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. Vemysipsype

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    April 10, 2013 at 12:00 am |
  2. Stephen Hawking is an Idiot

    I think Marriage should remain between one man and one woman. Any other way would promote Hedonism.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      LOL then why don't you advocate for the abolishment of capitalism?

      April 9, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Optimus Prime

      Anyone who thinks Steven Hawking is an idiot, is an idiot. Period.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Craig Chilton

      Last I heard, hedonism was another term for ENJOYING life.

      April 25, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
  3. Felix Sinclair

    Aren't people in the US tired of all the phony piety yet?

    Jesus said to sell everything you own and to give the money to the poor. If you haven't done that, then don't bother preaching anything else to me.

    April 8, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  4. Coach

    All of this Christian rhetoric about this issue. Are we awre of Muslims views of this. Or is this just all about the new Gay vs Christians and Christians vs Gays.

    April 7, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  5. Kari

    The point is that even if you are against gay marriage for religious reasons, it shouldn't matter. Your religious views have no bearing in what is an equal rights issue. You can be against it, you can refuse to marry gay people. Just like you can object to interracial marriage. But your religious beliefs cannot and will not ever make it right to deny people equal rights.

    Be free to believe what you wish...... but don't demand everyone else go along with it as well.

    April 6, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  6. D-man

    That's pretty simplistic bubba. Hope you don't "love" your pets to much.

    April 6, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • midwest rail

      That reply button is hard to master...

      April 6, 2013 at 9:18 am |
  7. D-man

    doc idiot doesn't know his stories correctly does he. he gets so much wrong and yet still has the nerve to write down as though it were correct...pull your head out man and do some work.

    April 6, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  8. Bubba

    Figuring out if something is Christian is easy:
    If it promotes Love – It's God.
    If it promotes something other than Love – It's the Other One (You know, the Dark Angel who in self proclaimed Christian-Movies looks like Obama).

    April 1, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  9. Zaphod2010

    The better question is, if you believe, whose side is "your" god on. Aren't gods supposed to love everyone?

    April 1, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Anonymous

      If God does not punish a criminal who have killed, robbed, occupied peoples land/wealth, or done any act of terror, then where is God's justice? Does God is just in that case? If God created a creature and established law for her/him and then his creature started breaking it, still God should love her/him and do not punish?

      April 5, 2013 at 2:34 am |
    • Lisbeth Salander

      God does not punish for those things. He only punishes for not becoming his toady. Murders who accept Jesus go to heaven, while the finest, most charitable and giving atheist burns in hell.

      God doesn't do justice. He only rewards partisan suck-ups.

      April 5, 2013 at 2:40 am |
  10. Phaerisee

    Jesus did not come for the perfect people, he came for the broken-hearted, not only to heal them, but to lift them up and make them strong.

    March 30, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  11. 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 30, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Sam

      Nope, it doesn't take a prophet. It does take a raving fundamentalist lunatic.

      April 5, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  12. Craig Chilton

    TO CNN -

    I should have proofread that last post better before sending it! Here's the grammatically-correct version of it! -

    Where is Page 27 (and beyond?) of these comments? Even after reloading the page, the last post showing on it was posted yesterday (3-29-13) at 3:33 pm, EDT, by "Chilipepper." These comments have been 26 pages long for over 24 hours now. (???)

    ALSO — Why are "Reply" buttons so frequently missing (as in - unavailable) underneath people's posts? When that happens, one needs to reply to their posts in the general box for commenting — and then who knows WHERE that response will end up? Probably NOT directly underneath the post to which the reply was being made, unfortunately. Is this a GLITCH?

    March 30, 2013 at 1:58 am |
    • Science

      Craig Chilton the blog below beats this blog by about 39 pages (missing).........................go figure ?


      March 30, 2013 at 7:06 am |
    • Akira

      If you are replying to someone within a thread, you will have to hit the reply button on the original poster's post. The people who are replying within a thread will not have a reply button.
      As for the rest, there are some strange goings-on here.

      March 30, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Craig Chilton

      TO "Science" and "Akira" -

      Thanks for your replies!

      April 10, 2013 at 8:10 am |
  13. Craig Chilton

    TO CNN -

    Where is Page 27 (and beyond?) of these comments? Even after reloading the page, the last post showing on it was posted yesterday (3-28-13) at 3:33 pm, EDT, by "Chilipepper." Thes comments have been 26 pages long for over 24 hours now. (???)

    ALSO - why are "reply" buttons so frequently missing underneath people's post? When that happens, one need to reply to their posts in the general box for commenting - and then who knows WHERE the response will end up? Probably not under to post being responded to, unfortunately. Is this a GLITCH?

    March 30, 2013 at 1:20 am |
  14. Craig Chilton

    TO Sam Stone –-

    Some sort of glitch has kept a “Reply” button from appearing under your post, so I hope this gets placed properly beneath it! (Go figure THAT!!)

    YOU wrote — “Your god is a vindictive, petty pr1ck.”

    Well — You might have been able to make a decent case for that PRIOR to the New Testament and Jesus. Because I’m STILL, after years of study, trying to reconcile the “Barbarism Dispensation” that took place around 4,000 years ago. It’s almost as though God and Jesus are two diametrically-OPPOSITE Gods — rather than comprising (along with the Holy Spirit) the SAME God. VERY mysterious and disturbing!

    March 29, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  15. blake

    sam stone
    Well, we know for certain that no one speaks for god more than iron age sheep molesters, eh?
    sam stone
    nicetry: oooh, proxy threats of hell. pretty scary, for those who believe such tripe. interesting that you wish to spend eternity with a being from whom you have to be "saved". sort of like a spiritual stockholm syndrome. anyway, get back on your knees, b1tch
    sam stone
    we are just attacking the pompous fvcks who purport to speak for god, doogie.
    sam stone

    Pompous pious fvck

    Marriage equality is coming. If it bothers you, you can either put on your big boy pants and accept it, or you get get on your knees with your sidearm and go meet jeebus. Either way works for me

    March 29, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  16. blake

    sam stone
    we are just attacking the pompous fvcks who purport to speak for god, doogie.

    March 29, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  17. blake

    sam stone
    sam stone
    Pompous pious fvck

    Marriage equality is coming. If it bothers you, you can either put on your big boy pants and accept it, or you get get on your knees with your sidearm and go meet jeebus. Either way works for me

    March 29, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Reply button is a mystery, huh?

      March 29, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  18. Christards Gone Wild! They are Panicking!


    _ _ _ _ _

    March 29, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Craig Chilton

      I wonder what color Hinn's karate belt is?

      But whatever it is, it apparently doesn't work on the elderly an infirm. They must be immune to it, because all those people Hinn's knocking out are young adults who appear to be in very good heath.. Not an octogenerian, wheelchair, walker, or cane in the whole lot! The moral - get old or sick, and you have a built-in immunity to Hinn's blows.

      April 25, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
  19. blake

    the AnViL™
    biggles = bigot
    there is NO god.
    you are an idiot and should be sterilized.
    it is my sincere hope you have no contact with children – and if by chance you do – you should be restricted access to children immediately.
    tolerance of religious idiocy is coming to a swift end...

    we are reporting all posts that are filled with hate and make threats against christians to the president and congress and all national media outlets. CNN encourages these animals, like dorothy, to spew hate speech while blocking posts that support faith.
    enough is enough

    March 29, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • sam

      THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS? LOL Wow, give me a break. Time to fill out the Butthurt Form and submit it in triplicate.

      March 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      LOL @sam

      March 29, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • who

      cares blakey flakey

      March 29, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
  20. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

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

    March 29, 2013 at 10:56 am |

    • Has anything improved with Christianity since 200+ years ago?

      Thomas Jefferson, POTUS #3 (from Notes on the State of Virginia):

      Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

      James Madison, POTUS #4, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights (from A Memorial and Remonstrance delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785):

      During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

      John Adams, POTUS #2 (in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816):

      I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

      Ben Franklin (from a letter to The London Packet, 3 June 1772):

      If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England.

      Thomas Paine (from The Age of Reason):

      All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:10 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.