It’s been quite a while since we’ve done a program examining the gay marriage issue. Our last treatment included the voices of two self-described evangelicals — Richard Mouw, the president of Fuller Seminary, and Virginia Mollenkott, a professor emeritus at William Patterson University. We wanted to frame the conversation in the terms most often used in our culture to discuss it, so we chose two evangelicals. But we also wanted to go beyond the yelling and meanness of the debate, which may have reached a peak about the time we did the show. I think we succeeded.

But along with a good amount of positive feedback, and despite our deliberately conciliatory approach, we heard from people form all “sides” that we had hurt them, or offended them, or otherwise inflamed them. I mention this not to say I think we did it wrong, but because to me it’s a measure of how much pain people are in on this topic.

With the California ruling recently, the door is open to that state beginning to marry gays and lesbians as early as next week, and we have asked ourselves what our next forway into the subject might be. It seems clear there has been a great deal of movement in the last couple of years. Witness, for example, a press release that crossed my desk this morning about GLBT families, led by Jay Bakker (son of Jim and Tammy Faye) attending services on Father’s Day at Saddleback Church (Rick Warren’s church) and then meeting with its leaders. That perhaps would not have happened a few years ago.

What are your thoughts about how to cover this issue? Share your thoughts here if you have some.

Share Your Reflection



Obviously this is an issue that is going to be very controversial. I am a pastor and recently preached a sermon series about biblical views of "hot topics", one of which was homosexuality. I had some church members who, without even knowing what I was going to say, were uncomfortable with my preaching the sermon. The topic in and of itself is just one that some people are going to be uncomfortable with. That does not mean, however, that there should not be a discussion of it.
In our community there was recently a viewing of a documentary, For The Bible Tells Me So. Dan Karslake wrote and produced this documentary about how people of faith respond to finding out they have a gay child. This individual and film may make for an interesting voice in a discussion on the issue. For more info, you can go to
Thanks for producing such a quality show. I listen to the podcast every week.

To me the issue of gay marriage is fundamentally one of freedom. Who has the right to tell me who I can love - the state? religion? Gay marriage is the next phase of liberalization of culture - it is a next step of belief from the idea that former slaves are human beings, that women are able to think and vote and be in charge of their own reproductive choices. It is also the liberalization of culture that has said that children are people and not property (thus should be protected by the state if parents are abusive). Looking at the gay marriage issue in a historical context of more personal responsibility may be beneficial

thank you m_r_winters for your comments. this is the best, albeit, short thoughts i have ever heard about gay rights. and for some reason I'm not all that crazy about the term gay "rights". While m_r_winters, and this topic, talks specifically about gay marriage, what it all boils down to is fairness. Fairness to all people, regardless...

Please be sure to cover older gay and lesbian couples who have been together for years, have perhaps raised children, and now are enjoying grandchildren.

Perhaps you might also interview Rev. Dr, Janie Spahr ( on her ministry in the area of gay marriage.

I think it's important that you address WHY gays and lesbians wish to marry in a church with their spiritual family present. They aren't just fighting for the right to be recognized legally----a simple civil union could provide that. It is the need to be recognized as people with souls who love deeply and legitimately, and the desire to include their spirituality in their marriage. THIS is why they are asking the church for recognition. Many GLBTs feel a deep connection with their Creator, and it is unfortunate that His/Her children wish to segregate themselves on a spiritual level from their GLBT brothers and sisters.

Learning to live in harmony with those who embrace different values, different ideas, and different expectations is exactly on what our success as a race depends.

I'm gratified by the opportunity and privilege to share my values with my boys... teaching them that while they might not understand the lesbians pushing the stroller in the park, holding hands, and kissing, they are just living life the best they know how and we must do the same. And more importantly, as long as they are safe to live life how they wish, we are too. Diversity is a beautiful thing. It provides us opportunity to reflect on ourselves and the choices we've made... and not necessarily to agree, promote, and most importantly, condone. I believe God reserves that right for Himself.

I would greatly enjoy a program that focuses on the opportunities of self-reflection and personal growth that only a wondrously diverse and beautifully conflicted society can bring.

As you consider your next topic relating to marriage for gay and lesbian couples, know that CA Faith for Equality is available as a resource to you. It is a coalition of faith leaders and faith communities that support the freedom to marry and safegaurd religious freedom.
Thanks for continuing the discussion.

Thanks all for these thoughtful contributions. We may be a ways a way from scheduling this (we work often 3-6 months out on ideas) but I am happy to have them. Stay tuned!

Each one of us, as Americans, has an inalienable right to voice their respectful opinion on this and any subject, but something we seem to have forgotten in recent years, is that in order to form a sound Christian opinion, we would do better to follow the examples of the learned, wiser men and women who have helped form this glorious country into what it is over all of the time it has taken.

Thomas Aquinas, one of our faiths' greatest thinkers, determined that the only way a Christian Leader could really do this, was to fully examine, argue for, and by doing so come to fully appreciate and understand the exact opposite point of view from the one we normally hold so naively and so vehemently.

Living a life-ling, full and loving marriage in an opposed or heterosexual marriage is already a hard enough way to live. Ask anyone who is doing it.

To all of Americas true citizens who look beyond the fragile code of their genetic inheritances, and who peacefully walk forward, working for a more fair, equitable, safer America... that have the courage to try to accomplish this feat of great faith with all the torment a materialistic, legalistic, and increasingly judgmental modern society might throw at them, I can only hope and pray that in time, we will all come to know the truth and compassion that Jesus would teach us all.

After all, It only takes being prepared to open up and learn for a short period of time, before... we consider what the bible tells us about loving compassion, and maybe... judging others.

I couldn't have said it better or agree any more ... Good Job! Thank you.

One of my greatest regrets is that I "allowed" my family to keep me away from my favorite Uncle because afterall he was Homosexual ... I was able to accept him but because of the era he was uncomfortable and gave into the family. My prayers and blessings go to all those who love each other; they deserve to have the same privileges and acknowledgement of their union. Peace and Blessings.

I really don’t understand why this is a big deal. Being Gay does not determine a persons faith anymore then being white, black or male or female. A person’s faith or relationship with God is off limits. I think the best book so far on this issue written is by Jack Rogers; The Bible, Jesus and homosexuality. I think his argument is great. You should check the book out.


I think looking back to Dietrich Bonheoffer and his book Cost of Discipleship. Bonheoffer has an amazing point on this matter. How many babies have been baptized in this country and how many of those babies have turned out to be gay. We don’t know. All we know they are baptized. Anybody who is baptized in the water can not be abused by the church or mistreated. Bonheoffer says that is a huge sin against the church. When we hurt a person whom has been baptized in the water and spirit of Christ you are in essence hurting the church and hurting Christ. How many gay people are baptized in this country……Just wondering?

One more idea. What are we going to do when all of our veterans come home from the war that are gay? You can’t tell me that there are no service men and woman serving in this war that are not Gay. So, a soldier goes off to fight and looses a arm or leg or just comes home from this ridiculous war. Don’t you think he deserves his/her rights to be married?.......Just wondering…… Equal rights and equality for all need to a fore front for this nation…..

Your learned comment above on baptism, has given me so much to consider. It is an astonishing and enlightening reality. Thank you so much for sharing it.

It's interesting perhaps that the church continues to stay and stand, or lag behind the thoughts and trends of its congregations opinions, which is not necessarily surprising, since I cannot ever remember my church congregation being asked it's opinions on any of the issues facing us all with regard to gay marriage, .... never mind asking us after having heard both sides of any presented argument.
I spoke on this issue recently at a Cursillo training weekend. A pastor, who is the spiritual director, let slip in his critique of my talk that the church had not yet decided whether or not being gay was a learned behavior or as Sherwin Williams might think, "just another of the 4 million per second cell divisions that was not correctly repaired by its DNA enzyme"..... in either case, the pastor said, I should wait before voicing my opinion again....
My thought is..... are there questions to be asked and feelings to be heard on the lack of mechanisms that churches have for hearing their congregations opinions... are there any ?...

I was not aware that in serving the Lord my rights of free speech could be suspended by my pastor ?

I thought you/Krista handled the subject manner in SOF's typically sensitive, intelligent style, but I haven't been wounded the way some of my queer brothers and sisters have been. Somewhere I acquired a little teflon, somehow. But I think it's a very important issue, especially as incidents of hate crimes against gays continue. Jesus said, "By their fruits, you'll know them," or something to that effect, and gay people in faith communities - or out - have borne abundant, very good fruit.

I'm an American living in Germany and I married my partner in 2001. We've been together since then and it always makes me a bit sad to see how long it it taking for some states or the whole United States to have a law for same sex couples. We are so accepted here in Germany and it is such a lovely feeling to be a practicing religious person and a person of civil society who can simply live a normal life with my partner. Our niece who was born right before our wedding has always known us as a couple and doesn't know it as being different. Although, she asked us when we were going to have kids like her mom and dad have her! :0)

I would like to hear, with SoF/Being's consumate skill, a discussion about how American attitudes toward both gay clergy and gay marriage have global impacts. For example, the Anglican Communion/Episcopal Church is split here and abroad over its stance on gay rights. Here, the rhetoric can get ugly and devisive, but in places like Nigeria the church has supported making being gay (and family members who shelter them) a crime. In Nigerian communities that are largely Muslim, homosexuality can be a capital crime, meaning it can be punishable by death. I would like to hear how people think about their homophobic views, particularly homophobia sanctioned by the church, once they contemplate whether or not their view tacitly encourages a "license to kill" in other countries. Would people be so ready to condemn homosexual behavior if they knew that kind of support was actually getting people killed? For me, the most articulate clerical spokesperson I've found on the issue of what the Bible actually says, and does not say, about homosexuality is the Rev Ed Townley (Dallas, TX, "Higher Ground" talks, http://www.spiritexpressing.or.... I would like to hear his view on the clear stand-off between "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and what we now read into the ambiguous scriptural statements about sexual behavior and community values 2000 years ago.

I just finished listening to the show with Richard Muow, and I must say, I don't think I can recall another episode that elicited so many conflicting emotions over the course of the interview. As a 21 year old woman raised my entire life by a lesbian couple, this show really struck a chord with me. As much as I appreciated Muow's concillatory approach, I came away feeling like he'd just perpetuated a terribly unnecessary us-them mentality, even with the best of intentions. My goodness, for a gentleman who speaks about our "common life", he sure does divide people into groups a lot. There's "my gay and lesbian friends", "my fundamentalist friends", "my Catholic scholar friends", and "those people who disagree with us".

You know, I would really appreciate hearing from a guest who can begin to see beyond these superficial boundaries. For heaven's sake, please, take the blinders off. We're all people... American, Muslim, Transgender, Activist... Human! Living! Being!

I was fortunate enough to be raised in the shelter of one of those radical gay-friendly protestant churches.The pastor, Jim Rigby, was (and still is) constantly getting persecuted by the governance of the Presbyterian church for holding "marriage" ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples, accepting atheists into the congregation, drawing from Taoist, Jewish, and Hindu scriptures in his sermons. I was profoundly affected by the love and open-mindedness encouraged within those walls, and I still listen to Jim preach every Sunday via the podcasts they post online. I would highly recommend you consider interviewing him as a guest.

His sermons and contact information are available at the church website:

Thank you Kate Moos and Krista Tippett for exploring this topic with such grace. I wrote in response to your first program on gay marriage circa 2004 feeling very hopeful about the future of conversation around this issue and the progress that might be made. Six years later - though there has been some legislative progress - conversation on gay equality is more heated, emotional, and (in some cases) more toxic then ever. I am a gay man, and I have moved from New York City back to my home state of Oklahoma - tired of being exiled from my family. As recently as a few weeks ago, a 19 year old gay teen took his life after attending a town hall meeting in which one item was to discuss whether the month of October should be observed as LGBT History month in Norman, OK. In this meeting, the young man witnessed many self identified 'Christians' stand up and oppose the proclamation, spouting old myths about children being recruited into a "lifestyle" and what a danger it is to society etc. This, I believe, points to the heart of the rift we are experiencing. Many church leaders are still telling their congregations lies about how being gay is a "choice." This is emphatically false. While there are always exceptions to the rule (humans are complex prisms after all) our rational allies must take a clear-eyed look at official statements from CREDIBLE scientific and medical organizations which say that sexual orientation is NOT a pathology, not a mental illness, that it cannot be changed. This society needs to digest that. Apart from the scientific research, there is no doubt an obviousness about it for the many families and friends of loving, moral LGBT people. Those of us who support racial and gender equality must, at some point, take a stand like we have with those civil rights movements. Civility is crucial, but with all due respect, in SIX YEARS Richard Muow hasn't been able to "sit down and have a conversation" as he likes to say? A conversation that brings more conclusion to his stance? Though its roots may be deeper and more insidious, we must nonetheless recognize that the fuel behind much of the bigotry is driven by religious leaders. I would hope that in producing your next show you might take a sober look at the churches' true role in this problem in the light of science and reason, deflating this lie of "choice" and ask when and where do we begin to take a stand, what is truly the right thing to do for our fellow LGBT human beings? I believe you know the answer in your hearts. Thank you for your superb show.
Kent Martin, Tulsa, OK.

I just listened to the podcast of the interview with Richard Muow and was struck by something entirely missing from his discussion. It is wonderful (and important) to discuss ways of disagreeing civilly with one another; however, what is at least as critical is to find ways of coming to decisions about how to move forward in the face of disagreement. If Richard Muow and I respectfully disagree on the issue of same-sex marriage (or whatever), whose beliefs get to play the largest role in framing and enforcing the state's involvement in that issue? So far, it has been Richard Muow's by virtue of cultural convention and tradition. To me, it was clear that Mr. Muow is used to speaking from a position of this kind of power (which was also evident in his story about the parking spot--I was struck by the fact that rather than give the parking spot to the woman who'd been waiting once he realized what had happened, he kept the spot, but went over and told her he didn't blame her for being angry. It seems this is also a version of his approach to the issue of marriage equality.) It is much more difficult (I think) to move beyond the talking and reflecting and being civil phase to the phase where you have to craft a decision, the outcome of which cannot resolve the disagreement. My own sense is that the current political and cultural climate around marriage and other issues remains one in which people do not know how to embrace a broad decision with which they fundamentally disagree. That would be an interesting issue to hear more about, perhaps as framed through marriage.

My questions involve the previously default reason for gay rights, which was that it was genetic rather than behavior based. I understand from the LGBT's own writings that this reasoning is no longer used or perhaps undesirable. I also have questions about the gay movements strong political, educational (related to public school children), media, award recognition, and other promotional machinery. It no longer seems to me like a "let me be me," but rather a let me act like I want to act and let me recruit everyone I can to participate (the more the merrier) up to an including your children. Furthermore let me do it with impunity, special rights, and if possible grant funding.

All that said, I am against racial, religious, or gay bashing, racial, religious, or gay slurs, and any form of hate even if it does not reach the level of crime.

I also do not understand the gay communities insistence on gay "marriage" rather than the government recognizing it as a "civil union." Some churches would recognize it as a marriage perhaps and others would not. Why are we not allowed to have differences of opinions on this chosen activity? Or what some think of as an acquired appetite? Some States have legislation pending that would ban the right to even say anything negative about the LGBT lifestyle. I personally think there is much to be concerned about here.

Wow where to begin on this.

A> your first paragraph is pretty ignorant. I challenge you to replace the word gay, LBGT, etc.. with the word Black or Nergo and see how is sounds to you. I would hope it might upset you.

B> It is kind of you to question my equality in paragraph one and then say you want to protect me. Thanks for nothing. When you speak in an unequal manner you will act as such, it is that simple.

C> We want to be equal it is that simple. But a huge set of us would prefer that the government stop ordaining ANY kind of marriage. I would be happy if this were to come to pass. But once the government ordains anything, it automatically sets up exclusions. You should study the whole concept of "separate but equal" and see how well that worked. We are 110% allowed to have differences of opinions. But when one opinion is to go against a fundamental freedom or to empower the government to treat people as secondary, I am sorry but you opinion is dangerous at best.

Thankyou for your continued efforts to nurture respect of all persons. Please, since there has been extensive research-- academic,etc. and "heart-wise"--on birth-mother/infant bonding (U of MN, U of Michigan) and others involved in birth-mother-infant stress (including interruption of these neuro-bio-psych-emo processes and experiences (Dr. Meghan Gunnar --U MN on child (infant?) stress responses)--I solemnly hope that babies' equal dignity and personhood will be very strenuously and deeply researched and considered. They already are subjected to "surrogate-or-'other' gestation, birthing and bonding interruption" in many other situations. Please, let's seriously consider consequences to Them (and so us all) as a result of broadening the "rights-of-adults-that-affect-babies". When people cannot biologically have children for many reasons, but especially two men as a couple (who also have no possibility of breastfeeding either -- consider reading Every Child's Birthright, Selma Fraiberg) we are increasing the number of persons who are affected by these adult-chosen bonding-interrupted relationships. While understanding and compassionate toward others' dilemmas, I and many believe that children are persons and gifts with responsibilities TO them--including--as much as possible--continuum gestation, birthing and parental bonding, nurture and development-- not "experiences to which an adult has soley 'experience' rights". This does not (nor hopefully will ever be used to) deny or in anyway diminish the value and preciousness of adoption-as--necessary. Rather, it acknowledges a research-grounded position that responsible, loving adoption is still harder on little (and "big") ones than responsible, loving "continuum" gestation, birthing, and parenting. I do hope that most can acknowledge at least a high probability of that last statement-as-comparative as being accurate. When not, I plead with those with another standpoint to do very broad and very extensive review of longitudinal study before placing surrogate parenting (which seems to arise more often in marriages of persons of homosexual orientation) on equal footing with comparative continuum parenting. I believe we all owe serious study and reflection on this to children--yet especially to the most vulnerable of all, the little ones who have no power to voice their hopes, their choices, their rights. We all will eventually reap the effects. We may not be able to choose the larger cultural effects on us all, but we, individually and as "groups" can seriously and solemnly develop awareness, knowledge, and compassionate toward not only adults, but also to "the least of these"--babies-who-are-affected-- during our conversations on these most serious cultural topics. Again, thankyou for this opportunity, and for your work in supporting respect of all persons--no matter how big or small, powerful of powerless, or loud or silent. Sincerely, dinosaur mom

One thing that strikes me about the current debate is how on the anti-same-sex-marriage side it ends up resting on men and women having "God-given" differentiated roles. And yet as of the last couple generations, we as a society do not generally enforce those roles: equal employment, men acting as stay-home parents, equal treatment under the law for property in marriage... all are apparently separate from the debate at hand, but they inform it as ways in which men and women have had their generic, statistical differences enforced by social codes, theology and law. It would be helpful to get an historical perspective on this changing sense of gender roles in religious approaches to the role of women, and how this relates to conservative reaction to same-sex marriages.

My liberal Friends (Quaker) meeting has been marrying same-sex couples under its care since the mid-1980s. What seemed within the meeting like a radical step has become, as with opposite-sex couples, a simple acknowledgment of Divine Grace moving through us. We witness it not only in our marriage ceremonies, but in the everyday lives of married couples and families within our meeting. We recently decided to set aside our right to perform legal marriages until our state's marriage laws are reformed to allow for same-sex marriage; we still perform marriages, but if couples wish to register with the state, that is up to them. We will not act as participants in a process that discriminates amongst the couples married under our care.

The Quaker testimony of Equality has a lot to say on this subject, and several Quaker groups are struggling with the issue of equality for same-sex couples. Some of it is the age-old conflict in Quaker circles between the weight given to Scripture and that given to ongoing revelation. Some of it is the same "ooginess" some straight folk have with LGBT folk. Perhaps if would be useful to talk with members of such a community that have struggled recently over same-sex marriage.

First, the term "Gay Marriage" is misleading and unrefined. Marriage equality may be a more appropriate term.

Secondly, marriage equality is often portrayed as a moral issue for conservative evangelicals. And they are right- except not in the way they think. Marriage equality is a moral issue because preventing couples and individuals from receiving equal treatment is immoral.
Lastly, there are many who propose that the institution of marriage may BENEFIT from including gay and lesbian couples within it's fold.

Seek out relationship researchers and experts on marriage and family. Hear what they have to say. Expand the conversation and ask bigger questions.

With recent changes in New York, this debate is likely to be back in the public spotlight for the months between now and the 2012 elections.

Recent polls suggest that younger Americans support Marriage Equality by wider and wider margins, so to this observer, it seems like the trend is towards nationalization of ME.

What strikes me most is that the debate often fails to acknowledge that what the LGBT movement wants, above all, is the Civil Rights, not religious acceptance, bestowed by a marriage license.

As a matter of fact, it was last minute wrangling over this issue that caused a delay in the NYS Senate's approval of the bill. The speeches given on the Senate floor (available on YouTube) were very emotional, with Senators speaking of how, despite their religious background, they felt this was a civil rights issue (which it is) and based on meeting with GLBT reps and hearing their stories, they made a decision to support the bill.

Since it passed by a small margin, these considerations were not insignificant.

You had Ruben Diaz Sr., a Pentecostal minister representing the old line, steadfast in his opposition, who was sharply contrasted by a younger Catholic senator from Buffalo, explaining that he had changed his position after doing a lot of research on the issue. The fact that Diaz is a Democrat, while the Buffalo Senator is a Republican, makes the story even more interesting because it shows how charged the issue is for both sides.

Thanks for a great show. I listen every week. Syilvia Boorstein was awesome as well.

Steven Kopstein, NYC

“I apologize for those who feel offended,” Mr. Grisanti said, adding, “I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is the same rights that I have with my wife.”

Follow up to my last post.

I don't have a direct answer to your question, but one question I seldom hear asked is why is the definition of marriage is always in terms of religion.  In a nation that makes distinctions between church and state, why isn't marriage seen as a secular contract that is entered by two consenting adults?  If people want their marriage recognized by their church that is their business, but, to me, the contract of marriage itself is a civil, secular institution.

The other question I seldom here posed to the GLBT community (I know it is not one single community, but a plurality of communities) is why they define their relationships around hetersexual values and family structures.  You'd think that if you break the heterosexual rule against same-sex relationships, why wouldn't you be open to creating new definitions of relationships that don't necessarily fall with the heterosexist paradigms?  In other words, whether gay or straight, why do mainstream, middle-class Americans always control the dialogue about relationships and family structure to the exclusion of others?

The one thing that struck me while listening to Richard Mouw is why homosexuality and gay marriage?  Of all of the verses in the Bible, old and new testaments, why are a few verses on homosexuality written in stone.  Without going back to research the bible, I imagine there are thousands of verses recommending OUTDATED beliefs concerning rituals, which direction your temple should face, what type of hooves can be on the animals you eat, how women should act, etc.  For some reason, many religious leaders are hooked on their stance that homosexuality is a sin and they have let go of many of the old traditions and stances in the Bible.

The bottom line (like Richard Mouw discussed) is that we can relate to each other as divine creatures made by God.  My idea for your next show is to highlight all of the obscure passages in the Bible that we discard and ignore.  Also, it would be good to explore why some people are insecure about their own sexuality and what is it exactly about same sex sex that is so frightening to "conservative" church leaders.  Does "conservative" mean they are not able to notice the many other changes for good that have happened in our culture since biblical times.  Thanks for asking the question. . .

If possible, find a way to bring not just personal experience, but personal pain into the discussion. Try to articulate for listeners what it feels like to be an LGBT person growing up in a conservative tradition and the internal personal anguish this causes. I think that personal pain gets ignored in high toned rhetoric about theology and social justice. Focus on what it does to us as individuals, and what it does to families. I want to hear what role conservatives who oppose same sex relations, or maybe just gay marriage, envision for homosexuals if they're willing to accept that it is an immutable trait. Where do we go from there? 

"Learning to live in harmony with those who embrace different values, different ideas, and different expectations is exactly on what our success as a race depends. I'm gratified by the opportunity and privilege to share my values with my boys... teaching them that while they might not understand the lesbians pushing the stroller in the park, holding hands, and kissing, they are just living life the best they know how and we must do the same. And more importantly, as long as they are safe to live life how they wish, we are too. Diversity is a beautiful thing. It provides us opportunity to reflect on ourselves and the choices we've made... and not necessarily to agree, promote, and most importantly, condone. I believe God reserves that right for Himself. I would greatly enjoy a program that focuses on the opportunities of self-reflection and personal growth that only a wondrously diverse and beautifully conflicted society can bring."
I believe that the topic is very interesting . Invites all active to take part in the discussion.