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. Salero21

    I howl, squeal, screech and and bark when I get gay laid.

    March 26, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Marie

      You wish you got laid

      March 26, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Abraham

      Delightful Freudian slip.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • ====>

      Some guys will do anything for money including fvcking salero21.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  2. Marie

    Separation of church and state and equal rights. There is no argument against these in the U.S.A. Period.

    March 26, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  3. Salero21

    So what do we have now? Well, atheist like Ho-mos if you know what I mean, that's a given. The problema is that in the Scriptures they are compared to dogs. Therefore atheist who previously were like ravenous wolves and funky monkeys, are now in the company of dogs and dogs lovers.

    So are they going to start howling, squealing, screeching or barking?

    March 26, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • sam stone

      troll cvnt

      March 26, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Abraham

      Yeah, you already posted this nonsense. Got anything else, or are these all the words you know?

      March 26, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Scriptures say lats of funny things. Why would you base your life on that nonsense. To see how the world really works, you should go down to any library in America and start reading some books about evolution and see how closely you are realted to dogs and all other animals. Or just keep reading fairy tales if you havent grown out of that yet, or you need an excuse to be a biggot.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Your words are so christian s21
      Clearly you don't believe what you have been taught.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Moses

      " The problema is that in the Scriptures they are compared to dogs." Thank goodness it's made of paper that can be put to good use wiping our backsides with, other than that it's pretty useless.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:46 pm |

    So, it's "What God says" vs. "What I would say if I were God"

    March 26, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  5. dmwinsd

    Each person has their own unique viewpoint of and relationship with God, regardless of the statement of beliefs that they may chant in unison, so asking "Who is on God's side" isn't the absolute question that it might appear at first sight. What I find so amazing about this debate is the viewpoint that genitalia are more important than love. Even more, it is the physical appearance of the genitalia rather than their ability to perform any reproductive function that counts to some people. An unrepentant sterile murderer can marry an unrepentant sterile rapist as long as they have the right parts. What's love got to do with it?

    March 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  6. ReligionIsBS

    This just in. God probably doesnt exist, so lets just think for ourselves. Besides, when looking back at history, "god" has usually been on the wrong side anyways (ie, slavery, womans rights, not raping children).

    March 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  7. phazon

    This is how a true Christian should handle this does the bible say relations between two men or two women or wrong yes, does the bible say that marriage is between a man and a woman yes. Knowing those parts in the bible doesn't make you on Gods side but also know these love your neighbor as yourself, be descreet and humble, Jesus said his followers where no part of the world as he was no part of the world this means those true followers of Jesus don't get involved in debates like this they know people make their own choices and don't go on crusades to prevent it. How does one being gay come to be a true follower of Christ well the same way a person who sleeps around with a lot of women they stop and they pray to God to help them supress their urges. They also are not hated against but they are helped if the don't want to change that is their choice but what these churches are doing now supporting gay marriage really come on they are showing they are the false religions of the world cause they are bending the bible to fit their desires to add more people would Jesus allow for his fathers will to be tampered with just to conform to peoples desires of the flesh no he wouldn't.

    March 26, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      The bible has nothing to do with the laws...moot points once again from phazon.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:48 pm |

  8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HA55jGyq2C8

    March 26, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  9. Daryl

    Which God are we talking about. We have so many choices.

    Buddah, Ganesh, The Jewish God, the Christian God, a Whicken God, Zeus ?

    I let these Gods compete for my worship.. It's a buyers market

    March 26, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • phazon

      But do the followers of those God show the true Gods qualities? no they do not.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Joshua

      Jesus owns me and purchased me on The Cross...you too for that matter if you will but believe, repent, and live accordingly.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      To be fair, Buddha isn't a god.

      And the spelling is Wiccan. They have a god and a goddess. Generally speaking. Unless they're Dianic, in which case just a goddess.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • sam

      Joshua, were you in the bargain bin?

      March 26, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      which one of the "one true" gods is your "one true" god?

      March 26, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  10. Dan

    The concerns of someone's imaginary sky god mean nothing to me and the real life tax benefits me and my family are denied each year. Besides, I talked to Odin this morning and he's cool with gay marriage.

    March 26, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  11. John

    Who's side is God on? Oh, Jesus Christ!

    March 26, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • john4789

      you got that right

      March 26, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  12. viktora choban, sacramento

    all who commit adultery will go to hell after death.

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

      Hell ain't a bad place to be

      March 26, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Honey Hush

      Lighten up honey and your old man might not have to spend all his money on ho-okers.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Thoth

      all who make claims about afterlives will spend enternity decaying into the ground and one day become fossil fuel.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Nikki

      are you serious? Do you even know what "adultery" is?

      March 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • phazon

      It's people like you and your religion who are giving athiests a reason to be such stop with the unscriptural brain washing of hell there is no such place in the bible. God is love he would not torture for eternity would you put the person responsible for you child doing bad things in a posistion to watch over him and punish him no you wouldn't so why would God put Satan in charge of punishing people when it's his fault the world is the way it is. Think about that long and hard please.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • sam stone

      i'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints 'cause sinners are much more fun" saint william of hicksville

      March 26, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • sam

      Surely you had to know that was a risk when you decided to be a mail order bride. What kind of guy buys a woman from Russia?? You had to know he was a dog.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • David

      "Adultery: Voluntary s.e.xual intercourse between a married person and a partner other than the lawful spouse."

      So is that why you don't want them getting married? Because if they did then it would no longer be adultery?

      March 26, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • David

      all who have commited adultery will go to hell after death? So only Christians who married as virgins and never divorced and never cheated on their spouses will get to inherrit God's Kingdom? The rest all go to heII regardless. Great plan your God has there, have fun with the three other people who make it.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  13. viktora choban, sacramento

    It is sin

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

      Your parents really wanted a boy to name Victor?

      March 26, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Joe23


      March 26, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      sin is a man-made construct, like your bible, your god, and all other religions.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  14. Rap is not music

    @Live4Him, just to keep the conversation fresh, and so you don't miss out on reality, I'll reply again here with some additional information.

    You just invalidated your entire argument by once again, interpreting via convulted "context." *NOTE: You posted exactly what I did. I'm not sure how you think it changes the fact that the scriptures show that jesus made false claims and never followed through with them.

    "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. Flying away to it. As you can see from your own copy and paste, jesus claimed that they would see the son of man coming, not running away to it. BIG difference there.

    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 and the accounts were even remotely accurate. Since they were written decades after his alleged existence, none of the accounts were first-hand. The claim is that they were, but the true authors aren't actually known. There is even a plausible theory that the gospel was written by the Romans as a means of controlling the people. This would explain the sudden deployment of the Roman catholic church, which ironically does not follow or teach the doctrine which it is supposed to be built upon.

    March 26, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • clarity

      @Rap – I appreciate you keeping it fresh.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • ME II

      Not that I disagree with the failed prophecy part, but a Roman conspiracy seems a bit much doesn't it?

      March 26, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @Rap is not music : I'm not sure how you think it changes the fact that the scriptures show that jesus made false claims and never followed through with them.

      You posted references, and advanced the claim that He made false statements. Yet, you never provided any evidence to support that claim.

      @Rap is not music : You are implying that the apostles saw him coming, when he was actually GOING

      The Greek word used in the passages is 'erchomai', which means to come or to go. It can be translated as coming or arriving. So, I'm simply using the word in its proper meaning: Jesus arrived in His kingdom before the eyes of His apostles.

      @Rap is not music : BIG difference there.

      Only for those who don't understand Greek.

      @Rap is not music : As for the destruction of the temple, it wasn't completely destroyed as he claimed it would be. Part of it still exists today.

      Ummm.... The RETAINING wall for the Temple grounds survived, but the Temple itself was destroyed.

      @Rap is not music : Also, the ONLY accounts of jesus are from the bible.

      Three strikes and you're OUT! Ever hear of Josephus? There were several historians who mentioned Jesus and His miraculous deeds.

      @Rap is not music : Thus far, every account outside of this collection of tales has been proven to be a forgery.

      Do you have any empirical evidence to support this claim? I didn't think so.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • God is My Savior

      Your clueless rap!

      March 26, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Goodfella

      Of course you already know that L4H will Lie4 Him. Christianity would not work without the lies.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  15. CosmicC

    Who cares? It should have no bearing on the SCOTUS decision. Of course the probablity is that at least 4 will vote for Prop 8 on the basis of their religious beliefs. If so, they should consider resigning.

    March 26, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  16. Poochie

    I can't believe this is even a real headline/article. I know now CNN has truly gone downhill.

    March 26, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  17. Gave Them Up

    I don't want anybody to think I'm picking on Catholics at the court. Besides Big Al, maybe an opinion from Hyman Abrams is warranted, too.

    March 26, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  18. Rebbeca

    There is supposed to be a seperation between Chruch and state so WHY are we even talking about religion here????? I am so tired of the Catholic Church putting in thier 2 f-in cents in where it does not belong! It's ok for priests to molest children but don't let gays get married....PLEASE!!!!

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

      Hey – the problem goes way beyond the Catholic Church's influence in the U.S. That's not even the half of it, IMHO.

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

      That separation was to keep the State of of Religion. Take a look at your dollar bills...we still Trust in God in this country.
      He may still bless America. I wish you personally knew and loved Jesus...what a difference He makes in life.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • rplus5

      Where do you think marriage spawned from?It was created by God for his purpose!not by church or catholics

      March 26, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Thoth

      @Joshua – please take a moment to research when, and how 'in god we trust' came to be. A little hint – the founders motto was E Pluribus Unum (from many, one)

      March 26, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • sam

      Josh...the god part was added to the money in the 50's by a bunch of idiots who felt it made us more legit and less like the commies. Go read a book.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • tkAlfredo

      dont forget about the christians, jews, muslims ect....

      March 26, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  19. Pope Calculus

    Dr. Richard Land – aka Dr. Dick Land. He's obviously in the closet.

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

      Not as much a Dr. Richard Goezinya

      March 26, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  20. 431 Ministers Proclamation

    As Christian clergy we proclaim: the Good News concerning Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons and publicly apologize where we have been silent. As disciples of Jesus, who assures us that the truth sets us free, we recognize that the debate is over. The verdict is in. Homosexuality is not a sickness, not a choice, and not a sin. We find no rational biblical or theological basis to condemn or deny the rights of any person based on sexual orientation. Silence by many has allowed political and religious rhetoric to monopolize public perception, creating the impression that there is only one Christian perspective on this issue. Yet we recognize and celebrate that we are far from alone, as Christians, in affirming that LGBT persons are distinctive, holy, and precious gifts to all who struggle to become the family of God.

    In repentance and obedience to the Holy Spirit, we stand in solidarity as those who are committed to work and pray for full acceptance and inclusion of LGBT persons in our churches and in our world. We lament that LGBT persons are condemned and excluded by individuals and institutions, political and religious, who claim to be speaking the truth of Christian teaching. This leads directly and indirectly to intolerance, discrimination, suffering, and even death. The Holy Spirit compels us:

    -to affirm that the essence of Christian life is not focused on sexual orientation, but how one lives by grace in relationship with God, with compassion toward humanity;

    –to embrace the full inclusion of our LGBT brothers and sisters in all areas of church life, including leadership;

    –to declare that the violence must stop. Christ’s love moves us to work for the healing of wounded souls who are victims of abuse often propagated in the name of Christ;

    –to celebrate the prophetic witness of all people who have refused to let the voice of intolerance and violence speak for Christianity, especially LGBT persons, who have met hatred with love;

    Therefore we call for an end to all religious and civil discrimination against any person based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. All laws must include and protect the freedoms, rights, and equal legal standing of all persons, in and outside the church.<i

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

      Why do 431 of you want to push LGBT further from God? All we like sheep have gone astray...but you all are leading the way!

      March 26, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Abraham

      I think this is called "doing the right thing for the wrong reason".

      March 26, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Joshua

      Proverbs 14:12

      March 26, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
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About this blog

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.