Category Archives: Rick Warren

5,000 years

In the spirit of the season, let's reflect on the words of the Reverend Warren, a man noted for the fact that he, perhaps alone among right wing evangelicals, does not always blame the poor and the sick for their condition.  But that doesn't stop him from being a rather sorry thinker when it comes to homosexuality.  In an interview with, he says:

The issue to me, I’m not opposed to that as much as I’m opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I’m opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I’m opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I’m opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.

[Question] Do you think those are equivalent to gays getting married?

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. We should have freedom of speech, ok? And you should be able to have freedom of speech to make your position and I should be able to have freedom of speech to make my position, and can’t we do this in a civil way.

In the interest of Christian charity, someone should point out that marriage has not been defined in every single culture as that between one man and one woman.  Sometimes, it turns out, that the Kings of Israel had to have many many many wives and then concubines beyond that (Lucky them, some might add).  Some cultures, get this, define marriage as that between one woman and many men–it's called polyandry–or marriage to many dudes.

Aside from picking and choosing which passages of the Bible to endorse and which cultural practices to remember, the Reverend Warren is confused about the nature of definitions and free speech.  In the first place, he can define marriage however he wants in his church.  No one would force him to recognize the marriage of a brother and a sister (which he considers by the way equivalent to gay marriage).  Recognizing the legal right of two unrelated adults to contract however they want does not entail any alteration in the fabric of the universe of definitions–in the world of Platonic forms, or the divine mind, or wherever these things exist.  Besides, as Warren points out, this particular definition of marriage, on his view, extends back only 5,000 years.  That number of years, even in the relatively short span of human history, is but a drop in the bucket (sidenote: why does Warren repeat "5,000 years"?  Is he a young earther?).

As for freedom of speech, the court "overriding" the will of the people does not ipso facto constitute a violation of freedom of speech.  Sometimes that's the court's job.  And Warren can continue to preach that Gayness can or shoudl be cured in his church.  He has, after all, a right to be wrong.  No one will take that away from him.