The Rev. Joel Hunter of the 15,000-member Northland church, who is often referred to as President Barack Obama's spiritual adviser, said he is disappointed with the president's use of the "Golden Rule" to explain his endorsement of gay marriage.
"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," Hunter shared in an interview with The Christian Post. "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and the two shall become one flesh?'"
Obama affirmed his support for same-sex marriage in an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, which has sparked a great deal of debate in America among supporters of the traditional definition of marriage, and those who want to see gay marriage legalized.
"In the end, the values that I care most deeply about, and she (Michelle Obama) cares most deeply about is how we treat other people. We're both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but 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," Obama stated.
Some have accused the president of being blasphemous for implying that Jesus supports same-sex marriage, but Pastor Hunter explained to CP that he does not believe such a hard case can be made against the president.
"I do not believe the president is being blasphemous, or even treating the Bible without regard. Christians have different ways of interpreting the Bible. Some think human love or struggle should take precedence over the plain meaning of the text. Others (like many of us evangelicals) try to follow what the moral law throughout the Scripture says no matter how uncomfortable that is. We believe the Bible is centered on God, not man," Hunter commented.
"Though I disagree with the president's interpretation of Scripture in this crucial issue, I will not abandon our friendship," Hunter added. "I will just keep telling him what I believe the Bible says and leave the rest to God."
The Florida pastor was contacted by Obama before ABC News broadcast the historic interview Wednesday. Hunter revealed to WOFL FOX 35 that he expressed his disagreement to the president during that phone call. Obama, who had affirmed the biblical definition of marriage while on the 2008 campaign trail before his views began to "evolve," also told Hunter he would protect the religious freedom of churches that oppose gay marriage.
"He knew where I stood, because I'm an evangelical and I believe in what the scripture says. One of the reasons he was calling was to protect our relationship and give me a 'heads up' on an interview he had just done," Hunter said. "It wasn't something we were able to talk through, or I would have talked him out of it.
"He told me how much he prayed and how difficult a decision this was for him."