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. Checked_Other

    The quotes cited were written by men. It's just mind-blowing that educated people think a god wrote that stuff; then was edited & translated by gods over and over again. Barnes & Noble must then be filled with thousands of gods.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • truth truth truth 2013

      One word you do not have sir. FAITH

      March 26, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Gave Them Up

      Do they fit?

      March 26, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • Humanist11

      People who cite faith as their excuse for following and believing unfounded fantasies of eternal life and grossly inhuman moral standards have committed a crime against their own mind. They set reason aside, which god supposedly gave them, and give their lives to something that has no evidence of existence. They would not jump off a 100 story building into a pool of jello based on faith. Why base every major decision in one's life based on this fantasy when there are actual facts that you can consult to make an informed decision. It is easy when you take god out of the equation. "Faith is believing what you know ain't so" Mark Twain

      March 26, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Humanist11

      @ Truth Truth Truth. Faith is what people like you use when there is nothing to back up your claims.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Pierre

      Nietzsche definition of faith: "not wanting to know what is true".

      March 26, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • PaulieJ

      @ Truth Truth Truth
      "I don't have faith in Faith. I don't believe in Belief. You can call me faithless.
      But I still cling to hope. And I believe in love. And that's faith enough for me." ~ Rush "Faithless"

      March 26, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  2. Harley

    I believe Sam Kennison said it right during one of his stand ups long ago. The bottom line is men shouldn't marry men and women shouldn't marry women. It's not even close to the same thing as someone's skin color, culture, religion...If it must happen, increase the health insurance rates to cover the cost of AIDS infections.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • debbie338

      Ok, then. You really need to jack up the insurance rates of fat people, because THEY are ones who are really taxing our health care system, not AIDS patients.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Rap is not music

      Don't you mean Sam Kinison? The preacher-turned comedian that died approximately 4 miles North of I-40 just outside of Needles after being struck by a drunk driver in April of 1992? Or are you referencing someone else?

      March 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • ME II

      "If it must happen, increase the health insurance rates to cover the cost of AIDS infections."

      Monogamous gay relationships have the same chances of HIV infection as monogamous straight relationships. i.e. if you don't have multiple partners there is no additional chance of acquiring an infection through s.ex, straight or gay.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • mique

      Smokers? Alcoholics? Diabetics? Junk food junkies? Ignorant people with bad choice making skills? Over 40? Where do you draw the line? I think AIDS is probably not the big problem. Don't worry, they will find some way to raise your rates. something like it is a new year, or six months has gone by, or we do it because we can. Not because there are LGBT people in the world.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • TC

      Marriage increases AIDS? Do you have any proof?

      March 26, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • Chris

      “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It doesn’t have to imply stupidity or foolish beliefs. I consider having faith is the act of holding to a greater intention for the outcome of your actions, the actions of others, and the results our experiences. However, I am not so arrogant as to hold anyone else to the parameters of my relationship with the Devine. At what point do you discern the word of man and the word of God? I believe there are both in the Bible. My understanding challenges me to love. That is enough work to do.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Paul

      Some people are really dumb. How would letting gay people get married lead to an increase in AIDS cases? Oh wait, it wouldn't. Someone with half a brain should realize that if anything it would probably lower the number of AIDS cases.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  3. debbie338

    The obvious answer to me is that GOD should not be part of the equation. This is the Supreme Court of a country which has a strong separation principle, and God does not belong in the legal debate.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Harley

      But he is.....

      March 26, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Rap is not music

      Of course not. Do our laws include Zeus? Why would they? It doesn't exist either.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  4. Cris

    "You are rejecting Jesus himself. ... Just go ahead and make up your own religion."


    March 26, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • mique

      When was your religion founded and by who? What earlier historical religions have been incorporated into your religion? I am just trying to point out that there is no true religion, just a mishmash of people going ahead and making their own religion. I doubt yours is any different.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Which God?

      That's funny, Cris. Kudos.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • think about it

      I suppose you believe Earth was made in 7 days?
      And Adam and Eve just magicaly appeared on Earth?
      Haha. Well the Earth is over 4 billion years old.
      And humankind did not magically appear.
      While I find scientology funny also, Christianity can be viewed by others just as funny.
      While it is the largest religion in the world it it is still about 5 billion short of covering the planet.
      If you believe the world was made in 7 days and Adam and Eve just appearred, I have this for you;
      before Columbus the majority of Christians believed the world to be flat. WRONG.
      Christians believed in magic, i.e. wizards, witches and such, hahaha WRONG.
      I am not saying you are wrong but do take care when calling others wrong!!!!

      March 26, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  5. "I Believe in the word of God"

    @truth truth truth 2013 . . . Tell the truth and shame the devil! "Many are called but few will be chosen" 🙁

    March 26, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • mique

      ..and I'm sure you will first in line....

      March 26, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • truth truth truth 2013

      My people will parrish for lack of Knowledge. My Grace is sufficent. The devil is going to come against the truth because he was a liar from the begiining. The Apostle were stoned to death for thos GOSPEL and I have no problem for standing up for CHRIST

      March 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • Josh

      @triple truth – if you have to capitalize stuff, then it must be something you're trying to prove for which there is no evidence.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • truth truth truth 2013

      For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

      9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. This is why we stand up for CHRIST. we did not do anything to deserve his grace but he love us. GOD BLESS you

      March 26, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      You quote nothing more than the works of men...men wrote it in your bible and you accept it blindly, even thoough so much of the bible has been shown to be wrong.

      Men created your god, told you to beleive and you do...illogical to the core.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  6. WASP

    to anyone out there that might have a connection to any same gender advicacy group please get this information to them to end this pointless debate and bring about equality for these people.

    same gender marriage is protected by the founding docu.ment of these 50 states.
    it reads as follows:
    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are inst.ituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"

    1) the whole "their creator" part simply implies your parents, not some supernatural fairy. your parents contributed DNA to create you.
    2) it said ALL MEN, now being blunt this meant all white males when this paperwork was written since then it has been adjusted to include all humans.
    3) the government secures these rights, not the church or any other "group"; strictly the government.
    4) the people of this country give the government their power to pass laws that are infavor of what the population of america wants; seeing how trends have changed over time, this country is accepting of alternative lifestyles..........well except for the fringe crazies.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • Robert Brown


      Do you really think that is what they meant by Creator, or is it what you would like it to mean?

      March 26, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • Science

      Hey WASP there is a few too

      Origin of Life: Natural Cause no god(s) required.

      Hypothesis Traces First Protocells Back to Emergence of Cell Membrane Bioenergetics

      December 20, 2012 — A coherent pathway – which starts from no more than rocks, water and carbon dioxide and leads to the emergence of the strange bio-energetic properties of living cells – has been traced for the ...


      March 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • WASP

      @brown: it's not what i want it to mean, it's the only form those words can take in a secular based government.
      "their creator" was placed in the declaration of independence by non-christian based religious people.
      if you don't believe me look up the "religious" affiliation of each of those that signed that marvelous piece of paper.

      their creator, my creator and your creator..........heck everyones' creators are your parents; unless some magic was involved in your creation.
      you were consieved and born just like every other human throughout all of human history, nothing special about your delievery.
      not even your jesus was born any different then any other human, mary had to bite her lip, squeeze her legs and scream while she pushed that "demi-god" of yours into this world.....................if i'm wrong on how birth goes, please explain it to me seeing i was there for both of my childrens birth.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  7. Chris

    As one who was raised on the teaching of Jesus as the source of my spiritual lessons, intellect force me to distinguish between the elements of mythology, history, and spiritual revelation in the Bible. It is a painful introspective process. Many choose not to question for fear of it taking them away from God. I found it to be a path to recognizing the multi-faceted manifestation of the Divine. It makes it harder for me to judge, hate, and be unforgiving.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • "I Believe in the word of God"

      No one is asking you to Judge, just speak the true words of God. "Jesus and God said if you love me you will obey me" Period . . . 🙁

      March 26, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Rap is not music

      In order for it to speak words, then it has to exist. So.... you're going to be repeating a whole lot of silence.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Chris

      At what point do you discern the word of man and the word of God? I believe there are both in the Bible. Whatever my relationship with God is it is mine to be consistent or inconsistent with. I am not so arrogant as to hold anyone else to the parameters of that relationship. My understanding challenges me to love.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  8. jbiz

    I'm confused didnt god create everything on earth? So he created gays, mass murderers, and pedophile priests right? At least believing in Santa Clause you get presents, the tooth fairy you get money, the Easter bunny you get candy, god you get confusion.......

    March 26, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Harley

      And they're incarcerated

      March 26, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • truth truth truth 2013


      March 26, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • kippyafd

      He did not create people to be evil. He gave people FREE WILL. People control what they do, not God.

      March 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  9. Checked_Other

    A person with a doctorate, Richard Land, has no question about what god says?

    March 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • Rap is not music

      He was born in Texas in the mid 40's. It is impossible to find a cure.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
  10. Colin Morgan

    Stop legislating according to Rules of the Sky Fae.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  11. betty

    Was God on the side of those when interracial marriage was banned? Was God on side with those that believed in segregation? The America I love is supposed to be about 'All men are created equal'. You can't claim that when you try to eliminate a whole group of people. We will get there on the issue of marriage equality as well.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  12. David

    Well God also says it is ok to have slaves and stone people to death that work on the Sabbath. So excuse me if I don't really consider "the word" of God really that insighftful on this issue.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  13. mique

    You have to feel really smug to stand there and say you are taking a god's side. Silly humans.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • zandhcats

      God is crying up there to see so many fools manipulate His name every time they interfere others' private life.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  14. Rap is not music

    Why not let the majestic almighty and freshly showered deity spring forth from the heavens on its mystical rainbow-farting unicorn and say what it feels about the subject?

    March 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • debbie338

      Completely off topic: love your user name :-0

      March 26, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • Rap is not music

      Thank you : D


      March 26, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
  15. ol cranky

    dear religious leaders: G-d doesn't need your help on this. Also, this ISN'T a religious issue. This is about secular law and the rights the government, NOT G-D, grants married couples under said secular law. If your religion claims G-d doesn't want gays to get married, then don't perform your religious rite of marriage to gay people (just like you wouldn't perform a marriage between other people who aren't members of your religion and don't share your religious beliefs) but the government in this country is supposed to provide equal rights and protections under the (secular) law whether specific government employees approve the beliefs or way another person lives or not

    March 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  16. Dog (The Dyslexic God)

    Will you people knock it off? I sent Jesus there to teach you to be NICE to one another.

    Nobody who is truly a Christian can be against gay marriage.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • Rap is not music

      According to your collection of novels, they are required to be against it.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  17. truth truth truth 2013

    Which God?
    The GOD of Abraham
    The GOD of Issac
    The God of Jacob
    The Father of JESUS CHRIST

    March 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "truth truth truth 2013", but "GOD" is an element of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your repeated unfounded assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL". Perhaps the following book can help you cope with the problem of repeating unfounded assertions:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      March 26, 2013 at 12:23 pm |

  18. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-iKqr230U9M

    March 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  19. serious?

    By asking the question you acknowledged the existence of a "god" to begin with. Therefore nullifying journalistic integrity altogether. Congrats CNN, you just became foxnews.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Doobs

      That is why this is in the Opinion section.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Repent


      March 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • P2TNGNMO

      And considering this is the BELIEF blog of CNN, looks like reading comprehension is a problem for you.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • serious?

      Third link on CNN.com people. Opinions aren't meant for the headline links. Those are spots reserved for actual news.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  20. Kelley Dempsey

    Why is god a consideration in this debate? We do not make laws in the US based on the Christian bible or ANY religion. That is the bottom line.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Dale

      Preach it, Sister!!!

      March 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • truth truth truth 2013

      GOD made you and you have the nerve to make that statement. GOD have mercey on her because as you have said my people will parrish for lack of knowledge

      March 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "truth truth truth 2013", but "GOD" is an element of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your repeated unfounded assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL". Perhaps the following book can help you cope with the problem of repeating unfounded assertions:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      March 26, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • Gave Them Up

      It's displacement theology. You made the government with god-like powers. You are hard wired to do it.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • kippyafd

      why then, when people swear to tell the truth in court, do they place their hand on the Bible?

      March 26, 2013 at 3:58 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.