Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN) is a Presbyterian. However, on February 28, he told a gathering of homosexual parents that those who oppose same-sex marriage are "forces of bigotry and hatred." Two days later he invoked numerous Bible passages to argue against a Federal Marriage Amendment, which would protect a scriptural view of marriage.

Dayton is one of many American churchgoers and leaders whose personal opinion about same-sex marriage is out of accord with his own church's creeds. Historic Presbyterian doctrine holds that marriage is to be only between one man and one woman.

While such differences in doctrine and practice threaten schism in mainline churches, many biblically conservative groups have reaffirmed orthodox teachings about the nature of marriage.  The following is a survey of selected church positions that define stated beliefs about marriage.

The Roman Catholic Church

Roman Catholics offer what is arguably the most comprehensive and lengthy declaration in Christendom in support of a biblical view of marriage. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, an authoritative reference to Roman Catholic belief, states, "Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out."

In the section "The Love of Husband and Wife" the catechism teaches: "Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion."

The catechism also declares homosexual acts to be "intrinsically disordered," "contrary to the natural law," and "under no circumstances [to] be approved."

The Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian group in the U.S. with 64.6 million members.

Baptist Tradition

The largest U.S. Protestant denomination is the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) with 16.4 million members. Although the SBC is careful to state that Scripture is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice, they offer this statement in their Baptist Faith and Message: "Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race."

A Policy Statement on Family Life from American Baptist Churches in the USA, membership approximately 1.5 million, says: "We affirm that God intends marriage to be a monogamous, life-long, one flesh union of a woman and a man ...."

The National Baptist Convention USA, a large African-American denomination (five million members) did not respond to phone calls concerning this article.  However, on March 23, two dozen African-American pastors rallied at a Missionary Baptist church in Atlanta, Georgia, to distance themselves from the claim by homosexual activists that same-sex marriage is a civil right. The pastors signed a declaration supporting a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and promoting marriage as only between one man and one woman.

Wesleyan Tradition

The United Methodist Church (UMC), with 8.25 million members, is the second largest Protestant denomination in the country. For 30 years the UMC has been a battleground for homosexual activists, who have gained major concessions in church life.

Still, the UMC Book of Discipline, Social Principles section, says: "We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman."

Ironically, Rev. Karen Dammann, the lesbian UMC pastor in Washington recently found not guilty of trespassing church law, was recently "married" to her homosexual partner.

The Church of the Nazarene, a smaller and theologically more conservative denomination from the Wesleyan tradition, is unequivocal in their support for traditional marriage. Their 2001-2005 Manual states the denomination's official position: "The institution of marriage was ordained by God in the time of man's innocence, and is, according to apostolic authority, ‘honourable in all'; it is the mutual union of one man and one woman for fellowship, helpfulness, and the propagation of the race."

Pentecostal Tradition