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. Reality

    As noted previously:

    See also the Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said review addresses the following “How do genes associated with ho-mose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”

    To make it easy to access the review, simply copy and paste the following website in your browser address window.


    The opening paragraph:

    "Most scientists who study human s-exuality agree that gay people are born that way. But that consensus raises an evolutionary puzzle: How do genes associated with h-omose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?"

    March 26, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  2. Dee

    @rap is not music – "Ah yes, but if you actually read it, then you know it isn't true. It states that no one knows the time of the son's return. No one but "the father." However, The son (the guy who was allegedly crucified) on multiple occasions in the NT openly claims to know when he will return. In fact, he states that he will return before some of the people he was telling this to would die.

    You see, it completely contradicts itself on the very foundation of its structure."

    Ah yes, but if you would actually read it, you would know that Christ was speaking of his first resurrection (after three days, from the grave, as promised in the OT prophesies), not His future second coming.

    "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightfully dividing the word of truth." (2 Tim. 2:15).

    March 26, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  3. end3r

    Why is a concept for how the world worked over 2,000 years ago even relevant as a modern narrative? Why is the news even giving time for this stuff anymore? It's like suggesting we should give consideration for what Homer would have wanted in the marriage debate with regard to the word of Zeus. It's irrelevant in modern times. It's the stuff of myth and fable. We need to move on from relying on ancient edicts for our morality. Morality is a natural thing shared by men and women the world over and throughout history regardless of their beliefs. It's time to move on to the 21st century and actually try sitting at the big kids table and take control of ourselves knowing we are responsible for our actions, not some mythical god in the clouds.

    March 26, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  4. Bill

    "Who is on God's side of the marriage debate?"

    Of equal validity and imprtance, who is on the Easter Bunny's side of the marriage debate?

    March 26, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • end3r

      Precisely. Move on people. Even if there were a god he doesn't care about your marriage debate.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  5. Unbelievable

    Of course you are going to be on the side of whatever delusional idea you have about what your god is. Otherwise you would really be crazy...er...hmm...

    March 26, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Basho1644

      He he. 🙂

      March 26, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  6. Realist

    Religious,, just a bunch of 'false' beliefs that engage in this sort of control. Control and destruction are found in the religious and dictators, bothe the same. Just look ate the catholic church, stalin, mao,, destroyed so many lives

    March 26, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • end3r

      It's funny that God tends to believe whatever that particular individual believes.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  7. Rap is not music

    @ Live4Him

    In case you missed it on the last page, since you asked for proof that jesus was a liar, I'll repost my answer to you here.

    What you have just proven to me is that you have not read "the good book." Therefore your apologetic arguments are completely null. As are all apologetic arguments that veer completely off course when this very subject is mentioned.

    It is known as The Olivet Discourse. You are going to need background knowledge to understand the following:

    –Mark 13:1-4 *Note – The destruction jesus mentions happened around 70 CE.

    Claims of a triumphant return:

    –Matthew 24:34
    –Mark 9:1
    –Matthew 16:28
    –1 Corinthians 7:29-31
    –1 Thessalonians 4:15
    –John 21:22
    –Matthew 10:23

    Some of the above are quotes as a an urgency. Others are quite literally jesus stating that some of the people he was speaking to would be alive when he returned. Which he didn't. Therefore, he lied. If he even existed at all.


    Some apologetics will claim that time is not the same to the sky hostess diety. But, the argument comes from a passage written in the holy word of men that states a thousand years is a day to the almighty and majestic. Many scholars believe this was written as an excuse after they realized someone screwed up the storyline and completely derailed the myth. Oops! Unfortunately, even if that passage were written 50,000 years before Adam and Eve (because humans existed long before those two chumps were even heard of), it still does not back up the specifity of the claims of HeyZeus.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • joey

      no,he didnt lie about his return or that "A People" would still be alive. He is literally talking about Nations that were present then. That they wouldnt die out. Theres an old Indian quote that follows that as well,,,A people,or a nation is not dead until the hearts of there women are lying in the dust. Understand now ?

      March 26, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Rap is not music

      Joey, you are 100% incorrect.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • end3r

      If you look up "contradictions" on Google the first search result is a link to the Bible. Go figure.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Rap is not music

      Perhaps you should read the quotes by HeyZeus himself instead of insisting it said "A PEOPLE." This is the problem. Interpretation. Why must you interpret? To bend it to what you wish to be true?

      Let's clear it up. No interpretations. K?

      “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
      –Matthew 24:34

      THIS GENERATION. Not another generation. That's what HeyZeus said.

      “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
      –Matthew 16:28 (KJV)

      Standing HERE. What's that? Not standing in the United States in 2,000 years?

      “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, we who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.”
      –1 Thessalonians 4:15 (NIV)

      Oh my. We who are still alive?

      Uh oh. I think you have some explaining to do.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • joey

      It takes a Hard heart not to understand that. The Pharisees were like you too. No one is forcing God on you,not even God. You make your own choices. You are clearly Not a believer. That makes you Anti- God,Anti – Christ. You are clear.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • joey

      No the usage of the word generation refers to a race.you are clearly out of your ability to understand the Way.Thats not surprising though. Your master is coming,except,,you wont know the truth until it is too late if you continue on this path.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
  8. WASP

    hey christians if you all "love everyone so much"? then why are you so incapable of just accepting them as they are instead of attempting to "save their souls" better known as changing them?

    March 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • sam

      Oh, they love the sinner, they just hate the sin. Whatever the hell that means.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      That's just the way christians justify their hate.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • John12345

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

      March 26, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • joey

      Christians cannot save souls,Only God can. We just try to get the message out. They are not rules we made but that God made.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      john 1234
      Why would it matter to you if your neighbor did marry a donkey...how exactly does it concern you in the slightest?

      March 26, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Stephanie

      @ Sam – I don't understand why you're confused. Parents love their children even though their children may do something wrong or behave improperly. A parent still loves his child even though he may be an addict. A parent still loves his child even though he committed murdered, lied, stolen, etc. God commands Christians to love everyone. That love is called agape. You love the person unconditionally. You love the person whether you know them or not, or whether they've harmed/hurt you in some way or not. You love the person despite his faults, sins, character, flaws, hang-ups, etc. This doesn't mean you like what they do or how they behave. Nor does that mean you should ignore, remain silent or tolerate what the person does. Say you told a lie on me that ruined my reputation. Lying is a sin. I'd probably be ticked off and confront you about the lie. (This response is not a sin, so long as I don't let my anger drive me to the point of committing a sin.) Nevertheless, God still commands me to love you despite the fact you lied (on me). I hope this helps.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • sam

      Yes, Stephanie. That makes it all so easy. But, well. There's no such thing as sin. Thanks anyway.

      March 26, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  9. Craig

    The fact that this is even on a news site is ridiculous. God has not place in this argument. He/She/It has no relevancy in the law of the United States nor should it.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Jason

      Except that it is divine rights that were invoked from the very beginning of the US as a sovreign nation. "...endowed by their creator..." They weren't referring to mom and dad there.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      That is only because the drafters believed in one way or another...does not lend any evidence to whether god exists ot if there was any creator....evidence fail.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Jason, the Declaration isn't a legal docu’ment of the United States. The Const’itution is. And the Treaty of Tripoli is a pronouncement of elected government officials.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  10. VEW2012

    There is no scripture in the Bible that commands the exchange of marriage vows, nor are there any provided. the Standard traditional "I take this woman" vows were first included in an English prayer book dated to 1549 based on eariler Latin texts.Some religions have totally different customs. Religion should not be involved in state or federal laws under the separation clause.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Rap is not music

      The word "mariage" (one R as opposed to the now favored two) was first introduced around 1250-1300. Marriage itself in other languages and cultures existed long before Judaism. In ancient Greece, marriage was merely two people sticking life out with each other. No ceremony required.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • end3r

      You won't get through to these people with your logic. They believe what they want to believe regardless of whether or not it's in the Bible. Isn't it funny that most of these people pick and choose their bible quotes so God fits their worldview, and not the other way around?

      March 26, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  11. Realist

    Odd that the religious right watches more p-o-r-n and engages in most adultery yet claim family values (Data gotten from study a year ago using zip codes from credit cards to purchase p-o-r-n from a large provider. Results were; sales were the highest per capita in red states and sales were the lowest during Sunday services)

    March 26, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Jason

      WOW, Great stats. Could it be that sales slowed down because lots of people sleep in on Sunday AM after a bender? You are ridiculous.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • joey

      No,the God fearing left or right are the same. Everyone falls victim to sin. You people just want the rest to accept your sin .The misery loves company thing.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  12. Pam

    Ok, I just don't get it. Why do people place so much emphasis on the Bible when it was written by MEN and not by any God? Do people really think that some hand came out of the sky and wrote this stuff down? Seriously, I don't get religion at all. It all seems made up and fanciful and sure doesn't make people any nicer, that's for sure. I'm truly not being disrespectful toward what other people chose to believe, but I don't seem the relevance when, apparently, this made up God is on EVERYONE'S SIDE.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  13. rabidatheist

    You keep your (imaginary) god out of my government, and we'll keep our government out of your church, deal?

    March 26, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • end3r

      here here!

      March 26, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  14. James Madison

    Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

    The Civil Govt, tho' bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success, Whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State.

    (4th POTUS, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights)

    Madison as president vetoed two bills that he believed would violate the separation of church and state. He also came to oppose the long-established practice of employing chaplains at public expense in the House of Representatives and Senate on the grounds that it violated the separation of church and state and the principles of religious freedom. (Library of Congress – James Madison Papers – Detached memorandum, ca. 1823.)

    Our most recent constitutional Amendment, number 27, adopted in 1992, was first introduced by James Madison in 1789.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  15. MTP

    Well if you believe we're all children of god, then god would be pro-marriage. Unless you feel god made a mistake in making gay people.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • sam

      Those pesky straight people keep having gay babies.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • ezra

      God's creation was perfect! It was the sin of man that brought on imperfection.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Thats what the story book says anyway...no way to confirm it though, or that god exists either...or the other thousands of gods and the stories that go along with them.
      We do know that men made up everything we know of the gods.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Lincoln'sGhost

      Let's continue your logic. "God's creation was perfect! It was the sin of man that brought on imperfection." Yet, "man" is God's creation. Perfect? How then does God's own perfect creation ever engage in sin, unless that imperfection is built in? If it's built in, then according to the Christian concept of god, the Almighty created imperfect beings, but nevertheless – knowing them to be imperfect – demands of them perfection; otherwise, God throws them into eternal hell-fire. It's the same as the argument that God's love is "unconditional," except if you don't accept Jesus as the path to heaven. One reason I, like many people, have problems with Christianity – and religion in general – is that it's hard to make any sense of it.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  16. rosa, b'ham al

    Whose side is God on? Who cares?

    March 26, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • theemptyone1

      Since man invented God, God will undergo the necessary renovations to allow for more converts or believers since in the end, money talks and churches need warm bodies and pliant minds to support their scam.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • K from AZ

      You certainly will on 'Judgement Day'!

      March 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Realist

      well said, theemptyone1

      March 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • rabidatheist

      @ K from Az You got any evidence to support this "Judgement Day"?

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

      I see the progressive liberal atheists are here and bloviating to everyone their sleek intelligence of the creation of the world.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  17. WASP

    @brown from page 7)

    @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 12:50 pm |
  18. Joe Tunon

    Who's on God's side? The answer is Yes.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • tb63

      The band?

      March 26, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • sam

      I liked 'Leave It', that was a decent hit.

      March 26, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  19. JIm

    God has nothing to do with marriage. Marriage has only to do with love and devotion. You can have a marriage without god so I don't believe he has a side (or exists)

    March 26, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  20. faith in logic

    god has no place in american law.

    March 26, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Lynn

      I agree. There's a seperation between church and state. Churches don't pay taxes. If they want a say (and that's not God, those are churches and the people in them!) then let churches pay taxes on all buildings, lands and schools, or stay OUT of politics! (Right now they should be paying taxes, because they refuse to stay out of politics.)

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

      American law is based on God's law you moron. The separation of church and state was never intended to take religion out but never to allow it to become the law.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Paul

      ezra, then please list all of the laws currently on the books that are found in the bible.

      March 26, 2013 at 1:41 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.