One of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the United States has officially announced its opposition to President Barack Obama's stance on same-sex marriage.
The Assemblies of God USA, a fellowship with more than 3 million members, sent out a statement on Thursday addressing the president's recent remarks endorsing gay marriage. "The Bible clearly teaches that marriage should be a life-long commitment between one man and one woman," said Dr. George O. Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies.
"Although it has become popular to quote Scripture grossly out of context to serve a personal or political agenda, it still doesn't change what God's Word clearly states."
During the 2008 presidential election, then candidate Senator Barack Obama did not endorse same-sex marriage. Throughout his presidency, as pressure from gay rights groups continued, Obama spoke of his position on the issue as "evolving," which resulted in criticism from both the right and the left over his ambivalence.
On Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden said on NBC's "Meet The Press" that he was "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex marriage being legal, which added increased pressure on the president to make an announcement of support. Obama's statement of support came on Wednesday.
"[Michelle and I are] both practicing Christians … when we think about our faith the thing at root that we think about is not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf but it's also the Golden Rule – treat others the way you'd want to be treated," said Obama after affirming to ABC News that "same-sex couples should be able to get married."
According to the Assemblies of God's official position, "the growing cultural acceptance of homosexual identity and behavior, male and female, is symptomatic of a broader spiritual disorder that threatens the family, the government, and the church."
"Homosexual activities of every kind are contrary to the moral commandments God has given us."
Other church leaders and denominations have made statements both in support and opposition to Obama's remarks on the divisive social issue.
Joel Hunter, often considered Obama's spiritual adviser, told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that he was disappointed in the president's reasoning.
"The Golden Rule is in the Bible but it cannot be used to contradict God's marriage pattern reaffirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19:4-5," said Hunter.
"Though I disagree with the president's interpretation of Scripture in this crucial issue, I will not abandon our friendship … I will just keep telling him what I believe the Bible says and leave the rest to God."
The Rt. Rev. Larry R. Benfield, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas, released a statement supporting Obama's remarks.
"I agree with the president's position. Contrary to the North Carolina decision, civil marriage of same-gender couples will one day be seen as good for society," said Benfield. "I look forward to the day when such marriages occur in this state so that we can live with one another in a spirit of equality and justice."
Obama's remarks came the day after voters in North Carolina overwhelmingly supported an amendment to the state constitution that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman and banned any other type of domestic legal union.