      So what caused you to drop out of school, bobk52?

      March 26, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • sam stone

      "It is clear from the text of both the Old and New Testament that God does not approve of same gender marriage."

      Only if you believe the Old and New Testament writers spoke for god

      March 26, 2013 at 9:09 am |
  17. myweightinwords

    Being a country based on CIVIL law, not religious law, what anyone thinks that their god thinks about the subject doesn't matter. As with all of our laws, no gods have a say.

    March 26, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Topher

      myweightinwords

      Fair enough. But wouldn't you agree that our faith in God, no god or a god(s) helps give us our convictions and thus tells us how to vote on those things? So in a way, they do have a say. Even the false ones. 😉

      March 26, 2013 at 10:04 am |
      • myweightinwords

        No, I don't agree.

        If you think that way then it was perfectly right for the Christian right to vote against freeing the slaves, against women's rights, against civil rights. After all, they fully believed the side they supported, didn't they?

        History has proven them wrong. But they still believed that they could deny another person equality because their bible (or preacher or what have you) told them they weren't really people.

        So no. No, I don't think you should vote based on how you want to control another person's life. Not at all. Rather I think you should vote based on freedom and equality of all human beings.

        March 26, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Paul

      No Topher, I think you should be smart enough to say to yourself "just because my religion says something is bad in no way means we should ban it for everyone, as others might not believe the same thing I do."

      March 26, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • Topher

      Paul

      But if I believe my thing to be true and thus the guy on the other side to be wrong, it shouldn't matter if they disagree. I should vote how I think it should be. And especially if God tells me a particular action is an abomination, voting against my values is a vote against God.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Paul

      I disagree Topher, there are things I don't like, or think are wrong, and I don't try to keep you from doing them. For instance, I think going to church is bad for you, but I am not going to try and stop you from going.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  18. Primewonk

    Which god? We've invented tens of thousands of gods.

    And more importantly – who the hell cares? Marriage is a CIVIL right. No gods needed or required.

    March 26, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • Minnow87

      If marriage is a civil right, then call it civil unions for legal issues. Leave marriage up to the churches to perform how they see fit. The government has no business in marriage in the first place.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:38 am |
  19. the AnViL™

    there is not one single secular reason to deny us citizens the right to marry.

    ha ha – one more element of bigotry and ignorance up on the chopping block.

    slowly but surely – tolerance of religious idiocy falls by the wayside... xians who seek to deny the constitutionally guaranteed equality EVERY american is entitled to – should lose that very equality for a season.

    why should we remain civil to the enemies of reason, freedom, liberty and equality?

    tolerance of religious idiocy has to end – and it is.

    enough is enough

    March 26, 2013 at 7:52 am |
    • Mirosal

      I would REALLY love to know the argument for the defenders of Prop. 8 and DOMA. Since this is a case about the CIVIL right to marry, they cannot use anything religious in their argument. Since they can't use religion in their argument, just WHAT exactly is their argument?

      March 26, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • Saraswati

      Mirosal, for Prop 8 they'll just use "We can vote to screw people over because it's a democracy and anything goes." That won't work though unless they're willing to say it for all other civil rights. I can't imagine they'll have even that weak and wobbly leg to stand on on DOMA, but we'll see.

      March 26, 2013 at 8:18 am |
  20. Science

    God LOST the origin debate........................... so facts are.............. there is no god required to take sides !

    \Dover Trial Transcripts............................................. FACTS.

    Below are the complete transcripts from the Dover Trial. Thanks to our friends at the National Center for Science Education for helping us fill in the missing transcripts.

    http://www.aclupa.org/legal/legaldocket/intelligentdesigncase/dovertrialtranscripts.htm

    March 26, 2013 at 7:50 am |
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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.