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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. Knight

    First of all I have nothing against people that are gay. I just agree with their choice to be gay and yes I believe when looked very closely it basically is a choice. With that said, I believe in God and I believe in the Bible. The bible says love your neighbor as yourself that is true, but that means that we shouldnt hate people. I dont hate gay people. I dont wish them ill will but they have what they believe in and I have what I believe in. It doesnt have to be in agreement. True christians would not be spewing hate rather they should be sharing the gospel. God doesnt hate gay people he hates what they are doing which in all purposes is sin. If you get drunk thats a sin. If you do harm to others or yourself its a sin. God hates sin, but thats why he loved us so much to send Jesus to make the ultimate sacrifice. Now. if people choose to believe in Jesus and I mean truly believe in Jesus and accept him in their hearts and truly want to follow after Him then they wont be gay. Its a struggle because on the otherside there is the devil wanting to pull you away from Jesus, so he puts those thoughts in your head that causes the self doubt, depression, hate, etc...If the government passes gay marriage then thats whats ment to happen but we suffer the consequences as we have in the past. When this country stood for God we were blessed just like Israel, When we turn away well just see whats happening around us.

    March 26, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • ellid

      This country NEVER "stood for Jesus." It is a SECULAR country and has been from the beginning.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • John Adams & the U.S. Senate (on behalf of the U.S.)

      "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion"

      March 26, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      night
      You claim to have nothing against gay people, but them condemn them for what you think are wrong actions...Hypocrit.

      Your religion is supposed to teach love, but only those people who do what you think is ok...Hypocrit.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Saraswati

      Even if you don't think the brain scans are convincing the other biological differences between gay and straight people (height, finger length etc) show up long before any overt signs of se.xuality. Unless you want to argue that having a particular finger length makes one "choose" to be gay you're really in kind of a tight spot avoiding the biological connection here. Maybe a little fetus is praying "Please god, shorten my ring fingers AND (coincidentally) make me gay!"

      March 26, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • kippyafd

      @ ellid, Then why does our money say "In God We Trust"?

      March 26, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  2. Gave Them Up

    Hillary and Monica want the USA to be leaders in the fight for perversion.

    March 26, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • ellid

      Who is "Monica"? I wasn't aware that any of the plaintiffs were named "Monica."

      March 26, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      Monica promised Hillary equal time so they are just friends now. Monica visits twice a week.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:36 am |

    • (Gave Them Up should not have given up its required medication.)

      March 26, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      They circled the wagons after, "Hillary Clinton in Egypt, pelted with tomatoes and taunts of ‘Monica!’" See Wpost.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:48 am |
  3. tony

    god supports slaughtering disbelievers, and those supporting other gods.

    March 26, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • via2

      The Creator does not answer to the "created" for anything. The created will return to the dust but the Creator is eternal.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • tony

      Same as Satan

      March 26, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "via2", but the "Creator" is an element of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  4. shawn

    Who is pompous, self-righteous and self-serving enough to believe that they even know which side God is on? Wow – apparently most Americans.

    March 26, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • via2

      All of your name calling doesn't move me a bit. The Word of God is Perfect and Absolute Truth. Gay marriage is forbidden...Period!!!

      March 26, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "via2", but the "Word of God", "Perfect and Absolute Truth" and "God" are all elements of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      via2
      No where in the bible is gay marriage prohibited, and what could possibly make you think the bible is perfect when so much of it has been shown to be wrong?

      March 26, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  5. Dave

    @ Russ
    Really??? OK how about the fact that is is just plain immorral, they can do what ever they want inside closed doors but leave it there. I do not want to see it out in public

    March 26, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • Doris

      "that is is just plain immorral"

      Prove it.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:28 am |
  6. Fundies Gone Wild!

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

    March 26, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  7. Gave Them Up

    The pretenders at the court will make a groundbreaking pretend decision. Somebody has to be a grave digger. They volunteered.

    March 26, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  8. MagicPanties

    My invisible pink unicorn supports gay marriage and she told me that god said that she does too.

    March 26, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      The Greek evolutionists believed in unicorns. Better get with it.

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

    I mistrust anyone that says that God is on their side. They know this how? Have they had a conversation? Did God speak to them directly? Uh huh, right. Being a non-believer makes me question anyone that would say such a thing anyway. One question: does not the Bible state that we are all God's children? Just curious ...

    March 26, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • cec

      No.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Tyre

      Read John 1:1-12, John 14:15, John 15:14, Matthew 12:50

      March 26, 2013 at 11:37 am |
  10. Dan

    God will be on the side of the victor, since the victor will write history and insert "then God commanded...".

    March 26, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • clarity

      LOL. like

      March 26, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  11. Desert1

    A lot of people need to read the Bible and really read it,its written as is and not tobe changed or interpreted to fits ones ideas or lifestyles.You can live the way you want to live and face the future you make for yourself,but do not try to push your views or beliefs on someone else when it comes to religion or race.You can only state what you believe if someone chooses to listen and they may take what you say or leave it its up to them,but in the long run you have to answer for your own actions I cannot do that for you.

    March 26, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • clarity

      No, they don't. That conflicted mess does nothing but stifle progress.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Dana

      "Properly read, the bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived."

      Isaac Asimov

      March 26, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • MagicPanties

      You need to research how your bible was truly written and cobbled together; it's really quite the mess of stolen stories and accounts put to paper decades and centuries after the alleged facts.

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

      Better start looking at the heavens for your signs. Genesis 1:14

      March 26, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  12. Dana

    There isn't a god so why are we discussing what god thinks?

    March 26, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • MagicPanties

      That's like asking why Santa Claus delivers gifts on xmas, or why the tooth fairy puts money under pillows... oh, wait...

      March 26, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • John J

      Prove there is no god.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • StevenR

      No. I don't have to. YOU have to prove there IS one.

      March 26, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  13. Jameson

    I assume those who point to specific literal translations of the bible to oppose gay marriage also do not wear clothing of a mixed fiber or eat shrimp, as both of those things are also mentioned as unacceptable in the bible.

    March 26, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      amen!

      March 26, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Saraswati

      In this case either god will have shown his will by supporting the same-se'x bans or will be heralding end times by allowing the marriages to go forward. They have an answer either way.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:22 am |
  14. Pinewalker

    We all try to define "God" and "His will" or non-existence thereof. But if God truly is God is anyone ever really able to do that??

    March 26, 2013 at 11:14 am |
  15. Dyslexic doG

    When did I realize I was God?

    Well, I was praying and I suddenly realized that I was talking to myself ...

    March 26, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  16. Dana

    My only problem is that they will get a tax break that should be going to families.

    March 26, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • Dan

      Only if they have children, which qualifies them as a family. I am married with no kids and do not receive additional tax breaks.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      I would guess that that is not your ONLY problem ...

      March 26, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • Dana

      Gays having kids is actually my second problem with this.
      You get to file jointly.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • pensimmon

      How cruel and selfish. They often adopt kids who would otherwise be stuck in orphanages. I wonder if you know any gay families? The ones I know are delightful caring people.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • the AnViL™

      dana is another fine example of the bigotry which xianity breeds.

      those who would nullify equality for anyone based on delusional xian ideals – should have that very same equality denied to them.

      tolerance of this sort of religious idiocy can no longer be tolerated.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  17. peterz

    If Eve being created from a piece of Adam, then Adam-Eve were a super-gay ?

    March 26, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  18. frespech

    comment directed to M above-sorry for any confusion.

    March 26, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  19. Dyslexic doG

    @ Sonny: We are here in our present form thanks to sheer probability. Given the basic building blocks of the universe (which has always been here), and the sheer number of stars and planets, we were inevitable.

    If you're stuck on the idea that everything has to be created, then who created God? If you say God has always been, then there goes your argument.

    March 26, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • Dave

      @ Dyslexic dog
      That is the dumbest remark i have ever heard

      March 26, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • the AnViL™

      dave isn't really able to counter the statement of dyslexic dog – all he can do is resort to ad hominem.

      typical xian bigotry and ignorance.

      tolerance of religious idiocy is worse than religious idiocy.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  20. Russ

    Argument against god and why the issue should be based on equality only.

    The Jews believed they were God's chosen people. However, 6 million were killed by Hitler during WWII, and millions of others were oppressed and murdered over the 3000 years prior. Now, if you told your kid, that he was your chosen one, would you kill him? No. Not even an imperfect human father would do that. But, supposedly God is perfect, just, and rightous. Would that kind of being kill or let be killed one innocent person, let alone 6 million innocent men, women, children, and babies? Therefor, there is NO GOD. So, just leave God out of this. He doesn't exist.

    March 26, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • hmmm...

      Pretty sure the Germans killed Jews during WWII, not God

      March 26, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Just a voice.

      Just because we do not understand why God allows certain events to occur, has nothing to do with his existence. Those same Jewish people are some of the most powerful and blessed people upon this face of the earth. While, they only make up a small percentage of the population, they hold some of the most powerful positions in the land.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • god

      no offense, i'm an atheist myself, but this is a poor form of the argument of the 'problem of evil'.

      March 26, 2013 at 11:39 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.