Rick Warren, sometimes referred to as America’s Pastor, has been in the hot seat ever since he was picked to be a speaker at Barack Obama’s inauguration. Rick Warren’s views about homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research and other “hot” topics have come into the forefront. This is probably because Barack Obama has been deemed “America’s Savior” and seen as a shining light of hope for equality among everyone, yet Rick Warren’s views seem to oppose just that.
But how does Rick Warren really feel about these issues, and what exactly separates him from other famous pastors? His interview on belief.net,
where many of the original comments about gays and marriage came from, reveals the bottom line.
Yes, Rick Warren did say that he opposes gay marriage. He supports proposition 8 which looks to define marriage as between a man and a woman. But Warren’s actual views of marriage, gays and sin can be seen in his interview with belifenet.com.
BELIEFNET: Which do you think is a greater threat to the American family - divorce or gay marriage?
WARREN: [laughs] That's a no brainer. Divorce. There's no doubt about it.
Here's an interesting thing. The divorce statistics are quite bandied around. People say half the marriages end in divorce. That's just not true. 40% of first time marriages end in divorce. About 61% of second time marriages end in divorce and 75% of third time marriages end in divorce. So the odds get worse and what's balancing this out...when you hear 50% end in divorce, that's just not true. The majority of marriages do last....
BELIEFNET: So why do we hear so much more - especially from religious conservatives - about gay marriage than about divorce?
Oh we always love to talk about other sins more than ours. Why do we hear more about drug use than about being overweight? Why do we hear more about anything else than about wasting time or gossip? We want to point that my sins are perfectly acceptable. Your sins are hideous and evil.
His view on gay rights, proposition 8 can be outlined here:
WARREN: I don't know if I'd use the term there but I support full equal rights for everybody in America. I don't believe we should have unequal rights depending on particular lifestyles so I fully support equal rights.
[Clarification from Pastor Warren 12/15: I now see you asked about civil UNIONS -and I responded by talking about civil RIGHTS. Sorry. They are two different issues. No American should ever be discriminated against because of their beliefs. Period. But a civil union is not a civil right. Nowhere in the constitution can you find the "right" to claim that any loving relationship identical to marriage. It's just not there. ]
BELIEFNET: What about partnership benefits in terms of insurance or hospital visitation?
WARREN: You know, not a problem with me.
[Clarification from Pastor Warren 12/15: I favor anyone being able to make anyone else the beneficiary of their health or life insurance coverage. If I am willing to pay for it, I should be able to put a friend, partner, relative, or stranger on my coverage. No one should be turned away from seeing a friend in the hospital. But visiting rights are a non-issue in California! Since 1999, California has had a domestic partnership law that grants gay couples visiting rights and all the other rights. Prop 8 had no -zero -effect on those rights.]
So Rick Warren isn’t opposed to gay rights or civil unions. He just doesn’t see defining marriage as happening as anything other than between a man and a woman.
He goes on in the interview to state why he supported Proposition 8 and why he equates brothers and sisters, gays, and older guy/young child marriage to each other:
Oh , I do. For 5,000 years, marriage has been defined by every single culture and every single religion - this is not a Christian issue. Buddhist, Muslims, Jews - historically, marriage is a man and a woman. And the reason I supported Proposition 8, is really a free speech issue. Because first the court overrode the will of the people, but second there were all kinds of threats that if that did not pass then any pastor could be considered doing hate speech if he shared his views that he didn't think homosexuality was the most natural way for relationships, and that would be hate speech.
Rick Warren also defines his support of gay people:
Most people know I have many gay friends. I've eaten dinner in gay homes. No church has probably done more for people with AIDS than Saddle Back Church. Kay and I have given millions of dollars out of Purpose Driven Life helping people who got AIDS through gay relationships. So they can't accuse me of homophobia. I just don't believe in the redefinition of marriage.
At the end of the interview, Warren clarifies his positions as he intended to say in the original interview. He describes why any sex outside of marriage- not just gay sex- is outside of God’s intended design, just as many Christians believe. He also states that people have free will and basically you cannot force people to obey God. Warren ends his clarifications by stating that the government has no role to take away people’s choices to disobey God; nor is it the government’s role to define a “loving relationship as marriage”.
So it seems that Rick Warren's views on gays aren't far from what many compassionate Christians have. e even pointed out how people like to put out the hypocrisy of highlighting one sin over another, although they are all supposed to be equal in the eyes of God. And regardless of the sin, Christians are not only supposed to love their neighbor because you aren't without sin; you are supposed to demonstrate that love. So does Rick Warren's political and religious views advocate hate? I think not.