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CBS to Rick Warren: Just Give Up on Your Opposition to Same-Sex 'Marriage'

On Tuesday's CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell hounded popular Christian pastor Rick Warren over his support of defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. O'Donnell quoted the second greatest commandment of Christianity - "love thy neighbor as thyself" - to Warren as she asked, "Why do you oppose same-sex marriage?"

When the Saddleback Church senior pastor affirmed that he was "in favor of not redefining marriage," the anchor used the current trend in polls towards approval of such unions to lobby her guest to change his views:

O'DONNELL: John McCain's pollster...talked about there has not been one issue where there's been so much change so quickly as on the issue of same-sex marriage...a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage. How do you...mix those two things - which is, a personal opposition that might be founded in religious faith...[and] public opinion that is shifting so dramatically on that issue?"

Warren answered, in part, by upholding true pluralism:

WARREN: ..We're in a democracy, where nobody wins all the time - okay? For instance, I happen to believe life begins at conception. But that's not the law....We have a wide spectrum in America, and we have to work for the common good, and that means, sometimes, what I mean being 'co-belligerent'. For instance, I don't agree with everything that the National Organization of Women supports. But when they are opposing...pornography, that objectifies a woman's body, I'm a co-belligerent with them. So, I don't happen to agree with everything that my gay friends believe, but when they want to end AIDS, I'm a co-belligerent with them....

Co-anchor Charlie Rose followed up by insisting that "you have to be tolerant of other people's views. And so, if they differ with you with respect to Christianity or with respect to some of the things you say, you are tolerant and accepting that they came to their beliefs...in a genuine way, and have to be respected for that." The mega-church pastor replied by pointing out how the left has changed the meaning of the word "tolerance" to further their agenda:

WARREN: The problem is that 'tolerant' has changed its meaning. Tolerant used to mean, I may disagree with you completely, but I'm going to treat you with respect. That's what tolerant means. Today, to some people, tolerant means you must approve of everything I do. That's not tolerance. That's approval. There's a difference between acceptance and approval. Jesus accepted everybody no matter who they were. He doesn't approve of everything I do or you do or anybody else does either. So, you can be accepting without being approving. That's an important point.

O'Donnell has a track record of badgering conservative/Republican guests on CBS This Morning. Just over a month and a half earlier, she grilled Republican strategist Mike Murphy on Mitt Romney's apparent flip-flops on the issue of abortion.

The transcript of the relevant portion of the Rick Warren interview on Tuesday's CBS This Morning:

NORAH O'DONNELL: Speaking of love thy neighbor as thyself, I want to talk about gay marriage - same-sex marriage - civil unions. Someone Tweeted – when you were coming on, said, ask him about his opposition to same-sex marriage. Why do you oppose same-sex marriage?

RICK WARREN, SENIOR PASTOR, SADDLEBACK CHURCH: Well, first, let me ask you. Do you consider yourself to be a tolerant person?

O'DONNELL: I do – yeah.

WARREN: So, you would – you would be respectful of people who would disagree with you, no matter what?

O'DONNELL: Agreed.
                                           
WARREN: Because that's a very, very personal question, and people want to make an incendiary issue over it. I just – I have biblical views of what I think marriage is about. I am in favor of not redefining marriage – I'm not. It's not illegal to have a gay relationship in America. And so, it's not a big issue to me.

[CBS News Graphic: "Warren's Purpose Driven Life: Influential Pastor On His Message Of Faith"]

O'DONNELL: Let me ask you – it's interesting. There's a pollster named Bill McInturff - a Republican pollster. He was John McCain's pollster. He's head of a big firm. His partner was Mitt Romney's pollster. And he has talked about there has not been one issue where there's been so much change so quickly as on the issue of same-sex marriage. Now, we saw about – a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage. How do you – how do you mix those two things - which is, a personal opposition that might be founded in religious faith - based on what is public opinion that is shifting so dramatically on that issue, how do you merge those two things?

WARREN: Well, as a pastor, I believe in both the good news - that I believe Jesus is who he said he was - the son of God - but I also believe in the common good. And we're – we're in a democracy, where nobody wins all the time - okay? For instance, I happen to believe life begins at conception. But that's not the law - okay?

ROSE: And for the people that don't believe that, you're tolerant of their views - right?

WARREN: Well, and – and the point is, nobody's leaving the country. We have a wide spectrum in America, and we have to work for the common good, and that means, sometimes, what I mean being 'co-belligerent'. For instance, I don't agree with everything that the National Organization of Women supports. But when they are opposing abortion – not abortion, but pornography, that objectifies a woman's body, I'm a co-belligerent with them. So, I don't happen to agree with everything that my gay friends believe, but when they want to end AIDS, I'm a co-belligerent with them. In fact, Kay and I have given millions of dollars to fight AIDS around the world, and we work with both gays, straights – I can work with an atheist. I can work with a Mormon. I can work with a Muslim. I can work with a Baptist, Buddhist, Jew – and – and that's one of the issues we have to work on, is the work on what can we-

ROSE: But the important thing, I think, is to underline what you said earlier to Norah, in terms of same-sex marriage. You have to be tolerant of other people's views. And so, if they differ with you with respect to Christianity-

WARREN: Yeah, yeah, yeah-

ROSE: Or with respect to some of the things you say, you are tolerant and accepting that they came to their beliefs in a-

WARREN: Right-

ROSE: In a genuine way, and have to be respected for that.

WARREN: The problem is that 'tolerant' has changed its meaning. Tolerant used to mean, I may disagree with you completely, but I'm going to treat you with respect. That's what tolerant means. Today, to some people, tolerant means you must approve of everything I do. That's not tolerance. That's approval. There's a difference between acceptance and approval. Jesus accepted everybody no matter who they were. He doesn't approve of everything I do or you do or anybody else does either. So, you can be accepting without being approving. That's an important point.

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.