In his new book, NIV Lessons From Life: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter, the former president discusses how to apply a faithful and thoughtful reading of the Bible into a modern worldview. The Huffington Post’s religion vertical chatted with Carter and brought up the gay question:
Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things—he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.
I draw the line, maybe arbitrarily, in requiring by law that churches must marry people. I’m a Baptist, and I believe that each congregation is autonomous and can govern its own affairs. So if a local Baptist church wants to accept gay members on an equal basis, which my church does by the way, then that is fine. If a church decides not to, then government laws shouldn’t require them to.
Plaudits to Carter, married for 65 years himself, for reconciling his Biblical faith with the reality of the modern world.
Carter has also signed on to the inclusion of marriage-equality language in the 2012 Democratic National Platform, alongside fellow ex-prez Bill Clinto, almost-prez Al Gore, 22 Democratic Senators, and other leaders across the nation.