On Monday, CNN host Don Lemon lectured the Roman Catholic Church and all other Christian denominations on The View, declaring — as if he had been given direct inspiration from God — that the traditional definition of marriage is “not what God is about.” He suggested that racial segregation and other forms of segregation are ultimately responsible for Christians’ supposedly backward definition of marriage.
Meghan McCain asked Lemon to respond to the Vatican’s ruling that Roman Catholic priests cannot extend a sacramental blessing to same-sex unions. As an aside, while media reports presented the ruling as “combative,” the Vatican made clear that priests could bless individuals with same-sex orientation if they committed to following the church’s teachings and the ruling did not call homosexuality a “choice.”
Lemon said the ruling — and orthodox Christianity’s doctrine on marriage — is “not what God is about.”
“I respect people’s right to believe in whatever they want to believe in, their God,” Lemon began, before immediately launching into an attack on the faith of conservative Christians. “But if you believe in something that hurts another person or that does not give someone the same rights or freedoms — not necessarily under the Constitution — because this is under God.”
“I think that that’s wrong. And I think that the Catholic Church and many other churches really need to reexamine themselves and their teachings because that is not what God is about,” Lemon declared. “God is not about hindering people or even judging people, and to put it in the context of race… Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said the most segregated… time on earth is 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning.”
“So I think that religion and the pew keeps us from actually — they’re barriers from people actually getting to know each other. So I would say to the pope and the Vatican and all Christians or Catholics or whomever, whatever religion you happen to belong to out there, go out and meet people and try to understand people, and do what the Bible and what Jesus actually said, if you believe in Jesus, and that is to love your fellow man and judge not lest ye be not judged,” Lemon added, garbling Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:1-3.
“Instead of having the pew hinder you, having the church hinder you… start breaking bread with people,” Lemon urged. He went on to tout how well-connected he is, claiming he enjoys barbecues with Whoopi Goldberg, Sunny Hostin, and the other hosts of The View.
Lemon received some well-deserved mockery for these statements. The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti quipped that this is “the Gospel according to Don Lemon.”
Ah yes, the Gospel according to Don Lemon. https://t.co/X3GuZ5YKU6
— Emily Zanotti (@emzanotti) March 15, 2021
Yet the CNN host’s analysis likely resonates with many Americans and many Christians who want to get along with the surging LGBT movement. His suggestion that opposition to same-sex marriage traces back to bigotry or segregation echoes the common attack that conservative Christians are homophobes who hate gay people, rather than people who hold fast to the truths God has revealed.
While religion can be a barrier to getting to know other people, that goes for all kinds of ideology. Lemon himself, by demonizing those who disagree with him, has cut himself off from the 2,000-year tradition of Christianity, which — until just yesterday in historical terms — universally affirmed the Bible’s definition of marriage as one man and one woman for life.
As I explained in a VIP article yesterday, this doctrine of marriage is not just a social convention for Christianity. Instead, this teaching is fundamental to the Christian faith because it resonates the heart of God.
In Christianity, marriage isn’t just the central building block of society — producing and rearing the next generation — but the essential symbol of the Church’s relationship with Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, God the Father often portrays Himself as the faithful husband of an unfaithful bride, His chosen people Israel. In the New Testament, Paul explicitly connects the relationship between a husband and wife to the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:31-32).
Marriage isn’t just a social convention — it’s a symbol of God’s faithfulness to His people and Christ’s selfless love for the Church. Human marriage is a profound mystery that echoes the deep and unfathomable love of God.
Of course, the Bible could not be more plain about the sinfulness of homosexual activity, and this sinfulness cannot form the bedrock of an institution like marriage (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:10; Romans 1:26-27). None of this is to suggest that “straight” Christians should pride themselves on opposite-sex orientation. Any sex outside of marriage is sinful, and all Christians are redeemed sinners.
Christians should be humble about our own sinfulness — Jesus did encourage us not to judge lest we be judged — but that does not mean we cannot call a spade a spade. Homosexual activity is sinful, and Jesus explicitly commanded Christians to teach fellow disciples to follow His commands (Matthew 28:18-20).
Mere exposure to LGBT people will not alter the truths of God’s Word or Christians’ commitment to the Bible’s teaching on sexuality and marriage. It is extremely insulting for Lemon to suggest it will. Many conservative Christians already have LGBT friends, coworkers, or family members whom we love dearly, but that does not mean we throw out our doctrine to accommodate LGBT identities and lifestyles.
Segregation isn’t the issue, God’s Word is the determining factor. If Lemon wants to argue that the Bible “isn’t what God is about,” I’d gladly take him on any day of the week.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.