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Rick Warren’s Traditional Marriage

Jim Burroway

December 4th, 2009

Jeffery L. Sheler, religion correspondent for U.S. News and World Report, has written a biography of Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren in Prophet of Purpose: The Life of Rick Warren. The most interesting revelation in the biography may well be that Warren’s “traditional” marriage was actually an “arranged” marriage of sorts:

Kay and Rick WarrenPerhaps one of the most interesting parts of the biography, however, is the section about Warren\’s marriage. By all appearance and comments from people who know the couple, Rick and y Warren have a happy and satisfying marriage. However, this was far from the truth in the beginning of the relationship.

Through interviews with Sheler, Rick and Kay Warren disclosed that they were not attracted to each other nor had feelings for each other when they agreed to be married. Instead, they believed that God had spoken to each of them saying this is the person they should marry.

Rick recalled the day when he was invited to speak at the church where Kay\’s father was a pastor. As he ascended the steps to the stage to speak he looked over and recognized Kay, who was then dating his best friend, playing the piano. He said he heard God clearly tell him that this is who he will marry. At the time he had a hard time believing that because he didn\’t love Kay and she was madly in love with his best friend. But still he kept the revelation in mind.

After his best friend broke up with Kay, Rick asked her on a date. On their second date, Rick asked Kay to marry him. At the time, Kay didn\’t love Rick but felt that God was leading her to say yes. She recalled hearing God say, “I\’ll bring the feelings.”

…On their wedding day, the two were “virtual strangers,” Sheler writes. They also had a horrible honeymoon and suffered intensely from misunderstandings and other marital problems in the beginning of their marriage. The stress from the marriage problems coupled with Rick\’s workload was so bad that he ended up in the hospital. Meanwhile, Kay said that she didn\’t believe in divorce so she felt that she was sentenced to a life of suffering.

So man who marries a woman he doesn’t know and doesn’t love, who is a “virtual stranger” to her and she to him on the night of their wedding, and who had a horrible honeymoon because of it — that’s the guy who thinks that loving, committed gay couples shouldn’t be allowed to marry.

I just had to write that all out in case anyone missed the irony. And having written it, I now have to away and collect the pieces of my brain that just exploded. Be back in a few.



December 4th, 2009 | LINK

An arranged marriage sounds like a closeted marriage. I never have liked the vibes of Rick Warren. He looks like Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and some porn guy from the 70’s. I don’t trust him. If he read his Bible, he would see that in Hebrews 13:4 it says that marriage is honorable amongst ALL. Warren is no better than the other TV moneymongers with their changetables and blessed hankerchefs. Gross. Let me go pick up the shreds of my dignity now that I have had to spend brain time on this loathing man who claims to know God. PUULLEASE God, turn that man around. Oh, thanks to the author for a great article. I seriously don’t know what I would do without the BTB. Keep doin whatcha doin! My best praises to you.

Maurice Lacunza
December 4th, 2009 | LINK

For whatever it is worth, I sent this letter to Warren:

To Pastor Rick Warren and Staff of Saddleback Church:

Uganda is considering legislation to give death sentences and life in prison to gay persons. People who do not report any known gay persons to the government will be imprisoned for three years.

Pastor Rick Warren gave the Obama Inaugeration invocation prayer. Huge church. However when Newsweek asked Pastor Rick Warren about the situation in Uganda, he said that he “does not want to interfere with the political processes of another nation.” And yet, he interfered with Prop 8 (anti gay marriage ref) in California by telling his flock to vote against gay marriage. If Prop 8 was important, Would it not also be equally appropriate to intercede against the death of thousands of gay people by the Ugandan government?

Matthew 25 speaks to our responsibility to care for one another. The chapter speaks to managing our money and taking care of the poor, the imprisoned, the hungry, and the needy. God has given us charge over the less fortunate. How can we stand by and not speak out against a government that is proposing the death of all gay persons? Can you imagine whole families possibly getting sentenced to prison for three years if they failed to turn over their gay child or sibling. Replace the word gay with Jew and this is Nazi Germany reliving itself.

Has the Saddleback Church lost its sense of compassion? Hide your gay children in the attic and hope the Uganda police don’t find out.

When I think of America’s “born-again” Christians, I keep hearing this line:
“Mercy and Compassion have I none. But Judgment and Condemnation I Give Thee.”

I am deeply saddened by Pastor Warren’s disregard of the true meaning of humility and love. I am saddened by the entire Christian response to the lesser of God’s children. Wake up and read the gospels. If you want to be born again, then act like it. Live in mercy, compassion, forgiveness and humility.

Perhaps one day God’s love will permeate the body of Christ and we can all live without contention or strife. Thanks for listening.

To the Saddleback Web Prayer Team: Please don’t send me any of your typical junk boiler plate responses; just go in peace.

Maurice Lacunza

December 4th, 2009 | LINK

It’s a common approach by anti-gay folks: Marriage, sex, and parenting aren’t to be seen as joyful, free expressions of love, they are burdens to be borne dutifully — by straight people only.

(In this case, the burden God laid at Rick Warren’s feet was to fall for his best friend’s girl. Not quite love at first sight, but a gotta-marry-you duty.)

Paul in Canada
December 4th, 2009 | LINK

This is as rediculous as the NJ women who believes “God is listening” because she see Jesus in her iron. Oh….my….God!

December 4th, 2009 | LINK

So..let me get this right…he thinks something (i.e. he saw her and thought she was one to marry)…and that’s a revelation from God. Right? Wow! I have thought or two of my own. Where do I go to get everyone to bow down to them?

Rick Brentlinger
December 4th, 2009 | LINK

Its kinda weird too, that Rick Warren feels free to do whatever God “tells” him to do but the rest of us aren’t accorded the same freedom to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

He probably wears a tee shirt with the message:

“You’re just mad because the voices aren’t talking to you!”

December 4th, 2009 | LINK

I can’t think of anything more frightening than a sentence that starts with “God spoke to me and told me to ______.”

David Blakeslee
December 4th, 2009 | LINK

It explains a lot…if we are willing to listen.

He advocates for traditional marriage because, in part, he has placed incredible demands on his behavior despite his personal feelings.

He expects others to do the same.

Right or wrong, it helps explain his position from a personal point of view.

December 4th, 2009 | LINK

“He said he heard God clearly tell him that this is who he will marry.”

Or at least he felt that familiar tug in his shorts.

December 4th, 2009 | LINK

Yeah it does, David. It says he’s a spiritual masochist and is miserable and therefore everyone else needs to be miserable just like him.

I don’t value advice or someone interfering with my freedom for stupid aims like that.

Timothy Kincaid
December 4th, 2009 | LINK


This highlights the problems with pride and arrogance that far too often accompany religious ascendancy.

Warren has gone from “I hear God calling me to sacrifice” to “Therefore you should sacrifice.”

One is not the logical outcome of the other. Nor is the level of sacrifice.

I am “willing to listen” to those gay people who have not adopted bigotry but who find that God wants them to live celibate. I may not agree, but I respect that they are not glib or cavalier.

However, I really have nothing to hear from those who do demand of me what they do not have to experience. It’s all far too convenient.

And as far as Rick Warren living in obedience and sacrifice by getting married, it is but foolishness and hubris to suggest that this qualifies him to demand that I not be allowed to marry.

Transplanted Lawyer
December 4th, 2009 | LINK

Now, I’d agree that arranged marriages often work out well and sometimes actually do result in love between the spouses, and maybe that’s what happened here. But this is just plain weird.

Anyway, it’s no wonder Rick Warren doesn’t think he’s doing anything hateful when he urges his congregation to deny gays the right to marry. If marriage isn’t such a wonderful good thing for him, it can’t be for anyone else, either, right? So he’s doing gay people a kindness by making sure they can’t get into bizarre, loveless, interminable relationships inspired by disembodied voices in their heads.

David Blakeslee
December 4th, 2009 | LINK


I think this disclosure empowers your argument.

Not perfectly, but helpfully.

He is saying he is directed mystically (in picking his spouse).

How can secularists or non-mystics apply his values if they do not share his subjective experiences?

Does Rick Warren expect secularists and non-mystics in the larger culture to apply his motivations to their decisions?

December 4th, 2009 | LINK

Wow. I sort of feel sorry for them both, until I remember how much Prick Warren has profited at our expense and how slow he is to exercise real compassion. I dearly wish that straight people would read this stuff–see what anti-gay conservative Christian leaders think *their* marriages should be–and understand that when the right-wingers are done kicking same-sex couples around, they’re next.

December 4th, 2009 | LINK

Traditional arranged marriages are set up by the families of the bride and groom. Brides and grooms have some say in many of these. I don’t think there is any evidence that this was a “traditional” arranged marriage.

He felt that he “needed” to marry this pastor’s daughter. It was either to further his religious career or more like to cover his homosexuality.

December 5th, 2009 | LINK

Warren “Cubby” Culbertson, “spiritual giant” to Mark Sanford, says this about Xtian marriage:

“Because it’s not feelings — it’s not emotions. For most Christians, at some point in your marriage, if you’re married long enough, you do it because that’s what we’re called to do — out of obedience instead of out of passion. And I think that’s where Mark and Jenny are right now.”

December 5th, 2009 | LINK

Damn, Tom, that’s sad!

I’m beginning to wonder if some anti-gay conservatives don’t feel at least a slight and unconscious twinge of jealousy. It’s not like most of us are encouraged to enter same-sex relationships, let alone marry a same-sex partner. It often takes a great deal of backbone to pursue and maintain our relationships. Therefore, we escape the bonds of societal/familial/religious expectation and follow love and happiness instead. I hope this makes sense and doesn’t just sound mean or petty.

Robert in San Diego
December 6th, 2009 | LINK

Wow you know, I really don’t blame her for never being attracted to him. But once all that free money started to flow in I’m pretty sure that she could then see past anything. SO let me see if I get this straight (no pun of course), voices in his head “ok”, voices in my head “bad” and the voices in the little boy who killed his brother this week somewhere in between “good & bad”. But then again GOD has commanded many people to slaughter their family members. Look at all the sacrifices that are mentioned in the bible, mostly animals of course. I mean when the voice in me tells me I’m hungry I blame slaughtering animals on the bible to eat.

Ben in Oakland
December 6th, 2009 | LINK

Green-eye: i think you have hit on something. It has always amazed mehow many gay relationships succeed, despite all of the social prssure against them, and how many straight relationships fail, despite all of the forces arrayed to support them.

And then we have the Warrens.

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