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Conservatives brace for `marriage revolution'
Conservative Christians say their churches have been unprepared for cultural shifts on same-sex marriage.
June 28th, 2013
06:19 PM ET

Conservatives brace for `marriage revolution'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - With its ivy-covered entrance and Teddy Bear bouquets, Arlene’s Flowers seems an unlikely spot to trigger a culture-war skirmish.

Until recently, the Richland, Washington, shop was better known for its artistic arrangements than its stance on same-sex marriage.

But in March, Barronelle Stutzman, the shop’s 68-year-old proprietress, refused to provide wedding flowers for a longtime customer who was marrying his partner. Washington state legalized same-sex marriage in December.

An ardent evangelical, Stutzman said she agonized over the decision but couldn’t support a wedding that her faith forbids.

“I was not discriminating at all,” she said. “I never told him he couldn’t get married. I gave him recommendations for other flower shops.”

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson disagreed, and filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers. The ACLU also sued on behalf of the customer, Robert Ingersoll, who has said Stutzman’s refusal “really hurt, because it was someone I knew.”

Among conservative Christians, Stutzman has become a byword - part cautionary tale and part cause celebre.

Websites call her a freedom fighter. Tributes fill Arlene’s Facebook page. Donations to her legal defense fund pour in from as far away as Texas and Arkansas.

“For some reason, her case has made a lot of people of faith worry,” said Stutzman’s lawyer, Dale Schowengerdt of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group.

Those anxieties have only increased, conservative Christians say, since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act and opened the door to gay marriage in California.

Taking a line from Justice Antonin Scalia's sharp dissent, Southern Baptist scholar Albert Mohler said it’s only a matter of time "before the other shoe drops" – and the high court legalizes same-sex marriage from coast to coast.

“Christians will have to think hard — and fast — about these issues and our proper response,” Mohler wrote on Wednesday.

“We will have to learn an entire new set of missional skills as we seek to remain faithful to Christ in this fast-changing culture.”

His fellow Southern Baptist Russell Moore put the matter more succinctly.

“Same-sex marriage is coming to your community.”

`The debate is over'

Well before the Supreme Court’s rulings, many conservative Christians said they saw the writing - or the poll numbers - on the wall.

Survey after survey shows increasing support for same-sex marriage, especially among young Americans. That includes many religious believers.

Most Catholics and mainline Protestants, not to mention many Jews, support same-sex relationships, according to surveys. The bells of Washington National Cathedral pealed in celebration on Thursday.

Even among those who oppose gay marriage, many think it’s a losing battle.

Seventy percent of white evangelicals believe that legal recognition for gay nuptials is inevitable, according to a June poll by the Pew Research Center, though just 22 percent favor it.

“The gay marriage debate is over,” said Jonathan Merritt, an evangelical writer on faith and culture. “Statistically, all the numbers move in one direction.”

Young Christians have grown up in a far more diverse culture than their forebears, Merritt noted, and many have befriended gays and lesbians.

Pew found that more than 90 percent of Americans overall personally know someone who is gay or lesbian, a 30 percent increase since 1993.

“It’s far easier to wage war against an agenda than it is to battle a friend,” Merritt said.

At the same time, many conservative young Christians say they’re weary of the culture wars, and of seeing their communities labeled “judgmental.”

When Christian researchers at the Barna Group asked Americans aged 16-29 what words best describe Christianity, the top response was “anti-homosexual.” That was true of more than 90 percent of non-Christians and 80 percent of churchgoers, according to Barna.

Tired of being told the country is slouching toward Gomorrah, many young Christians have simply tuned out the angry prophets of earlier generations, evangelical leaders say.

“The shrill angry voices of retrenchment are no longer getting a broad hearing either in the culture at large or in the evangelical community,” Merritt said.

But the battle over same-sex marriage is far from over, said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage.

“I don’t believe most Christians are going to give up the fight,” said Brown, who is Catholic. He said his movement includes many young evangelical and Orthodox Christians.

“And they are more energized than ever.”

Love thy gay neighbors

Energized or not, conservative Christians must prepare for the moral dilemmas posed by the country’s growing acceptance of same-sex marriage, said Moore, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“Is Your Church Ready for the Marriage Revolution?” Moore asked, while promoting a special session on homosexuality at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Houston in June.

Many evangelical pastors have seen homosexuality as a distant culture-war battle that’s fought far from the doors of the churches, Moore said.

Now, it’s as close as their front pews.

“I think it’s not so much that churches haven’t wanted to talk about it,” he said, “but they haven’t recognized how much the culture has changed around them.”

The first step, said Moore, is learning to defend traditional marriage without demonizing gays and lesbians.

Walking through Washington’s Union Station last Thursday, Moore said he saw several lesbian couples kissing in celebration of the Supreme Court rulings.

“If we can’t empathize with what’s going on in their hearts and minds, we’re not going to be able to love and respect them.”

Then come a host of secondary questions: How should conservative pastors minister to same-sex couples? Should Christians attend same-sex weddings? Should florists like Barronelle Stutzman's agree to work with gay couples?

`Don't give in' 

Florist Barronelle Stutzman.

In the 17 years she’s owned Arlene’s Flowers, Stutzman said, she’s worked with a number of gay colleagues.

“It really didn’t matter if they were gay, or blue or green, if they were creative and could do the job,” she said.

Stutzman suspects that some of her eight children privately don’t agree with her on homosexuality, even as they publicly support her decision.

Online, Stutzman has been called a bigot, and worse.

She said she’s lost at least two weddings because of her refusal to provide services for the same-sex marriage.

Conservative activists say her case is the first of what will surely be many more, as gay marriage spreads across the country.

As she gets ready to face a judge, the silver-haired florist offered some advice for fellow evangelicals.

“Don’t give in. If you have to go down for Christ, what better person to go down for?”

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Christianity • Church • Culture wars • Discrimination • Faith • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Politics • Religious liberty • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (5,210 Responses)
  1. gahh

    I'm at a loss as to why Gay's getting married, will upset straight people's marriages? Maybe there wasn't much of a marriage there, to begin with. My brother has been married 6 or 7 times, we don't even know if he ever got all the necessary divorces, to get remarried, all those times. Let's hear how he and all his wives, were brought together by God.

    July 3, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Athy

      Instead of getting married again, your brother should just find some woman he doesn't like and give her a house.

      July 3, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Obviously god has no idea what he is doing!

      July 3, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      If this guy has been married 6 or 7 times I really doubt he owns a house.

      Anyhow, the post was correct; SSM causes no harm to those so called traditional marriage. Instead SSM creates more stable homes and thus a more stable society.

      July 3, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      If he's been married 6 or 7 times i doubt he has a brain!

      If this story is true. What does this say about "traditional" marriages?

      July 3, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Akria; First there are two pictures. BUT now I believe Ken was refering to the person in the top picture sitting on guy and holding the rainbow flag. To me that person is a guy. So if Ken said that guy looks like Maddow I would agree.

      But otherwise since we were discussing the flower shop women the only 'women in the picture' to me was that women.

      Sorry, about that. Funny thing as soon as I was brushing my teeth this morning it came to me; Oh, Ken and Akria ment that man in the TOP picture. (Ok I don't know for sure it is a guy but it really looks like it to me).

      July 4, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  2. Ken Margo

    Doesn't that person look like Rachel Maddow?

    July 3, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Athy

      Who's Rachel Maddow?

      July 3, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      MSNBC show @ 9:00. PM

      July 3, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      That comment was unfair to Maddow. The hairdo is very similar but Maddow has nicer features. BUT maybe this women is hiding something? Often those that protest the most have something in their closet they don't want exposed.

      July 3, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @jazz.................i meant a quick passing glance. I meant no harm.

      July 3, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • Akira

      Yes, it kinda does.

      Jazzguitarman, if those people are celebrating at a rally for gay marriage equality, chances are they're out of the closet....

      July 3, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Akira; By 'this women' I meant the owner of the flower shop. How you felt it was some other women is beyond me. The point (again), being that often those that complain the most about gays are often gay themselves too afraid to come out. We see this with GOP leaders.

      July 3, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • Akira

      Jazzguitarman:
      Oh, I see. Because we were talking about the woman in the photograph looking like Rachel Maddow, it sounded as if you were referring TO the woman in the picture. Because this is what you stated:

      "That comment was unfair to Maddow. The hairdo is very similar but Maddow has nicer features. BUT maybe this women is hiding something?"

      Why you thought that was clear is beyond me.

      July 4, 2013 at 1:25 am |
    • jazzguitarman

      Ken, I see that you say 'that person' so now I know you mean the guy (I assume), in the top picture. Until this morning I felt you were refering too the business women. Thus Akria was right; I was very confused!

      July 4, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  3. jazzguitarman

    Question: Should the law require a photographer or DJ to have to accept business from a gay couple to film their wedding? Now I can see why the law would require a flower shop to see to everyone. But a photographer or DJ is highly involved in a wedding and in many ways a participant. So I wonder if anyone feels they shouldn't have the legal right to turn down a request for their services.

    I ASSUME most people agree a church, priest, or minister should have a right to refuse to perform a SSM. But hey maybe other feel the government should also require them to perform actions they don't wish to perform.

    NOTE: I'm 100% for SSM and gay rights, but is there a point where we are denying the rights of others to free association?

    July 3, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Athy

      It's a matter of law, Jazzman. Like it or not, laws supersede individual beliefs. That's just the way it is. And, in general, it's a good thing, otherwise we'd still be denying rights to minorities, etc.

      July 3, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • bostontola

      The Federal Civil Rights Act guarantees all people the right to "full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin." In cases in which the patron is not a member of a federally protected class, the question generally turns on whether the business's refusal of service was arbitrary, or whether the business had a specific interest in refusing service. A California court decided that a restaurant owner could not refuse to seat a g.ay couple in a semi-private booth where the restaurant policy was to only seat two people of opposite se.xes in such booths. There was no legitimate business reason for the refusal of service, and so the discrimination was arbitrary and unlawful.

      July 3, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Akira

      Good to know, bostontola. I am going to copt this to prepost as necessary, giving you full credit, of course.
      Thanks!

      July 3, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Yes, I know it is a matter of law but that is NOT what I asked. I asked if 'should the law require,,,,'. SSM was against the law in CA and now it isn't (which is great). So I was asking IF the law should be changed to allow people like a photographer or DJ to have a right to refuse service.

      Based on what I have read it appears those that support SSM believe a business that serves the public should NOT be able to refuse service to anyone in a protected class for any reason. Since that is the case Churches do have a legit concern that they will someday be forced to perform SSMs or face being taxed (but then I believe Churches should be taxed anyway).

      July 3, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • RC

      Let's roll the tape back 50 years, before Loving vs. Virginia was settled by the Supreme court, and see how you feel about your statement if you put in interracial marriage instead:

      Question: Should the law require a photographer or DJ to have to accept business from *an interracial couple* to film their wedding? Now I can see why the law would require a flower shop to see to everyone. But a photographer or DJ is highly involved in a wedding and in many ways a participant. So I wonder if anyone feels they shouldn't have the legal right to turn down a request for their services.

      Does that seem right?

      July 3, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Athy

      No, the law should not be changed. If it were it would necessarily become way too complicated to enforce.

      July 3, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @jazz.................Why would you want it the other way? We're trying to be inclusive. Where do you draw the line in allowing business/people to discriminate? We'll never be able to rid our self of this cancer called racism.

      July 3, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Jazz...................Their are plenty of ways business\people can discriminate without anyone knowing. Ex. A DJ or an photographer can simply say he was previously booked. A limo driver cay his car broke down. etc. So it probably does happen. What we don't need is out right racism.

      July 3, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Ken, what I want to do is force these fools to be out of the closet. To openly have to expose their backwards values. By doing so the community would learn more about each other. So this photographer would be required to file a wavier standing what classes he would like to discriminate against. As long as him doing so doesn't create economic hardship on others (e.g. he was the only photographer in a 20 mile area), than the wavier is granted. BUT this wavier is made public. This way the public knows where this person stands with the hope most of the community wouldn't support him.

      OK, I can see how this idea might not be practical, but my goal was to expose and shame those that wish to discriminate in the hope that doing so will unite the community against them.

      July 3, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • Dippy

      Waiver, not wavier.

      July 3, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Athy

      Being hauled into public court for blatant discrimination isn't exactly keeping it secret.

      July 3, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @jazz...............Your thought is noble. The execution of it will be difficult. Look at this lady. She's getting support. We know who she is. So knowing isn't going to make someone go away. Just like their are closeted gays, their are closeted bigots.

      July 3, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Akira

      If I understand you correctly, you want equal protection laws repealed so the bigots can discriminate/harm at will so we can find out who the bigots are so we don't frequent their establishments?

      Bad idea. Bigots usually out themselves all on their own, just like this woman did.

      July 3, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • Dippy

      There, not their.

      July 3, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Only the bigots will shop at these businesses. Take a look at the republican party. As you see, their are plenty of bigots.

      July 3, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Sorry Dippy.

      July 3, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Yes, sadly this foolish (at best) lady is getting support. Thus it is foolish to believe these type of laws would reduce their numbers. Instead it is likely to just cause more bitterness and ill will towards the people we are trying to help. By granting them the freedom to be jerks it could reduce this bitterness and lead them to change their POV sooner. I.e. when one feels they must change because the government forces them to, they just dig in more. But again, I understand why the idea isn't practical. Just a 'what if' in cyberspace. Oh, and I'm I the only one annoyed at Dippy? (but I do wish this place had an edit feature).

      July 3, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I think that to protect minority groups and minority opinions the vast majority of business need to be required to sell to anyone. If you have no restrictions we return to the word that most of us, thanks to laws past years ago, where some people cannot buy any house intown or recieve care at a hospital or start a new business because no on will sell them supplies. CNN intentionally chose one of the worlds more trivial sales issues, flowers, just to build traffic by sucking in a few people who haven't really thought this issue through.

      July 4, 2013 at 8:26 am |
  4. re_trader31

    Seems to me there is belief among those that question the existence of a Creator that there is a sense of morality, or rules of conduct, built within human beings already. In scripture, the Creator does tell us that he HAS put in us a sense of morality (knowing right and wrong) as part of our human makeup. The problem over time with this is that morality will change without guidance from something higher than this life. Which is what we have seen from generation to generation, hence for the need of prophets and messages throughout time to remind us of our original morality..........

    July 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Akira

      Believe what you please. Just don't try to legislate your beliefs into law.

      July 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      If no one tried to enact laws reflecting their values who would make the laws?

      July 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Observer

      re_trader31,

      You don't believe and support everything that's in the Bible about morality, so what is your point?

      July 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • My Dog is a Jealous Dog

      If what you are saying is true, then for societies that have never heard about the Christian god, after countless generations of declining morals, they should all be murderers and rapists without your religious police to keep them in line. Guess what – this is not true. Recently discovered tribes in the Amazon actually get along nicely without any gods whatsoever.

      By logical inference your statement is false.

      July 3, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Akira

      Let me rephrase. Believe as you please. Please don't try to enact any religious beliefs into law. They will be overturned as unconstitutional, as violating the separation of church and state.
      Sorry for the confusion.

      July 3, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Countries with a high percentage of nonbelievers are among the freest, most stable, best-educated, and healthiest nations on earth. When nations are ranked according to a human-development index, which measures such factors as life expectancy, literacy rates, and educational attainment, the five highest-ranked countries - Norway, Sweden, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands - all have high degrees of nonbelief. Of the fifty countires at the bottom of the index, all are intensly religious. The nations with the highest homicide rates tend to be more religious; those with the greatest levels of gender equality are the least religious.

      July 3, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Curious in Kansas

      @Doc Vestibule –

      Do you think there is a causal link? If so, which is the effect?

      July 3, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      @Doc

      Have you ever tried to explain any of that to member Lycidas? I imagine he would have a stroke due to his conniption fit.

      July 3, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      "If no one tried to enact laws reflecting their values who would make the laws?"

      If I believed that leprechauns existed and voted to add green leprechaun crosswalks to all roads in America I would hope you would vote against me. In fact I hope you would raise your voices in unison to say "We will not spend our hard earned tax dollars on placating imaginary beings!" And then you would vote to extend tax exempt status to religious businesses (that is what they are, they take your money and tell you your sins are forgiven, it's a business) and push the tax funded teaching of imaginary beings, er, intelligent design, in public schools and vote to deny a group of people equal rights because your imaginary deity doesn't like gays. Can you get any more hypocritical?

      July 3, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Bill Deacon: Well it depends on how one defines 'values'. For example, I value equality. This is why I support SSM. I believe stealing is wrong so this value drives why I support making stealing a crime. But I believe eating veal is wrong but I don't vote to outlaw it since eating veal causes no direct harm to me or my family. Instead I try to educate people about it.

      July 3, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • re_trader31

      @Doc
      Kind of hard to infer that it is this"so called" higher amount of non belief people which is the reason why these countries lead this index. There are probrably several other factors that may be the cause here, I'm sure...................

      July 3, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Observer

      re_trader31,

      How did you decide which of God's morals are "immoral" and you won't support them?

      July 3, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Curious
      Traditionally, Ja/pan hasn't been very welcoming of missionaries. In fact, Christian missionaries were banned from the island for some 200 years – up until the mid 19th century. Even now, the number of Ja/panese Christians is negligible.
      And yet, their culture propers and their crime rates are significantly lower than that of the United States.
      The US homicide rate is 6X that of Ja/pan. In fact, their total crime victim rate is the lowest of the G20 (21%).

      I'm usually the first to shout "correlation is not causation!" – but those facts certainly invalidate any claims that Christianity is what makes a country free and stable.

      July 3, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • re_trader31

      @Observer
      I did not make a decision on which of the Creators morals are "immoral" and not support them. There are things that I may question or need more insight into understanding, but I don't say that "this is immoral and I am not going to follow that". We all know that "man" has altered a lot of the Creators message over time, but you do your best to educate yourself on His commands and you if your intentions are sincere He will guide you in life..........

      July 3, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • Observer

      re_trader31

      "I did not make a decision on which of the Creators morals are "immoral" and not support them."

      Of course you DID. If you claim you didn't, then tell us that you support:

      (a) slavery
      (b) discrimination against women
      (c) discrimination against the handicapped
      (d) forced marriages on people who might even hate each other

      You have read a Bible, haven't you?

      July 3, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      You asserted, re_trader31: "In scripture, the Creator does tell us that he HAS put in us a sense of morality ... as part of our human makeup. The problem over time with this is that morality will change without guidance from something higher than this life."

      If this deity put a sense of morality in us that "wears out" over time, then he apparently did it wrong didn't he? You can't have it both ways: he put morality in us, but the morality needs constant refreshing from the deity? Why didn't he just put permanent morality in us?

      I'll answer that for you. There is no deity from outer space that affects us in any way whatsoever. Our morality is a byproduct of our species' human nature. It doesn't wear out over time. That's something you invented to help your argument.

      July 3, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      I think that re_trader34432 is much more moral than his god. For example, I don't think that re_trader235t would ever sentence a person to endless torture or that he would allow a place of neverending torture to exist if he could destroy it.

      July 3, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  5. Snail

    long live the R.C. Church. t will be around for another 200Yyears when all governments are dust lol

    July 3, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Observer

      That should give it plenty of time to clean up its act.

      July 3, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Athy

      Or, more likely, just get worse.

      July 3, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  6. re_trader31

    For those that don't beleive in the Creator, do you belive in morality? If you do, who or whom should make these rules of right conduct for you and every one to follow? Your politicians? Each individual themselves? Just curious.......

    July 3, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Observer

      re_trader31,

      Believers aren't nearly as stupid as you may think. Most of them are bright enough to figure out to not go around killing everyone without needing a 2,000-year-old book to tell them.

      July 3, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • My Dog is a Jealous Dog

      First of all – no one "believes" in morality. We are social creatures that evolved to live in groups, so if I had to give a source to the common morality of man, I would say evolution is the source.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • lol??

      Dog pack, dog??

      July 3, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • My Dog is a Jealous Dog

      Are you trying to communicate an idea, or do you just like to type?

      July 3, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Peter

      re_trader31
      Even Christian morality has changed throughout the ages. I wonder if the flower shop lady realizes how unseemly her being a business owner employing men would have appeared to Christians of our Founding Fathers time? Back then, the Puritans even outlawed Christmas, and acting (not actors as such) was widely seen as just another form of lying. Let's not forget that owning slaves was once seen as something that a moral Christian could do in good conscience. Tell me that hasn't changed?

      July 3, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      First it doesn't matter if one believes in some sort of higher power or not since no higher power has layed down rules of conduct. Any and all so called holly books were written by men. The phase 'word of god' is total folly.

      So people as a group make up the rules of conduct or what some call morality. For example, most believe stealing is wrong. Mature people don't need a higher power to understand this. A key 'moral' value to me is equalty under the law.

      July 3, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • TC

      Why would you think morality needs to come from a God? It's simply part of the rules humans create for themselves in order to live in groups without complete chaos. The most basic is that somehting that you do should not harm or unduly affect/influence others. When disputes arise of this, we create rules, guidelines laws, rewards and punishments to moderate behavior.

      Only certain religious grops attach morality to beliefs and acts that cause no harm to anyone else.

      It's a complicate system, but pretty simple at it's core.

      July 3, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      People are inherently selfish. We instinctively do that which is least painful. Children do that which is least painful to themselves. Maturity comes when we are able to put aside our own immediate comfort and do that which is least painful for the group. Were it not for our ability to reason this out and cooperate, our species would not survive. As individuals, we are prey animals – soft, squidgy, slow and bereft of in-built offensive capabilities. As a cooperative group, we have become the dominant species in nearly every eco-system on Earth.
      But it takes a mighty big stick to beat the selfishness out of us! Historically, it has been a God sized stick capable to inflicting unimaginable devastation in this life and the hereafter.
      . Effective cooperation is a learned skill and the successful religions recognize this. Christianity reveals this truth about ourselves most poignantly in the character of Jesus Christ. His message is one of peace, charity, modesty and forgiveness – the traits most important to develop when living in a society.
      But the character of Jesus is not unique – He is an example of an archetype in mythology.
      Religion, like people, has evolved based on the laws of Darwinian evolution in that different environments have brought about different religions.
      We are selfish creatures by nature, yet our survival depends on cooperation. In order to balance these two conflicting instincts, mankind has had to develop rules that allow room for both.
      These rules are not the same for all communities – hence we've had so many different types of religion and government throughout history.
      Religion binds communities together by giving a common frame of reference. Shared fears (like divine retribution), hopes (like going to heaven) and rituals allow the instinct for self preservation to extend beyond one's self and immediate family.
      This is why the great majority of evolutionary biologists find no conflict between religion and science – as long as religion is recognized solely as a social adaptation.
      Concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ and indeed 'morality' have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals.
      it is impossible to shift, share, or distribute blame . . . as blame, guilt, responsibility etc. are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. Therefore, we should be rational and realize that not everyone will share the same evaluations of good and evil. We must try to live perfectly in an imperfect world, aware that our efforts will be less than perfect while trying to remain undismayed by self knowledge of failure.

      In the end, the definition of Christian is to live your life in the image of Jesus Christ. Faith in miracles, divinity, resurrections, and other fantastical flourishes isn't required to live a life of pacifism, charity and humility.

      July 3, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      "For those that don't beleive in the Creator, do you belive in morality? If you do, who or whom should make these rules...?"

      Morality is automatic. We are moral by nature, or we wouldn't exist. If we weren't inherently moral, then we would have killed each other off long ago.

      For those aberrations in the group (village, community, country), we control them with laws and punishment that best serves the survival of the group. Who makes up those rules? The group, as it should be.

      July 3, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • FRDMS2THELFT

      you do sound confused

      July 4, 2013 at 12:05 am |
    • whataboutlove?

      @ my dog

      The common morality for man should be love.

      July 4, 2013 at 12:24 am |
    • Real Wisdom

      re_trader31... There is no such thing as morality without God. Nothing is moral unless God says it is. Take God out of the equation and there is no such thing as "morals"...

      July 4, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • re_trader31

      @Real Wisdom
      I agree 100%...................

      July 5, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • EnjaySea

      Anyone with half a brain can be moral. This isn't rocket science. Right and wrong are obvious, and if you need the imagined approval of some invented alien from outer space watching over you, then you don't know how to think for yourself.

      July 11, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  7. Damich

    “I was not discriminating at all,” she said. “I never told him he couldn't get married. I gave him recommendations for other flower shops.” ....as with the privileged (those that CAN get married) they are completely out of touch and miss the point of the hurt and hatred her action sends out into the world (and she could care less)... cherry picking the 'word of God' to suite her bigoted ways... she tries to wash herself of the poo poo she shat on herself by saying she gave them recommendations... she says they can still get married ...well isn't that so sweet of her?! ...she and people like her lack the depth of character to realize that if a store shop owner said that to her how hurt to her core she would be... still can get married but that's not the point. 'Christians' like this are Jesus-like only to those that are like them... I'm almost certain Jesus wasn't anything like that. These same evangelicals shove their gay kids to the streets to a horrific life of depravity and despair over their beliefs and yet still feel they are doing the right thing...... bizarre indeed.

    July 3, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Akira

      You ever have a point that is not dripping with hate, lol?? That is not dripping with misogyny and racism? I've yet to see one.
      You epitomize the stereotype that Christians are awful.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • Observer

      Akira,

      Amen. What an embarassment for Christians.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • whataboutlove?

      Akira & Observer

      Reread what he said. It was about accepting a person in spite of differences. To have enough character to put the needs of another before your own. To prevent hurting someone else on that level through acceptance.

      July 4, 2013 at 1:17 am |
    • Akira

      Whataboutlove, reread MY post. I clearly was talking to the poster lol??, whose post was deleted because, quite frankly, it was dripping with hatred, racism, and misogyny, hence my answer. We were not talking to the OP.

      July 4, 2013 at 1:41 am |
  8. AE

    “I am a Christian who happens as well to be gay. Those realities, which are irreconcilable to some, are reconciled in me by a loving God.”

    – Peter Gomes

    July 3, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Observer

      He is just as right to be there as the huge number of hypocrites already there.

      July 3, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Peter

      If people can claim that Jesus actually loves rich people who choose to keep the bulk of their money for their personal use despite all of the bible verses contradicting this, then why is it so difficult to see Jesus not having a problem with gays when he said absolutely nothing against them specifically, as far as we know?

      July 3, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
  9. lol??

    lol??
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Things would be a lot different today if ol' Abraham had acted properly and bought his marriage license from the Diverse Beast. The nation of laws pharisees would have fixed him right up and he would have to carry his own garbage out. When mama ain't happy, nobody's happy.

    July 3, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Akira

      Women have always taken the trash out. Sometimes they even take garbage out.

      July 3, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  10. Peter

    The lady has a right to refuse service to anyone she wants to, and we have a right to call her prejudiced and mean-spirited for doing it, right?

    July 3, 2013 at 12:17 am |
    • Athy

      Correct, Peter. And the authorities have the right (obligation, actually) to prosecute her for discrimination. And I hope they do and find her guilty.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:37 am |
    • marine1

      If she owns the business she has the right to serve or not to serve whomever. Have you ever saw a sign in an establishment that states this? It is not discrimination.

      July 3, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • Observer

      marine1,

      You can post a sign in a store saying anything you want. It doesn't override law. You cannot discriminate based on s3x, race, religion, etc.

      July 3, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Akira

      It is illegal in the State of Washington under their commerce laws, marine1. If she sells to hetero weddings, she must sell to gay weddings.

      July 3, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Peter

      Sorry, I wasn't aware of the actual legal situation over there.

      July 3, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Snail

      she has less rights then you for not agreeing with the government you quasi Facist

      July 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Akira

      *When one has no argument, one resorts to calling people "facists."

      July 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Akira

      I was referring to Snail's ridiculous post, Deacon. Why? Hasn't somebody accused you of being a pedophile today?

      July 3, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      @Akira

      I wouldn't worry about it too much. Bill's a catholic, so pedophilia is on is his mind quite a bit more than you might expect.

      July 3, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Akira

      No worries, Captain.

      July 3, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  11. Charles

    It's irrational to use an accusation of hypocrisy to justify the continuation of something that is wrong.

    July 2, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • Ken

      Not when the people who are calling it "wrong" are the ones placing themselves in the position of having their judgment questioned by being hypocrites.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:39 am |
    • Real Wisdom

      Charles... No one ever said that gays were "rational"...

      July 4, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Observer

      Real "Wisdom".

      Speaking of being irrational, you continue to try to trash people using a Bible you don't fully believe in nor support. Ooops!

      July 4, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Moral people know that what this woman is doing is wrong, but since she's chosen to break the law, she is being held accountable. Accusations of hypocrisy are merely opinions.

      July 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  12. Charles

    When it's convenient to their political agenda, liberals will ignore millions of years of evolution.

    July 2, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Observer

      Charles

      When it's convenient to their political agenda, conservatives will ignore years of hypocrisy.

      July 2, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
    • Peter

      Why is being gay against evolution? I can think of an obvious advantage of nature producing gays as a means of curbing overpopulation, which we definitely are facing, correct?

      July 3, 2013 at 12:42 am |
    • tallulah13

      When it's convenient to their personal agenda, christians and conservatives advocate breaking the law.

      July 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  13. Charles

    Please tell me how evolution can cause sperm cells to go to a location where they have NEVER been by gradual genetic change.

    July 2, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      well you see Charles, when a man loves a woman and he puts his thingy in her who who and some jelly comes out, then those hundreds of thousands of little swimmers start wagging their tails and they go wherever those tails take them. You don't believe they are like migratory birds do you? I'm starting to laugh just thinking about it, you silly little man.

      July 2, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • Athy

      Charles, you're just not thinking, are you. You'll just never get it.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:21 am |
    • Akira

      Like what, Charles? The nearest kleenex?

      July 3, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • Doobs

      @ Akira

      LOL!

      July 3, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • EnjaySea

      And where exactly do you think evolution is claiming that these sperm cells are being diverted?

      I sense that a deep, and profound misunderstanding of evolution is stirring somewhere in your mind.

      July 3, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  14. Charles

    I guess every cult has its elephant in the room that everyone ignores.

    July 2, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • Peter

      Didn't Christianity start off as a Jewish cult?

      July 3, 2013 at 12:44 am |
    • Peter

      That would also be Christianity in it's purest, original form. A cult.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:46 am |
    • Dippy

      Its, not it's.

      July 3, 2013 at 12:52 am |
  15. Charles

    Why is it so important for people to be on the side of gays? What do they get out of it?

    July 2, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      For most of us we get nothing other than the satisfaction of helping someone in need who has been beaten and bruised and forced to stay in the shadows for too long. To help those in need is very rewarding, you should try it sometime.

      July 2, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
    • Peter

      There were plenty of non-blacks who supported the abolition and civil rights movements, including Christians. Supposedly, they did it because they recognized an injustice and wanted to help correct it. Are you saying that's a bad thing?

      July 3, 2013 at 12:48 am |
    • WASP

      @charles: here is a question possible asked at various points in history when things changed;

      1)what do we get from helping women get equal rights?
      2) what do we get for giving minorities equal rights?
      3) what do we get from giving children equal rights?

      ANSWER: YOU GET A HAPPIER WORLD.

      July 3, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • My Dog is a Jealous Dog

      The Nazis (and they are still around) tried to kill all of the Jews, non-Aryans, gays, and atheists – we are just standing with our brothers and sisters. You are on the wrong side.

      July 3, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • lol??

      ME II
      7)What are the chances that science will crown Mrs; Noah, Mitochondrial Eve. Slim to Noe??

      That would make her Mrs. M(itochondrial) E(ve) N(oah) and MEN are supposed to rule...

      July 3, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • jazzguitarman

      Charles; Good question. What I get out of support for gay rights is that I'm pushing for equality and fairness. These values are important to me. I guess you don't have those values. I have NO issue with those that feel being gay is a sin, or those that hate gays. Have nothing to do with gays. BUT don't try to define them equality under the law. That is when one crosses a line that I will defend.

      July 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • TC

      Do you only care about other people if you personally get something out of it? That's just sad. Fortunately, a great many folks care about others because it's the moral and human thing to do.

      July 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  16. Charles

    You're on the wrong side. Escape the cult of liberalism at CNN while you can!

    July 2, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      Soooo, what are you doing here again? Ohhh, I see, you are warning others right. I hope you aren't putting this down as service to your God. I'm sure you are going to stand there at the pearly gates and tell Peter "Well i went on CNN blogs all the time to tell people not to go to the CNN blogs which are so filled with mean liberals"... I have no doubt that the Peter in the bible would kick you in the nuts.

      July 2, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • Athy

      If he doesn't, I will!

      July 3, 2013 at 12:22 am |
    • jazzguitarman

      Poor Charles is very confused. SSM wouldn't be legal if only libs were for it. More people in the USA define themselves as conservatives than libs (I'm neither BTW). What this indicates is that support for SSM and equal rights is now mainstream and NOT just something pushed by libs.

      July 3, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  17. Charles

    Perverts with political power is the problem.

    July 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Ken

      Which "perverts" are you talking about? To many, anyone who has affairs, or even divorces qualifies as a "pervert".

      July 2, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • Athy

      According to Bat Guano, the word is "preverts".

      July 3, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
  18. Paula Dean

    Next thing you know: interracial gay marriage.

    July 2, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • Dippy

      It's Deen.

      July 3, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  19. Robespierre

    Random arguing that settles nothing.

    July 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • Ken

      Well, it reveals what cards each side in this has in it's hand and, judging by what I see, I'm betting against the opponents to this ruling. They've got a losing hand, and the only play they have to to try bluffing their way out of this with scare tactics. Unfortunately for them, prejudice can only work where there is ignorance, and too many people know what gay folks are actually like to be fooled by religious demonizing.

      July 2, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
  20. Robespierre

    Liberalism is a cult backed-up by instilling a morbid fear of being called names into everyone.

    July 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • Ken

      So, you're actually for calling people derogatory names? Are you fair enough to include any groups you belong in as well?

      July 3, 2013 at 12:10 am |
    • Ken

      Also, doesn't Ephesians 5:4 forbid Christians from "obscenity, foolish talk or coar.se joking"?

      July 3, 2013 at 12:13 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.