Rick Warren on "Gay Marriage"


Rick Warren appeared on Larry King Live the other night and said some controversial things; here’s YouTube:

And here’s the transcript if you’d rather just read:

“You know, Larry, there was a story within a story that never got told,” he said. “In the first place, I am not an anti-gay or anti-gay marriage activist. I never have been, never will be. 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.

“And then all of a sudden out of it, they made me, you know, something that I really wasn’t,” Warren continued. “And I actually – 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 never got out. There were some things said that – you know, everybody should have 10 percent grace when they say public statements. And I was asked a question that made it sound like I equated gay marriage with pedophilia or incest, which I absolutely do not believe. And I actually announced that. All of the criticism came from people that didn’t know me. Not a single criticism came from any gay leader who knows me and knows that for years, we’ve been working together on AIDS issues and all these other things.”

My thoughts:

1. Rick Warren was vague in what he said, vague to a fault. For what, exactly, did he apologize to his gay friends? This is unclear. Some have taken this to mean that he has apologized for supporting Prop 8; I don’t believe that’s what he’s saying (I’m extending 10% grace), but at best, Rick’s reply on that point is quite vague.

2. Rick is not an activist in this area. I find this fact acceptable. I am not an activist in many areas I feel pretty strongly about; each of us has our particular “burdens”, etc., and the fact that he allows other people to “carry the water” on this is fine with me.

3. That said, he seems to be trying to have it both ways. Here’s the transcript of his comments to his congregation just prior to the Prop 8 vote:

“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 woman.

“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 procreation.

“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.”

That doesn’t stack up well with what he’s saying to Larry King, IMHO. I’m not saying he’s lying, but he’s certainly not speaking to Larry with as much candor about his true sentiments as the above quote would suggest. This is deeply disappointing, not Rick’s finest hour.

4. Those who would attempt to lump Rick Warren with the “Religious Right” (whatever that is; I have yet to ascertain whether or not I fit into that camp, given my viewpoints, nor have I heard any real cogent definition of same) are way off-base. Rick has generally avoided politics; I give him credit for that. We have learned the hard way that we can entangle ourselves in politics to the degree that we make ourselves and the cause of Christ look silly, and Rick, to his credit, hasn’t done that; the only folks that lump him in that category are the kind of folks who’d rather hurl pejoratives than substantively discuss reality.

5. Nonetheless, while Rick may not deign to be an “activist” on this issue, the issue is huge, and I’m disappointed by his words to Larry King that seem to suggest he sees this as not a particularly big issue at all. We can have concern for Rwanda, etc., while at the same time holding the line on the radical redefinition of marriage such as “gay marriage” purports. Be an “activist” or don’t, but take a clear, unwavering stand; stand up and be counted on one of the most important social issues of our day.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, this article doesn’t clarify things. For what, Rick, did you apologize to your “gay friends”?


  1. Laurie on April 10, 2009 at 1:06 am

    My feeling is that he IS trying to have it both ways – the biggest problem with that is when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.

    For Christians, the Person we should want to please first and foremost is God, and I wonder how Rick can look at himself in the mirror after that interview on Larry King and truly think he did that. If he were my pastor I would be deeply disappointed. He was backpedalling so hard I’m surprised he didn’t fall right off the stage. IMHO if you’re going to preach something you should have the guts to stand behind it, and why in the name of heaven would you APOLOGIZE for anything you claimed to believe when you stood behind the pulpit? I agree it was a nebulous apology, but the fact that he made it at all undermines his credibilty – what pastor preaches against sin and then apologizes to sinners for doing so?

    With Iowa and Vermont opening the door wider to same-sex marriage, we need Christians, pastors especially, to stand up against this, not APOLOGIZE for our beliefs, for crying out loud!!! That really burns my toast!

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