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
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

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. Christards Gone Wild! They are Panicking!


    March 29, 2013 at 10:10 am |
  2. Thoth

    "Who's side is 'god' on?" – well, wake me up when 'god' shows up and validates his/her/it's position. All these people throughout time that claim to speak for this, or that 'god'.....if the issue is soooo important to 'your' god, have them show up and let us know directly. Anything else is pure human conjecture.

    March 29, 2013 at 10:03 am |

  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=PCLF2ji0rZI
    _ _

    March 29, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      We want a king like all the other nations. We're americans. Will you settle for martial law? It happens to the best of banana republics.

      March 29, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • ..

      If you want a king, that's your delusion, Gave Nothing.

      March 29, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  4. Gave Them Up

    Gave Them Up
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    The arrogant socialists mislead you on standard Christian doctrines, so it looks like you were taken in by their bigotry. God can love the world without getting dirty, but the bride can't.

    "1Jo 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.".

    March 29, 2013 at 9:43 am |
  5. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    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.

    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.

    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.

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

    March 29, 2013 at 9:41 am |
  6. Gave Them Up

    Gave Them Up
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Gave Them Up
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Gave Them Up
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Your brainwashing by the socialists is showing with your, "render unto Caesar's that which is Caesar's". You have the role of the masters and servants flip-flopped. Grow up in Russia? Do you live in the US? dot-dot.

    March 29, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • clarity

      Wow – this idiot is really going off the deep end of the pool. Someone else said you were vile, and I certainly see why.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • Saraswati

      I'm not sure if someone is really flagging his or her posts, in which case s/he would at least have reason to be pis'sed off. It wouldn't account for the bizarre ramblings, but anyone who flags posts without cause should in an ideal world be blocked from posting themselves.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      Don't be confused, girls. You're grownups now. You cycle.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • clarity

      Yes, Saraswati – it does look like goofball's posts were blocked. I wish that would stop because now I feel like I'm responding to the same thing over again.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      The schoolteacher astronaught sure confused her hubby. Former hubby, and now she is removed from corrupting space.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      Mob rule, stealth, and peer pressure. What a trinity!

      March 29, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • The real Tom

      Get a job, ya mope.

      March 29, 2013 at 10:01 am |
  7. Gave Them Up

    Gave Them Up
    EJR17, ploy? The field is so wide open. I have noticed the use of rainbows, dancing on hay wagons in parades, getting naked on the streets in SF, claiming lust as love in bath houses, claiming the government should stay out of bedrooms, pretending to be Christians and priests, constant lobbying of holywood, wanting love in a war machine, attacking the Salvation Army, getting the rich to think Scarab beetles are cool jewelry, and on and on.

    The socialists are so bent on doing social experiments to gather data, one would think they would do the island experiment where you put 50,000 volunteer gays and feed them by airdrop. Collect the data and see how they progress in a few decades. My hunch is they would even get creative with religion..

    March 29, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      Gave Them Up
      Volunteers, hot stuff, not like the socialist experimenters that force their ideas on whole nations. And no, science isn't as stupid as you. Of course there would have to be 2 islands, divided by s-ex organ differentiation. What red blooded h0m0se-xual could resist the offer of full time partying and no work. Check on them every 5 years and see what kind of a society evolves..

      March 29, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • clarity

      Talking to yourself to spread lies even. Wow. You need some help.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Saraswati

      I imagine that there was a post in the middle s/he didn't bother to copy.

      GTU, when a thread is flagged the norm is to copy and repost the whole thread, not just your own posts.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • clarity

      I'm sure we won't see any "normal" protocol from this bigot, Saraswati.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • The real Tom

      What a complete moron.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • Saraswati

      Probably not, but I have a weakness for assuming people are rational long beyond the point that assumption is deserved.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:58 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      Girls, control yourselves. I'm talking science here.

      March 29, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • The real Tom

      No, you're just gibbering.

      March 29, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • Chilipepper

      The whole thread disappeared. I am not going to repost everything I answered to her, because I don't c/p whole threads and my history is deleted when i turn my computer off.

      This is a purely secular matter. One doesn't have to agree with it, and I don't expect everyone will, but to call supporters of equal rights different names, (mostly names that she doesn't even know the meaning of) and hide behind the Bible to shield her from her abject bigotry is vile and reprehensible.
      Notice she didn't post EJR's post. You know, the one where denying gay marriage equal rights because of the progeny issue? EJR's post completely blows that out of the water. She mentioned NOTHING about that, did she?
      I read somewhere she was poorly educated.I see evidence in every post.

      I will not address this troll any longer.I am not sure what the point of her posts are, since she never seems to make one except to be rude to a whole lot of people that she will never know, and whose marriages will never affect her one way or another.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Gave Them Up

      Hot Stuff, that's because you have the spirit of antichrist in your temple. God does the joining, not churches or beasts. Jesus agreed with the scriptures on this topic, of course.

      March 30, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  8. Gave Them Up

    Gave Them Up
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    The unholy marriage between the communers and the rich is going to stun america before Jesus returns. The communers who are trusting the drones to save them will get to experience betrayal up close and personal. It doesn't take a prophet to see this coming..

    March 29, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • The real Tom

      See what coming? Your involuntary commission to a mental health facility?

      March 29, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  9. Gave Them Up

    Gave Them Up
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Inheritance doesn't even cross the minds of atheists and communers. Is it any wonder they are all ga ga about gay "rights"?.

    March 29, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • Saraswati

      "Inheritance doesn't even cross the minds of atheists and communers. Is it any wonder they are all ga ga about gay "rights"?."

      This comment made no sense the first time you made it – the third time around it's not making any more. One of the main reason's people are fighting for same-se'x marriage is to gain inheritance rights but I'm not sure you're even that on point.

      March 29, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      A will ain't gud enuff for you? Is it that time of your lunar cycle?

      March 29, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Gave, you do understand that inheritance law, and estate taxes in particular, treats spouses and non-spouses differently, regardless of whether there is a will?

      March 29, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      Get back to work and forget the carnal parties.

      March 29, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • midwest rail

      Interesting that GTU ignored the point completely.

      March 29, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      Gave Them Up
      BTW, where did you come up with the idea of authority and law? Found it in a cabbage patch? Did you find "rights" next to the radishes? Cain is beaming.

      March 29, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      You trying to get rich through marriage? That's a corrupted version, supported by american law.

      March 29, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • clarity

      What is wrong with this ignorant fool? He sounds like a character in a Stephen King movie.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • Saraswati

      OK, GTU, I think you're probably too stupid for a conversation. Are you talking about people not wanting to lose money or a family business when a spouse dies as "trying to get rich through marriage"? You are one wacky dude.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • Saraswati

      I actually don't think he's for real, which really raises the issue of why I'm bothering to reply. I think it's time to sign off.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:07 am |
  10. Gave Them Up

    Gave Them Up
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Inheritance doesn't even cross the minds of atheists and communers. Is it any wonder they are all ga ga about gay "rights"?

    March 29, 2013 at 8:04 am |
  11. Gave Them Up

    The h0m0se-xuals are on rampage demanding love. Worked for the president. To the STREETS!!

    March 29, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • midwest rail

      Demanding love ? Now you're just being silly.

      March 29, 2013 at 8:02 am |
    • ...,

      A lol?? by any other name is just the same stupid troll.

      March 29, 2013 at 8:03 am |
  12. Gave Them Up

    The lefty socialists are back and the righty socialists sold them the guns. The mob power is straight from the streets of Sodom and Gomorrah.

    March 29, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • midwest rail

      Good grief.

      March 29, 2013 at 7:51 am |
    • Del

      @ midwest rail,
      I have been tracking your activity all over the blogs and posts disappear around every where you go. You need to QUIT BLOCKING PEOPLE POSTS.

      You are infringing on the twelfrd amandment.

      March 29, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • midwest rail

      Del – you obviously have no idea how the internet works. Try again.

      March 29, 2013 at 7:58 am |
    • Del

      Midwest rail, yesterday I was following your comments, and watching the surrounding sections of material disapper. And I could hear in your tone of voice that you are censoring, and ready to keep doing so. That is communist suppression. Are you a Marxist?

      March 29, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • midwest rail

      Del – you have no idea what you are talking about. You have made inferences from zero evidence. Try again.

      March 29, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    • Saraswati

      Del, I'm going to take a wild stab hear and guess the person worried this is an infringement of the "twelfrd" amendment is the one most lacking in basic American civics. I have no idea who's doing what but if you want to go making claims about people you don't know you sound a heck of a lot like "bethany" who was pretty well established to be the prime censorship culprit. You can try and turn the story around by flinging accusations if you want, but the folks at CNN actually do have the IP addresses and the compiled data and can estimate pretty well who did what.

      March 29, 2013 at 8:08 am |
    • midwest rail

      Actually, this will be a good exercise to demonstrate the obvious. Go ahead, Del. You made a positive accusation, present your evidence.

      March 29, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • Del

      I just contacted the C.I.A..And saraswati is a conspiratorial colleague.

      March 29, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Saraswati

      Excellent; I will be awaiting a knock on the door.

      March 29, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • 6

      Maybe 6

      March 29, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  13. Gave Them Up

    Gave Them Up
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    I see the atheists are back to using the term "bigot". They can't help themselves.

    March 29, 2013 at 7:40 am |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    March 29, 2013 at 6:17 am |
    • Science

      Or share this ...........if you go to mass today....................... education works better for children !

      Scientists say they've found a "God particle"


      March 29, 2013 at 7:41 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      March 29, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Saraswati

      Again, misusing the word "liar" and putting it in all caps makes you looks like as much of an idiot as the OP.

      March 29, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Really?

      "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"

      That's why the data, has shown that atheists have happier and healthier lives than conservative Christians. Your post is built on a lie!

      March 29, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  15. WASP

    @Typical Christian
    "Yeah, but it is still a moth, derp.
    March 28, 2013 at 1:32 pm"

    what did you expect it to become a horse?

    humans are still classified as primates; it's our order, here let me show you. chimps being our closest relative (genetically speaking) are in the same order as we are.

    COMMON NAME: Humans
    kingdom: animalia
    phylum: chordata
    class: mammalia
    order: primate
    family: homindae
    genus: h0m0
    species: h. sapiens

    COMMON NAME: chimpanzee, chimp
    KINGDOM: Animalia
    PHYLUM: Chordata
    CLASS: Mammalia
    ORDER: Primates
    FAMILY: Hominidae
    GENUS SPECIES: Pan (all) troglodytes (cave dwellers)

    March 29, 2013 at 2:58 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      Adam did a lot of naming and it didn't lead him to the conclusion, "There is no God". He could have classified them, too, just like his rock collection and his stamp collection.

      March 29, 2013 at 7:29 am |
    • Science

      Hey lol??/gave.....................please share this if you go to mass today............thanks

      Scientists say they've found a "God particle"


      March 29, 2013 at 7:36 am |
  16. Lola Bunch

    Huh. Douglas and Gave It Up keep getting deleted.
    Gee. I wonder why.

    March 29, 2013 at 2:45 am |
    • Craig Chilton

      They're probably the victims a vendetta by someone nicknamed "Wild Hairy" who has zero respect for Freedom of Spech.

      March 29, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • midwest rail

      I wish they weren't being flagged. Much better to have those posts out there for everyone to see. Censorship does no one any good.

      March 29, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  17. Donna


    March 29, 2013 at 1:54 am |
    • Way too funny

      "Do you do children's parties?"

      March 29, 2013 at 3:23 am |
  18. Brian

    Reading the posts below and previous ones, I notice that whenever Gave Them Up is the least bit uncomfortable with someone's view, then they are automatically labeled a commie, a h0m0, a socialist or atheist or some combo of those terms. Frequently off topic, its rants are not unlike that of a three year old's temper tantrum.

    I was trying to find a single word to sum up GTU. It seems to reside somewhere betwixt:


    but azzhole is a no-brainer, so I'll stick with that.

    March 28, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
    • Lola Bunch

      Nah, the arrogant Give It Up can be summed up by these words: bigoted, racist, "Good" Christian.
      The kind that will be judged harshly by God for perverting His word to cloak her hatred and intolerance.

      She knows her Scripture, but doesn't LIVE her Scripture.
      Poor GTU. Spiritually bankrupt hypocrite.

      March 29, 2013 at 2:22 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      Gave Them Up
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      The arrogant socialists mislead you on standard Christian doctrines, so it looks like you were taken in by their bigotry. God can love the world without getting dirty, but the bride can't.

      "1Jo 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

      March 29, 2013 at 7:24 am |
  19. Enlil313

    I will never understand why SOME Christians (or anyone else who argues against this based on religious doctrine) are so opposed to allowing two people the opportunity to make their commitment legal and enjoy the equal rights that come with marriage.....

    March 28, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • justanotherday

      ...its your Christian pals you gotta watch...they talk about love but spout hate. The hypocrisy is overwhelming.

      March 28, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
    • Gave Them Up

      Gave Them Up
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      If you are incapable of understanding why bring it up? It sounds like you have crossed a line. Your atheist pals will betray you and call you a bigot.

      March 29, 2013 at 7:36 am |
    • Craig Chilton

      TO Enlil313 -

      Most ACTUAL Christians OBEY Jesus' Command in Romans 13:8-10, so have NOT been conned by the False-Teacher leaders of the RRR Cult. The cult's lemmings CALL themselves "Christians" upon prompting by their leaders in the manner of Pavlov's dogs. Which has done much damage to society's perception of Christianity. But that finally was turned around on Banner Day 11-6-12 - when the MAJORITY of Americans from coast-to-coast reminded everyone that ACTUAL Christians are sensible egalitarians. (Actual Christians comprise 66% of the American population.)

      March 30, 2013 at 12:07 am |
    • Gave Them Up

      Craig are you saying this vast majority of Christians don't mind the PUblic Servants enslaving everybody with the gumit debt? A little inflation never hurt anybody, right?

      March 30, 2013 at 5:07 am |
    • Craig Chilton

      TO "Gave The Up" -

      My comment had nothing to do with that. My comment was an indictment of the vapid hate-agendas of the RRR Cult - the [IR]-Religious Radical Right PSEUDO-Christian CINIs (Christians in Name Only) - and their crusades against harmless and beneficial human rights.

      April 26, 2013 at 8:46 am |
  20. Wow! if only

    all this activism and energy focused on 'staying married' instead of 'getting married' what a difference it would make in the lives of families!

    March 28, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Saraswati

      The fundamentalists do seem to put a lot more time into keeping people from marrying than implementing programs that might actually help strengthen marriage.

      March 28, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • Gave Them Up

      What do you expect when you let the gumit be in charge of marriage? That's not Christian.

      March 30, 2013 at 5:08 am |
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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.