Same-sex marriage (SSM) and
domestic partnerships in California
Rick Warren's stance on
Prop. 8 and SSM in California .
About Rick Warren's fluctuating stance on Prop. 8
Warren is one of best know evangelical leaders in the U.S. He is
the lead pastor of a network of Saddleback Churches in and around Lake Forest CA and author of
the bestseller book "The Purpose Driven Life." He has played a
major role in opening up a chasm within evangelical Christianity. On one side
are those who are primarily concerned with opposing abortion access and
rights for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, including the
right to marry. On the other side are those like Warren who are
primarily concerned about the poor, the sick, and persons suffering in other
He included opposition to same-sex marriage as among five
"nonnegotiable" issues in a letter he sent to his congregations in advance of
the 2004 presidential election. 1
He is widely reported as having supported and endorsed
Proposition 8 during 2008. Prop 8 passed with such a small margin that the
well have been rejected it if Warren's had actively campaigned against it.
On CNN's Larry King Live program of 2009-APR-06, he commented on his past support for Prop 8, and said that he has:
"... never been and never will be [an] anti-gay or anti-gay
marriage activist. ... During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went
to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never -- never once even gave an
endorsement in the two years Prop. 8 was going. The week before the -- the vote, somebody in my church said,
'Pastor Rick, what -- what do you think about this?' And I sent a note to my
own members that said, I actually believe that marriage is -- really should be
defined, that that definition should be -- say between a man and a woman. ...
There were a number of things that were put out. I wrote to all my gay friends
-- the leaders that I knew -- and actually apologized to them. That [apology] never got
He said that he was "totally oblivious to" the recent
unanimous Iowa court decision to permit SSM in
that state. He indicated that his main concerns were to observe the 15th
anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, and study the effects of the recession
on the spiritual climate of the nation.
However, OneNewsNow, a fundamentalist Christian news source,
contradicted Warren by stating that:
"... before the November 4 Prop. 8 vote, Pastor
Warren issued a clear endorsement of the marriage amendment while speaking
to church members." 3
OneNewsNow published what they describe as "a complete transcript of Warren's comments just weeks before
the Prop. 8 election:" He allegedly said:
"The election's coming just in a couple of weeks, and I hope
you're praying about your vote. One of the propositions, of course, that I
want to mention is Proposition 8, which is the proposition that had to be
instituted because the courts threw out the will of the people. And a court of
four guys actually voted to change a definition of marriage that has been
going for 5,000 years."
"Now let me say this really clearly: we support Proposition 8 -- and if you
believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8.
I never support a candidate, but on moral issues I come out very clear."
"This is one thing, friends, that all politicians tend to agree on. Both
Barack Obama and John McCain, I flat-out asked both of them: what is your
definition of marriage? And they both said the same thing -- it is the
traditional, historic, universal definition of marriage: one man and one
woman, for life. And every culture for 5,000 years, and every religion for
5,000 years, has said the definition of marriage is between one man and a
"Now here's an interesting thing. There are about two percent of Americans
[who] are homosexual or gay/lesbian people. We should not let two percent of
the population determine to change a definition of marriage that has been
supported by every single culture and every single religion for 5,000 years."
"This is not even just a Christian issue -- it's a humanitarian and human
issue that God created marriage for the purpose of family, love, and
"So I urge you to support Proposition 8, and pass that word on. I'm going to
be sending out a note to pastors on what I believe about this. But everybody
knows what I believe about it. They heard me at the Civil Forum when I asked
both Obama and McCain on their views."
Some notes on Pastor Warren's statement:
Unfortunately, it is unclear whether the apology to his gay friends that Warren
mentioned took the form of:
"I'm sorry to have to oppose SSM. I know how much many gays, lesbians and
bisexual want access to marriage, to stop being treated by the government as
more than room mates, and to stop having their children regarded as illegitimate. But
God's Word says that marriage must be between one man and one woman."
I'm sorry to have supported and endorsed Prop. 8. I realize now that I was
wrong. Main themes running through the Bible include equal treatment of people, treating people with
love and respect, and encouraging mutual love and commitment.
some other type of apology.
One News Now seems to favor the second option. They said that Rick Warren
"... disavows support for Prop. 8." If so, then this is remarkable news,
because it would be the first time, to our knowledge, that a major fundamentalist or other evangelical
leader actually supports SSM.
Religious conservatives often use 2% as an estimate of the percentage of
adult gays and lesbians; gay-positive
groups often use 10%. The actual number varies slightly according to the definition of
"homosexual." However the actual value appears to be about 5%.
Some suggest that whether same-sex marriage should be allowed should not
be determined by the number of loving committed same-sex couples who want to
marry, and gain protections for themselves and their children. One might ask
inter-racial marriage should no longer be permitted because the total number of loving,
committed inter-racial couples is small relative to same-race couples?
He made the same error that so many others make: he assumes that all
same-sex couples wishing to get married are either gay or lesbian. In reality,
couples are generally a relationship between:
Two male gays,
One lesbian and a bisexual woman,
One gay male and a bisexual
Two bisexual males, or
Two bisexual females.
Persons with a bisexual orientation are less common than those with a
homosexual orientation; they total perhaps 3% of the population. However, they
should not be ignored in debates over SSM. They are human, too.
It is surprising that Pastor Warren would say every religion and culture
for 5,000 years has restricted marriage to one man and one woman. This is
clearly wrong, yet we have seen similar statement by many fundamentalist and
other evangelical leaders.
We have found eight types of family structures described in the
Bible; none were condemned. Polygyny (one man with
multiple wives) was common during biblical times. Solomon had 700 wives, to say nothing of his hundreds of
concubines. Throughout most of the 19th century polygyny was practiced
among Mormon denominations and continues today
among fundamentalist Mormon faith groups. There have even been a few cultures
that allowed a woman to marry multiple men. Today, Muslim men are allowed to
have up to four wives in many countries, but only if they can treat the wives
The definition of marriage in the U.S. has changed a number of times, most
notably in the 19th century when African Americans were first allowed to marry
freely, and in the 20th century when inter-racial
couples were allowed to marry everywhere in the U.S. Today, the U.S. appears to be in a state of
flux in which same-sex marriage is being gradually accepted in the East and West
coasts. Polls indicate that youth and young adults are far more accepting of
SSM than their parents. They indicate that opposition to SSM is
gradually sinking and support for SSM is gradually rising nationally.
Warren stated that "God created marriage for the purpose of family, love,
and procreation." The implication is that same-sex couples cannot form
families, cannot have mutual love for each other, and cannot procreate. This
is a surprising comment, particularly in view of Warren's extensive work with
homosexual groups on AIDS prevention. He must have worked closely with many
gays and lesbians who have formed families, who deeply love and are committed
to their spouses, and -- in the case of lesbians and bisexuals -- who have adopted or had
their own children with the help of
assisted fertility methods.
Reaction to Warren's statement on YouTube:
YouTube viewers were not too kind in their comments about Warren's
interview on Larry King Live; some were downright vicious. The posting was
viewed by 47,937 surfers within a few days of his appearance on Larry King
Live. There were 560 posted comments. I gave up trying to find a neutral or
"Revmimbob" wrote: "I have more respect for Fred Phelps and
his zany clan than this bigot. 'Every religion for 5 thousand years says the
definition of marriage is between one man and a woman.' How many wives did
Wunderkat08 wrote: "WOW! Rick Warren = Liar. In his recent Larry
King interview he denies making any claim of supporting prop 8. He made it too
easy for us. Wonder what he's going to come up with next."
Avalonjoyous wrote: "Rick Warren is nothing more than a homophobic
fascist. All he knows are lies and he has proven it many times. Prop 8 passed
yet people are still not satisfied. They should give themselves a big pat on
the back .....for writing discrimination into the U.S. [sic] Constitution. Oh
yes I would truly feel so proud to deny deserving Americans of THEIR
rights.*Sarcasm in case anyone missed it.*"
Ftogyeppf wrote: "Given his Larry King appearance, I think we can
conclude that Rick Warren is a fraud and a liar. 'I did not have sexual
relations with that woman!' "
Cherstyler wrote: "He's and idiot and clearly a homophobe preaching
hate. God must be so proud of him."
Ofoeti wrote: "Last night Warren told Larry King, 'During the whole
Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a
statement, never -- never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop
8 was going'. Thank goodness for YouTube. You have to wonder why all of these
conservative extremists keep on lying in spite of proof. They must think
Americans are stupid."
Kerplukntube wrote: "Rick Warren is a liar. What is it about
'Christians' that they are willing to believe a liar?
I conclude they are delusional."
Grammar, punctuated, and spelling corrected.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"Rick Warren: Stopping Gay Marriage 'Very Low' on Priority List," U.S. News
and World Report, 2009-APR-07, at: