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
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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. tony

    If god is on your side, or you on his/hers, then you've probably been missing out on living 90% of life's wonderful opportunities

    March 26, 2013 at 2:06 pm |

  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6ULdaSrYGLQ

    March 26, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  3. Salero21

    So now we have that atheists are not only like rabid wolves and below the apes, but now they're taking sides with the HO-MOS's. They are compared in Scriptures to dogs, therefore atheists are now like dogs. So start barking and growling atheists since you already howl!

    March 26, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • tony

      Atheists are the seeing eye dogs of the willfully ignorant.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • ?

      Was this supposed to be funny?

      March 26, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • UncleM

      You are a perfect example of why religious lunatics should not be allowed to dictate laws.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Salero21

      Are you all barking yet?

      March 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • sam

      Another bullshit attempt at trolling. Cute, but not your best work.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • CosmicC

      Arf, arf. Happy now? I still have the legal high ground.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      salt shaker. You're barking. Barking mad!

      March 26, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Salero21

      Are you all barking, howling, squealing or screeching? Can you all say moo? Atheists are like the monkeys in the barrel!

      March 26, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Salero21

      Only fools trust in Santa!

      March 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      salt shaker. Only fools trust in god. And you prove the point.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Salero21

      Fools and fools alone trust in Santa!

      March 26, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  4. Michael

    God doesn't get a say. We live in a country with separation of church and state, people!

    March 26, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  5. Doc Vestibule

    Ho.mo-Ehe ist böse.
    Gott mit uns!

    March 26, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  6. Gave Them Up

    Why go through all the pomp? Just let Al Capone decide for cheap.

    March 26, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  7. tony

    No human on Earth has the right or ability to speak for god. Therefore human produced works such as the bible, etc., are un-authorized and meaningless.

    March 26, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Salero21

      The right no certainly but the ability yes. So you're partially correct!

      March 26, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  8. B

    The great Sam Kinison once said something like, "How does one man look at another man's harry a** and get excited!?"
    Maybe Obama knows with his experience in Chicago bath houses with Rham and the boys? We could have asked Donald Young, Larry Bland or Nate Spencer, but they've all been killed:


    March 26, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • ME II

      Ho.mophobia is often a cover for ho.mos.exual tendencies.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • no really

      How does one man talk out of his hairy ass and think he has said something worth hearing? When really he's just clearing his throat.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Thoth

      So the judicial branch of government (Supreme Court) is going to decide, yet you attack the executive branch (POTUS)...???

      March 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • David

      What "B" is doing is trying to say Obama is not only a black muslim in the white house, but he's also gay, which of course he could be killed for in most Muslim countries. He also must cheat on his taxes, be an atheist, was a community organizer aka Chicago mobster, was secretly born in Kenya, has been abducted by aliens and brain probed to be a real manchurian (or rather martianchurian) candidate. Oh, and he enjoyed the probing. At least that is what the Christian right and conservative harlequins Fox Knews would have you believe.

      Sooo, I guess "B" stands for total "Bull"...

      March 26, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  9. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    A tiny insect was crawling across my desk. I wondered if it might be on my side. Realizing that it and I have much more in common than I do with God, I allowed it to go on its way.

    March 26, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  10. Dave

    While we're on it, who does Zeus have in this debate? How about the Tooth Fairy? I wonder who's on Big Foot's side. How does this crap warrant an article? Stop posting these inane articles CNN before you lose long time readers.

    March 26, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • samuelguzman60

      well I see you've read it or at least came at this page.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  11. hypatia

    I just talked to God. She said she doesnt give a crap, she's busy with a new universe in another dimension. She recommends having tuna melts for lunch.

    March 26, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Joe

      But I don't like tuna...and I am allergic to wheat.


      March 26, 2013 at 1:59 pm |


    March 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Salero21

      YES Totally, this perverted and rotten world is coming to its end. I'm so is yours NOT ours! For Jesus said we're not of this world, just as His Kingdom is NOT of this world. You figure it out just by chance!

      March 26, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Which God?

      Sal could you leave now, and not wait? We'd be pleased.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Salero21

      So then atheism is indeed a belief.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  13. phk46

    "Who is on God's side?"

    I guess this is a way of asking "who holds God's proxy for this". Nobody has a way to prove they are authorized to speak for God, but many claim they do. For that matter, which god are we talking about? Is it the Catholic god, the fundamentalist Protestant god, the Hebrew god, the Moslem god, or ???

    God is not speaking. This is all about people. IMO people who claim to speak for God should be ignored.

    March 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  14. ShawnDH

    It's clear to anybody who understand the concept of a free, 21st century nation that some people's religion is quite irrelevant when discussing equality under the law. We do not live in a theocracy, but a secular democratic republic. Your religion doesn't matter in this discussion. Period.

    March 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • rh

      It's not the end of the discussion, it is the beginning of the discussion of why a religious ceremony, marriage, is in any way regulated by the US government.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Needed to be considered "married" – a license issued by the government.
      Not needed – the blessing of your pastor.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  15. sarahfalin

    This discussion to moot. There is no god. Move along.

    March 26, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • sarahfalin

      Correction. "This discussion is moot. There is no god. Move along.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  16. 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.

    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 it goes.
    . . . . .

    March 26, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  17. WASP

    Christians are doing what they commanded in their scriptures. Love the sinner not the sin! Have you heard of Sodom and Gomorrah??
    If we continue this path where does it end? One day marrying your neighbor’s donkey would become acceptable!"

    hey genious all you have to do is word the marriage law as follows:
    " any adult of legal consenting age may marry."

    this thankfully would prohibit your religious freaks from marrying your animals or your kinfolk. i see a lot of insest in your holybook, maybe that's why you have cults and we athesits do not. lol

    March 26, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • OOO

      "If we continue this path where does it end? One day marrying your neighbor’s donkey would become acceptable!"

      I suppose if some day 10-15% of the population is born with a se.xual orientation that causes them to prefer donkey's, and that lasts for thousands of years, then we would possibly be looking at legislation that allows it. But I think that situation is unlikely – don't you?

      March 26, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Fred

      Donkeys can't consent. Sorry.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  18. Gave Them Up

    These judges think they are 400,000 years old and going to help God get it right? That's a BIG pretend.

    March 26, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  19. Live4Him

    @Rap is not music : What you have just proven to me is that you have not read "the good book."

    I've been to seminary. Try again. Here are the passages you mentioned, in context.

    Mark 13:1-6a As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.” As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. Many will come in My name

    Matthew 24:32-35 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

    Mark 9:1 And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

    Matthew 16:28 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

    1 Corinthians 7:29-31But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.

    1 Thessalonians 4:15For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.

    John 21:22-23Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?”

    Matthew 10:23“But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.

    Now, before we evaluate your claims, lets review the history. First, Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead. Later, He ascended into heaven and was seen doing so by some of the apostles. So, in review, Jesus DID enter into His power before those to whom he was speaking. Therefore, your posit has been falsified.

    March 26, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Abraham

      You've been to seminary. I've read all 7 Harry Potter books AND seen the movies. We are equally qualified. Using the Bible to prove the Bible is absolute folly.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • WASP

      @him: prove your "good book" is
      1) true
      2) can be trusted
      3) good
      4) not the rabilings of an insane man thinking he can see -angels, demons etc etc etc

      then we can talk about your "good book".

      March 26, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • theFalls

      My friend's mom was abducted by aliens. He claims to have seen it happen. So, she must have been abducted by aliens. I will now live my life according to this story and believe in aliens.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Steve

      Did you really refer to the bible as history? LoL. That is all.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Meowser

      Any time you reach for your bible to augment your argument all you do is weaken your point.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Abraham

      @Steve I think my favorite part was the last sentence: "Therefore, your posit has been falsified."


      March 26, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Rap is not music

      You just invalidated your entire argument by once again, interpreting via convulted "context."

      "Now, before we evaluate your claims, lets review the history. First, Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead. Later, He ascended into heaven and was seen doing so by some of the apostles. So, in review, Jesus DID enter into His power before those to whom he was speaking. Therefore, your posit has been falsified."

      You are implying that the apostles saw him coming, when he was actually GOING. As for the destruction of the temple, it wasn't completely destroyed as he claimed it would be. Part of it still exists today. Also, the ONLY accounts of jesus are from the bible. Thus far, every account outside of this collection of tales has been proven to be a forgery.

      Sorry, but seminary does not change facts. And the fact is, jesus did in FACT, LIE if he existed in the first place.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • factoidlover

      When Jesus remarked he was coming soon, was he just fooling around? 2,000 years surely doesn't qualify as soon.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Peregrine

      L4h- "let's review the history"
      You spelled myth wrong

      March 26, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  20. David

    This is insane. God has always been on the side of liberty, free-agency, or freedom. Regardless of how right Christ was he never forced his views on anyone. The correct answer is get the government out of marriage. Are we really putting before Caesar that which is God's? We should allow people to choose for themselves. If a man wants to marry a man or 4 women, or a robot who am I to limit his agency? We the people are not against each other, we are against being told how to live, act or believe. I will not tell people who they can and cannot marry, and they will not tell me how I should worship. We are not enemies, we are free agents able to live as we choose without threat of force.

    March 26, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • rh

      Then why does the government force people to marry to enjoy certain benefits such as for tax and insurance?

      The government needs to get out of the marriage business NOW. It is against the most basic principles of church and state that marriage is at all a government matter. The government should only offer civil unions, period.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @David : The correct answer is get the government out of marriage.

      Should others be paying a part of the 'fair share' of taxes for same-sex couples? All I want is for them to pay their fair share of government taxes.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • David

      @Live4Him Taxes are another issue. One we can address but this article is regarding God's feelings towards marriage. Christ looked at the women who was about to be stoned and said "Go and sin no more" paraphrased. He did not force her to go and sin no more. He still protected her free-agency and allowed her to make the choice. She could have turned around and started whoring all over again. Nothing was preventing her from acting unto her self according to her desires. It was his hope and prayer that she had chosen to listen to his advice but he did not force her. God is not a god that forces or removes agency. Government shouldn't do it either.

      March 26, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.